Transition Bandit 29er First Looks

29er Pro Reviews Video

This is a “First Looks” article. Its intent is to give the reader an overview of Transition’s Bandit 29er; a 130mm rear travel dual suspension mountainbike. An in-depth review canvassing, (among other things) the bike’s uphill, downhill performance and nit-picking its abilities in excruciating details will follow —- I promise!

The reason for such long-winded explicit babbling is that casual readers flipping through quickly will lambast “First Looks” articles for not having enough detail. Please be advised that the Bandit 29er is a new bike from Transition for 2012. I have had the bike for a grand total of 12 rides! While I realized that many other websites and magazine article writers will call it a day and proceed to write a definitive pronouncement with just a few rides that is NOT the way I do things and I accordingly refuse to crystallized definitive opinions about the Bandit 29er till I (and my guest author Kevin Bazar of Tahoe area fame) have given the Bandit 29er a thorough beating.

So, be patient. Take this for what it is; an overview of the frame and its components. Also some superficial first impressions about the Bandit 29er from someone who’s had experience with a few 29ers and many many mountain bikes but who doesn’t own the Bandit29er and who accordingly, is unbiased by not having invested money in it.


Transition Bikes is almost 10 years old. It was started by Kyle Young and Kevin Menard because of their passion for mountain biking and as a means of escaping their previous career paths at big bureaucratic telcos. Both the owners shared the same ethic of wanting to start a completely transparent customer-centric company where “the customers knew exactly who was running the company and why“. Their bikes started as downhill-focused reflecting Kyle and Kevin’s aggressive riding styles.

Increasingly Transition has branched out into bikes that are also climbing friendly. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the company and its customer base has grown. Despite this growth (in both sheer numbers of bikes produced and product line), Transition’s bikes have managed to preserve their reputation as solid, uncomplicated, businesslike bikes optimized for technical trails. The Bandit was Transition’s first foray into the “trail” category; balancing uphill versus downhill performance while maintaining Transition’s bikes personality of minimal downhilling compromise. The Bandit 29er capitalizes on Transition’s experience in pedally bikes and is the companies first foray into the 29″ wheel category.

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.

My personal bikes are a Santa Cruz Tallboy, Pivot Mach 5, and a Specialized Demo 7. In the 29er category I’ve tested/reviewed the Rocky Mountain AltitudeNorco Shinobi, and (informally) a Lenz Lunchbox

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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  • Steve says:

    Niner’s RIP9 also has interchangeable rear dropouts. Thee RIP9 comes with the standard 10×135 rear dropouts but you can buy the conversion for 12×142 or even 12×135 maxle…

  • HawaiiFi says:

    @Lee, if it were your money which one would you buy, the Transition 26er or 29er?

    • LeeL says:

      Hawaii – for my trails (ultra-technical, low-speed, not a lot of momentum) the Bandit 26. But remember I only have a few rides on the 29er

  • walter italy says:

    Hi LeeL. I am exchanging my large Tallboy C with a Bandit 29 large. It seems that the wheelbase will be longer, but not the chainstays : how about cornering ?

    • LeeL says:


      I really like my Tallboy M for cornering but from the geo chart I posted it looks like the Tallboy L has pretty conventional wheelbase numbers. Honestly, I’d be guessing how the Tallboy performs. I can tell you that the Bandit 29er in M is not as nimble as my Tallboy in M.

  • jay says:

    Hi Lee -nice write. So my trails are like yours – chunky and tech. You said you’d pick the bandit 26 over the 29…….pretend you have the 26 bandit and your tallboy (not sure what fork you run) in front of you. Which is getting the bulk of your riding time?

  • LeeL says:

    Jay – the Tallboy is a 24lb light bling machine with pinner wheels and tires. The Bandit is way more value-oriented with tougher components. I’d drop the Bandit 29er off things without a thought that I’d rider the Tallboy around. So kind of a tough question to answer if you know what I mean

  • chris says:

    LeeL- how about a ride comparison between the Bandit and Lunchbox

  • Ryan says:

    LeeL- I live on the Big Island and I am looking to upgrade my GT Sanction 2 to a TallBoy LT or a Bandit 29er. I’m 6’1 175lbs, I ride hard DH, but I am participating in the XTERRA on Maui this year and need a climbing machine. Any suggestions?

    • LeeL says:

      Ryan – i”ve only hiked on the Big Island and never biked there so would be guessing as to what bike you’d need. The B29 climbs well if you have a light wheelset but for it to be light and strong it’d have to be $$$$. Hope that helps

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