The Transition Sentinel is a bit of an enigma. It’s got the geometry of an enduro bike, yet the travel and ride quality of an all-mountain bike. It goes downhill as hard as you want it to without getting boring on the easier stuff. So what does all that make it? One hell of a bike, that’s for sure. Oh and don’t forget, it has looks that can kill.
Transition Sentinel Ride Impressions
Let’s start this off by saying the Sentinel wasn’t made solely for climbing. It doesn’t even try to pretend to be the fastest climber out there. It doesn’t hang with the Ibis Ripmo or Yeti SB130 in terms of efficiency or speed. It’s much more like the Santa Cruz Hightower. It’s more active, provides tons of traction, and does a great job of smoothing out rough and bumpy technical climbs. In fact, on some of the steepest, rockiest climbs it might be a little better than all the others in the test. You get the traction and control from the rear suspension combined with a proper riding position thanks to the steep seat tube. The back wheel doesn’t break loose easily and the front end doesn’t wander needlessly — a great recipe for conquering those tough inclines.
The Sentinel has been my daily driver for a couple of months now. While it’s not the zippy speed demon that the SB130 is, I have zero complaints about how well it climbs. I’ve done multiple big days (4-5k vertical) on the bike. It didn’t make those days suck any more than they would on most bikes. It sits squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to climbing performance. Don’t get me wrong. Sitting in the middle of the pack isn’t a bad thing. Statistically speaking, that’s where most bikes sit — math or something like that.
The Sentinel doesn’t sit in the middle of the pack on the descents. It is a head above most other bikes. When I say it’s the best descender I really mean it. I’m not only saying it’s the most capable, or the burliest. I’m saying it’s the best overall. It is lively, engaging, smooth, calm, and bottomless. And yeah, it’s the burliest too.
Let’s break it down into two parts — suspension and geometry.
The geometry more closely resembles an enduro bike. It has a head tube angle slack enough to not look out of place on a downhill bike. The wheelbase gets pretty long due to a slack front end and a roomy reach measurement. The chainstays are long and stable instead of tucked in and zippy. All signs point to enduro. Until we get to the suspension.
The suspension design is what keeps the Sentinel in the all-mountain category. While it sounds silly to say, it only has 150mm of rear travel. Most other bikes with similar geometry are going to have at least 160mm or more. Apart from a little less travel, the Sentinel’s suspension design keeps the bike lively and quick. It’s not one of those bikes you have to ride like a bat out of hell to get the suspension to feel good. In fact, it feels very supportive while pumping through rollers and berms. It feels alive just about everywhere. Speaking of berms, somehow the Sentinel is one of the most confident cornering bikes I’ve ridden. I think there’s something to a long wheelbase and smooth yet supportive suspension platform. When you sag into the bike in the corners, it feels incredibly comfortable and confident. With a bike this big, you can’t sit off the back and expect to just steer around a corner. Instead, you need to get between the wheels and carve around them. The Sentinel lets you do that with the best of them.
I knew the thing was aggressive and could handle just about any terrain, but I made sure to test the bike’s lower difficulty limit if that makes any sense. I wanted to see if you could ride greens and blues without getting bored by a bike that felt slow and sluggish. I jumped on one of my favorite cruisy, blue trails, and proceeded to have a blast (watch the video to see what I’m talking about). The suspension kept the ride fast and fun. That’s where the magic lies — the lively suspension design combined with rugged geometry.
Who is The Transition Sentinel for?
Me! I’m happy this bike lives in my garage. It suits my style of riding very well. I’m not the fastest or gnarliest. I don’t race or pretend I’d do well if I tried. I just like to go out and have fun riding my bike. The trails that are fun to me are the difficult, rocky, steep, and sketchy ones. The Sentinel allows me to ride those confidently without being boring when I hit a cruisy blue or mellow green.
It’s for the all-mountain rider who likes more difficult trails or likes to ride more aggressively. Notice I didn’t say it’s for the enduro rider. Sure, you could race enduro on it, but I think it’s far more well-rounded than just calling it an enduro bike.
the bottom line Transition Sentinel
A bike this aggressive on the roughest trails shouldn’t be this much fun on the easier stuff too.