Transition Bandit Review

26er All Mountain Trail Pro Reviews Video

Transition Bike’s products have a reputation for downhill performance. Traditionally Transitions are not flashy and are instead optimized for technical trails. Uncomplicated… almost businesslike, but not looked on as bikes for climbing. This is strange given that the owners of the company spend a lot of time self-powered. The Bandit is Transition’s first foray into the “trail” category (more on what that might mean later). It’s meant to balance uphill and downhill while maintaining Transition’s personality of minimal downhilling compromise.

Generally available to the public in late 2011, the Bandit will probably be one of Transitions’ last attempts to stay away from model years as consumers have been confused by mid-year offerings. Not to make excuses, but this review is not overly tardy. I only had the bike in late August and have now had 40+ rides on it, through late summer, fall and some winter rides.

To summarize, Transition hit the sweet spot for trail bikes with the Bandit. The Bandit is best described as playful. Super poppy but which you can throw around. These are hardly characteristics that you’d associate with the 130mm rear suspension that is now considered to be short/medium travel. The Bandit’s downhill fun factor does not detract from its uphill ability and it is a competent climber. Couple these positive traits with a comparatively reasonable price and you have a high-value package for a rider that wants one bike to do it but with an uphill bias.

Riding in Pemberton, BC.

Carmel Forest in Israel.  Video by Bandit fan – Guy Bar

Transition Bandit 2

Pros:

  • The Fox suspension is fantastic. Reliable and tuneable. The front fork was particularly stiff making me feel a lot better about Fox’s 2012 offerings (this was a 2011 fork with 2012 internals).
  • Bandit is a “cheap air” machine; fun & playful. Sedate descenders might not get the most out of it.
  • Eminently competent climber.
  • Lots of room for upgrades

Cons:

  • Lots of room for upgrades (but too be fair; this is a value-priced bike)
  • Not everyone is going to like the Euro colours (I like the paint but am a photowhore)

Lee Lau’s Biases

I am 160 lbs and 5’11″ and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I’ve also made many bike trips to Switzerland, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and the Yukon (for example) so I’ve had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

This is a test bike that will be given back to Transition at the end of the test period. I am not sponsored by Transition and have no commercial association with Transition.

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About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.


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  • Mark M says:

    I purchased a 2011 Bandit frame last a few months ago and am super happy with this bike. I agree with most of this review. However, the reviewer claims this is “basically a single pivot design.” This is totally wrong. There are four pivot points and four “bars” (the frame itself being one of them), so this is “basically a 4-bar pivot design.” Did you check with Transition before making this claim? Other than that, good review.

  • Pringle says:

    Sorry Mark, it is a single-pivot suspension with a linkage actuated shock. The wheel path is dictated by the single-pivot. The linkage actuation lets them keep side loads off the shock for smoother travel, and gives them flexibility in tuning the shock rate through the travel, but it’s still a single pivot and has the inherent pros and cons of such a design. Single-pivot isn’t an insult though, they do have their good points. Nice review, btw. I too have a Transition single pivot bike.

  • Tom says:

    Mark,

    Sorry to tell you this, but the Bandit is not a 4 bar design. The main element that make s bike 4 bar is the rear picot being located on the chainstay in front of the dropout, not on top of the dropout. Specialized own the patent on this design, called the “Horst Link:”

    The reviewer is correct.

  • leel says:

    Mark,

    Reposting as the earlier response did not show up. Thanks for the comment. The Bandit is a single pivot. It’s a variation sometimes known as a linkage-driven single pivot. I didn’t get too much into the technical details since it’s out of the scope of the article but let me know if you need clarification.

  • Mark M says:

    Thanks for the explanation all. I stand corrected. I was giving wrong information on this from somebody else.

  • Helena Juhasz says:

    Thanks for the info guys. Obviously I am biased in my opinion about Transition, but I’ve had such great riding experiences on these bikes, that I can’t speak highly enough about their designs. I’ve found my 250 pretty good at climbing Fromme, so I’m keen to check out one of their bikes that’s actually supposed to go uphill too.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for the review. Really interested in this bike. What size did you ride? I’m you’re height, so I’m interested in your thoughts on sizes.

  • dan j says:

    hi there, in case i missed it what size was the demo bike? as it says the rider is 5.11 and in the pic the frame looks to be medium, just curious thanks.

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