And after much deliberation, the bike chosen for the 2018 riding season is: the Transition Sentinel Carbon. The Transition Sentinel Carbon is quite possibly the bike I’ve been looking for. Since my days charging the local DH races at Skibowl (and essentially learning to ride) my dream trail bike has always been a bike that descends like a DH bike, and can ably climb back up the mountain. It turns out that bike not only has 29″ wheels, but is designed right here in the Pacific Northwest by the fellas over at Transition Bicycles.
160mm of fork travel. 140mm of rear wheel travel. It’s slack as hell, but thanks to a 42mm offset fork it feels totally normal to me and was instantly comfortable stepping off my 650b Nomad. (it took a few runs down a flow trail to really get in the swing of 29″ wheels in the turns – which I’ve found is typical for wagon wheels)
Any time the trail goes down it comes alive; if you see a massive booter, you just want to send it on this thing.
I’ll be updating this post as my initial impression evolve, but after two rides I am in love with this thing. Considering I had never ridden one and I threw a big stack of money at Transition without 100% knowing what I was going to get, I’m extremely pleased.
- Suspension ramp up: good so far. I haven’t felt the need to add volume spacers. I’m mostly hitting jumps and railing turns at the moment. Looking forward to some shuttle laps soon. (update: I’m going to need spacers. At least one in the fork and in the rear shock)
- This bike is fun. It seriously puts a smile on my face. This is the experience I’ve been looking for.
- It rips turns. Head full speed into a berm, weigh the bike properly, bang that turn. Repeat.
- Did I mention this bike was engineered to party? Seriously, it even says so on the box.
- .. I may need to strap on the chinbar for my Leatt enduro helmet riding this bike.
DH bike-like going down. Pedals fine going up. You feel the weight. Honestly, it feels like pedaling my Nomad up the paved road. Maybe there’s a bit more pedal bob. The compression dial on the Fox shock makes it go away but then I feel like I really notice the weight. I usually don’t ever use the compression dial on my bikes anyway, as I never remember to turn them on once the trail turns down.
A few more thoughts:
- This is NOT the bike for everyone. “DH bike-like going down” means this bike doesn’t come alive until it is pointed down.
- I think it climbs fine. Compared to my other 6″ travel bikes. Amazing compared to my DH bike. Like a rock compared to Inga’s BMC Speedfox with TrailSync
- It does not like going slow. This is a bike for hard-charging riders with an advanced level of skill.
- I’m very happy I went with the medium, as I was a bit concerned with the fit. I’m running a 50mm stem and it feels great to me. (I’m 5’10”)
<Updated 3/17> (after a few more sessions at the local bike park and shuttles at Post Canyon)
- It reminds me of my Nomad. But monster truck size wheels mean I’m charging harder. I think of 29″ wheels as cheater wheels, but I don’t really think about the wheel size when riding it much, I just ride. I got used to it quickly, but I go back and forth between 3 different wheel sizes regularly.
- I’ve had a few bikes now and then where I was really excited, but that faded. I’m experiencing the exact opposite, I think about riding this thing all the time.
- I LOVE the new geo. I think I may just ride this bike everywhere. I could own just this bike and be happy. Which something I didn’t think I’d ever say about a 29er.
- I think it rides the slow stuff just fine now. I cleaned an extremely techy climb this weekend that involved a tight switchback and up over a rock garden with exposure at Syncline.
- Yes, a lighter, short travel 650b bike would be much more playful at lower speeds, but this is the closest to the DH bike that pedals up hills I’ve been on to date.
I ended up buying this bike as a complete so I could have it to ride this weekend in hero dirt conditions. It was worth it, this weekends riding was amazing. I’m swapping the bulk of it out and replacing it with incoming components for reviews.
More info on the build and parts coming in for it soon.