Transition Suppressor (26 Inch!) Long Term Review

Words Todd Hellinga
Date Nov 3, 2015

It is pretty wild how fast the 26” wheeled mountain bike fell out of favour, and now even downhill bikes are abandoning ship for their slightly larger 27.5” counterpart. But the faithful are still out there, true to the 26” wheel, or true to their stockpiled boutique wheelsets they can’t bear to part with. Companies like Transition are attempting to fill that hole with frames like the Suppressor which is based on their Patrol 27.5 platform. With 155mm of travel, a 65 degree head angle, and a large 46.5” wheelbase in the medium size that I tested, the geometry is progressive, and very descent oriented. (If you missed Todd’s first impressions of the Suppressor – click here.)

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Featuring a threaded bottom bracket, option for an E2 Low Direct mount derailleur if  desired, or ISCG05 chainguide mounts if you need more retention, a mount for a large sized water bottle inside the mainframe, and integrated rubber chainstay protection, the frame checks all the right boxes for versatility and usability for people who require their own unique set ups. The aluminum frame with shock comes in at a claimed 7.85lbs, while I never put the bike on a scale, it mostly rode sportier than it’s actual weight let on, although you definitely noticed the heft it on longer rides with steep or prolonged climbing (when compared to a modern carbon machine). Photo – Todd Hellinga

There’s no denying that there has been a trend towards longer, lower, and slacker trail bikes. With geometries similar to downhill bikes of just 5 or 6 years ago, but combined with seat angles and shock technology that allows for a relatively easy pedalling bike, you can see why they are appealing. The reality however is that the long, low bikes can prove to be a handful in technical off-camber terrain with lots of roots and rocks or dips and holes. While the suspension provided plenty of traction in the rough stuff, pedal strikes were common, even with careful attention to pedal timing while trying to avoid protruding trail features. Climbing switchbacks also required a steady well-timed pedal stroke and a close eye to wheel placement to get the low wheelbase through tight corners.

The upright seat angle and short feeling reach played a positive role in taming the more unruly characteristics on pedalling terrain, allowing me to stay forward on the bike and keep things under control. The short stem let me get back over the bike when the trail went down steeply. The suspension tracks the terrain well with the wheels on the ground, but is quick to respond when you want to manual, jump or make a quick change of direction. There is always enough support without sacrificing suppleness.

Drop your hips and rail, pushing hard in the corners is typically rewarded with snappy exits at speed. Photo - Sarah McQueen

Drop your hips and rail, pushing hard in the corners is typically rewarded with snappy exits at speed. Photo – Sarah McQueen

I enjoyed the Suppressor most on faster, more descent oriented trails. Bike park jump trails, or intermediate singletracks with lots of flow, quick cornering and the need for line selection were perfect. The bike really loved tight turns and was super responsive, loving to pop and wheelie out of corners. The snappy handling helped the bike shine on Whistler Bike Park trails like Ninja Cougar and Karate monkey, or Ho Chi Min. Trails with tight corners in quick succession were a favourite for the Suppressor, as it loved to get down and inside in berms and really carve out the turns. When last second decisions on line choice need to be made the quick handling comes to the rescue. The bike responds well to being pushed hard and it’s easy to maintain or generate speed – but then quickly set up for whatever is coming next.

On jump trails the poppy playful ride is right at home and it handled big hits fairly comfortably if I cased, or occasionally over-jumped something. The Suppressor loves to be in the air and I found myself looking for opportunities to double up sections or hit transfers across trail features. Bear in mind though that it favours finesse in a bike park setting. It doesn’t like getting super rowdy in the gnar, but it is a really fun bike to ride on the right trails where it provides an exceptionally lively and enjoyable ride while being able to handle occasional big hits without getting too out of shape.

The brushed aluminum frame held up extremely well through the test, the finish staying clear and shiny. While the internally routed cables make for clean external lines, there was a noticeable rattle on rough high speed sections of trail, not totally obnoxious, but it does take away from the fine work narrow-wide chainrings, clutch derailleurs and rubber chainstay protectors do at minimizing other noises on the bike. Photo - Todd Hellinga

The brushed aluminum frame held up extremely well through the test, the finish staying clear and shiny. While the internally routed cables make for clean external lines, there was a noticeable rattle on rough high speed sections of trail, not totally obnoxious, but it does take away from the fine work narrow-wide chainrings, clutch derailleurs and rubber chainstay protectors do at minimizing other noises on the bike. Photo – Todd Hellinga

For something different I had my wife Sarah saddle up for a few rides. She’s been riding an older, heavier downhill bike that doesn’t really suit her size or needs and in reality is a lot more bike than she needs. I was curious how she’d find this bike in comparison. While the medium was definitely a bit too big, the significantly lower weight, and the modern geometry made for a tidy package to allow her a bit more manoeuvrability and ease of handling on the intermediate (for Whistler!) trails she typically favours. As a gravity oriented option for smaller riders, the Suppressor could be a viable option for those who like to ride the chairlift on occasion but don’t require the heft of a dh bike.

Sarah riding a sweeping corner in the Whistler valley. Photo – Todd Hellinga

The same week I received the Suppressor for review, my personal bike arrived; a Giant Reign Advanced, with similar geometry, but in 27.5” trim. It was interesting to get both bikes at the same time and invariably compare them against each other. Suspension differences not withstanding I couldn’t help but notice a difference in rolling speed in technical terrain with the nod going to the 27.5. I noticed the effect the change in wheelsize has on rolling speed in technical, rocky and rooty terrain that features a lot of holes or square edges. On a regular loop there was an air feature that landed into a set of deeper whoops and holes and on my 27.5 I could slightly case the landing and still roll through and maintain my momentum. On the Suppressor I found that those same slight cases resulted in more wheel hangup and I almost got pitched over the bars. With 27.5 wheels my approach before the air through the rough roots and holes was just a bit smoother allowing me to carry a bit more speed to make those double ups cleanly more consistently.

The front pivot is pretty much inline with the 32t chainring, minimizing any potential pedal feedback, especially when used without a granny gear. The integrated chainstay pretector helps damp any interaction with the chain and help keep things quiet on the chain rattle front. Anodized hardware and a brushed aluminum frame really standouts as a clean design without too much graphic flare to distract you from the clean lines.

She’s a beaut! Photo – Todd Hellinga

Not everyone rides in areas that feature so much uneven and unrelenting technical terrain. The Suppressor holds its own and serves up a fun ride for boosting air and ripping back to back to back berms. The bike is no Slouch; just not quite as effective in really choppy conditions.

Drive it low and and carve through the corner, tires making that glorious velcro ripping sound. Photo - Sarah McQueen

Drive it low and and carve through the corner, tires making that glorious velcro ripping sound. Photo – Sarah McQueen

While the Suppressor wasn’t always my first choice for multi-hour pedalling rides, I always grabbed it when we headed to the park or faster, less technical trails filled with corners and jumps. It is playful, fast, and loves getting pushed hard in the corners. It’s predictable, consistent, and surprisingly forgiving when I do stupid things.

I’m not sure that I’ll personally go back to a 26” wheeled bike as an every day driver, but for those that are true to those roots or just prefer that size, the Transition Suppressor offer all the benefits of modern geometry and technology in a slightly smaller wheel.


Long live two six!

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Comments

matt
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Matt  - Dec. 23, 2015, 5:11 p.m.

What if you threw a 27.5 front wheel on - just to get you through the chop without going over the bars?

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DrBrownPow
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DrBrownPow  - Nov. 21, 2015, 9:59 p.m.

RIP 26.

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reformed-roadie
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reformed roadie  - Nov. 5, 2015, 8:38 a.m.

Sounds like the solution is to plug 650b wheels into the suppressor…IIRC, Lars was racing that set-up (could be wrong).
Better roll over and less pedal strikes…win-win.

That brushed finish is sooo nice.

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brian-rowbotham
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Brian Rowbotham  - Nov. 5, 2015, 11:23 a.m.

The Patrol is designed for 650b and is exactly the same bike. Shoe-horning 650b wheels into the suppressor is just going to raise the BB and destroys it's impressive cornering.

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colin-mccarthy
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Colin McCarthy  - Nov. 6, 2015, 5:51 p.m.

No shoe-horning required apparently. Same swingarm clearance as the Patrol, and as R.R. mention, that's how Lars chose to set his up (in Patrol guise) for EWS's and various other Enduro races. If you look at the Geo table, you will see that both bikes have very low BB's and the bikes are designed to run 35% sag, so adding 10mm via 650b wheels and fork makes a lot of sense if you want the bike to have a BB height comparable to nearly every other bike in this class.

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powderturns
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Mike  - Nov. 4, 2015, 9:55 a.m.

does anyone else find the fact that they immediately switched to a horst link as soon as that patent expired an indictment of their previous suspension design? (and indirectly, of Kona's?)

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olly-hodgson
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Olly Hodgson  - Nov. 5, 2015, 3:03 a.m.

I think people can get too hung up on this. The linkage single pivot is wonderful in certain situations and not so great in others - just like any other design. The current Kona Process range are generally very highly praised machines. The same is true of Scott, Commencal and Orange bikes - not to mention Transition's own TR500! Personally I think geometry is more important - as long as the suspension design isn't terrible 🙂

Perhaps, as engineers and bike geeks, they wanted to try something new and different? Or maybe - given that they're from the same town as Kona - they wanted a way to differentiate their trail bikes?

I seem to remember Transition saying they've been exploring other suspension designs for a while. If the Horst link patent hadn't expired, they probably would've gone with something else. The biggest difference this time is they got some outside help to design the suspension kinematics. These ride rather differently to a Specialized FSR.

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powderturns
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Mike  - Dec. 9, 2015, 4:49 p.m.

i know we spoke about this a long time ago, but you can add nukeproof as yet another brand that switched to a horst link variant this year (with the new Megas). their previous was a single pivot along the lines of old transition/kona.

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john-utah
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John Utah  - Nov. 4, 2015, 9:48 a.m.

The supressor looks sweet. I have GT distortion( short travel 140/118mm) that I built up as a "shore bike" . BUT ive been running a 650b front wheel on a lowered(to 140) fox 36 float up front and a 26er rear. My geo sits at 66HA 73Seat tube and TT is 22,75. It been fantastic for me. When I want a snappier/more playfull bike I can throw on a 26 front wheel. Big difference!
I run offset bushings so when I switch wheels I can adjust my geo to be close to the same for both wheels, so it is a fair comparison.
I definitely appreciate the better roller over in chunder that the 650 wheel has but tight turns are more work and require more finesse.
Anybody else ride a B6er?

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powderturns
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Mike  - Nov. 4, 2015, 10:29 a.m.

hellz yeah, bro! 26.b for life! I have a 2010 enduro with a pike 650b up front, and I really like it. I have the dual position option, so i lower it on climbs, and on occasion, I admit I have left it in the lowered position for a few, lower incline descents. my one question - you said your front wheel is a 650b. are you stuffing a 650b wheel into a 26″ fork, or is the fork also 650b? I assume if it's the former, you're very limited on your front tire sizing and clearance…

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john-utah
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John Utah  - Nov. 10, 2015, 8:47 a.m.

Yup its a 2012 36float 26er fork , fit a maxxis dhf 2.3TR exo nicely. Or I have i29 26er wheel set up with muddy mary for a different kind of ride:)

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powderturns
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Mike  - Nov. 10, 2015, 8:59 a.m.

awesome. I'd seen others do it, but with a margy (magic mary) it looked incredibly tight/scary, so I passed… if only that crown had 5 more mm! anyway, glad it works for you - be curious to see how tight that older muddy mary is…

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dh
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DH  - Nov. 4, 2015, 9:16 a.m.

Assuming this bike rides similar to the patrol. How would you compare your reign advanced (maestro) to the giddy up on the patrol/suppressor? Ive got an alu reign now and really like but am in the midst of selling it to jump onto a patrol. Still unsure of the decision as I don't have to much ride time on the patrol. In my test session in Squamish, I liked the firming feeling of the suspension allowing you to get aggressive especially in corners. After a back to back run with my reign and a Medium and Large patrol (Im 5'10) I couldn't help but notice how much more plush the rear end was on the reign though, effortlessly cushioning the rocks and roots while their was much more pedal feedback and stiffer feeling in the rear on the patrol. Didn't have any time to actually tune the shock on the patrol so Im not sure if Ill be able to find the happy medium or if I should just stick to my reign!

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pudskies
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Pudskies  - Nov. 5, 2015, 2:52 p.m.

I'm also interested in the reign vs patrol comparison. I own a reign, but tested out a patrol one day. The patrol was better on the climbs for sure, but the head angle felt steeper and a bit sketchy in the corners in comparison. The rear end was pretty nice on the patrol though once I adjusted the rear shock to suite me. I like the fact that transition went with a lower leverage ratio than the reign also, which I believe plays a big part in making it better for climbing.

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t.odd  - Nov. 5, 2015, 4:46 p.m.

good questions…although I'm sure some transitions fans may disagree, I generally feel like the Reign is more suitable for heavier duty gravity work. Not that the transitions aren't capable machines, but generally I feel like the transition design is more playful and poppy whereas generally the reign is a bit more rough and tumble. put it this way, when I was just going to rip laps of the park and hit jump trails or the intermediate singletracks, I'd almost always grab the suppressor, but if I was going to go up to Khyber/Ride Don't Slide, or anything rougher and gnarlier, I'd go reign. not sure how the wheelsize jumping up to a patrol would change my opinion, or not.

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josh-solman
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Josh Solman  - Nov. 6, 2015, 8:52 a.m.

I own the reign and tested the Patrol down in Vegas, The transition guys really insisted on running 33% sag in the rear (way more than I would usually run on the reign). I was sure I would be blowing through the travel but it was awesome, the stroke is really progressive supple feeling in the small bumps but right there when you need pop or land a little deep. I think with the Patrol set up correctly you'd find it feels really plush. Still the Reign is a killer bike and its hard to switch!

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t.odd  - Nov. 6, 2015, 9:35 p.m.

yeah, I'm a bit curious to try the patrol and see if the bigger wheels actually 'fixes' some of my 'complaints'….lol

for what it's worth, I rode the Reign in the Crankworx EWS 30-39 class and won, and it definitely saved my ass more than a few times! Really there aren't a whole lot of really bad bikes out there anymore. Find something suitable that suits your style and preferences and have at'er!

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