TRANSITION TR500 REVIEW
If you picked up issue #152 of the mag and wondered where the rest of this review was then wonder no more. Apologies for the error, mistakes happen and we blame a lack of tea!
Words & Photos: Steve Jones
SHAPE AND PURPOSE
The Transition TR500 succeeds the TR250 and 450 and now offers adjustable geometry from 180mm to 203mm. It can accommodate 26” or 27.5” wheels, is available in four different build kits and a frame only option. Its purpose is clearly for hammering out the runs but the shorter travel option and tighter geometry means it can lean more towards something different – the kind of park style we don’t really see much of here in the UK.
The 500’s suspension is all worked out by way of a linkage driven shock in a gap that splits the seat tube. It’s a tidy design that works without any fuss and is delivered slightly differently to previous models. The boys in Bellingham have changed the shape of the rear linkage over previous designs to give the bike a smoother feel through the range, early TR450’s tended to be a little too ‘pumped up’ in terms of progressivity. Our test bike came with RockShox taking care of the hits and drops and the dials are incredibly easy on the head. It just so happens they deliver excellent damping too.
Internal cable routing on the Transition TR500 is done very smartly with the rear brake and shifting entering just behind the head tube following a neat line. The bar and cockpit has been done very cleanly, although the bar… guys what exactly were you thinking with this choice? The Kore cowhorn needs to go. Elsewhere it’s all bulletproof business. Shimano Saint is always strong, although we did have some squeaking from the cranks and Transition’s own wheels have been more reliable than some older models.
The bike is adjustable. Two shock travel positions and a chip in the chainstay adjusts from 434mm or 442mm, but the bigger wheels can only be run in the longer setting. There is also another chip, which is located where the seat stay meets the shock linkage, to adjust the head angle from 63º or 63.5º and –10 or –4 on the bottom bracket drop.
There has always been an understandable mood about the TR range of longer travel bikes and the tradition continues here with the 500. It’s a very straightforward, no-nonsense bike. Except that maybe it doesn’t have the strong ramp up of previous models. This means that it needs more work on the dials – the compression and end-stroke rebound dials particularly. It also needs balancing up front. In short, more compression on the Transition TR500 isn’t a bad thing. In the air, over the roots, the bike keeps its poise well. A balanced bike.
By this point in the discussion the original bar that came on the bike was following a new life, having been crushed and flattened! Otherwise all is good… well there was some noise from the chassis which needs a bit of love, and the size, well I reckon the extra large could do with an inch or so more on the wheelbase particularly if its going to be running larger hoops.
Transition have a following and they have the hardware to make happy customers. I headed over to the top left corner of the USA to visit them last year and came across a company wholly immersed in the sport, possibly bordering on the fanatical. This comes across in the neat design of the 500. OK it could be trimmed down a touch, but then it might not be the reliable bike that its known to be. The next move will be to get some bigger wheels in the bike and see how it affects the geometry and suspension characteristics. Not that there’s really any need for the 500 is bang on as it is.
Frame – Transition TR500
Fork – RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Shock – RockShox Vivid
Brakes – Shimano Saint
Wheels – Revolution HD 150
Tyres – Schwalbe EVO Magic Mary
Shifter – Shimano Saint iSpec
Derailleur – Shimano Saint
Cranks – Shimano Saint
Chainguide – Hive LG1+
Cassette – Shimano 11-25T
Bar – Kore OCD 800mm
Stem – Temple Direct Mount
Grips – TBC Logo Lock-On
Headset – FSA
Seat – TBC Race
Seatpost – Thomson
£5,199.95 complete, £1999.95 frame