(c) Tim Bardsley-Smith

[R]eviewed: 2017 Transition Scout Carbon

Fast becoming one of the most down to earth MTB brands out there, Transition’s Pacific Northwest home has bred more than a few bikes dialled for specific purposes. So how does their all-round 125mm travel Scout fit in when redefined in carbon for 2017? With a geo-chart reading somewhat like a slope style bike with a steep seat tube in a super light package, you could say I was pretty keen to get amongst my local trails on it, as numbers in a grid can never truly tell the story that tyres on dirt can.

Mid travel bikes seem to be the new battleground for the bike industry if the 2017 range releases are anything to go by. Far from simply 29er xc/trail bikes, the new generation of 120mm travel 27.5 bikes are opening more than a few riders eyes to the fact that dialed suspension and geometry in this travel, means you really can have a ’do-it-all-ride’ for the majority of terrain we ride on a daily basis.* Transition know this full well, their much lauded, yet hugely overlooked model, the Scout, has had its fingers in said pie since its introduction in 2015. And while rolling in the new school of low BB, long TT, slack HT, Transition figured why not up the ante and drop a refined Scout for 2017, and in that wonder material we know as carbon…

First up, the Scout is Transition’s second carbon frame, to which I’ve gotta say is impressive. 600 grams lighter than its older, alloy bro, the carbon model sports simple, clean lines and finishing touches that compliment the intended use. Their internal routing is so spot on, not only super easy to sort out thanks to rattle free tubes inside, but in and out ports aim cables where they’re meant to be (away from that precious carbon you’re thinking of shelling out for). Starting up front, the Scouts head tube/top/down tube junction makes for some serious lateral stiffness. This trend continues down to the bottom bracket and solid seat tube. Pretty amped to see a threaded BB on a carbon bike. While I’ve had more than a few push in BB’s now, you gotta love the simplicity of a 73mm BB, especially if you ride through winter. You know, that creak I’m talking about. Aside from the alloy rocker, which allows 125mm of 4-Bar Horst link activated travel, the back end is again carbon. Holding your backend together is a 12×142 system utilising the dialed Syntax X-12 thru axle with the axle mating with the derailleur hanger, not the stay, so there’s some piece of mind there, should you be prone to over tightening.

While the Scout we received to ride was mostly a Complete Kit 2 build, the crew at SuperSports had customised it a touch. A 35mm reach stem (50mm stock) and some seriously wide bars from Deity in their DC31 Mohawks, plus a sweet Anvl Scale wheel set and grips made our test rig a slightly custom affair. A standard build reverts back to in house parts and Stan’s wheels, which aren’t at all bad. RockShox take care of both ends with their tried and trusted 140mm Pike RCT3 and Monarch RT3 Debonair units. Their smooth as butter Reverb post has got your up and down covered too. SRAM RSC brakes are fitted and a mix of X1 and XO parts take care of shifting. RaceFace’s solid Turbine Cinch cranks with a 32tooth ring put the watts down and Maxxis DHF/DHR 2.3 tyres are standard.

Spec’d with the ‘relatively short’ 140mm Pike fork, the Scout runs a 67° head angle. Matched with tight 424mm chain stays, a relatively low BB and a nice long top tube (585mm on the medium) it’s got the specs to attack any descent or berm you can imagine. Luckily for the ups, a steepish 75° seat tube means you’re in the zone to pedal up that epic, ragged descent you just cleaned with a rather large smile. It’s quick handling makes tech climbing almost fun, yep, I said that. Don’t quote me..

Rodney from SuperSports (Transitions Australian Distributor) hit me up on route home from my first roll on the Scout to let me know that the rear has been designed to run 35% sag. Of course I balked at this, thinking that I wasn’t that keen to be almost half way through the 140mm travel from the get go. That said, the subsequent ride through the same trail loop really let the Scout shine and not bounce off everything like I did first ride (Transition have a killer set up vid online here: https://vimeo.com/115214620 . It has beer in it. Rad). It’s progressive stroke really ramps up when pushed to the limits and allows the bike to float through the little stuff. That progressive stroke also loves to be sent off kickers, it loads up so sweetly and just launches off anything you see fit to play on. Same goes for pushing hard into corners. Forget wondering (wandering?) where your wheels are mid-corner as you squish through travel, just load it up and lean over as far as you dare.

RockShox’s Monarch RT3 Debonair is a real surprise for me. Working beautifully with Horst Leitner’s 4-Bar system, although in Transitions usual epic way of renaming everything, it’s now known as a ‘Giddy Up’ link, the stock setting of two volume reducers gives the Scout some serious ramp-up as you push through the travel. And yes, it does feel like it has more travel than its 125mm of actual travel. Really. Should you be keen for some more linear cush and a dead feeling ride, pull ‘em out I guess?

Up front, the 140mm Pikes are solid contenders. Having become used to their bigger travel bro, I was wondering if I’d be tricked into thinking they’d tackle the same terrain in the same way or be underpinned and find myself OTB. To answer that question, the bike loves launching headlong into messed up situations. Being so stiff and light, the Scout is so flickable and responds instantly to late corner changes of direction or mid rut hops. I’m pretty sure I’ve hopped it higher than my daily rider too, pushing against that progressive stroke loads you up well for picnic table sized up and overs. Its relatively long wheelbase gives stability at speed and holds that speed through rough zones and especially corners. Luckily it can drag you out of the gnarliest climbs with a nimble feel. That steep seat tube allowing for traction a plenty in and out of the saddle. Shifting your weight forward or back is effortless which brings confidence in climbing and even moreso cornering. Downside? The 2.3 tyres being the only thing I’d ditch, in favour of some 2.4 or 2.5 rubber. Yep, man sized rubber. You don’t walk into a chemist asking for extra small ever do you? Due to finding myself under gunned in the front travel department, that extra bag would give this bike so much more confidence when under estimating trail features at speed.

“If there was ever a party on two wheels, the Scout is it.”

Transition’s carbon Scout is a solid trail bike for the rider who finds themselves sick of being sold the multitude of MTB genre’s they’re meant to be aligned with. A truly all-round ride that’s as much fun as it is a serious machine able to punch far above its weight. As long as you can hold on and aim it, it’ll probably get you there. That said, being short travelled, it does respond better to going over rather than through brutal terrain. Up or down, it’s as accurate as a laser pointer thanks to its incredible lateral stiffness and if there was ever a party on two wheels, the Scout is it. The working class persons ride of choice? We think so! Although maybe not in fluro red….

Transition Scout Carbon

Majority is a standard build 2 kit (there’s a couple of customs bits…)

Rear Shock // RS Monarch RT3 Debonair

Fork // RS Pike RCT3 Solo Air 140mm

Stem // RaceFace Turbine Basic 35 50mm – Deity Cavity 35 -31.8 clamp

Bar // RaceFace Turbine 35 760 x 20 – Deity DC31 Mohawk 787 x 25 – 31.8 clamp

Grips // Velo Single Clamp Anvl Rasp  Starburst colour

Saddle // Anvl Forge Stealth Cr-mo

Seat Post // RS Reverb Stealth

Brakes // Sram Guide RSC

Rotors: Sram Centerline 180mm

Shifter // Sram X1

Rear Derailleur // Sram XO1

Cassette // Sram XG1175 (10-42)

Chain // Sram PC 1130

Crank // RaceFace Turbine Cinch (DM 32 170mm)

Wheel Set // Stans Arch MK3 27.5 32H on Stans Neo Hubs – Anvl Scale Complete

Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5 x 2.3 EXO 3C front, Minion DHR II 27.5 x 2.3 EXO 3C Rear

[R]eviewer // Matt Holmes

Photos // TBS

*OK, I know some of you live in the mountains and have chairlifts close by, but for the rest of us living near big cities….