Well, we’re partly through the weekend of Morzine 2016. Two awesome days in and we’re all having a major blast. So while I sit here basking in glory and sun (in the hot tub) with a well earned beer, I thought I’d post some feedback on how the collective Transitions are handling the trails this year.
We have four Transition Bikes in attendance at Morzine 2016: two 650b Transition Bandits, a 650b Transition Scout and a new and shiny 29er Transition Smuggler.
All of the bikes are slightly different in terms of setup and kit, for example Matt’s Bandit has a Fox Float 34 versus my Fox Float 32, and he has the “oh-so-wide-internal-rim” Easton ARC’s vs my Hope Tech Enduros. Bob’s Scout is just “blinged-up” to the eyeballs with the best Hope and Shimano XT finishing kit and Dave’s Smuggler is just dangerously, worryingly fast. We’ve all “Morzine-ified” them with a disparate choice of tyres (Butcher Grid / Maxxis High Roller II for me, Dual High Roller II’s for Bob, Maxxis High Roller II 3c Max Terra / High Roller II for Matt and Butcher Grid / Purgatory Grid for David) and so far all is good.
I guess all of them are arguably ‘Enduro’ focussed bikes (whatever that actually means), not perhaps suited to the “blackest of black” Alpine backwoods runs but very happy in this terrain. Very happy indeed.
Fundamentally all of them are Transition through and through. Fundamentally all of them are awesome.
We’ve caned Chatel with a slew of Strava PRs and today had fun on the Les Gets berms below Nauchets working on bike control. The smiles are big. And we’re only one man down (Mark T had an end of day stack yesterday and sadly has ripped his shoulder tendons).
My Transition Bandit 650b
I’ve had a year of fiddling with my Bandit. Lots of things have changed, each making little differences to my Bandit’s ride feel.
My wheel change, I have to say, has been a revelation. The Hope Enduros are good, solid wheels which suits me down to the ground. Over the year and through this trip so far they have proved a wise purchase for me. Perhaps not the lightest wheels in the world, but hey, I’m not the lightest rider! The Hope’s have handled the incessant Morzine braking bumps, jumps, rocks and gaps with ease. They are happy here. There is no flex and they feel “rail-like” – real point and shoot kind of stuff. And they suit the larger tyres I’ve fitted for the trip. If I could sum them up in one word, it would be “trust”. I did however lose one spoke on the very last runs on the last day at some point. Seems trail marbles can get me wherever I go riding.
My wheels aside, the biggest change for me this year was moving to 1×11. Perfect for the Alps obviously but not bad in Surrey either. It was a love hate relationship to start with but I admit, it is a good upgrade. Ignore the less kit, less weight arguments. In real life it makes shifting a simpler process and for that reason alone just improves the ride. The Blackspire narrow-wide chainring is handling all that Morzine has thrown at it (they have marbles here too) and it’s perfectly matched to the Shimano XT 1×11 rear mech, which again, has handled the shifting duties with aplomb.
Brakes. Yeah. So last year I ran Shimano SLX brakes. Now the SLX is a great brake but perhaps not quite up to an incessant Alpine weekend of gravity related fun. Sure enough those SLX’s caved in after three days – Surrey they could handle, “Panoramique” down through “Serpentine” they could not.
But what about my upgrade to XT brakes for this year? Well, just to kick me off my “Shimano soapbox”, once again, after three days of incessant braking they had had enough. Or at least, the rear one had – the front brake was still OK relatively speaking. I think in truth, as the days progressed and the more tired I became, the harder I was starting to pull on the downs. Add in a good old bit of Alpine dust (which is just EVERYWHERE) to glaze the pads and my rear XT was squealing like a very cross piglet who’d been poked with a sharp stick. I think next trip I will just have to factor in a complete pad replacement / sanding / something at the end of day 2 and go with it.
However, was the upgrade worth it? In a nutshell – yes. I’ve compared my Strava times to last year and I was without doubt running much, much harder on the downs this year. The security provided by the XTs was worth the upgrade.
Now as for my serviced fork? To be honest I have not even thought about or even noticed it – and I think that’s probably it in a nutshell. My Fox CTD has performed flawlessly. I maxed out but rarely blew through my travel which simply meant I had time to think about “other” things on the trail – like the next obstacle. It’s smooth and very much not over-faced by the stuff we are riding. So if you’re riding the Alps – get your bounce fettled is my advice
Lastly, my mashup of tyres. Both the Specialized Butcher Grid and Maxxis High Roller have been absolutely fantastic in the dry Alps. Both provide a superb amount of grip in the loosest of berms or switchbacks. Just like my fork, I had total trust in them. They are performing. Period.
And that kind of sums up my my Bandit here in Morzine. As per normal, infinitely more capable than me, and infinitely flattering to my riding abilities. Whatever difference my kit changes this year have been, all I can say is my smile is “Transitionishly huge”
Matt W’s Transition Bandit 650b
I have nothing but admiration for Matt riding his Bandit this year. Five weeks ago his finger was in four seperate bits following a crash at the Milland Enduro. However, with some excellent binding and some highly respectable riding Matt rode his Bandit like a demon all things said and done. I’m not sure he could let go in full Matt style so didn’t really get chance to evaluate the Easton ARC rims, serviced fork and shock but he had a smile on his face the size of Mont Blanc nontheless. The only major issue was brake failure of his brakes. Air was getting in somewhere and the rear brake totally failed despite a mid-ride bleed in Chatel. Matt solved this by fitting some Shimano Saints which sorted out braking duties in short order.
Bob M’s Transition Scout 650b
So Bob’s still in two minds about his Scout. This is mostly to do with the utter love he has for his Orange 5 which also made the trip out here. Now Bob’s not a man of many words and I’m sure he was getting fed up with my constant questions (“How’s it feeling Bob”, “Feeling the joy Bob”, “Giddy-Up working for you Bob”, etc, etc) however, aside from the odd issue (his fork is not locking out post service) I think even Bob was reaching for the Transition Scout first – “Flowing well”, he said, and “Much more nimble”. I think we’ll call that a win.
David D’s Transition Smuggler 29er
My Transition Smuggler’s first Alpine outing. In simple words – just outstanding! The bike is quick and tight through the turns, and oh so easy in the air. She needed some pressure adjustment on the front fork to get the most out of the travel but essentially that was it.
The Smuggler was much easier than the old Bandit 29er through the tight twisty stuff – it’s a proper “trail hooligan” through the berms, sometimes much faster than I can handle.
The setup is spot on with the exception of having to tighten up a spoke in the rear wheel (lucky spot in the chair lift).
In summary it’s just “all awesomeness”. My Smuggler feels light, supple and quick, limited only by the rider. And if I’m honest, if my old Bandit 29er turned up tomorrow, I’d turn it down. Fact.