I didn’t know whether to put the Transition Relay on the ebike channel or this one. The bike is a bit of a chameleon that adapts to different riders, terrain, choice in friends, and local ebike regulations. If that sentence didn’t pique your interest, you might want to see a doctor. Stick around to see how the Transition Relay does it.
Transition Relay Geometry, Drivesystem, and Details
Today, we’re going to run this bike through its paces in both ebike mode and pedal bike mode. But first, we will discuss some of the geometry and details that make this bike unique.
The Transition Relay falls in the midweight category as far as ebikes are concerned. Depending on the build, I’d also place it squarely in the middle of the aggressive all-mountain or light enduro categories. It comes in two flavors: the standard 160mm travel version with two 29” wheels (27.5” XS) and the PNW edition with 170mm of front and rear travel, mixed wheels, and a coil shock. The frames are the same between the two versions, with the rear travel difference coming from a 5mm longer shock stroke on the PNW edition. A flip chip accounts for the difference in rear wheel size. The geometry is long and slack, as you’d probably expect from Transition. The head tube angle is 64° for the regular edition I tested, and the seat tube angle is 77.8°. The reach is 510mm for the XL, paired with 448mm chainstays, which brings the total wheelbase to 1309mm.
Both versions of the bike use the same Fazua Ride 60 drivesystem and 430Wh battery. The motor provides 60Nm of peak torque. It has three power settings, Breeze, River, and Rocket, with a short-duration burst mode offering up to 450 watts of output for up to 12 seconds. The top tube-mounted display shows battery level and assistance mode data, so there’s no need for a computer or screen on the bars. The small display pops up to reveal a USB-C port for charging or powering accessories. The whole system is controlled through the sleek ring controller. This is the first, and so far only, problem I encountered with Fazua. The ring controller tends to stick, requiring you to move it back to its neutral position manually. From what I understand, this is a somewhat common occurrence for users. It’s not a huge deal at the end of the day (the bike and controller still work), and a warranty fix is in place. If your ring controller has a matte-only finish, you’re more likely to experience the problem. The new controller that won’t have the problem has a two-tone matte and gloss finish. Oh, and one more little nit to pick — the Relay doesn’t have a charging port for charging the battery. You have to remove the battery and charge it directly. I like that it makes the bike extra clean and stealthy, but I’m worried about constantly removing the battery, wearing out the mechanism that holds it in place. Those fears could be totally unfounded, though.
Now let’s talk about the coolest thing with the Relay and its drivesystem — the battery is easily removable without tools. This allows you to remove the battery to essentially turn the bike into a pedal bike, albeit a portly one. I spent a day pedaling the Relay around without the battery and motor in Park City, Utah. Park City is famously anti-ebike. The Relay addresses that problem pretty well for me. I removed the battery, loaded the bike onto a chairlift, and rode the entire day without issues. There was no noticeable drag from the motor, just a slightly heavy bike to overcome on the climbs. We will talk about that more later.
Transition Relay Ride Review
Let’s start by talking about the Relay in ebike mode. My daily driver ebike is an Orbea Wild with the Bosch Performance Line CX Race Motor. So the difference in power and assistance between the Relay and what I’m used to is pretty stark. That said, I’m pleased with the Fazua Ride60 system. It’s dead quiet, offers enough power to feel like an ebike, and the battery life is some of the best I’ve seen. Not to mention, the Relay itself is a comfortable and competent climber.
Let’s start with the suspension design. The Relay feels very Transition when it comes to the suspension design. It is more on the active side of the spectrum, providing a lot of comfort, control, and traction. I experimented with different sag levels from a little less than 30% all the way up to almost 35%. Transition recommends 28-34%, depending on preference. My preference ended up on the higher sag amount, as I feel it performed much better on the DH at those sag measurements. The motor overcomes the slight efficiency penalty you’ll pay from running more sag. Plus, the traction benefits are really nice, especially on an ebike. I’ve always been a big proponent of more active feeling ebikes. All the power in the world does you no good if your rear wheel can’t stay glued to the ground.
The Relay’s geometry is comfortable and feels relatively neutral. I didn’t feel like I was stretching to reach the bars despite the reach measuring 510mm. The steep seat tube is doing a lot of the work here, putting you closer to the bars in the first place. That steep seat tube is great, especially for running 34% sag. I’m a tall guy riding bigger frames, so I appreciate the longer chain stays. It’s nice to see Transition make these size-specific for folks of all sizes. I did find myself swinging a bit wide on some of the tighter corners. The bike’s wheelbase is long, no matter how you look at it. That will always give you a bit of grief on tight switchbacks, but I’d argue that on a bike like this, it’s not out of place or too extreme.
Let’s talk about the drivesystem performance on the climbs. The Fazua Ride60 performed admirably during my “full boost until the battery dies” test. I like running bikes on their highest power modes and doing my best to run the battery dry. It’s a good way to get a feel for the motor and make any potential problems flare up. However, I ran into issues with draining the battery on the Relay — my personal battery drained before I could get the bike to die. I reached the top of my 5.5-mile and 1800’ vertical gain climb and had barely lost my second battery light (60% remaining). Keep in mind this is full boost with a 190-pound rider. The Fazua system has some serious range. It’s also dead quiet on the climbs. It’s maybe the quietest ebike I’ve ever ridden. It doesn’t feel like the most powerful motor I’ve ridden, even compared to the Shimano EP8 RS on the Orbea Rise. I think a lot of that comes down to the build, tire, and weight differences between the Relay and Rise, not necessarily the motors. The 60Nm on the Rise goes a bit further as that bike is built lighter with less rolling resistance. That said, I was happy with the Fazua’s performance overall.
Now, let’s talk about weird things I’ve never talked about before — riding an ebike without a battery. This is uncharted territory for me, and I would assume many people. So, is the Relay just like your pedal bike after you’ve removed the battery? No, not unless your pedal bike weighs 40 pounds. Now that I think of it, my Norca Range weighed 39.5 lb out of the box and probably had more drag than this. Is the Relay a viable option for pedal rides here and there? It wouldn’t be my first choice for long rides, but climbing a few miles and 1000’ wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Maybe, most importantly, there’s no noticeable drag from the motor with it powered off. The only extra work you’ll do is carrying added weight to the top of the hill. Realistically, I see the Relay as more of an option for shuttles and lift laps with the battery removed. You’re going to get smoked by the pedal bikers, though.
The Relay is a good climber with comfortable geometry, plenty of traction, and a quiet, consistent motor. It earns some versatility points for the “pedal bike mode.”
Just like on the climbs, the Transition Relay is a versatile descender. It offers varying build kits for a wide variety of riding and a wide range of recommended suspension setups to accommodate rider preference and style. As expected, it’s burly and capable without sacrificing too much of Transition’s fun factor.
Starting with the suspension feel, the Relay doesn’t feel like many other ebikes I’ve ridden. Most ebikes have an ultra-plush, deep, and gooey feel from the added weight of the bike. Instead, the Relay feels a bit more like a pedal bike and a firm, supportive one. Even at higher sag amounts, it doesn’t sit too deep in the stroke and wallow. It provides a good platform for cornering, pumping, and jumping. There’s a lot of progression in the suspension curve, so excessive bottom-outs aren’t an issue — surprising, especially at 34% sag. In fact, that’s one of the biggest reasons I ended up preferring higher sag amounts. At 30%, I was struggling to use all of the travel. With a bit less air in the shock, I could use full travel when needed without any negative effects in my mind. The bike remained playful and lively enough.
The Relay is slack and long, so it’s unsurprising that it’s very stable at speed and in the rough. One of my test trails was a flat-out rough and chattery double track. I’ve rarely, if ever, felt the stability I felt while on the Relay. The chatter was still there, but the bike’s geometry ensured nothing felt squirrely or sketchy. The size-specific chainstays certainly added to that stability. The bike’s length became more apparent on switchbacks and tighter corners. I had a more difficult time maintaining speed on flat and smoother trails primarily due to having to slow down more for the corners. I definitely preferred the bike on rougher, steeper, and more natural trails vs. manicured flow trails.
I go back and forth on how The Relay does with being playful and jumpy. I think the bike sometimes tricks you into thinking it’s not an ebike. So, my judgment may be a bit clouded, and I’m trying to compare it to non-ebikes. It does feel heavier and clunkier in the air than the pedal bikes – even with the battery removed. Compared to the ebikes, though, how easily it is to get airborne is pretty impressive. I’d put it close to the Orbea rise in that regard. I think the supportive suspension platform helps quite a bit when it comes to getting the wheels off the ground.
While the motor is very quiet on the climbs, there’s a bit of a rattle on the descents – even without the battery installed. I imagine it comes from the wiring or cable routing rather than the motor itself.
Can the Relay be your only bike?
The answer to this question will depend on your riding style, your friends’ bikes, and your area’s ebike legality. If you’re looking for an ebike for most of your rides, but from time to time, you’ll need a pedal bike, the Relay could work. Keep in mind that it’s not a quick climbing pedal bike, and it’s probably better suited for short climbs and/or shuttles and lifts. If you’re hoping to split your time evenly between pedal and ebike modes, I don’t think it will be what you’re after. Your money will likely be better spent on a dedicated ebike and pedal bike.
Who is the Transition Relay for?
The Relay is a great option for two rider groups. The first is the aggressive descenders who aren’t willing to put up with a cumbersome, full-weight ebike. The Relay is one of the few mid-weight yet aggressive geometry eMTBs on the market. Most of the other lightweight eMTBs are a bit more trail than they are enduro. The Relay definitely skews toward the aggressive side, especially in the PNW version. The handling benefits from the lighter-weight platform are noticeable on the trail. It’s easier to maneuver, bunnyhop, and control when needed.
The second group of riders who I think will enjoy the Relay are those who can’t swing having two bikes — pedal and electric. It might not be as good as having both bikes in your arsenal, but it’s infinitely better than only having one or the other. It does double duty, whereas other ebikes don’t have that ability, or at least not designed around removing the battery and treating the bike like a pedal bike.
The Bottom Line – Transition Relay
With a tool-free removable battery and multiple travel and wheel size options, the Relay might be the most versatile eMTB on the market.
That’s going to wrap it up on the Transition Relay review. Thanks for sticking around. We’ll see you next time.