Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I went to the Duthie Bike fair. I was only able to be there for a few hours, but I was able to demo 4 bikes that day (each pretty different from each other, as I was wanting to figure out what "genre"/category of bike I prefer).

I rode my bike (Kona Process 153 AL 29'er), a Canyon Spectral, a Transition Smuggler, a Pivot Mach 5.5, and a Diamondback Mission.

The Transition Smuggler was the runaway favorite for the day. It sounds cliche, but it was the only bike (including my own) that had me grinning on the exit of every turn, as I finally felt I was able to nail the turns with it.

And, proof was in the pudding. My GPS data for the day said I was significantly faster on the smuggler. On Voodoo child (blue jump/drop trail with some good berms) I hit a max speed of 24mph on the smuggler, and on the same trail, with other bikes I was in the 18-20mph range.

I know GPS have some inaccuracy, but I also wayyyy overjumped the final jump on the trail with the Smuggler on that run, so I'm pretty confident I was cruising relative to my normal pace.

When I got home I looked at the geo charts compared to my Kona, and was surprised to see that the geo is actually very similar. Same HTA, STA's within like half a degree. The chainstays on the Smuggler were 5mm longer, and the WB was 5mm shorter, and those were the largest differences.

The only other thing I could think being different enough to feel was the reduced offset fork. It was the first/only bike I've ridden with a reduced offset fork. Perhaps that was what I was feeling? Or maybe it just has better suspension that was setup better? Or perhaps it was just that I maybe prefer a short travel bike? Not sure, but I liked whatever it was.

I'll be seeking out another demo with it sometime, even though its a bit too much for my budget to comfortably handle, as I'd love to figure out what made me like it so much.

And, until then, I'm curious to look at other similar bikes in the same category, especially any that are cheaper. So far I've found the ibis ripley, and Whyte S-120. Both look to be pretty similar from the geo/travel perspective. Sadly, both are also only available in Carbon (builds starting from ~$4k). Am I missing any others?

Sorry for the long post, but thanks for the help Mtbr :).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I didn't even think about the fluid. I'll have to take a closer look at it, as I'm not remembering the exact geo.

And, Norco did have a booth at the fair, but I didn't have enough time to demo as much as id like, and I won't be able to get down there today to try anything else. Do they do other demos locations? I do like how transition is just north of here, and I can go grab a demo pretty easily almost any time I want.

Oh, and speaking of transition. I noticed last year that they do pretty decent deals on their old demo bikes. It's just usually they only demo the high end models. So even if it's a better deal, the total price is usually pretty close to the same. If the sold the alloy nx build still, I would probably jump on it if it was on any sort of decent sale.

Thanks for the tips so far :).
 

·
Hoolie Ghoulie on Strava.
Ripmo
Joined
·
3,453 Posts
Used Transition Smuggler. I am willing to bet most high end bike frames are good for a solid 2000-2500 rides. I have put 1,100 rides on a Turner 5-Spot (I kinda miss that bike), it was fine when I sold it after 7 yrs. if you buy a USED Smuggler from someonr that rides 2-3 days per week, and is not a hard/advanced rider, you can buy a Smuggler 1/2 price. If its a year old it will have 80-90 rides on it if not used in winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just took a quick gander at the geo for the Norco Fluid. Its closer than I thought to the smuggler. Sadly... I can't demo one anytime soon, as the only one in the area is happening today. Guess I should have remembered to check it out yesterday :/.

I hadn't looked at the Django before. It seems interesting, but the geo is a bit different. If I get the chance to ride one, I'll for sure take the chance.

I've just started checking the used market for Smugglers. They do exist, but there aren't tons. So far the only ones on pinkbike that are under $3k are pre SBG (2017 and earlier). Maybe some 2018 Alloy models will show up eventually.

I'm not in dire need of one, as I've already got a bike. It just intrigued me enough to start seeing what else there was out there like it, and see what pieces I could shuffle around to make one happen, or if the price point is just too far out there.

And I'm still curious if what I felt about it that I liked was the reduced fork offset? I mean, the geo was nearly the same as my current bike. Just less travel, and the fork offset. That's pretty much the only significant difference. Or maybe it was just the travel was more supportive?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,254 Posts
GT sensor is an almost identical smuggler copy! It even has very similar suspension layout and kinematic. Their builds kinda suck, but they have a carbon front+alloy stay frame with deluxe rc3 for $1800. That’s a steal! It has proper tire clearance and is one of the stiffest frames I have ever felt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.

I'm not in any hurry to make a switch, but I'm starting to read reviews, look at builds, comparing geo charts, etc. I'd forgotten about the GT Sensor completely, and for some reason thought that the Process 111 was out of production longer ago than 2017. And now I'm kicking myself for not looking at the Giant as well, as they were at Duthie the other day as well.

That said, I went to the Duthie bike fair with the intent to try of riding multiple genres of bikes, just to see which category spoke to me. So I think that was productive, I just didn't come prepared with enough bikes from each category to look into, or enough time to ride all of them even if I had known.

And it definitely sold me on the importance of demoing. Like I said, even though geo numbers are almost identical to what I have already, it felt wildly different.

I'm also going to try see if I can figure out which part of the smuggler was causing me to like it. Maybe I prefer suspension with a lot more support (I ride a Yari with no LSC, while the Smuggler had a Fox 36 with the Grip 2), or maybe I just loved the reduced fork offset. Those are my primary guesses atm anyway.

Thanks again everyone :).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh, good point. I should have mentioned.

I was on the Carbon X01. Because it was a demo, they tend to only have the high spec bikes available to lure you in. In this case, the X01 has an MSRP of $6k.

I realize it is a higher spec bike than my Kona (which I paid $2k for), but I don't "think" the increased confidence railing turns was entirely due to that. Mostly because many of the other bikes that I rode had similar/the same suspension, and didn't make me rail the turns like the smuggler did.

I'll add the GG to the list as well :). As I said, I'm mostly in the learning/research phase at this point. Just curious what other similar options were out there, and I really appreciate the help.

At this point I'd have a preference of getting an actual demo of any of these bikes, but we'll see how things change as I research/learn about all the options (and maybe what the used market has to offer come off season).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,254 Posts
Did any of the other bikes you demod have the reduced offset? There are very mixed opinions on it, but I feel like it does really help me rail corners. It adds a little front wheel weight bias compared to standard offset so front wheel traction is improved. And for whatever reason initiating turns and holding a line is much more intuitive for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Did any of the other bikes you demod have the reduced offset? There are very mixed opinions on it, but I feel like it does really help me rail corners. It adds a little front wheel weight bias compared to standard offset so front wheel traction is improved. And for whatever reason initiating turns and holding a line is much more intuitive for me.
The smuggler was the only bike I rode with the reduced offset fork, which is why I am thinking maybe that was the "feeling" that I liked.

Your statement mirrors my own experience though. For me it just manifested in the feeling of "Man, I really nailed that turn" vs coming out of the turn thinking "I need to do another lap, didn't quite feel like I got it that time".

Maybe I just need to try to get my weight a bit farther forward in turns then?

Also... I've not looked into this. Can you swap the lowers on a fork relatively cheaply? I've got a 29'er Yari that I've been thinking about adding the charger damper to in the future, maybe a reduced offset lower could be a good swap for me, assuming it doesn't cost an arm and a leg?

Incidentally, a buddy of mine went to the fair with me. He doesn't know bikes very well (not models/parts/etc, even though he rides with me all the time). He was basically just riding whatever was available in his size. Both of the bikes he says were his favorite were models with reduced offset forks (Yeti SB130, and the same Smuggler I rode). I thought that was interesting, as he was basically doing a blind test (never read any bike reviews/etc).
 

·
Short-Change-Hero
Joined
·
6,534 Posts
The smuggler was the only bike I rode with the reduced offset fork, which is why I am thinking maybe that was the "feeling" that I liked.

Your statement mirrors my own experience though. For me it just manifested in the feeling of "Man, I really nailed that turn" vs coming out of the turn thinking "I need to do another lap, didn't quite feel like I got it that time".

Maybe I just need to try to get my weight a bit farther forward in turns then?

Also... I've not looked into this. Can you swap the lowers on a fork relatively cheaply? I've got a 29'er Yari that I've been thinking about adding the charger damper to in the future, maybe a reduced offset lower could be a good swap for me, assuming it doesn't cost an arm and a leg?

Incidentally, a buddy of mine went to the fair with me. He doesn't know bikes very well (not models/parts/etc, even though he rides with me all the time). He was basically just riding whatever was available in his size. Both of the bikes he says were his favorite were models with reduced offset forks (Yeti SB130, and the same Smuggler I rode). I thought that was interesting, as he was basically doing a blind test (never read any bike reviews/etc).
Yes you can... it is the CSU that needs to be replaced, not the lowers that changes the offset if I remember correctly. Believe that you can buy them from Universal Cycles (also the Charger 2 damper, which was cheapest I found online, not 2.1).

I have mixed feelings on the shorter offset. I started my GG Smash with a 51mm offset and then a few weeks later moved to a 42mm offset. There is definitely a difference in how the bike handles but I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing as the terrain that I ride has lots of sharp switchbacks (where I believe shorter offset is king), but also lots of long, swooping, flow type trail (where longer offset is king). Regardless you will get used to whichever you end up riding/buying and it will eventually melt under you. Probably the biggest take away from the demo day is that there may be something (setup/tuning wise) that is "off" about your bike. May be time to go through everything and do a full bike teardown and refresh bearings, do suspension service and whatnot.

I actually just went through this partially with the shorter offset fork. Is a Lyrik RC with MRP Ramp Control and for the life of me I could not get it to feel "Plush" like everyone claims it is. Since I bought used and am pretty sure that a service was never done to it I broke down and did a lower leg service on Friday. Rode it yesterday and definitely feels better. Could it be placebo effect, definitely could but when I pulled the lowers off, the grease on the airshaft was pretty gunked up and hardish, oil was nasty and dark colored, foam rings were dirty and the wiper seals were nasty. Replaced with new slick honey, some 15wt oil and PUSH wipers and it felt much better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,440 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the info. Just looking around online, replacing the CSU + charger would set me back more than I'd like to spend right now. So, good to know its doable, but its not exactly an air spring upgrade in terms of price.

Like you said, I know its "something" about the smuggler I was feeling, and totally agree that some of it could easily be my own bikes setup.

The bike is new as of this January, and I've only had it out ~10-15 times this year, so I'm pretty certain that the pivots/etc are still good. But, this is my first bike with air suspension, and while I did take the time to set it up after I got it, I didn't get too far beyond setting sag, and rebound, and haven't fiddled with it since (although I've been messing with tire pressure each ride).

I think after this experience, I'm going to play around with air pressure some more, as I'm thinking some of the difference may have been the front diving under turns (the smuggler has less travel, and a better damper, so maybe it wasn't wallowing so much?). As air pressure experimentation is free :). And so is playing with the other suspension settings.

And, I'm going to go demo the smuggler again sometime this summer, as they're under 2hrs north of me. Maybe with some more seat time on it I'll figure out which piece of the puzzle it is. And in the mean time, maybe I'll see if I can find a demo of any of these other bikes that were recommended.

Thanks for all the help everyone :).
 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top