– TRANSITION BIKES TransAm “two9” On Test: by c_g

During my Eurobike´11 coverage I had already briefly shown and introduced to you the new TRANSITION TransAm two9 (here) – a frame made of the mother of bike frame materials that seem to be getting rarer and rarer – steel. Now we have been given the opportunity to ride and review this frame. It was given to us by Trailtoys (www.trailtoys.de), the TRANSITION distributors for Germany and Austria, who had only received their first batch days before.

While there had been a TransAm (26”) for some time,– for 2012 the rider owned company out of the Pacific Northwest has added the 29″er version to their portfolio the TRANSITION TransAm two9 equally aimed at aggressive trail riders seeking simplicity.

This bike is yet another example of the new breed of 29″er Long Travel hard tails, being designed to work with a 120 mm fork. We have had such a bike on test not long ago – the 2SOULSCYCLES Quarterhorse, that set a pretty high standard (remember it was awarded with the number 3 in our 2011 Euro Tope Ten, here). With this strong predecessor the TransAm will have to do really well to leave a positive mark. Will it manage?

THE FRAME: Looking at the butted 4130 CrMo frame it sure looks like it could take a good beating. All tubes are over-sized and burly – no wonder the bare frame weighs in at 2.92 kg (or 6.4 lbs) in size L. It is a nicely purpose built mix of standards like the 44 mm head tube (free choice to run whatever headset and fork with it – even an Angle-Set) supported by a wide down tube and an additional gusset, bolt-on 142/12 mm through axle dropouts (convertible to 135/10 mm or single speed) and a 73 mm BSA bottom bracket with ISG05 tabs. Those black anodized dropouts are both beautiful and massive.

The through axle coming with the frame is a bolt on style with a 5 mm counter bolt on the right side (this should never get loose by accident 😉 ) but a Shimano-style 12mm quick release-through axle, (like I am running on the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element), is said to work as well. The seat post is a dropper-friendly 30.9 mm. The Top Tube/Seat Tube/ Seat Stay junction has quite a bit of overlapping to create additional stiffness and assist in tire clearance (which looks ample by first inspection) and there is the nicely sculptured seat mast support that gives the bike rather pleasing silhouette (in my opinion at least ). All cables are designed to run externally and in full length housings … my favorite kind. The rear brake mount is an International Standard mount with a max 185 mm rotor size (good, but I would have expected it to take a 200 mm as well).

The frame comes in three colors – the “fabulous blue”, a charcoal silver, and a deep metallic red. Our choice for the depressive winter season of course has been the bright “baby blue” (my name, not theirs ). Coming from the wet northwest and knowing what the elements can do to a steel frame, all frames are internally coated – good move!

THE NUMBERS: In terms of the geometry, the 68.5° head angle and 73.5° effective seat angle of the TransAm, coupled with a the moderately short chain stay (432 mm or 17”) sounds very promising and somewhat universal for trail riding, and for sure not as extreme as we have seen with the 2SOULSCYCLES. The relatively small bottom bracket drop of 54 mm (2.1”) is something pointing at ground clearance: I am really curious to see how that translates in ride feel.

The TransAm two9 sells as frame only for a fair € 729.- (USD 699.-). It also comes as a complete bike with a built kit of FOX 32 Float 120 RLC, QR15, X.7 shifting and braking, TRANSITION Revolution 29″er wheels, Rock Shox Reverb post, …. for USD 2399.- (not available in Germany and Austria). For further info go to www.transitionbikes.com

THE BUILD: We will be building the TransAM two9 with a mix of components we also have on test – the SUNRACE MX group (now with 9-spd thumb shifters ), the REYNOLDS MT29 wheels (to see what there is to the vibration damping characteristics I had mentioned in my first post on them, and how they will take the extra beating from such a hard tail) and a set of SCHWALBE Hans Dampf tires (just what this a bike deserves).

Stay tuned for the complete built and my first ride impressions to come your way soon.