TRANSITION BIKES Trans Am two9: Final review: by c_g
I can’t believe how time has been flying while I was having fun!!
Last time, which already is more than a month ago, I left you with my first ride impressions of this bike based on winter riding only (here). Snow and ice can show quite a few traits of a bike, but they allow only for a partial use of what this bike is made for. Now that spring has finally arrived and all trails are open, my impressions have been completed. Adding to this I have had the chance to take the TransAm two9 for a short trip to Italian Lago di Garada, which is a very rocky, technical riding place (some of our readers may know – unfortunately due to technical issues no pics from this trip )
Already in the slow end of this winter, I decided to swap the tires from the SCHWALBE Ice Spiker Pros (reviewed here) to the burlier SCHWALBE Hans Dampf 2.35. Despite TRANSITIONS statement the frame would take up to 2.25, the TransAm didn´t have any issues with taking this really wide and true to size rubber – even with a derailleur mounted (top mount, top pull SHIMANO). Tire clearance definitely is no issue with this frame for any currently available 29″er tire.
THE CONTINUED RIDE: One reader commented how the TRANSITION TransAm two9 made him smile every time he rides it … I can confirm.
This IS one sorted trail bike.
Apart from the initial fit issue I had (easily solved by a set-back post over the stock in-line post), I have no complaints. I really feel like the TransAm two9 is a bike that can do (almost) everything. OK, it is not a race bike (at 2.9 kg / 6.4 lbs for the bare frame it doesn´t claim to be), but it pedals very efficiently. I was positively impressed how willingly and eagerly it climbed and could be used as a general rider´s bike. Like said before, stiffness is no issue with this steel frame – everything is built (very) strong. While lacking a bit of the ‘steel is real’ damping (I enjoyed my shimmed 27.2 mm post to help in this department), it for sure is a very precise bike to handle, with a super direct power transfer.
But the TransAm is more than a general riding bike, it is one that doesn´t mind being pushed hard and ridden very aggressively. I got a taste of this during the wintery first test phase, but the last few weeks have really taught me just how true this is. The TransAm is a blast to ride aggressively, be it on fast flowy runs or twitchy flicking trails – it can pretty much do everything – and do it well.
Thinking just how capable the bike is, one particular day in Lago di Garda comes to mind: I had been riding a lot of long travel bikes all the past days and just before sundown I took the TRANSITION TransAm two9 for the same rocky run, I had just been doing all day on these other bikes. The uphill road section was of course a lot nicer with no suspension in the back, but when the downhill approached, I was growing anxious. I really had been wondering how I would manage transitioning from 130+ mm rear travel to none on such a technical course … but boy was I ripping that downhill ;). When I got to the bottom I was smiling all over. Likely I had been working harder with the hard tail (most likely have) than with the full sussers before, likely I was a bit slower, but the point for me is that I had sooo much more fun coming down and never ever felt insecure for a split second running through the boulder fields and drops the trail had to offer.
That particular experience showed me how capable the bike really was and that with my technical home trails I was merely scratching on the surface of what reserves this frame
The next day I had a free ride professional try out the TransAm two9, who was with us on this trip and he had the same funny looks on his face after the run – saying: “WOW – this bike brings out the best of you!” But, like said above the TransAm two9 is both, an excellent trail bike with huge potential even for really technical rides, and a well mannered, fun bike for everything else. This in fact to me is the prime quality of the bike, that it is a great confidence builder in the sketchy sections, but also great fun in most anything else. The agile steering, flick-able geometry and yet good high speed stability, make the TRANSITION TranAm two9 one of the nicest do-it-all hard tails I have ridden in some time.
(Frequent readers may remember how this was one of the very few drawbacks the 2SOULSCYCLES Quarterhorse had for me, that it was a blast in the technical sections but
felt “bored” in normal pedaling situations.)
ABOUT SIZING: I may add, that with my 183 cm (or 6’) I am running at the lower limit of what Transition´s sizing chart recommends for a size Large frame, but I feel that it fit me perfectly. Stand over clearance has never been an issue either.
Running the infinitely length adjustable GERMAN:A Excite (reviewed here last year) on the bike, I tried different fork lengths and came to the conclusion, that the bike will also deal well with a 100 mm fork, but shows its full potential only with the 120 mm front it is designed for. I have had no chance to try out a 140 mm fork, so I have to leave that option open with no verdict there.
My one and only gripe (but I am being really picky here): I do think that the TRANSITION TransAm two9 is overbuilt for all but the most aggressive riders, and personally would like to see a lighter version of the frame, but this way you never need to worry whether the frame will hold up in whatever you put it through. Also, the weight never really bothered me much (but ME being me it always stuck a sensitive cord in my head ;)).
All frame details are sorted: Cable routing is very good, (even has provisions for a dropper seat post, which on this bike could make a lot of sense), the super burly exchangeable dropouts are not only bombproof but also beautiful and the factory applied frame saver is another welcome and sensible touch.
I absolutely love the bright blue color and the slightly retro labeling – it has cheered me up on multiple occasions during the monochromatic times and in my opinion simply looks great. Paint quality seems to be very good also.
VERDICT: So where does that leave me in regards of the TRANSITION TransAm two9? In short: I am truly sorry for having to let go of this bike!! To me it finds the perfect balance of a true one-for-all 29″er hard tail. Its versatility and balance span from a well pedaling and fun handling all day ride, to an aggressive hucker bike for daring adventures. As long as you are not a gram counter or rigid riding purist, I see no reason not to enjoy this frame – and with the ISCG option, the single speed adaptable modular dropouts, dropper post option and huge tire clearance it can be ‘tailored’ to most everyone’s needs. Add the protective inside coating and you have a friend for life.
Great job TRANSITION – you blessed us with some very fun riding times those last two months! Thank you!