With both the trails and the MBUK office off-limits right now, we thought we’d bring you a new series reporting on what long-term test bikes each of us are on this year. The great thing about long-term bikes isn’t just that they give us something to ride and the chance to see how a bike stands up to a full season of hard riding, they’re also a vehicle for testing other parts and trying out new set-ups. That’s why you’ll see a lot of us running non-standard specs. It’s not because the original kit wasn’t up to scratch, it’s because we’re trying something new. So without further ado, kicking off our first Backyard Bike Check is features editor Ed Thomsett and his Transition Patrol Alloy GX.
The Alloy GX model comes with a 170mm Fox 36 Grip Performance fork and a Fox DHX2 Factory shock. I’ve not done much to get the fork set up right other than fit a couple of 10cc volume spacers and I’ve been impressed by the damper so far.
The rear shock has taken me a while to dial in, mainly because I’m pretty light for my height (aka lanky and skinny) so I’ve had to go down a couple of spring weights from stock to get the right sag. I was running one of the Fox SLS springs, but I’ve just swapped that out for a new adjustable coil from Sprindex so I can tune how firm the rear is in increments of 5lb. I’ve not done a ton of riding with it yet (damn virus) but it was super-easy to fit and it’s adjusted by simply clicking the collar around by hand.
In general, the Patrol’s coil-sprung rear end feels great though, and the supple bump-tracking it offers is ideal for the type of riding I like best – winching myself up fireroads and plummeting back down steep hand-cut stuff. The frame’s progressive leverage rate means that the bike still has plenty in reserve for bigger hits, and I’ve had zero problems with it wallowing or bottoming it out harshly.
The bike came supplied with a Stan’s NoTubes Flow S1 Comp wheelset, but I had a set of Flow MK3 rims laced to Chris King hubs that I tested last year so I’ve stuck those on – if only for the pure bling factor. I’m not really into colour-anodised parts, but I’ve made an exception for these.
When it comes to tyres, I’ve been using the supplied Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C (27.5×2.4in WT) on the rear, which I reckon is one of the best all-rounders, while the EXO+ casing is a good balance of weight and toughness. On the front, I had swapped out the Minion DHF for a Schwalbe Magic Mary (2.35in Super Gravity casing, ADDIX Soft compound) for better wet-weather grip, but now it’s finally stopped raining (don’t speak too soon…) I might switch back. Although I ride pretty hard, because I’m a welterweight and don’t plough into stuff too much, plus the Magic Mary has a fairly rigid casing, I’ve been going as low as 23psi in the front and running the rear a little harder at 25/26psi.
No changes here. SRAM’s GX Eagle 12-speed is proving more than adequate for getting me up the hills. Unless I’m on a pure XC race bike or riding tarmac, you won’t find me using anything other than flat pedals, but I am pretty picky about which ones, because there’s nothing more disconcerting than your feet pattering about when you really don’t want them to! I’ve always sworn by Nukeproof’s Horizon Sam Hills, but recently I’ve been trying out Burgtec’s new MK5 pedals. I wasn’t a massive fan of the old MK4s, because I found they sat too close to the crank arms, but these larger and skinnier versions feel amazing – thin at the axle, balanced and with good-sized pins. If past experience is anything to go by, then the bearings should last a while too.
The Patrol is designed around Transition’s SBG (Speed Balanced Geometry), and in a nutshell their idea is to use longer reach measurements in combination with slacker head angles and shorter fork offsets to give high-speed stability without sacrificing agility. I’ve been appreciating the confidence-inspiring ride feel this gives, but with a reach of 475mm on the large, it’s at the upper end of what I find comfortable, so I’ve swapped out the 40mm Race Face Æffect R stem for a slightly shorter (32mm) Turbine R 35 one. This matches the 37mm fork offset about as close as you can get and keeps the bar in line with the axle, which I reckon makes for the best handling.
I’ve also replaced the Race Face Chester alloy handlebar with a OneUp Components carbon bar – a design that I first tried last year and have been pretty sold on ever since. The flattened shape in the curve gives a welcome bit of vertical compliance for smoothing-out chatter, and with black-on-black graphics it looks slick too. I’ve gone for the 35mm-rise model with the stem slammed on the steerer, just cos I think bikes look neater without loads of spacers. It’s cut to 780mm wide and I’ve fitted a matching set of OneUp grips. The shape of these is bang on, but the last set I used were too prone to twisting, especially if water from bike-washing got in there. I hear they’ve slightly revised the design now though, so I thought I’d give them another shot.
I’m impressed that Transition specced top-level brakes on this bike – SRAM Code RSCs with a 200mm rotor up front and 180mm at the back – when many competitors go for the Code Rs instead. The Rs are great brakes and I rode them for a whole season on my Santa Cruz Nomad in 2018, but once you’ve tried the RSCs, you’ll never want to use anything else. They’re super-powerful, with great modulation and pad-contact adjustment for dialling in the lever throw. (Read BikeRadar‘s review here.)
Another upgrade I’ve just stuck on from OneUp Components is their latest V2.1 dropper post, instead of the BikeYoke REVIVE which came on the bike. The REVIVE worked flawlessly, but only has 185mm of travel, which sounds like a lot but isn’t quite enough – I like to slam my post in the frame for descending steep stuff. OneUp’s latest post has a massive 210mm of travel (yes, my legs really are that lanky) and it’s the first time in my life I’ve not had to double-drop the post in the clamp! It’s too soon to make a judgment on performance yet, but I’ll report back soon.
I’ve not got anything particularly unique or custom going on with the Patrol, but something I am quite picky about is trying to make my bikes look as clean and elegant as possible – neat cable-routing, no zip-ties flapping about and no clashing colours if I can avoid it! One product I like for this reason is RRP’s ProGuard Bolt-on. This mudguard mounts neatly to the back of the fork brace using four small Allen bolts and, in the Mini size, it does exactly what it’s designed to do, without being massive and ugly.
For the latest on all our staff bikes, check out the long-term rides section in MBUK every month.