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Transition Patrol Carbon vs. SRAM Eagle

Transition-ing to Eagle : First Look

Words by Andrew Major. Photos by Dave Smith.
August 10th, 2016

SRAM Eagle has come to roost and it brought with it a tasty looking Transition Patrol Carbon. One of the most talked about new bikes of 2016 meets SRAM’s latest entry in the drivetrain wars.

SRAM Eagle

Yes, that is a 10-50t 12spd cassette. Even on the bright blue Transition Patrol Carbon the SRAM Eagle drivetrain stands out.

I’ve spent some time on our latest long-term test platform to dig into the more technical elements, like the SRAM ROAM 60 wheels and Lyric fork. Below you’ll find some first impressions of the bike and SRAM’s top-end componentry and suspension.

SRAM Eagle

SRAM Eagle 10-50t 12-speed cassette close up. Yes, it’s HUGE. In practice the new teeth profiling keeps the chain from derailing when back pedaling in any of the gears. Take that every 11-speed drivetrain! (Photo: Andrew)

The HUGE 50t cog Eagle cog is impossible to miss. The second thing I noticed about Eagle is that you can spin the cranks backward to your heart’s content with no derailing in any gears. I cannot understand how losing your chain backpedaling doesn’t drive you NUTS but apparently I’m in the minority that is positively gleeful to see SRAM kill my number one issue with 11-speed drivetrains from both Shimano and SRAM.

The third thing I notice about SRAM Eagle is the LONG ass derailleur cage. Thank goodness for 27.5 wheels because on a 26″ bike this thing would practically drag on the ground!

SRAM Eagle

You need a LONG cage derailleur to shift 10-50t on a full suspension bike.

The derailleur’s cage is relatively low profile but clearance between an expensive, expansive, drivetrain and technical trail features can be a game of millimeters. I have been worried about tagging the SRAM Eagle derailleur catastrophically. Transition’s Patrol Carbon does not use BOOST spacing so we do get a tiny bit of extra rear end clearance compared to many bikes that will be shipping with 12-speed.

Also speaking of Aesthetics. The teeth on the new SRAM Eagle X-Sync chainrings look like someone tried to anodize over the results of some drunken whittling. But hey, whatever works right? (NOTE – We want to make it clear that we don’t actually believe the tooth design was a result of whittling, neither drunken nor sober. That was meant to be comic relief. The design was the result of analysis of thousands of worn X-sync rings and is designed to ” to work perfectly with the new Eagle™ chain to increase chain retention and overall pedaling efficiency, while decreasing friction, noise and wear” according to SRAM. – Ed.)

SRAM Eagle

A brand new Eagle X-Sync ring. Whether it’s the result of some drunken whittling or SRAM is just taking the piss out of the all the aftermarket narrow wide chainring manufacturers (“Copy this A-holes!”) it works great. Let’s see how it wears.’ (NOTE – We want to make it clear that we don’t actually believe the tooth design was a result of whittling, neither drunken nor sober. That was meant to be comic relief). The design was the result of analysis of thousands of worn X-sync rings and is designed to ” to work perfectly with the new Eagle™ chain to increase chain retention and overall pedaling efficiency, while decreasing friction, noise and wear” according to SRAM. – Ed.)

First impressions on the actual shifting function of Eagle are very good. Take SRAM’s 11-speed drivetrain and add an additional gear ratio is probably the simplest way to describe it. Shifter ergonomics continue to be very good and I like the option to run the paddles close together.

SRAM Eagle

SRAM Eagle continues with their good shifter ergonomics and adjustable paddle position.

Thanks to the well-proven Horst Link suspension design the Transition Patrol Carbon is a very easy bike to set up. I can’t think of a bike I have felt so immediately at home on. I prefer 25% sag, which is much less than recommended, with 20% sag in the Lyrik with two tokens.

The more active suspension design is much more efficient in climb mode for smoother ascents. Other bikes I’ve ridden recently climb quite well wide open. This is what the shock technology is there for and I’d much rather have to fiddle a knob once in a while and have ripping fun downhill performance than a bike that tries to compromise towards efficiency in the name of running the shock open all the time.

SRAM Eagle

The Transition Patrol Carbon. A good looking and very easy bike to get along with. Simple to setup; fun to ride.

I understand that internal cable routing it here to stay. I know you probably just rolled your eyes and muttered “really, is anyone still whingeing about that?” but can we agree that it seems a lot of companies are still figuring it out?

Transition has gone with a fashionable, low-profile, approach where many companies are now choosing gigantic bolt on windows for access. The indenture and position of Transition’s exit point is at the headtube and already I am seeing some light touch marks on the frame. A little bit of clear 3M tape is a very easy solution but this appears to be an issue that could be have been dealt with in the design phase.

SRAM Eagle

Internal cable routing on the Transition Carbon Patrol.

It doesn’t take more than a ride to start to appreciate why there are so many fans of Transition’s new bikes. They’re simple to set up and fun to ride. Really fun to ride. I will be very interested to read Tim’s long term review after a solid season of thrashing.

Having eliminated range as an issue, SRAM Eagle has the potential to push the last of us front derailleur hold outs over to 1x. Yes, it’s more unsprung weight compared to a 2x system; however, it is a simpler system that frees up space for bike designers and allows them to optimize suspension to a narrower range of ring sizes. That’s not to say there is any hurry to replace your perfectly function 2x drivetrain if you haven’t already, but maybe front derailleur compatibility will cease being a concern with your next bike purchase?

Look for follow-up reviews from Tim Coleman, Pete Roggeman, and myself as we dig into the componentry, test some new ‘standards’, and ride the piss out of it while Dave Smith takes pictures.


Ready to Transition to Eagle?

  • mega drool

  • Sam H.

    I’ve never understood the backpedal-derailing deniers. My conclusion is that they’ve never experienced it. Lucky them. I get it on my two 11-speed XT drivetrains and my 11-speed XTR drivetrain. This is a real, annoying problem. We get all excited about engagement points on our hubs, and then wind up having to crunch through the gears for half of a crank rotation just to get the chain back where it’s supposed to be.

    I’ve seen claims that “you shouldn’t be pedaling backwards”. Huh? This isn’t a road bike, I can’t count the number of times I come around a corner and need level my pedals without pedaling forward to get over a rock. Or get hung up on a root and need to ratchet over a little. That all requires back-pedaling, and it’s a real pain when even a short back-pedal causes your chain to drop to the middle of the cassette.

    If SRAM has solved this problem with Eagle, then I’m thrilled. I’m probably still not a customer for them, but if they can get it right, surely Shimano can as well?

    • Cr4w

      My first 11spd XT cassette used to derail like this all the time and it drove me crazy. Even more maddening were the insane comments I read from flatland people to the effect of ‘why would you want to backpedal in your lowest gears?’. Duh.

      I shredded that cassette in two months. It looked like I’d owned it for years, teeth missing and bent, remaining teeth chiselled to points. After two months. I was informed that it was covered under warranty and the one that showed up backpedals just fine. Maybe it was a bad batch?

      • Sam H.

        Interesting! That would be nice, if a new cassette would solve the problem. My first experience was on XT-8000 that I installed last year, and most recently was on XTR 9000 that I bought a couple months ago. But there’s no telling how long the XTR cassette was sitting on the shelf before getting installed. I’ll look into this possibility…

      • DrewM

        New cassette after two months but same chain?

        I’ve heard many a rider say the derailing issue is less prevalent as the chain wears (not my experience).

      • Cr4w

        Correct.

      • Brett

        The first generation M8000 stuff I got popped and cracked, the cassette didn’t seem to tighten and stay tight on either wheel I tried, and the whole thing was very susceptible to dirt. It’s on my commuter bike now. The replacement M8000 stuff I bought works like a whole different group. No backpedaling issues, no smoothness issues. I think the first run of M8000 stuff had some definite and consistent issues.

    • Cam McRae

      I have experienced it on the work stand or when trying to oil the chain, but on the trail it has never been an issue for me. Sometimes I ratchet to get ready for a move but if the chain has dropped down the cassette I haven’t noticed.

      • qduffy

        On the SRAM it feels like a B limit adjustment. But this could totally be in my mind. If I adjust the B limit screw so that the clearance to the big cog is slightly more than comfortable, I don’t get the backpedal issue on the stand or out in the wild. But that’s entirely unscientific and feels like something Donald Trump would claim.

    • Brizzy

      My solution was to use spacers/shims to bring the cassette further inboard, although depending on your frame and chainring size this might not be an option. In the “correct” chainline (I’m using a double crank, so I started off with the OneUp spacers), the chain would jump down with just slight ratcheting. After shimming it takes me backpedaling almost 180° before it falls down. So far that’s not been an issue on the trail because I never really backpedal more than 1/4 turn. I also am not noticing any ill effects on the small end of the cassette. We’ll see how it holds up in the long run.

      • DrewM

        I have had good results on 4-bolt crankset / 1x setups with spacing the rim inboard a couple-to-few mm as frame clearance allows. Additional bonus of better chain line in the gears that see the most load (climbing). Both Shimano and SRAM running without dropping.

        Not an option with direct mount.

      • Perry Schebel

        i’ve done the same with good success. washers are your friend.

  • DrewM

    Just in case you read the article before it was edited and are skipping to the comments:

    I meant this photo caption to be entirely tongue-in-cheek:

    “A brand new Eagle X-Sync ring. Whether it’s the result of some drunken whittling or SRAM is just taking the piss out of the all the aftermarket narrow wide chainring manufacturers (“Copy this A-holes!”) it works great.”

    The new X-Sync ring is, hopefully, obvious to everyone the product of a lot of work to improve on the original, which kicked off an entire industry of narrow wide chainrings.

    This editors note sums it up really nicely:

    “NOTE – We want to make it clear that we don’t actually believe the tooth design was a result of whittling, neither drunken nor sober. That was meant to be comic relief. The design was the result of analysis of thousands of worn X-sync rings and is designed to ” to work perfectly with the new Eagle™ chain to increase chain retention and overall pedaling efficiency, while decreasing friction, noise and wear” according to SRAM. – Ed.”

    Thanks for reading everybody!

  • Doug M.

    12/10. Would drool again.

  • 49%

    “I’d much rather have to fiddle a knob once in a while and have ripping fun downhill performance than a bike that tries to compromise towards efficiency in the name of running the shock open all the time.”

    Thank you!