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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Transition Smuggler

Tough 130mm trail bike that bucks the trend

transition smuggler – the review

We’ve seen plenty of changes in the mountain bike world over the last few years, with wheelsize options, improved geometry and better sizing leading to some open-minded and progressive design. Plenty of riders however, are following fashion and are often not choosing the best bike for their terrain, settling on a well-dialled 150/160mm travel machine with 27.5” wheels with the Transition Patrol being a good example.

Why the hell would we want to ride a shorter travel bike? The Smuggler is Transition’s answer to this, and is the bike you need if fast technical singletrack is at the top of your list.

“a stiff frame with up to date geometry and a well-dialled ‘four-bar’ suspension system adds up to a bike with a very different attitude”


With 29” wheels and only 115mm of rear travel you would think this bike would be very much aimed at the XC rider, but not so with the Transition Smuggler. A 130mm RockShox Pike up front, a stiff frame with up to date geometry and a well-dialled ‘four-bar’ suspension system adds up to a bike with a very different attitude.

The aluminium frame is very stiff and with a long wheelbase, short chainstays and low bottom bracket ticks all the boxes for modern day trail bike geometry. The standover height is exceptionally low (allowing you to size up if necessary) and it is reassuring to see the reach is based around a standard spec RaceFace 50mm stem. The Transition Smuggler takes the benefits of the larger 29” wheels (increased grip, traction and rollover) and adds nimble and agile handling along with an urgency not often felt on longer travel bikes.

The low standover height on the Transition Smuggler is real plus point.
The Transition Smuggler is fitted with a RockShox Monarch DebonAir rear shock and a reliable threaded bottom bracket shell.

This mismatched travel of 130mm up front with 115mm out back may get folks scratching their heads, but hit the trail and it all starts to make sense. The stout Pike leads the way, with the high volume Monarch DebonAir rear shock gobbling up the trail, keeping the big wheels’ momentum rolling. This bike gets up to speed and stays there. With Transition’s ‘Giddy Up’ suspension design, and careful shock tune the Transition Smuggler sits deep into its travel and climbs well, rarely slipping. It’s not as light as an XC bike, so climbing is not quick but it’s not sluggish either. Tight, rooty and chopped up trails is where this bike shines. The solidity of the frame combined with the relentless stride of the 29er wheels and the dialled-in handling results in an addictively fast ride. It covers ground with the authority of the original Intense Tracer 29 from a few years back, albeit in a lighter, tighter package.




Transition have designed this frame to be single ring specific taking away the design constraints that a front mech brings, and have seen fit to spec ISCG05 chain guide mounts. The Smuggler is available as a frame only or with three built kit options. This spec with Sram GX, a KS Integra dropper post and a Pike/Monarch worked faultlessly. A lighter pair of wheels with premium hubs and wider rims would be a worthwhile upgrade.

If singletrack with ‘a dash of tech’ is your thing and you like to get the hammer down, you need to ride this bike. The Transition Smuggler devours testing terrain, whether up, across or down. We found ourselves riding faster and further, adding in that extra loop, chasing fading daylight.


Lars Sternberg,Transition Marketing Projects

“The Smuggler is our take on a NW XC bike”

In regards to the Smuggler, if you were to ask Mr. Cameron Burnes here (TR US Sales Chief) he would take ownership of the Smuggler name – “The Smuggler is our take on a NW XC bike. In proper XC fashion, when historically ridden with spandex chamois you end up Plum Smuggling whether you like it or not. Or otherwise known as Grape Smuggling. Either way you shake it, the Smuggler is a modern day short travel 29’er schralpstick, and never meant to be piloted with Chamois because the bike already does the shred Smuggling for ya.



see also





YT Tues CF Pro 2016 – Bike Test



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