At A Glance
The Bandit was a totally new bike for Transition in 2011; it is a lightweight trail bike, aimed at being the perfect tool to ride up and down the mountain. It’s big brother, the Covert, comes spec’d with Fox 36’s up front and while it can be pedalled anywhere it can’t compete effectively in the popular 140mm travel trail bike sector. So the Bandit arrived guns blazing 130mm rear end and 140mm up front. A little late into the country we might add, these 2011 bikes have only been available for the last few months and have been selling like hot cakes so if you see one and want it, snap it up quick.Buy Trail Bikes on
The Bandit frame is made from 6061 custom hydrofromed heat-treated aluminium and weighs in at 6.8lbs with the rear shock, shaving nearly a pound of weight over the Covert. Our full build tipped the scales at 28.2lbs, which isn’t bad when you consider the build kit isn’t dripping with expensive bling. There is a tapered headtube and ISCG 05 tabs on the bottom bracket should you wish to fit a chain guide.
The drive train is a mix of X9 and X7 from SRAM, 10 speed set up with a 39/26 SRAM S1400 2.2 chainset up front and an 11-36 PG1050 out back. Front mech is a SRAM X7 and the rear is an X9 with 10 speed X7 Shifters on the bars. A Truvativ Style 75mm Stem keeps the 680mm Truvativ Stylo bars in place and Avid Elixr 5’s take car of the stopping power, grabbing 6” rotors front and rear.
Suspension is an all Fox affair, a custom tuned RP23 shock at the rear end is matched to the leverage curve to ensure you never bottom out, whilst providing an excellent pedalling platform. The shock has also been tuned for maximum small bump sensitivity so on paper at least it should be a plush ride. Up front there is a Kashima coated Fox 32 140mm fork with a 15mm axle. Wheels are Transitions own, the TBC Revolution 25 hubs are laced onto matching TBC Revolution rims. Lastly some very fast Kenda Small Block Eight 2.1 tyres take care of grip.
On the Trail
A few months back I had the pleasure of riding the Covert at the Mega Avalanche in Alp D’Huez. I said at the time it was about as good a bike as you could get for the job, light enough to pedal, yet comfortable enough on the downhill sections to be fast. So the prospect of riding a shorter lighter sibling for a couple of weeks saw me sitting about waiting for the postman like a kid at Christmas. Thankfully unlike Santa Claus the Bandit didn’t disappoint (I’m still waiting for a Scalextric set by the way if you are reading this in Lapland…) Anyway back to the Bandit!
The acceleration is impressive; those Small Blocks having hardly any resistance on the dusty dry trails I was riding. The bike wants to attack the trail and feels so much livelier around the single track than the Covert, and that bike was no slouch. I thought after a summer of riding plenty of big rigs I would feel unbalance on the more upright geometry but the bike is still more “all mountain” than XC whippet with it’s 68° degree head angle. The 74° seat tube means the bike climbs really well, but the one thing that was missing was a Talas fork, when the going got steep the 140mm front end tended to get a little airborne and it was a job keeping it down.
Through tight twisty single track the Bandit was a dream, I found myself carrying more speed and riding faster than perhaps my fitness level and skill would have allowed. I was even surprised by the amount of grip offered by the Small Blocks, they never once let go on the dry stuff, they did wander a bit when it got gloopy though.
Downhill the Bandit impressed me too; it didn’t feel out of its depth at all and filled me with confidence even though I’ve been riding bigger bikes. Considering the ability of the bike on the downs it left me wondering where the Covert fitted into the range. Ultimately I decided the Covert is a do it all machine, it will pedal round your local woods and take on the toughest DH bike race in the world. The Bandit, while I have no doubt it would be capable, just wouldn’t cut it for me in the Alps. The sleek lines and lightweight feel would leave me a little unconfident at times, and confidence is important. In the UK though and on mountains that don’t have death written all over them the bike is a dream. Of course the big downside to all this is you’ll need two bikes, a Bandit to ride everyday, and a big hitter for gravity assisted riding.
A great bike at a good price, the ability to drop the fork down would be a huge bonus, I think this bike could climb a lot better if you had the option to steepen the angles when the hills get vertical. That said it’ll still climb up most stuff and no doubt set your heart alight on the single track. Point it downhill and the bike shows no fear, which sadly leaves you with no excuses. It’s not a “one bike quiver” if you enjoy riding downhill, XC and all mountain, but if the majority of your riding involves pedalling then it is a better option over the Covert in my opinion.Buy Trail Bikes on
This review was in Issue 15 of IMB.For more information visit Transition Bikes
By Rou ChaterRou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.