120 millimeters of front and rear travel
RockShox SID suspension
Flex Stay rear triangle
Full Carbon Frame
Speed Balanced Geometry
A true modern trail bike
Super efficient climber
Parts spec skewed for descending
Lightweight (5.4 pound frame, 25.2 reported test weight)
Entry-level price for a complete bike is $5,000
May not be XC enough for die-hard racers
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Most 29ers that fall between XC and Trail on the category spectrum ride like beefed-up XC bikes. Yeah, there’s a little more travel and capability on descents, but they don’t let you forget their first intention. For its debut in the ever-crowding category, one unlikely entrant accomplished the opposite: The 120-millimeter-travel Transition Spur feels like a trail bike for recovering gravity addicts versus one for XC diehards dabbling in more aggressive terrain.
Of course, this is not exactly unexpected from a brand like Transition, with its roots firmly planted in Bellingham, Washington, and an entire stable of full-suspension bikes targeted at highly skilled riders who prefer to go downhill very fast.
But what is surprising is how well Transition executed its first foray into this category—the Spur quickly rose into the top spots of many testers’ ‘favorite’ lists at The Beta Tests. It’s light (our X01 build has a reported weight of just a tick over 25 pounds), a rocketship on climbs, but doesn’t feel overwhelmed when pointed downhill. Transition dubbed it ‘All-Country,’ but it could be considered the epitome of a modern trail bike—equally suited for big days in the backcountry or lunch rips on the home trails.
The Spur’s capability on descents traces back to Transition’s SBG philosophy, which pairs a slack headtube angle with a short-offset fork to promote front-wheel traction, appropriate rider weight distribution and snappy handling characteristics while maintaining stability at speed. On the Spur, SBG translates to a 66-degree head angle and 44-millimeter offset fork, a steep-for-XC effective seat angle of 75.9 degrees, long wheelbase at 1,219 millimeters, a 480mm reach and 435mm chainstays (size large). Some Transition bikes feel like they require a really aggressive stance to benefit from SBG, but not the Spur; testers immediately felt at home in the cockpit without the need to adjust or exaggerate body position to accomplish proper balance.
The Transition Spur’s geometry is complemented by a parts package more commonly seen on bikes with a lot more party, including a long dropper post (180mm, size large and 210mm, size XL), wide 800mm OneUp carbon bar, a 180mm front rotor and 2.4-inch Maxxis Dissector tire up front paired with a 2.4 Rekon in the rear, both wrapped in Maxxis’ 3C EXO casing.
In other words, the weight savings Transition realized from building the Spur around an all-carbon frame with a one-piece rear-triangle flex stay, it smartly reinvested in spec choices that would pay dividends on descents. And it did that in spades. Our test course on Ward Mountain in Ely, Nevada, consisted of a ripping-fast, smooth, decomposed granite descent with a few mellow doubles that the Spur seemingly sailed over without hesitation or much effort. The trail’s long sightlines and wide-open straightaways begged for high speeds, and on these sections, the Spur stayed as composed as a military cadet during roll call, but not nearly as serious. It relished the opportunity to get off the ground, and breezily went wherever it was pointed with very minimal effort. The Evil Following, which created the category of super-capable short-travel 29ers, might have slight edge on poppiness due to its shorter wheelbase and chainstays, but its oversized hardware, wide pivot and piggyback-shock compatibility also make for a stouter package.
And magic of the Spur is not how well it goes down, it’s that even with all that downhill prowess, it still manages to be an exceptionally efficient climber. Transition made another Warren Buffet-approved investment in its suspension choice, opting for the new RockShox SID Ultimate fork and shock, which paired perfectly with Transition’s flex stay design. SID is straightforward with just a simple on/off damper, which allows for a set-it-and-forget-it ease of riding. One tester wished for low-speed compression on the fork to soften the harshness of square-edge hits while climbing, noting that the SID doesn’t immediately soak those up. And though it might not track like a true XC bike on technical, chunky climbs, a virtue of that slacker geometry, the overwhelming feeling was that its fun factor was worth that minute sacrifice on the ups. More importantly, the Spur isn’t trying to be a true XC bike. It’s trying to be a machine that encourages bigger days, longer distances and the confidence to take on anything that comes up along the way, and in that, it succeeds beautifully.
There’s no true “budget” model in the Transition Spur lineup. There’s no aluminum version, and no bottom-tier suspension or drivetrain build. The Spur starts at $5,000 and still has RockShox SID suspension front and rear, though it’s the slightly less race-focused SID Select + with a less firm lockout on the fork. It also still gets a full-length OneUp dropper post. You don’t get the contact-point adjust on the SRAM G2 RS brakes, but they do have the power-boosting swing link. The wheels go from DT to Stan’s, the handlebars go from carbon to aluminum and the saddle rails go from titanium to chromoly. But it still only adds up to a claimed 1.7 pounds extra weight. The drivetrain goes from all X01 to all GX costing a little crispness and a little of that 1.7 pounds. At this price point, no build is going to have a hidden deal-breaker, and the $5,000 GX build will still maintain what we love about the Spur, but adding everything up, the $6,000 X01 build we tested seems to be the sweet spot, value-wise.
Find it at transitionbikes.com/spur
Photos: Anthony Smith