Bike: 2015 Transition Patrol 2
Size Tested: Medium
Bike Weight (as tested): 30.5 lbs
Complete Build: (Here)
- Drivetrain: SRAM X1
- Brakes: Shimano SLX
- Fork: RockShox Pike
- Shock: Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
Travel: 155 mm (rear); 160mm (front)
Reviewer Info: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada
Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from that wretched hive of filth and villainy that is Las Vegas.
The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.
Having said that…
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.
Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it takes days to really get everything running just right. Furthermore, differences like tire selection and tire pressure can have a huge effect on how a bike rides, and we generally don’t have the chance to get to tinker with those variables too much.
So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trail. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Transition Patrol 2.
Transition has a good reputation as a rider-owned company that makes solid, reasonably priced bikes that can take some abuse. They don’t make the flashiest, lightest bikes out there, but when I think of Transition, I think of bikes that are designed to be super fun and hold up well.
In years past, most bikes in Transition’s trail bike lineup have been built around a linkage-driven, single-pivot design. The upside to this is that Transition avoids dealing with expensive patents (which can make for expensive bikes), and it means those bikes typically descend really well (though they leave something to be desired on climbs).
For 2015, Transition is rolling out a new line of bikes built around a Horst link rear end mated to a rocker arm that Transition is calling their “GiddyUp” link. The basic linkage layout bears some similarities to bikes like the Norco Range and Specialized Enduro, and Transition’s timing in bringing these bikes to market appears to correlate with the expiration of Specialized’s patent on the Horst / FSR link. (The fact that the Horst link patent is no longer in effect may also explain why we’re starting to see European brands like LaPierre make a push into North America.)
Transition’s precise pivot locations are a bit different than most of the other Horst-link bikes out there, however. Most notably, the Patrol’s bottom bracket, rear pivot, and rear axle are all very close to being in-line. So don’t assume that just because the Patrol is a Horst-link bike, it’ll ride just like those other frames.
The Patrol has an aluminum frame that comes in three different build configurations. I rode the mid-level Patrol 2, which comes with a nice mix of parts that perform well without jacking the price of the bike way up.
The Patrol 2 is set up with a SRAM X1 drivetrain that functioned flawlessly in my short test, along with some SLX brakes that I think are some of the best stoppers on the market. Suspension was handled by a RockShox Pike up front, and a Monarch RC3 in back. Internal cable routing and a stealth reverb kept everything tidy and clean.
Geometry & Fit
Consistent with today’s trends, the Patrol 2 has a longer front end and a relatively short rear end. The reach on the Medium Patrol 2 I rode is 432 mm (17”), which is fairly long, though not quite as long as some super-stretched out bikes like the Kona Process. The Patrol’s chainstays come in at 430 mm (16.93”), which is pretty short, especially for a bike with 27.5” wheels.
Despite the long-ish reach, the effective top tube on the Patrol is still a fairly modest 583 mm (22.95”), due in part to the relatively steep 75.4° seat tube angle. This layout is somewhat similar to the geometry numbers used by Rocky Mountain, which I’ve found work well for steep climbs, allowing you to keep your weight forward over the front wheel while seated. But, at the same time, the longer reach means the bike doesn’t feel cramped when you’re standing up, bombing down some steep tech.
Transition has also embraced the ongoing trend of slackening head tube angles; the Patrol’s head angle comes in at 65°.
Hopping aboard the Patrol 2, despite it’s completely redesigned frame, I still expected it to ride like the Transitions of yore—a bit sluggish while pedaling, but a ton of fun on the way down. However, while pedaling up a short stretch of road to access the trail system at Bootleg Canyon, it was pretty apparent that this wasn’t the case. Even with the shock’s low-speed compression switch wide open in “descend” mode, I would go so far as to say the Patrol felt spritely while cranking up the hill. (Spritely? Yes.)
The Patrol may not be the most efficient bike out there when it comes to pedaling, but it’s pretty good, and actually feels a bit lighter than it is as a result.
On the trail, the Patrol’s handling is on par with the best in the new class of long, low all-mountain bikes (or what some would call Enduro bikes). It’s a long, slack bike that feels like overkill on flatter terrain, but it doesn’t feel overly cumbersome on a standard, ordinary trail with a “regular” amount of pitch.
At moderate speeds, the suspension on the Patrol wasn’t quite as supple as other bikes. However, this may have been addressed with more riding time and fiddling with the shock.
When the going got rough, the Patrol’s suspension felt great. It handles bigger hits with composure, but it never felt wallowy or unsupportive. Like the Devinci Spartan Carbon SX, the Patrol rewarded an active riding style. It pops nicely and likes to be jumped through rock gardens more than plowed into them.
Some bikes stand out because they do certain things particularly well, and some stand out because they do some things particularly poorly. The Transition Patrol 2 falls in neither group, making it a good one-bike-quiver.
If you’re looking to win a stage on the Enduro World Series or put in a long day of pedaling with substantial climbs, I’d look elsewhere. But if you want a do it all bike in the ~155mm range with a fun, poppy feel, the Patrol 2 is a solid choice.