Ask my co-workers what bike I always suggest people buy, and they’ll give you one answer: the Transition Scout.
Launched in 2015, the heyday of the 27.5” All-Mountain bike, it had 5” (125mm) of rear-wheel travel and came stock with a 140mm fork. Along with its longer travel sibling, the Patrol - winner of many “Best Bike of the Year” awards - it helped usher in an era of longer reaches, steeper seat-tube angles, and slacker head-tube angles.
In 2018, the Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG) version of the Scout was introduced, pushing wheelbase, reach, and travel up even more, and bringing in the various components of SBG that have become ubiquitous throughout the industry - reduced fork offset, sub 50mm stems, and the ability to run very long dropper posts.
Why has the Scout always been my go-to recommendation? As I see it, it is the perfect do-it-all bike for anyone who isn’t hell-bent on smashing technical downhill trails as fast as you can. It has enough travel that it certainly can do that, but also not so much that it’s soaking up your speed on smoother flow/jump trails, or making long alpine single-track into a death-march… basically, it’s a bike that keeps biking fun, which is why the vast majority of us do it.
And now, with the Scout V3, it is a more refined version of just that - a maximum fun mountain bike.
What has changed? A lot, so for the sake of brevity, here’s a quick break-down:
- All-new carbon-fiber frame - that’s front and rear triangles, as well as the rocker link. It will not be offered in aluminum.
- The Scout now has 140mm (5.51”) of rear-wheel travel, up from the V2’s 130mm.
- This iteration of Transition’s four-bar GiddyUp suspension design is more progressive than the previous Scout, making for a happy melding with coil shocks. We don’t currently have a coil option available, but are working on it.
- With the ability to run a 205mm x 62.5mm shock instead of the stock 205mm x 57.5mm, you can bump the rear wheel travel to 150mm of travel. With the option of running a 160mm fork, you then have what amounts to an enduro race bike or bike park ripper.
- Details like in-set, ribbed chain/seat-stay guards and a ruberized platform to prevent your chain from falling in between your smallest cog and chain-stay speak to the attention to detail that Transition has put into this frame.
- The Scout has full Tubes-In-Tubes technology, with internal routing, except for the rear brake which is left external. That is a good thing; having to uncouple a brake hose from your lever body to change it is a pain in the butt.
- The bikes get longer, but not too long. Reach is bumped up by a centimeter on each size (extra-small through extra-large), and the wheelbase goes up by about two centimeters.
- Effective seat-tube angles went from steep to steeper, and now sit at 77.26 degrees on average (they vary on each size), up from an average of 75.56. This actually brings down the effective top tube length across the size run, so you’ll sit a little closer to the handlebars for a given size.
- The head-tube angle is dropped to 64 degrees, down from 65. This accounts for some of the increase in wheelbase length.
- Un-interupted seat-tubes, so that at 5’10”, I can run a 200mm post, fully slammed, on a medium frame. This means small and extra small riders can run seat-posts longer than 100mm.
- The fat tire folks have spoken, and Transition has listened. Wider seat and chain-stay spacing allows you to run a 2.6 (and in some cases wider) rear tire.
If you watched our launch video of this bike, you’ll know that I was able to pick up a new Scout from Lars, at Transition HQ, ahead of its launch.
At 5’10”, I could ride size large for most bikes, but have found that with my 5’10” arm-span and 31” inseam, I prefer mediums. That is the size Scout I was on. Because of the extra steep seat angle, the cockpit feels quite close and the pedaling position is very upright. Coming from my medium Patrol, the front wheel is closer to you while seated. At first, this made me think “this bike is too small,” but as the uphill got steeper, it became apparent how much this additional weight over the front wheel helps keep it planted, allowing for quick and easy directional changes.
This bike is light compared to my alloy Patrol, but also to similar bikes like the carbon Santa Cruz Bronson, which added to the ease with which it climbs. Transition has had a few generations of bikes using their “GiddyUp” four-bar design, and they’ve nailed things like anti-squat - I noticed no pedal-bob, and left the shock open while climbing. The rear wheel did remain active enough to soak up bumps that would otherwise have made my tire skip and loose traction. This is a bike that was designed with climbing in mind, and it shows.
As mountain biking has grown in popularity, so have the number of mtb-specific trails. Features that can require more travel, like jumps, drops, and technical maneuvers have become more commonplace, and people seek them out. Transition is located in an area that is at the forefront of this movement, and their bikes have grown with it. This Scout is a different beast than the original, sporting 15mm more rear-wheel travel, a centimeter taller fork, and a three degree slacker head angle.
How does it handle today’s descents?
With tenacity and aplomb, is how. The suspension honestly feels more supple and active than the fully coiled-out Santa Cruz Megatower I’ve been spending most of my time on, which has two centimeters more travel. Despite the longer wheelbase, the bike is snappy, quick to react to your inputs, and maybe because of it, it still feels collected and composed at high speeds, even on choppier sections of trail.
It seems that a large segment of the market has shifted towards 29’ers, but in my opinion that has more to do with fads and trends then what necessarily makes sense. 27.5” wheels un-arguably make for a bike that feels zestier than a 29’er. They are easier to get through tight turns, and make quick direction changes more attainable. Transition’s Scout has always taken advantage of that trait, and is a part of what makes this bike so fun to ride.
At 140mm/150mm of travel, the Scout is not what anyone would consider an enduro race bike, but it is pushing towards those grounds, especially when you look at some of the geometry numbers. Even so, it does not have the same DH bike feel that those bikes do when you head towards DH bike territory, which makes sense. It’s not supposed to. You can take it further in that direction by doing the longer stroke shock/fork, but like I’ve said, this bike is designed to hit the middle of that bell curve of trail types, and in that it succeeds with flying colors.
I have watched Transition mature as a company over the years, bringing refinement and thought into their line-up year after year. Design features like bearing guards on the main pivot bearings, a high coverage chain AND seatstay guard, and an accessory bracket mount, as well as simple yet oft missed ideas like keeping your rear brake cable external, it is obvious that the folks at Transition know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to making an amazing mountain bike, and they do it well.
If having fun on your bicycle is why you ride, and you don’t lust after marathon cross country climbs or heinous, DH world cup descents, chances are very high that you’ll love this bicycle.