Transition Spur, XC or Trail? Let’s talk about that.
The new Transition Spur is an intriguing little bike. It’s got 120mm of travel front and back, a flex stay rear pivot and a complete weight that resembles that of an XC bike. But, it has the head tube angle, reach number and downhill capability of a trail bike. So which is it? XC or trail? Well, both.
geometry, sizing and money stuff
We went into most of this in our first look article when the bike was launched. So if you want all the details, go there. Here, we’re just going to do a quick recap and move on to the juicy stuff. The spur rocks a 66° head tube angle and a 75.9° seat tube angle. There’s 480mm of reach on a size large with a 1219mm wheelbase. It has two wheels that measure 29 inches and sports 120mm of squish at both axles. At 6’2” I can ride both L and XL in most bikes, the Spur included. I rode both sizes for this review and settled on an XL for the one that’s going to find a permanent home in my garage. Yes, that’s a bit of a spoiler. I liked this bike enough to spend a whole bunch of my cold hard cash to ride one every day — more on that later. The L felt perfect for climbing, but maybe a little too small for high-speed descents. The XL feels a little stretched out on the climbs, but perfect on the descents. I prioritize DH performance, hence the XL. I slammed the saddle forward and threw on a stubby 35mm stem and voilà, Houston we have liftoff.
The Spur comes in three builds that aren’t messing around. Transition offers an XX1 AXS kit with DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline 25 Carbon wheels that comes in at a svelte 24.7lb. It will set you back a cool $9,000. Transition also offers an XO1 kit featuring Sram’s new 10-52 tooth drivetrain for a more reasonable $6,000. Lastly, there’s a GX level bike for $5,000. Not too bad, really, considering all of the builds are well thought out and offer great components to fit the intended application. What exactly is that application? Trail or XC? Let’s find out.
Uphill performance isn’t just an afterthought on the Spur — it’s the main course, the pièce de résistance the whole shebang. The bike is light, fast, efficient, and likes to eat up miles of singletrack. True to Transition’s form, it goes downhill really well, but that’s for later in this article — let’s stay organized here. The Spur doesn’t immediately scream, “I’m an XC bike!” It’s more subtle than that. You’ll notice within a minute or two that the fit feels more like a trail bike. The cockpit isn’t stretched out, the stem is short, the bars wide, and the body position fairly relaxed. Depending on who you ask, that’s a great thing. It’s not quite the feel you’d want if your cup of tea involves smashing out XC laps at race pace while having next to zero fun on a bike. If you like to enjoy your time on a bike, you’ll likely dig the feel of the Spur. Just because it doesn’t have the body position of an XC bike, doesn’t mean it’s not fast on the climbs.
There’s very little pedal bob even with the shock wide open. It’s not so efficient, though that you have zero traction at the rear wheel. The folks at Transition have found a great balance between efficiency and traction. Too much pedal platform and the back end bounces around and slips out on steep climbs. Make the rear suspension too active, and sure you’ve got traction, but you’re wasting all your energy squishing a shock instead of moving forward. The Spur gets it just right. It feels especially adept at technical climbing — the rockier the trail, the better. It gets up and over edges with ease — partly due to the energetic climbing performance and partly due to the overall weight. The back wheel doesn’t hang up on edges, which allows for some efficient pedaling through the chunk.
The lightweight build is especially noticeable. Maybe it’s because most bikes are getting heavier these days and a 32lb bike isn’t all that “heavy” anymore. I found myself setting a whole bunch of PRs on the climb. It’s easy to cover a lot of miles and elevation on the Spur. It’s exceptionally fast in rolling terrain with ups and downs mixed in. In fact, I don’t know if I can think of a faster bike in that scenario. There are faster bikes in a pure uphill setting, but the Spur makes up for it by allowing you to ride faster and with more control on the DH bits.
While it’s not quite as impressive on the tough climbs as the Santa Cruz Blur or the Orbea Oiz, it’s not too far off. You’d probably get dropped if your fit friend was on that bike, and you were on the Spur, but you’d make up a ton of time on the DH with a bigger smile on your face.
So what’s the verdict on the climbs? I’m saying it rides more like an XC bike.
Let’s talk about that smile. You’re going to need a toothbrush back in your bike bag to clean all the dirt out of your pearly whites. I’m serious, that grin is never coming off your face. The Spur is a lively and engaging bike.
I’m going to start with my favorite thing about this bike. It corners like its life depends on it. I think it’s a combination of two things — the first being suspension performance. The suspension is very firm and supportive. It doesn’t wallow or use travel unnecessarily. What’s great about this for concerning performance? The bike doesn’t dive into the travel every time you attack a corner. It keeps you stable and composed through the apex, then rockets you out the other side with even more speed. The Rockshox Sid Ultimate is surprisingly well suited for this application. I’m generally not a fan of lighter, smaller forks. They usually feel a little flimsy under my weight — especially in corners. The Sid uses a 35mm stanchion that keeps things pretty stiff and strong. It keeps the front wheel tracking true through bumpy corners and rocky bits.
The second thing that makes the Spur corner so well is the geometry. It has short, but not too short chainstays (435mm), a significant amount of BB drop (40mm) and a head tube angle that keeps things lively (66°). These all combine to make the Spur zip in and out of corners with ease.
While the Spur doesn’t have a ton of travel, it makes up for it with its geometry. While that’s an awesome thing it can also be a little bit of a curse. It’s the kind of bike that can get you into trouble. You can ride it just like you’d ride your big bike, right up until things get serious. It doesn’t have enough travel to smash through rocks at the speeds you can end up going. So, be prepared for some last-minute decision making as big features sneak up on you quickly. You’ve got two options, jump it or slam on the brakes and navigate the rough section at mere mortal speeds.
I’ve never ridden an XC bike with this amount of confidence. In terms of stability and capability, it rides more like its bigger brothers, the trail bikes. I’d happily ride it alongside the Santa Cruz Tallboy, Ibis Ripley, Norco Optic, and even the Orbea Occam.
Transition recommends between 25-30% sag for the Spur. I’ve tried between 27-30%. I’ve settled on 29% as the perfect amount — talk about being picky. I like the off the top suspension feel at the higher sag numbers. While it’s not what I would call plush, it takes the edge off chattery sections and provides a lot of traction in the bumps. Even at 29%, I don’t have any issues with bottoming out. In fact after riding about 50 miles on the Spur, I can think of only one instance where I actually noticed the bottom out. All the others times, it’s been a gentle enough bottom out that I didn’t feel it. It’s not every day you ride a 120mm bike and don’t feel a bottom out. And before you go claiming I’m just not riding it hard enough (although you’d probably be right), I’ve ridden this bike on a variety of trails, drops, rock gardens, and smaller jumps. Transition claims 30% progression on the Spur. That’s a lot, but I believe it.
Final verdict? I’m going with trail for the descents. It rides much more like a Tallboy than it does a Blur.
Who is the Transition Spur for?
I can think of two groups who would love this bike. The first being the ex-XC racers. The Spur provides the efficiency and uphill speed you expect while also being more comfortable and confident on your trail rides. The second group is the knee pad clad folks. I’ve dubbed the Spur as the XC bike for people who wear knee pads. If you like to ride aggressively on the DH, but you don’t always feel like lugging a big bike around, the Spur is going to be a great fit. It is down for big days and long climbs, but wont hold you back on the downhill.