Transition's Smuggler might share the 29er wheel size and similar short travel to cross-country bikes, but its geometry and intentions are about as far from the head down, uphill-focused set as can be.
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Transition Smuggler NX spec overview
- Frame: Aluminum, 120mm travel
- Fork: RockShox Revelation RC Solo Air, 140mm
- Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
- Drivetrain: SRAM NX 11-speed, Race Face Aeffect cranks
- Wheels/tires: Novatec hubs, WTB STP i29 rims, Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II 29x2.3in tires
Base-level parts feel as such
Transition frames are known for their rowdy ride feel and, unfortunately, their weight, and an aluminum Smuggler (size Medium) comes in at a decidedly not svelte 3.9kg / 8.8lbs.
Slap on some durable but hardly weight-conscious parts and it doesn't take long before the 13.6kg / 30lb barrier is long passed. On my scale, the size Large Smuggler NX weighs 15.45kg / 34lb.
Cranking the Smuggler up to speed, that heft was felt. Add in the big, chunky Minion tires front and rear, and acceleration felt like a chore.
First ride impressions: confidence inspiring
It's common for raked-out bikes to feel floppy at the front wheel at low speed; like the bike wants to flop over and take a nap. The Smuggler doesn't have this bad habit.
Transition's Speed Balanced Geometry takes the standard longer, lower, slacker trend a step further. A shorter offset fork (42mm vs 51mm) pulls the front wheel back towards the rider. This is said to allow more traction, better steering response, and enhanced front wheel feedback. And it seemed to work.
Climbing uphill, the Smuggler didn't have that wandering, always needing to be corrected feel about it. It wasn't fast, but it didn't require excess concentration like some slack bikes can.
On the downs it's noticeably different. The bike wanted me to lean forward onto the front wheel and drive the bike from there as opposed to how a Specialized likes being steered from the bottom bracket. Both are fun, just very different.
It certainly didn't feel like a 120mm rear travel bike either. Its manners and fearless demeanor seemed more in line with a 140mm or 150mm travel bike.
Along those same vibes, pitching the Smuggler into the air was met with calm, self-assured flight. I'm excited to see where this leads.
Other than that, I have some suspension tweaking to do before I can really delve into the ride details.
Transition Smuggler NX early verdict
The Smuggler is an interesting ride. While its hefty build doesn't align with its modest suspension travel, its clear this bike wants to go fast, steamroll techy sections and be pushed harder than most low-travel trail bikes.
Transition Smuggler NX pricing and availability
Transition offers five Smuggler builds, two carbon starting with a $4,999 (international pricing TBD) GX build, and three alloy models kicked off with this £3,349 / $2,999 NX kit in for test. Both the metal and the plastic frames are available separately as well.
Transition Bikes can be found at local bike shops or purchased through Transition's site.