Transition TR250 – Reviewed @!

Located in Ferndale, Washington, Transition Bikes have evolved over the years, but the idea of creating a family among riders is still the same. That family has grown in the ten years since the company’s inception and so has the number of bikes in their lineup. One of their latest releases is known as the TR250, a machine that has been designed around the idea that versatility is key. The ultimate goal with the TR250 was to offer a slimmed down version of the famed TR450, but without losing its characteristics and abilities. The same suspension layout was utilized, incorporating adjustable travel and handling, but the finished product is slimmer and with a high fun factor designed in to it.

While the TR250 may have less travel than its big brother, the TR450, it is built to go just as big.

Transition TR250 details:

  • Intended use: freeride/downhill
  • Rear wheel travel: 160mm (6″) or 180mm (7″) (adjustable)
  • Tapered head tube
  • 12 x 150mm rear end
  • 83mm BB shell
  • ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
  • Frame weight: 8.9lbs (w/o rear shock)
  • MSRP $2499 USD (frame w/ rear shock), $4699 USD (complete as pictured)

The single pivot swingarm uses a nearly hidden linkage to activate the shock and alter the leverage curve for the bike’s intentions – riding hard.

Have it your way: All of the TR250’s sealed bearing pivots are held in place with high quality steel hardware and make use of anodized aluminum caps to help keep the elements out. The rocker arm features two different shock mounting positions, determined by rotating an insert, that allows the rider to choose between 6”(160mm) and 7”(180mm) of rear travel. Switching the setting not only changes the travel, but feel as well. Also supplied with the bike are two sets of dropout chips that allow three different head tube angles and three different bottom bracket heights, making the TR250 one of more customizable bikes out there. Looking for a poppy bike park feel? You can have that. Want to rail the corners and set new personal best times on your local track? You can have that setting too.

Beveled aluminum washers around the suspension hardware keeps everything looking neat and tidy. At first glance the TR250’s clean cable routing has you wondering if they are routed internally.

The black oval is the ”chip” (left), allowing for geometry adjustments by simply swapping it out or rotating it. The rear shift line is run internally through the swingarm, protected from the chain and the grime. The TR250 uses a tapered head tube (right) which will accept a zero stack headset to maximize compatibility.

Park ready build: The TR250 is available as a complete bike that uses the same build as out test model, or can be had as frame and rear shock for you to put together how you see fit. Suspension is taken care of by a 180mm travel Fox 36 Van RC2 in the front and a Fox DHX RC4 coil in the rear. The drivetrain uses SRAM’s X9 derailleur and shifter, 9 speed instead of 10, powered by Truvativ’s Descendent cranks. Slowing the bike is a set of Avid Elixir CR brakes, complete with 8″ rotors. Transition has used some of their own parts, beginning with the burly Revolution 32 wheelset. The stem, pedals and seat are all Transition as well. The handle bar, a Kore Torsion Race, comes in at a knuckle-busting 31.5” (800mm) wide, with 1.3” (35mm) of rise. Using bar caps brought this width to over 32”(812mm), which may be good for handling, but will have you caught up in some tight trails.

The stock build is sturdy and park friendly, complete with proper tires, platform pedals and a chainguide.

Release Date: 2011
Price: $4699
Travel: 160mm/180mm
Rear Shock: Fox Racing Shox DHX RC4
Fork: Fox Racing Shox 36 Van 180 RC2 FIT
Headset: Full Speed Ahead Gravity DX Pro
Cassette: SRAM PG950 11-26
Crankarms: Truvativ Descendent 1.1 165mm
Chainguide: e.thirteen SRS+
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Howitzer Team 83mm
Pedals: Transition Stepdown
Chain: KMC X9.93
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X9 9 speed
Shifter Pods: SRAM X9 9 speed
Handlebar: Kore Torsion Race 800mm x 35mm
Stem: Transition Temple Lite
Grips: ODI Ruffian Lock-on
Brakes: Avid Elixir CR 8″
Wheelset: TBC Revolution 32 150
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 26×2.5 3C
Seat: Traitor Diamond Stitch
Seatpost: Thomson Elite

Riding the TR250: Given the bike’s intentions as a freeride friendly downhill machine, we took it to our favorite zone for such riding. This isn’t an area to feel uncomfortable on a bike, but the TR250 was quickly being thrown off of the step downs, drops and jumps at our local haunt. The bike also spent time in the Whistler Bike Park, chasing down longer legged DH machines in the Garbanzo zone and spending copious amounts of time in the air on the local jump trails.

The TR250 loved to play and find places to leave the ground, and even the smallest of rollers could get the bike alot.

Supple suspension: As the bike takes much of its design from a DH bike, one might expect it to handle and feel like one. The is very true is some ways, but in others it is totally opposite. The TR250’s suspension has a “big bike” feel to it, even when set to the shorter 6″ position. The initial suppleness helped to tame chatter, making for a smoother ride than you would expect from a 6″ or 7″ travel steed when compared to a full-on DH sled. The rear suspension starts its stroke very active and soft to accommodate small bumps, but stays at the top of the stroke for when the travel is needed. When subjected to big drops and hard landings however, I found that my setup lacked enough bottom out resistance, and as a result the landings weren’t always as smooth as I would have liked. Turning up the high speed compression a few clicks and adding air to the shock helped out in this situation, but adding air took away some of the initial suppleness of the stroke, even in the 7″ travel setting. We’re not saying that the TR250 can’t be setup for both, but it does force you to choose one or the other. This won’t be an issue for a lot of riders, especially those who are buying the bike as a pure freeride machine and will be setting it up accordingly, but racers looking for a short travel race bike should take note.

The TR250 doesn’t need much speed to get airborne and has plenty of pop to it.

Corner worker: While most would expect a bike such as the TR250 to be designed to send booters, with cornering being a ways down on the wishlist, the blue bike loved to get its lean on. Unlike a plus sized downhill rig, the TR250 took to corners with little effort, no matter what the speed. Slower bends could easily be pumped through, coming out the other end faster than you entered, and fast turns, even in the rough, were effortlessly railed. In fact, we don’t doubt that the TR250 can get around the bends quicker than most downhill bikes, but it’s how it does it that has us so impressed: there is no need to ride the front or back of the bike in such situations, it is just plain easy to ride fast. This is likely down to how stiff the bike is as a package, along with its low slung shock position and well sorted geometry.

The short wheelbase made it easy to lift the front end over obstacles and carry speed through tight corners. Sometimes, a short wheelbase tends to make a bike harder to control over rough terrain, but I found the TR250 was light enough to lift off the ground and skip over obstacles all together. The ease of lifting the front end combined with the playful suspension, made for a very fun bike to ride.

One of the many trail features hidden amongst the mountains and trees.

A few things to note about the TR250:

  • The rebound adjustment is only accessible by a set of small fingers (really small), or by partially removing the suspension linkage. This is a big pain in the ass.
  • Although the bars seemed overly wide at first, I decided to give them a shot. The extra wide bars caused me to stop at tight spots more than a few times. With some nearly broken fingers and sore shoulders, I decided to cut the bars down. But it is much better than Transition spec’ing a bar that is far too skinny.
  • The Revolution wheels may not be the flashiest option out there, but they are quite tough. They are still near perfect to this day, after a full Summer season of shredding.
  • The SRAM drivetrain and Avid brakes have been nearly invisible during our time on the bike. No troubles and no adjustments needed.

Keeping the wheels on the ground wasn’t a problem, but the bike begged to be airborne.

Pinkbike’s take:
While we never quite got the bike’s rear suspension where we wanted it, there is no doubting that the TR250 is a capable freeride machine. It loves to session the local booters, but it also can rail corners with the best downhill bikes out there. Unlike a lot of builds, the stock spec from Transition is also fully ready to shred, with nothing needing to be swapped out before hitting the trails.

Check out the Transition website to see their entire lineup!

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