Transition Bike's SBG Technology: Ridden and Reviewed: (Is it Right for You?)

It has been a few month's now since Transition introduced their new line of bikes which featured their SBG (Speed Balanced Geometry). Although many consumers are just now getting the chance to test out the bikes and experience what SBG has to offer, we have been riding it for a good while now and have finally reviewed a few bikes.

Below you will see 4 different opinions from 4 very different riders. Andy is roughly 6'2" tall and weighs about 175 lbs give or take a few pounds. His past couple bikes include a Yeti SB6, SB5.5, Devinci Spartan, etc. which not much experience above riding trail bikes. Jeff however is very different. He is Roughly around 5'9" tall weighing maybe 140 lbs and riding bikes like the Yeti SB4.5, Evil The Following, etc. but comes from history of racing downhill. This leads us with Liam, a BMX rider turned XC racer turned enduro shred-sled-lion-tamer. He is about 6' tall and weighing about 140lbs. and Rides anything from a road bike to his personal favorite the Yeti SB5.5. Lastly there is Reamonn, a BMX rider who recently started turning over the the dark side and riding adult sized bikes. He is roughly 6' tall, about 170lbs and preferred to ride the Yeti SB5 or the 2016 Transition Patrol.

Transition SBG Technology

Andy's opinion after riding the Transition Sentinel:

"The new SBG technology really does work. I was skeptical at first, however after riding it you truly realize the benefits. For starters, the climbing was incredible. I fully expected the bike to be sluggish and slow going up hill, but I found it very comfortable in the cockpit and much more efficient than expected for such a big bike. Even with the slack head-tube it climbed really well! I would put it in front of my Evil bikes for climbing efficiency, but not quite as good as the Yeti's.

Second, you can feel the slackness on the descent which is awesome. It creates a very stable feel with the tire out in front of you and inspires a ton of confidence. I previously owned a Yeti 5.5 and the Sentinel made the gnarlier descents seem like mellow flow trails with how stable and smooth it was. The only knock I have on it is that it was quite long and heavy, so if I missed my line I found it difficult to flip the bike bike on line as it just wanted to be planted. Luckily it is slack and works damn well so if I missed my line it just plowed right over it : )

I think once the carbon version comes out to shed a pound or two, it would be an ideal bike for those who enjoy the gnarly downhills but still put in a few miles riding. From Whistler to 30 mile loops, I can see the Sentinel being the do it all bike!"

Transition Sentinel - Worldwide Cyclery

Jeff's Opinion after riding the Transition Smuggler:

"I am honestly really impressed with SBG and riding Transition's new bikes. Some of the most noticeable things to me were how controlled the bike performed while climbing really steep and tight switchbacks at slower speeds and how well it handled in that situation. It is amazing how long the wheelbase is, which obviously makes the bike more stable. Having the long wheelbase but still being able to maneuver tight corners and climb as well as it does was the most impressive thing. Cornering traction made me feel really confident on the bike. The fork's tight offset mixed in with a longer wheel-base was a win-win and a really modern approach on geometry. The steeper seat-tube puts you into a better position when you are seated and pedaling. Over all, I am very impressed with SBG."

 Jeff's Transition Smuggler build can be found here.


Liam's Opinion After riding the Smuggler, Sentinel, and Scout:

"While we have a test and review of the Sentinel, there are 3 other bikes getting the same treatment of SBG.  SBG is made up of 5 key components, when utilizing all 5 the bike seems to transition into handling that has never been in production before. 

  1. Frame Reach has been extended across all sizes 
  2. Head Tube angle has been slackened out
  3. Seat Tube angle has been made steeper
  4. Stem length has been spec'd shorter (40mm recommended)
  5. Fork offset has been reduced on both wheel sizes (possibly most noticeable)

With all 5 keys to the SBG needed to complete the package, the most interesting and in my opinion the biggest handling change is the fork offset. Before most 29er offset forks has been 51mm, some forks are 48mm but Gary Fisher / Trek bikes made the 51mm popular a couple years ago. Back then this really helped 29er bikes, mostly hardtails and 4 inch bikes handle more like you would expect. This became the more commonly spec'd offset for 29er bikes. With such a long offset getting too slack of a head tube angle starts to change trail numbers and negatively affect the front end handling of the bike. Most noticeable in slower tech sections, the front wheel tends to “slop” side to side.  A complete article or review can be done on that subject alone, but I’ll throw out a quick highlight.  By reducing fork offset and increasing trail (slackening the head tube angle) you can get a slower more controlled handling. If you just increase trail and reduce the offset of the fork you will get some of the handling you are looking for, if that tickles your feathers, but without having the other 4 components of SBG, you will be left desiring more.

Transition Scout

Some other companies have been following the trend of long and slack, Mondraker bikes being one of the first to go the extreme a few years ago. Not only did Transition jump ahead of the bikes currently on the market, they took a new approach and redesigned tons of aspects, creating the SBG package.

Transition Smuggler - Worldwide Cyclery

Riding the SBG equipped bikes, while we have a full review of the Sentinel, not everyone needs a crazy long slack big travel 29er. Honestly for us its a bit overkill and you are looking to trails where this bike can really come to life. Our local trails are more suited for mid travel bikes, with steep climbs and fun flowy, but not the most chunky trails, a mid travel bike can really excel. The Transition Smuggler and Scout fit perfectly into our style and location. Both bikes getting the SBG treatment, its a game changer. The Smuggler is still a very long bike, testing a large with a wheelbase longer than most mid travel 29er XL bikes. The full SBG package really is something to change the way you can ride a bike. Slack head tube, with the Smuggler rocking a 66.0 that's what some 160mm enduro bikes are running. This makes a mid travel bike so capable it is almost dangerous. Switchbacks are almost easier than ever, the front end tracks so well the huge wheelbase is forgotten while climbing and the seated position with the steep seat tube angle really completes the feeling. The Scout follows the same lines as the Smuggler, insanely capable, jaw dropping handling features, and a bit more flick-able with the 27.5 wheels. Check out searching for the limit with the new Scout, this bike can be pushed!"

Transition SBG Technology

Reamonn's Opinion after riding the Sentinel:

"The Sentinel was definitely not the bike for me. Although it was fun to ride it lacked many features that made riding enjoyable to me. I do not have the same amount of time in the saddle as the rest of the guys at the shop but this was not a bike for someone looking into a playful bike. With my least favorite features being the longer wheelbase and slacked out head-tube, my favorite features were the shorter offset on the fork, and steeper seat-tube.

The bike is a tank! It does not leave the ground easily and hauls faster downhill than any other bike I was familiar with. Still I wanted more movement out of the bike. I wanted it to be easier to pop up in the air, take tight corners and just jump around. I found myself struggling to keep up with the guys going uphill (more than usual...) but I could easily catch up on the downhill.

Transition Patrol - SBG Technology

My personal conclusion on the bike was simple. If you are in shape, don't mind the extra effort climbing and want to go fast downhill, this is the bike for you. If you don't care about Strava times or racing and would prefer to hit some jumps or shred the Bike Park then this is probably not the bike for you. The goal is clear with Transitions SBG Technology but it is important to make sure you are the type of rider that needs it! Don't just follow the trends!"

Transition Smuggler

Our end results:

These bikes rip!  Long, low, reduced fork offset, and steep seat tube angles. Has everything that people have grown to want and now carbon models are being released one at a time. We are very impressed by the handling in both slow, tech, sections as well as high speed in high chunk. Not much left undesired when riding the new Transition SBG bikes. With models to handle all types of style and terrain. We highly suggest you throw a leg over a new SBG equipped bike ASAP and find out if the bike is right for you!

Transition Bikes

March 16, 2018

Fork › product review › Sentinel › Smuggler › Transition ›

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