Transition Bikes Patrol 2 2017 Mountain Bike Review

Transition Bikes Patrol 2 2017

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Transition Bikes 87,364

At A Glance

The Patrol has been on a wish list of mine for a good while now, having first had a drool over it a couple of years ago when the brand brought it to the European stage at Eurobike. The Covert was previously a key player in the Transition line-up, an all-mountain rig that became the trusted favourite of many a Megavalanche entrant. A bike that was more than capable of pretty much anything you could throw at it, the Patrol came through as something of the next generation. Or perhaps more accurately, the next era; more the difference between the 1940’s to the swinging Sixties – the Patrol wants to really party!

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With the outward appearance of a laid-back hippie, the geometry is long, low and slack. Three words that are defining some of the latest offerings to the bike market and proving that size doesn’t necessarily matter…or perhaps it does, but it’s what you do with that sizing which counts…

160mm travel up front, and 155mm at the rear give a fair indication of where this bike wants to be. However, it’s the 65 degree head angle and the stretched out wheelbase that might have you raising your eyebrows a little more. It’s certainly geared up for wanting to hit those big mountains and let loose.

The GiddyUp Suspension system (derived from the expired Horst-link suspension patent) and 430mm chainstays, with the rest of the carefully thought-out design, combine to keep the bike responsive, dexterous and stable, despite the overt party attitude.

It’s the Complete Kit 2 build that we have on test, which is the penultimate spec to the top one kitted out with Eagle bling. It’s a build that lacks nothing and is impressive from the outset: RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 rear, RockShox Lyrik RCT3 front, the acclaimed Reverb Stealth dropper, plenty of RaceFace componentry, Stan’s Flow MK3 wheels shod with beefy Maxxis Minions, and some top spec gearing and braking in the form of SRAM X1 and Guide RSC respectively.

Having had a good think and some office discussions, there literally is nothing we would, or feel we could, change to make things any better. Any modifications would only really be on an aesthetic basis, should you want to start colour-coordinating and personalising your steed. On that note, it’s worth mentioning that the bike ships with colour-match fork decals, just to increase the attention to detail factor that’s gone into it. If the delicious glossy teal/black colourway isn’t to your fancy, then there’s also the option of a very subtle stealth matte black.

Personally, I find the whole package a ‘reach out and grab me’ number. It’s sleek (internal cabling keep everything smooth and tidy), it’s sexy (maybe that’s the mellow, nonchalant air) and it’s somewhat subtle and understated in its capabilities. You can’t help but want to throw a leg over and get dirty…

On The Trail

Now, despite all this attractiveness, would the Patrol live up to its Tinder profile and actually be able to perform as promised – on the ups as well as the downs?

The IMB main office is located at the bottom of a hill and a steep, winding and gruelling road is unfortunately the only route that leads directly to the woods. It’s a good initial test as to how well a bike can climb, particularly as you’re starting from cold and there’s no run up. I was a little concerned as to how well the Patrol would cope. No, let me correct that. I wasn’t concerned, I was intrigued – I knew the Patrol wouldn’t lie to me and would have all this totally under control, yet given the aspiring DH nature there was a moment of quizzical eye-balling between us.

I needn’t have worried. The suspension works a treat with the firm setting on the shock stiffening everything up, eliminating any pedal bob and really driving forwards with every pedal stroke. Even in the trail or, should you forget to change it, open position, there isn’t much energy lost at all; the high-end RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 intuitively reacting to what’s required.

That first test kick-started a confidence-inspiring relationship with the Patrol that has yet to wane. It’s been ridden round everything from flowing local loops, gnarly root-infested tight singletrack, steep hair-raisingly fast declines, drops, pops and everything in between. It feels planted and stable, pushing into berms and gobbling up rock gardens, yet at the same time never smoothing everything out so much it seems boring. The Patrol wants to encourage you to go further, faster, steeper and get you right out of your comfort zone, but in a way that instils confidence and kind of has you doing it before you registered that you even could.

When it comes to an ‘all-mountain, enduro, whateveryouwantocallit’ choice the Patrol is definitely on the big mountain side of the spectrum. With the slack geometry making the 155mm travel far more capable than I initially gave it credit for. It feels comfortable on the steep downhill sections and, unlike some other all-mountain rigs that might have you on the edge, it keeps pushing onwards with determination and poise.

I’ve ridden climbing sections in exactly the same manner as the previous 120mm bike I had long term, and amazingly haven’t felt like any extra effort was needed - quite some accolade for a very different orientated machine. I’m not saying it’s going to get you to the top in record time, but that’s never something I’ve aimed for with any bike I’ve ridden if I’m perfectly honest! (It’s all about the swooping-whooping downs for me!) Yet unless you’re lucky enough to live in a town with a chairlift, bike park uplift, or a mum with a truck who’s happy to provide a taxi-service up the hill, then the rest of us have to settle for good old pedal-power. With the Patrol you certainly don’t feel as if any energy is being expelled to no avail, and that’s a real asset.

The fact you’ve got a wholly competent bike at the top that’s raring to go downhill like a dog down a rabbit hole is what makes it. Let the dog off the lead and it’s in its element, driving down with focus and aplomb. It won’t gloss over all your mistakes, but it will encourage and inspire you to improve. No matter what your riding level from talented pro to nervous novice, the Patrol will be there to embolden and reassure you – a talented mentor with all the elements of a skilful coach, that likes to get wild once training is over.

I honestly didn’t think it was possible to tick every box on the current all-mountain wish list, but I think the brilliantly accomplished guys at Transition have done it – once again! Despite my initial crush on the Patrol I really did try to knuckle down and find something I didn’t like…and after some extensive testing I’m still trying. I’ve even fallen off it a couple of times (an occurrence that often relegates a bike position of favour even if just for a short time), but sadly I had to admit that it was totally down to rider error and couldn’t even get angry at the bike for a second – all he (or, in the essence of political correctness, she) did was flutter her eyelashes and get me enthusiastically throwing that leg over again.

Overall

Even with all this waxing lyrical and euphemisms, it’s hard to truly describe the Patrol in a succinct way. One word I kept coming back to was ‘rhapsody’, triggered most likely by the reference to the Sixties and leading me down a train of thought with bohemian…and so the word-association game in my head continued… However, it’s not far off being an excellent way to sum up the Patrol:

“A rhapsody in music is a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour and tonality. An air of spontaneous inspiration and a sense of improvisation make it freer in form than a set of variations.”

There’s a reason the Patrol has been at the top of so many wish lists, won accolades, won over journalists, and should you get a chance to ride it, will win you as a future owner too. He/she will be your best friend, your tutor, your fellow party animal and very quickly the apple of your eye, love of your life. You will adore every second of your time with him/her and crave the moments you are apart.* (Perhaps don’t show this last paragraph to your current partner, before you make the purchase!) It’s a winner, and you will be too should you decide to swipe right.

*We can take no responsibility for any relationship break-downs that may arise as result of your acquisition of a Transition Patrol…but know that you will won’t regret the ache-inducing smiles generated on every single ride.

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This review was in Issue 49 of IMB.

For more information visit Transition Bikes

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By Mary Booth
Mary Booth has been a keen mountain biker for decades; she grew up on the Purbecks in the South West of England and has spent thousands of hours on the trails in that area. She moved to the South East to work in the IMB office and regularly gets out to the Alps and the Surrey Hills where she loves to ride the more technical trails…

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