It was a few years ago when I was given the opportunity to be propelled into “boutique bike ownership” when some piece of scum broke into my shed and relieved me of my lovely Specialized Stumpjumper. Not that I was furious or anything but I just hope he rode it under the nearest lorry the very next day. I was, however, very fortunate to have a decent insurance policy that allowed me to put together a lovely bit of kit.

So I tried out a few options first, I borrowed a Whyte G150 works and took it to Wales, very nice but just didn’t set my pants on fire..

Then I read loads of reviews and borrowed my mate’s Transition Bandit 650b and I thought “Woohoo !! Pass me that fire extinguisher” – the Bandit just had/has that little something extra, it has a sense of urgency, a familiar feel to it and is such a great bike. So I nabbed the last battleship grey, large Bandit frame my local Transition supplier could get his mits on.

Life with my Bandit was lovely. It was a very confidence inspiring bike and very pretty. Bike Parks were sessioned, and the Alps were well and truly “beasted”.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years or so and another piece of filthy scum relieved my mate of his Transition Bandit 29er (David D). Mr D then proceeded to buy a “rescue orange” Transition Smuggler, at the time Transition’s new short(ish) travel 29er. When David brought out his orange beast I wasted no time and swung a leg over and what do you know, I got the same feeling I did when I first rode the Bandit 650b. The seed was sown…

However, I was initially unsold on the “bigger wheels are best” argument though, I simply loved my Transition Bandit too much. But then then I came across a cheap Transition Covert 29 frame and built up a bike to either keep or sell. Of course, once built I took the covert out for one or two TFITs and the revelation was definite – riding the Covert absolutely sold me on the benefits of the 29er wheel. They just roll better, and I’ll concede that 29ers are slightly less nimble (note the use of the word slightly) but there is a palpable difference, AND for the type of riding we do in the Surrey Hills it has to be the wheel of choice.

However, the was an issue with my Covert. It was a lovely bit of kit (and a large frame) but it was just way too small for me. And not just me, everyone who rode it commented on the very “compact cockpit”. That said, more modern 29er geometry (i.e. the Smuggler) gives you a spacious, low and relaxed “cockpit” that I love so very much, without the need for pesky front mechs anymore and the rear chainstays can be shorter promoting rigidity in the rear triangle.

What’s not to love?

So, after a bit of contemplation I realised there was only thing for it…

I had to sell my beloved Transition Bandit 😱…

Then buy a Smuggler frame and put the bits from the Covert onto that.. If I’m honest it took me a fair while to pluck up the courage. But my pants collection was burgeoning and needed burning, so I did it, and she is now entertaining a very nice chap in Sheffield.

Transitions current colour scheme is not exactly jaw dropping and it’s the only disappointing thing about the whole brand, but you can’t have everything I suppose. So, a matte black frame was procured.

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Me being me, I absolutely was not going to just leave it at that! So I got my local spray painter to do his thing and sprayed the front triangle. After much procrastination I settled on the surprising bit – an “oh so choice” red..

The I I sold a few other bits from the shed and built up a truly lovely bike giving me the following kit list for my Smuggler:

  • SRAMXX1 drive train
  • SRAM Guide ultimate brakes
  • Rockshox Lyrik 140mm Solo Air forks
  • Rockshox Debonair RT3 rear shock
  • Hope 4 hubs
  • Hope bottom bracket
  • Hope headset
  • Hope bar end plugs
  • Eastern Heist 30mm rims on stainless spokes
  • Race face 150mm dropper
  • Race face turbine stem 50mm
  • Race face turbine 780mm bars
  • HT X1 pedals
  • Race face grips
  • Fizik Gobi saddle
  • Specialised Butcher tubeless tyres

So last night’s TFIT was the first ride of the Smuggler and last night was…, well, just bloody fantastic! It really is a great bike (and I don’t think the guys noticed the steam from my smouldering undergarments in all that slush and mist…)

It says something about a bike when you can swing your leg over for the very first time and feel like your totally at home and ride with a proper grin on your mush, bristling with the excitement and promise of even merely delving into the greater performance and capability that a new, different bike brings.

There definitely is a “T” factor..

First notes, well I’ve never ridden Rockshox before and I know there will be lots of setting up and dialing in required. This is obviously awesome because it gives me plenty of excuses to “just pop out for a bit” up to the Punchbowl and back.. as if excuses are needed.

And finally, now we are Smugglers x2 at TFITs, the collective noun for The Smuggler was rightly decreed last night.

David D and I now ride as a Cove of Smugglers….

Roll on the trails of 2017…..

Matt W

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