Hardtail? Steel? Favorite bike? Yes, Yes and Yes. With 16.5″ (418 mm ) chain stays and a 67.5 degree head tube, this bike is built to party. I recently picked up a frame and fork from my local shop, and built it up with a selection of parts that I have been running for a while on other bikes. Transition offers this bike with 27.5″ wheels as well:
2015 Transition TransAM Size Large in Neon Green, 12mm Syntace Through Axle on Alternator Style Drop outs
Rock Shox Pike RC 130 mm Travel, 15 mm
Cane Creek 44 Zero Stack Top headset, External Bottom
Shimano XT Crank, Threaded BB, 32 Tooth Chromag Ring,
E13 BB Mount Chain Guide
Wheelset: Hope Pro 2 hubs, Sapim Laser Spokes, Brass Nipples, Stans Arch EX Rims
Brakes: Hope Evo X2
Shimano SLX Shifter
XT Shadow Plus Rear Dereailleur
XT Cassette modified with below:
One-Up Components 42 T Cog, 16 Tooth Cog and Radr Cage (Excellent!)
X-Fusion HiLo 100 mm Dropper Post (Jockey Shift lever)
Chromag Trailmaster Saddle
Maxxis Ardent Skin wall 2.4 Tires F/R
Kore Durox 760 mm Handlebar, 3/4″ Rise.
Chromag 60 mm Ranger Stem
ODI Rogue Lock on Grips
Black Burn SS Bottle Cage
Being a hardtail, the first thing I’m thinking is that my back is going to hate me, but in reality with the high volume tires and big fork up front its not-that-bad.
First things first. General Frame highlights and impressions. These frames are built in Taiwan (just like 99.999% of bikes out there) out of 4130 Series Cro-Moly Steel and imported into North America. What sets things apart are the geometry and frame details. The Transam went through an evolution for the 2015 model year and they have updated it with a 12 mm Syntace through axle and Alternator style drop outs for a really clean SS set-up. Interestingly, I had emailed Transition last Springs asking if they had plans to change the TransAM to include the Drop-outs similar to the Rapture, At the time they were tight lipped, but…..voila, they did! 16.5″ (418 mm). Tensioning is SS mode is accomplished with a tiny threaded grub screw inside the rear dropout area, In geared mode, I rotate the drop-out all of the way forward to minimize the chain stay length. Chainstays are short…even for a 26″ bike so stay tuned below for that…
So far so good, except I did notice a tendency for the threaded axle to bind in the threads. When I first put the axle in it was bad enough that it felt like it was cross threading. to solve this, I loosened the drop out retention bolts and it relieved the pressure. Basically the two drop-outs are not perfectly aligned and can be off in the frame since they both pivot. Once the axle was tight, I tightened the pivot bolts keeping an eye on how centred the tire is in the frame near the bottom bracket…
There is a port on the seat tube for Stealth reverb access and because of this only one set of water bottle cage bosses are provided. There are also extra bosses higher on the down tube inside, presumable for the front derailleur optional housing guides if you found yourself crazy enough to want to add a front derailleur.
AN ICG05 Chainguide bracket is welded in place, but probably overkill, I prefer the top BB mounted one shown in the pictures.
The hanger was bent out of the box, but I trued it with my alignment gauge and all was well again.
The frame uses a standard threaded BB (Awesome!) and allows easy service and frame durability. I would be quite pleased if all companies dropped press fit BB and went back to threaded. I would give up and small change is frame/bb stiffness for a reliable connection.
With the 130 mm pike compared to the standard 120 mm design, the head tube will be a fair bit slacker at the top of the travel then stock numbers, this is good however since around here for the steeps, the extra travel and angle is much appreciated.
Right away, pulling out of the yard the cockpit felt super comfortable and not too raked out and not to sharp. A quick loop around my go-to trails served as the maiden voyage. I was extremely impressed by the climbing prowess even with slack geometry, over stroked fork and short(ish) stem. The front end did not wander and during a section of technical climbs, steep over roots and rock ledges the front was easy to place and whip around thanks to the short rear end. It did not wander at all which was something I expected a bit with the longer fork over stock. Stocked to point it down hill. My favourite trails are not machine built. They are rough, rooty and steep. Not normally hard-tail friendly with baby heads sharp ledges and drop-offs. While picking some cleaner lines than normal, I was extremely pleased with the downhill performance. being out of the saddle and pointing downhill the vast majority of the weight (and impact) is on the front end, with the 130mm Pike, It was all good.
The frame did not seem overly stiff or soggy, my old surly was soggy, but that was part of the charm and comfort, The TransAM is a modern design, well thought out for modern and old school trail riding. I would not be afraid to use this bike for any trails that I have ridden, the only exception being that I need to pick cleaner lines and reign the speed in a bit. The bike is very responsive in the climbs but still suffers from loss of traction a bit in loose, scrabbly-over-hardback climbs, but all hard tails do that. I waited a long time to find a 29er like this with all of the features that Transition has packed into this one: Slack Geometry, Steel Frame, Threaded BB, Alternator Style drop-outs, Through Axle rear, price point… Decent fork, its very capable and fun and highly recommended to add to your stable.