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Added a comment about photo 2015 Cannondale Jekyll Carbon Team 1/29/2015 4:15 AM
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Read the review: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Cannondale/Jekyll-27-5-Carbon-Team,14519#product-reviews/2004

Check out 20 photos of it up close and in action: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/2015-Test-Sessions-2015-Cannondale-Jekyll-Carbon-Team,8550/2015-Test-Sessions-2015-Cannondale-Jekyll-Carbon-Team,86320/sspomer,2

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Added a product review for 2015 Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team 1/29/2015 3:18 AM
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2015 Test Sessions: Cannondale Jekyll Carbon Team

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Reviewed by Dylan Stucki and AJ Barlas // Photos by Lear Miller

After taking a win at the notoriously rough Mammoth ProGRT downhill course under Marco Osborne, the new Cannondale Jekyll is proving to be a head turner with a complete geometry revamp, updated rear shock tune, 27.5-inch wheels, more travel, and the unique carbon Lefty SuperMax PBR fork. Do the revisions add up to a better Jekyll? We hit the trails during the 2015 Vital MTB Test Sessions to find out.

Highlights

  • Carbon frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 95mm or 160mm (3.74 or 6.3-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) front travel
  • 1.5 Si head tube
  • 67-degree head angle
  • 75.1-degree (S), 74.9-degree (M), 74.8-degree (L), 74.7-degree (XL, tested) effective seat tube angle
  • 351mm (13.8-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 440mm (17.3-inch) chainstays
  • BB30 PressFit bottom bracket
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size XL, no pedals): 28-pounds, 3-oz (12.8kg)
  • $7,580 MSRP

The most notable update to the Jekyll for 2015 is the geometry. Heavily influenced by the first ever Enduro World Champion, Jerome Clementz, the Jekyll gets a longer top tube, slacker head angle, and steeper seat angle.

Cannondale keeps the pull-style, dual-position FOX DYAD RT2 shock for 2015. It features a Jekyll-specific tune to provide a "plusher ride" than in years past, including a redesigned piston to enable better oil flow for improved mid-to-high speed compression damping. The shock can be changed from 160mm to 95mm travel with the flip of a handlebar switch. To really envision what's going on, it's best to think of the DYAD RT2 as two separate shocks combined into one. Depending on the handlebar remote setting, the oil displaced by the center pull chamber will go into one or both sides.

In "Flow" mode the bike gets the full 160mm of travel and utilizes both positive air chambers and its own damping circuit. Doing so yields a high-volume air shock and more linear feel.

In "Elevate" mode the bike gets just 95mm of travel. This occurs because the shock is trying to pump all of the available oil into just one chamber and there simply isn't enough volume. As a result the sag point changes and the spring rate becomes more progressive. This steepens the bike's sagged head and seat tube angles, picks the bottom bracket up a bit, and provides a firmer pedaling platform.

The two modes have different compression and rebound damping characteristics. Setup is a bit more involved than a traditional air shock due to the adjustable positive and negative air springs, separate low-speed rebound adjustment for each travel setting, and the need for a special high-pressure pump. High-speed rebound and compression are factory-tuned.

Out back, the swingarm and linkage are secured with large 15mm thru-axles combined with widely spaced bearings and a collet sleeve bearing preload system. The lower pivot axle is clamped by bolts on both sides. Finally, they double-stack bearings in each rear pivot to increase resistance to twisting loads.

The new 160mm travel Lefty SuperMax 2.0 PBR fork is a surprisingly stout addition to the lineup. The unique dual-crown, single-leg inverted design features a 36mm stanchion, oversized 46mm carbon chassis, 1.5-inch steerer, Push Button platform lockout, and integrated crowns and bump stop. The hidden top portion of the stanchion is square-shaped, which prevents the two tubes from rotating relative to each other and is key to retaining torsional stiffness. The stanchion slides on four sets of needle bearings rather than bushings, reportedly reducing stiction when loaded. This design requires a proprietary hub and tapered axle. Seeking a bike that could provide stability at high speeds but also handle as well as one with steeper angles at lower speeds, they chose to kick the head angle out a degree and increase the fork’s offset measurement to 50mm from the typical 42-45mm. Internally, the fork also sees a new piston to increase oil flow for better small bump and high-speed performance. Low-speed compression damping is unchanged from the prior model.

Cable routing is mostly external, with the derailleur, brake, and dropper post housing following the underside of the downtube - a path vulnerable to rock strikes. The RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post goes into the base of the seat tube, and the rear shock cable routes internally through the side of the headtube. The cables and frame are protected around the bottom bracket area, but never say never. Additional frame guards include a rubber chainstay pad and metal guard to prevent damage from dropped chains.

Additional features include the option for a direct mount front derailleur, ISCG03 tabs for those wanting a chainguide, press fit BB30 bottom bracket, room for a water bottle in the front triangle, and ~12mm of mud clearance around the stock 2.35-inch Schwalbe rear tire.

The Jekyll 27.5 is offered in two carbon models priced at $6,170 and $7,580, as well as two aluminum models at $3,250 and $3,900. Want just the carbon frame and shock? That'll run you $3,500. We tested the top-tier Carbon Team model.

On The Trail

We rode the Jekyll in a variety of terrain in the mountains surrounding San Luis Obispo, California, ranging from wide open speed fests to loose, unpredictable chunk and rocky switchbacks.

Initial setup was relatively straightforward, but required a bit more attention than normal due to the unique suspension. The shock's setup chart is stickered on the frame and there are two sag meters which help speed things up. With suggested pressures over 300psi for most riders, you'll definitely need the supplied high-pressure pump for adjustments, so don't leave home without it. The Lefty was a bit more mysterious in terms of setup, but after a few on-the-trail adjustments to the air pressure we were good to go.

Cannondale's choice in cockpit components has improved for 2015 with a 50mm long FSA Gravity Light stem, but the 740mm wide Cannondale C1 Carbon bars are still too narrow for many riders. At 6'3" and 6'5" tall, we preferred an 800mm wide bar on our size XL test bike.

The old Jekyll had a 68-degree head tube angle and a suggested rear sag point of 40%, while the new Jekyll sits at 67-degrees and rear sag is just 30% - making the angles close to equivalent while on the trail. Even so, compared to the previous model, the added length in the top tube, chainstay, and slacker head angle combined made the Jekyll more stable on high-speed, wide open sections. We found the 484mm reach and 650mm effective top tube length very accommodating to our height, which is much less common than us tall guys would hope. The longer wheelbase helped keep the bike planted, rather than accentuating playfulness like the older model did well.

The new bike's head angle is still a degree or two steeper than many other 160mm enduro bikes, which shows Cannondale's priority towards an agile ride while still granting some composure when things get steep, though not as much as the most aggressive class leaders. Combined with the increased fork offset, the bike was very manageable as things slowed down, and we were able to maintain balance and navigate tight switchbacks well.

While handling was quick and precise, it took a little longer to inspire confidence than comparable bikes and didn’t seem to hold traction super well. The suspension felt stiff at the recommended 30% sag point with more of a race setup than an everyday comfortable feel. Small bump compliance and rear wheel traction left something to be desired, though small air pressure adjustments improved the ride slightly. The single pivot design firms up under braking, which further accentuates things. The shock provides good bottom-out support combined with a slightly progressive leverage curve.

We found that the bike rides very high in its travel, and sometimes uncomfortably so at the suggested 30% sag. Though still relatively tall, when we measured the bottom bracket height it was 13mm lower than the claimed 364mm.

The Jekyll really showed its prowess over other enduro/all-mountain bikes on smooth ascents. It quickly transformed into an XC-esque machine with both suspension climbing features engaged, which was also excellent for sprinting. The bike relies heavily on the dual-mode shock in order to achieve this, though, as the suspension design provides only a mild pedal platform with little anti-squat when used with the stock 30-tooth chainring and 1X drivetrain. Turning the shock to the 95mm Elevate setting stiffened up the rear end a lot, which, depending on the terrain, also took away from climbing traction and comfort. It performed more like a lockout than a shorter travel option, and may be less preferable than the 160mm Flow mode on rough climbs. Those seeking a more pedal-friendly ride without the use of the suspension modes will be best off with a 2X drivetrain, as smaller chainrings provide more anti-squat on this design.

Changing travel modes may seem awkward at first until you realize how to best use the adjustment lever, and after that it becomes natural and surprisingly quick to do. Pushing with your thumb puts the bike in the shorter travel mode, and depressing the silver button at the end of lever returns it to the longer travel position. It’s easiest to rock your hand over and use the side of your pointer finger to return to the longer travel mode rather than once again reaching up with your thumb.

Build Kit

Aside from the out of place spoke guard and reflectors, the Jekyll Carbon Team features a build kit that's certainly in the upper-mid to high-range with a total weight of 28.2-pounds. Components include parts from Cannondale, WTB, DT Swiss, Schwalbe, Magura, SRAM, and RockShox.

Of particular interest was the SuperMax Lefty fork. Despite having only one leg, the fork was deceptively stiff on the trail, backing up Cannondale’s claims. On rocky descents the front end sometimes felt as though it was deflecting more than normal, but you could push into it with authority and the response was impressive. The Push Button climbing platform was also easy to use. While intriguing, we ultimately found it to be a bit less adjustable, supple, and active than some of the more popular traditional forks on the market.

The WTB Team Issue i23 rims took some abuse over the course of testing, but held their own with just a little wobble in the rear. The tubeless ready rims are paired with a DT Swiss 350 rear hub and Cannondale Lefty front hub.

Schwalbe's 2.35-inch Hans Dampf Snakeskin Trailstar tires provide lots of volume and good bite at a reasonable weight, though they do slow things down a bit in the rolling department. We've found that the corner knobs also tend to tear prematurely.

Magura's MT7 brakes with dual 180mm Storm SL rotors performed quite well, though hard charging riders may want a larger rotor up front for more power. Swapping controls to accommodate riders who prefer their brakes to be setup "euro style" can be a little awkward as the lines aren't long enough due to cable routing on the Lefty. Rearranging the cable guides provided just enough slack.

The drivetrain includes Cannondale HollowGram Si cranks with a 30-tooth SRAM XX1 chainring, XX1 derailleur and cassette. Those planning to race the bike will want to consider an upper chainguide for added security. Adding some mastic tape to the inside of the seatstay will also help silence chainslap completely.

Finally, the RockShox Reverb Stealth provided a quick and easy way to adjust seat height at a moment's notice. We'd like to see Cannondale use a lever mounted under the left side of the bar rather than on top of it for the best ergonomics.

Long Term Durability

Our primary durability concern is the use of a proprietary shock. The shock developed an odd "chirp" sound in the top of the travel, and rebound at the end of the stroke slowed down significantly as time went on. After starting the setup process over from the beginning, it was only a matter of a few hours before the issues resurfaced. Enduro and all-mountain bikes take a lot of abuse and wear, and our experience with the proprietary rear suspension made us feel as though the Jekyll could possibly be in the shop more often than other bikes. Replacement shock availability is also something to consider, especially in race scenarios.

Cannondale backs the frame with an impressive lifetime warranty.

What's The Bottom Line?

The 2015 Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team is a nice update to the previous model, and the changes result in a more planted ride at speed with better geometry. The build kit is pretty much race-ready, too. Smooth uphill and sprinting performance stood out in the special climbing mode, but when pointed downhill it often seemed to operate like a bike with 20mm less travel, sometimes riding uncomfortably high and lacking the supple suspension other bikes in its class offer. The bike's results under very skilled professional riders are nothing short of impressive, though, so clearly in the right hands it has potential for greatness.

Visit www.cannondale.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 20 photos of the 2015 Cannondale Jekyll Carbon Team up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Dylan Stucki - When he's not busy popping no-handed wheelies or shot-gunning beers you're likely to find Dylan comfortably inside the top ten at Big Mountain Enduro races. Since he's a big guy and charges hard he breaks a lot of stuff. He's naturally a perceptive and particular rider who picks up on even the smallest details.

AJ Barlas - In 15 years on the bike AJ has developed a smooth and fluid style. Hailing from Squamish, BC, his preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

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Liked a comment on the item Do you even have instant engagement bro? 1/28/2015 10:30 AM

Nice write up, I love the idea of a silent hub.

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Added a new video How It's Made - Hope Factory Tour 1/27/2015 12:28 PM
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After five years of designing and testing, Hope Technology is ready to manufacture their new cranks. This edit opens all the doors so you can see behind the scenes and understand what goes into the product a little better. Read the Vital review // Watch the cranks in action // Get more info

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Added a comment about photo 2015 Transition Patrol 1 1/27/2015 10:31 AM
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Read the review: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Transition/Patrol-1,15293#product-reviews/1997

Check out 19 photos of it up close and in action: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/2015-Test-Sessions-2015-Transition-Patrol-1,8547/2015-Test-Sessions-2015-Transition-Patrol-1,86262/sspomer,2

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Added a product review for 2015 Transition Patrol 1 1/26/2015 10:45 PM
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2015 Test Sessions: Transition Patrol 1

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Reviewed by Brandon Turman and Steve Wentz // Photos by Lear Miller

Giddy up boys and girls! An entire new line of Transition bikes is here for 2015 featuring the GiddyUp suspension design. The complete overhaul to their frames and suspension system includes a Horst Link (not to be confused with a four-legged animal who neighs), which is now available to use by a wider number of companies. Transition was among the first brands to jump on the opportunity. Interested to how they pulled it off and what improvements they might have made, we tested the 155mm travel Patrol 1 during the 2015 Vital MTB Test Sessions.

Highlights

  • Aluminum frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 155mm (6.1-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) front travel
  • Tapered head tube
  • 65-degree head angle
  • 76-degree (S), 75.4-degree (M, tested), 74.9-degree (L), 74.5-degree (XL) effective seat tube angle
  • 337mm (13.3-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 430mm (17.0-inch) chainstays
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size Medium, no pedals): 29-pounds, 9-oz (13.4kg)
  • $5,999 MSRP

Transition says the Patrol is meant to "give you the control of a downhill bike perfectly balanced with a lively and jumpy personality for a comfortable, efficient and fun ride in almost any trail condition." How'd they pull it off? The bike uses some pretty aggressive geometry coupled with suspension that's supple as can be yet progressive to provide some pop. The new design has improved anti-squat over their old bikes, significantly less brake squat, and a progressive leverage curve. The shock is also easily accessible should you feel the need to flip any levers.

Additional features on the aluminum frame include a 73mm threaded bottom bracket, ISCG05 tabs, plenty of room for a bottle inside the front triangle, a tapered headtube, zero stack headset, 160mm post mount rear brake, Syntace X12 rear axle, E2 low direct front derailleur mount, and integrated rubber chainstay protection.

For those that ride in the grime, mud clearance is pretty good with ~1cm of room at the tightest point with the stock 2.35-inch Schwalbe tire. They say you can fit up to a 2.5-inch tire out back should you prefer some big meats for dicey conditions or a day at the bike park.

Cable routing is almost entirely internal, which is actually a surprise given the company's no non-sense approach everywhere else. Though maintenance can be a pain, it does look good we suppose. The rear derailleur and rear brake go through the downtube and exit just in front of the bottom bracket before reaching their destination. The rear brake line is slightly exposed to stray rocks on the bottom of brake-side chainstay. Dropper post routing also follows the downtube before exiting momentarily and heading up into the seat tube for that stealth look.

Three build kits are available at $3,499, $4,899, and $5,999. We tested the top of the line Patrol 1 model. For those wanting to build one from the ground up, it's also available as a frameset and shock combo at $1,999. Claimed weight for a size Medium frame with shock is 7.85-pounds.

On The Trail

We rode the Transition Patrol on West Cuesta Ridge and in Montana De Oro State Park near San Luis Obispo, California. The trails included very rocky, fast descents that really tax a bike's rear suspension as you flow in-between trees over never-ending boulder fields. We also got some time in on rolling hills and faster, flowier terrain with several tight turns to see how the bike maneuvers when it counts. A jump trail rounded things out.

Transition recommends 35% (22mm) seated sag on the 216x63mm RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair shock. This is the point at which they've designed the bike to have the best anti-squat properties. It comes stock with two volume reducers already in the rear shock, though more can be added for seriously hard charging riders. We appreciate that Transition publishes a handy guide discussing how to get the most out of their rear suspension design.

We were also pleased to see that the cockpit includes a 50mm long Race Face Atlas 35 stem and 800mm wide Race Face SixC 35 Carbon bars that can be easily cut down to suit any rider's preference. Considering the bike we tested is a size Medium, the 432mm reach dimension is actually quite long, comparable to many other brand's size Larges. This will make those accustomed to shorter bikes feel much better when things get wild or fast. The average length 583mm effective top tube has a familiar feel for a size Medium while pedaling seated.

You'll see Lars Sternberg doing his best to compete with the fastest in the world at the Enduro World Series aboard the Patrol, which clearly shows the bike's intended purpose. The Patrol is the most aggressive bike in Transition's refreshed lineup, and is geared toward the Enduro racer and professional fun havers. It has a slack 65-degree head angle, 337mm bottom bracket height, and 430mm chainstays that combine to create a ride that's ready to rally. The rather short 419mm seat tube adds a nice perk in that you can get the seat far out of the way, but may be a bit too short for some long-legged riders. At 5'10" one of our testers was near the upper limit of the 125mm RockShox Reverb. Transition specs a longer 150mm dropper on the bigger sizes.

Pointed downhill the Patrol will bring a smile to your face. It excels in situations that coincide with its geometry, including those that are fast and rough. Surprisingly it's quite agile on the jumps as well, and we had no issues throwing it around in the air or through tight turns. Stability is quite good at all times, allowing you to precisely pick your way down the trail. We did occasionally experience some harsh feedback in the rear end while riding at speed through really rough, continuous baby-head rock sections, but it remained in control and pointed straight ahead at all times. Lifting the front end is easy to do, and we found ourselves manualing and popping off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail more often as a result. This bike definitely encourages playful riding and rewards a dynamic riding style.

Transition tuned the rear suspension in a way that benefits a rider who likes to push into the bike, yielding a surefooted and immediate response. Running the shock at 35% sag allows the bike to use a good portion of its travel over small hits, getting the rear wheel up and out of the way quickly, but the progressive design still does very well on larger hits. Though we used full travel pretty often, we never once felt a harsh bottom out, indicating a nice ramp up at the end of the stroke. We rode the bike almost exclusively in the wide open compression setting outside of our experiments to see how it impacted the ride.

At 29.6-pounds the Patrol certainly isn't the lightest bike, but it's actually quite reasonable when you consider the full aluminum frame and real-deal, large volume Schwalbe tires that are made to withstand and perform in rough conditions. The weight is noticeable when pedaling up, but the bike does have a lighter feel when pointed downhill. It's pretty quick to respond to firm pedal inputs and rolling speed is decent, though the beefy front Magic Mary tire slows things down a bit.

Climbing the bike is less terrible than climbing a slacked out 160mm bike with large tires should be. Those looking for a boost will want to switch the shock into a firmer compression mode, but leaving it open will yield gobs of rear wheel traction over rough and techy climbs. Body position is quite good with a 75.4-degree effective seat angle. When standing up or hopping through technical climbs, the length is sometimes apparent and a little awkward as you push it out and over slow maneuvers.

Build Kit

The build kit on the Patrol shows the Pro-level experience that Transition's Product Mangers have in the field. Notable standouts include bars with actual rise and a wide width, a fast rolling rear tire matched to a meaty front tire, and pre-installed volume spacers in the suspension. The build includes components from Race Face, RockShox, SRAM, Anvil, Schwalbe, DT Swiss, and Stan's No Tubes.

Up front it uses a RockShox Pike RCT3 fork. After a few years of standout performance, it goes without saying that we were pleased with the fork. It helps provide a very balanced ride, mimicking the smooth feel of the rear suspension off the top and ramping up nicely at the end, especially with a Bottomless Token or two inside.

You're more likely to find the mega wide and super beefy 2.35-inch Schwalbe Magic Mary front tire spec'd on a downhill bike than a trail/all-mountain/enduro bike. It's very well suited to loose and wet conditions, much like those you'd find in Transition's hometown of Bellingham, Washington. The huge knobs sometimes lack a little bit of bite on rocks and loose over hardpack terrain, however, and the weight of the front tire is very apparent when you pick up the bike. Out back the've included the polar opposite 2.35-inch Schwalbe Rock Razor to help keep things moving along decently quickly. It offers good cornering bite, but may struggle with braking in some conditions. We appreciate that they chose the softer Trailstar compound up front and more durable Pacestar out back.

The wheels are a combo of the well-regarded and lightweight Stan's No Tubes Flow EX rims and reliable DT Swiss 350 hubs. This will make future tubeless tire swaps a breeze. The DT Swiss hubs offered good engagement, and are upgradable to have more points if you'd like something quicker. After a few days of rocky abuse the wheels still ran true with no dings or flat spots, but prepare to re-build a few if you're a big, hard charging rider as the rims can be a little soft.

Shimano's XT brakes were as dialed as ever, offering plenty of useable power with dual 180mm rotors and good modulation.

The drivetrain uses a combination of Race Face and SRAM components. We've spoken well of the new Race Face SixC Cinch cranks before. They're incredibly light, surprisingly strong, offer good stiffness, and are easy to maintain when combined with the threaded bottom bracket. The Narrow/Wide chainring also does a good job of keeping the chain on, and we experienced no dropped chains. Those seeking to race (or just avoid any awkward near death moments) will want to add a chainguide for added security using the frame's ISCG05 mounts. The 32-tooth chainring provides a good range of gears paired with SRAM's massive 10-42 tooth cassette. Increasing the chainring size will yield less anti-squat, so be aware that'll impact pedaling performance a bit if you swap it out.

Shifting was dialed, just as you'd expect from SRAM's top of the line XX1 shifter and derailleur. The inclusion of these high-end parts was one of the only choices that had us scratching our heads, as SRAM's more affordably priced X01 and X1 drivetrains provide very comparable performance at less cost. But hey, why not go a little baller sometimes?

The silent nature of the XX1 drivetrain does make other noises more evident, including cable rattle inside the frame. While Transition's cable guide design does a decent job of quieting things down by tensioning the housing as it enters the frame, the addition of tape in select locations could quiet it down a bit more. Also consider adding a bit of mastic tape to the inside edge of the seat stay to fully silence chainslap.

Long Term Durability

We see no issues with the Patrol's design or components at this time. It certainly seems as though it's in it for the long haul. Everything is user serviceable, including the collet style pivot hardware that's made to stay snug while being easy to remove for bearing changes and the like. Transition backs the frame with a two year warranty.

What's The Bottom Line?

If a buddy asked us how it rides, we'd likely say that the new Patrol 1 is one of the best Transition bikes yet. The updates to the suspension design, wisely chosen components, dialed appearance, and overall attention to detail coincide with the brand's continued growth and real-world experience. This particular model is best suited to dynamic riders looking to mob down hills at speed, perhaps in an enduro race scenario. It excels in fast terrain with occasional chunder thrown in, jumps very well, and offers good support for those times when you just want to pull up and send it.

As always, Transition's value for the price is good, leaving us very little to not like about the new steed. Even so, $5,999 is no small amount of money to kick down for a new bike, especially with some nice carbon options at comparable prices, which is why we think the more reasonably priced Patrol 2 model is the best bang for your buck on this bike.

What we liked most is how the Patrol never did anything wrong, which is much less common than you'd think in today's bike market. The full aluminum frame and dialed spec list show just how in tune Transition is with what makes a bike ride well under a demanding rider, overlooking some of the industry's current trends in favor of what actually works best. From our perspective the Patrol represents the best of the "less is more" belief. While Transition's refinement of proven concepts yields nothing super fancy, the back to basics approach works damn well and keeps a smile on your face - and that's precisely why we ride bikes.

Visit www.transitionbikes.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 19 photos of the Transition Patrol 1 up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Steve Wentz - A man of many talents, Steve got his start in downhilling at a young age. He has been riding for over 18 years, 11 of which have been in the Pro ranks. Asked to describe his riding style he said, "I like to smooth out the trail myself." Today he builds some of the best trails in the world (and eats lots of M&M's).

Brandon Turman - Brandon likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike and talk tech. In 15 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. Formerly a Mechanical Engineer, nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

This product has 1 review

Liked a comment on the item 26 Ain't Dead - Build A Killer Ride For Less Than You Think 1/26/2015 8:56 PM

That is an awesome photoshop. Don't hate.

Liked a bike check Foust Tuning Works Evil Undead DVO Edition 1/26/2015 2:19 PM
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Added reply in a thread Diamondback vs Divinci 1/26/2015 11:02 AM

The Mission has VERY long chainstays, so consider that before buying. It changes the ride a bit, especially if you enjoy tight/twisty/jumpy trails. That Diamondback DH bike looks rad though. Great value.

Added reply in a thread Dj rim suggestions 1/26/2015 10:58 AM

My advice is light but strong. Rotational weight can suck while spinning/tricking. The rear wheel seems to take more abuse while dirt jumping, so consider going to a 36 spoke wheel if you really want it to last. I'd suggest sticking with tubes for your ... more »

Added reply in a thread Fork Geometry help 1/26/2015 10:56 AM

Go for it! The 10mm increase in travel will slacken the bike by about 0.4-degrees and pick up the bottom bracket a little bit. It'll make the bike just a bit more capable on the descents without hampering the climbs much at all.

Added a new photo album Grim Up North 1/26/2015 10:33 AM
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Added a new video Grim Up North - A Mini Adventure Across Northern England 1/26/2015 10:15 AM
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It’s grim up north they say... You’re right, it might be grim up north, but we bloody love it! What better way to test our nicely designed and manufactured Hope Cranks than to send two of the most stylish riders we know out to play in the “grim” northern countryside. Hope riders Sam Flanagan and (new recruit) Craig Evans have played a vital part in the testing phase of development of the Hope Cranks. Having riders who are as tuned in with their bike, as Sam and Craig, has allowed us to monitor the performance of our Hope Cranks in, let's say some of the “grimmest” of conditions. We set Sam and Craig the task of testing the Hope Cranks over a few days. The only condition being – no matter how grim it got they had to keep pedaling... First up was Helvellyn. Now some might think, Helvellyn, in January? I think Sam and Craig thought the same once up there! Day 1: Helvellyn hike-a-bike + Swirral’s edge + snow + 100mph winds = failed attempt Swirral Edge wasn’t necessarily the problem... it was the 100mph gusts in the “dip of doom” which caused the guys some issues, spoiling the prospects of a Stick’s Pass descent. Day 2: Helvellyn + Sticks Pass... Whilst the winds had died down the snow certainly hadn’t disappeared. Opting for a “safer” ascent and descent up Stick’s Pass the boys found the riding conditions were probably just as testing as the previous day. Day 3: Wharncliffe Woods Day three and the boys moved slightly south in search of fairer climates, woods and a little bit of dirt. If you’ve seen the edit26aintdead, then you’ll know that Craig is no stranger to Wharncliffe woods, what better place for the boys to finish the testing. @HopeTech @SteelCityMedia @SamFla @CraigEvans1 // Hope Cranks - designed, tested, manufactured - available now. Check out the photo gallery for more wintry fun // Read the Vital Review of Hope's new cranks // Get more details

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Added a comment about product review 2015 Test Sessions: Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon 27.5 1/24/2015 9:47 AM
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Cheers for the critique, SDMTB'er.

I assure you that there are no biases toward the big boys vs the little guys. Vital has featured many very positive reviews of boutique brands, advertiser or not, including a handful of bikes made by Pivot.

There are a few distinctions that you should be aware of between the reviews. For starters, the Trek was reviewed by our 6'2" and 6'5" tall riders (as is clearly stated). The Pivot by our 5'8" and 5'10" testers. We do our best to tell you about each of the test riders in detail, something you won't find many other places. We list their height, weight, riding styles, and more. All so that you can better determine whether their experiences might mimic your own.

To clarify, regardless of the stem you put on a bike, the Reach measurement does not change. It's the horizontal distance between the center of the BB and the center of the top of the headtube. The size Large Pivot is very short - it's actually shorter than all 15 other men's bikes in our Test Sessions roundup, several of which are Mediums. The Trek has a much longer front center, somewhere near the top when comparing it to similarly sized bikes in the 160mm travel range.

Our testers will swap cockpit components as needed to improve the fit/feel of the bike, but also comment on the stock setup as well. Some bikes ride terribly with the stock stuff and are greatly improved with a wider/shorter combo. Others work well. For the tall guys, Trek's 750mm bar is far from ideal, and the 70mm stem doesn't quite align with the bike's capabilities. For the average height guys, Pivot's 755mm bar worked just fine, as did the slightly shorter 60mm stem. This is stated in both reviews. The M6 is a great bike in many respects, and we clearly describe where it excels.

Our ratings consider many factors, including value, price, build spec, geometry, weight, construction, how it climbs, how it descends, how it sprints, how it pumps, how it jumps, how the suspension performs, where it excels, where it doesn't, the little details, etc... The list is pretty exhaustive actually.

While it's easy to say that a bike review should just focus on the frame, there is so much more to how a bike rides than that. The suspension, tires, wheels, etc all come into play in a big way. Some companies do a great job with their builds, others overlook minor details that can end up having a big impact on the ride quality. If you're spending your money on it, don't you wan't to know how those things perform? In an ideal world we'd test all bikes with the exact same components and tire pressures, but that's just not how they're sold. They're each a sum of their parts, for better or worse.

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Added a comment about product review 2015 Test Sessions: Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon 27.5 1/23/2015 7:58 PM
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"Every" review on Vital? Sure about that? The Slash truly does shine as an all around ripper in its class, and it climbs far better than the head angle would lead most to believe. That's why those specific statements are included in this particular review.

I encourage you to read it again. There are several comparisons to the pre-2014 Slash and 2014 aluminum Slash. You're not going to find a direct comparison to other bikes (this isn't a shootout), however, but clear qualitative statements about how the bike handles many types of situations are in the review.

We'll consider comparisons to other popular bikes in future reviews.

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Added a comment about photo 2015 Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon 1/23/2015 12:37 PM
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Read the review: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Trek/Slash-9-8-27-5,15171#product-reviews/1994

21 photo bonus gallery: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/2015-Test-Sessions-2015-Trek-Slash-9-8-Carbon,8506/2015-Trek-Slash-9-8-Carbon,85641/sspomer,2

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Added a product review for 2015 Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon 27.5 1/23/2015 12:17 PM
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2015 Test Sessions: Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon 27.5

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Reviewed by Dylan Stucki and AJ Barlas // Photos by Lear Miller

After much anticipation, the Trek Slash goes carbon for 2015. The 160mm travel bike underwent a major redesign last year, gaining 27.5-inch wheels, noticeably better pedaling performance, and even more capable geometry. This all-mountain/enduro ripper was just waiting to unleash its fury on the trails at the 2015 Vital MTB Test Sessions.

Highlights

  • OCLV Mountain Carbon frame with aluminum chainstay
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 160mm (6.3-inches) of rear wheel travel // 130/160mm (5.1/6.3-inches) front travel
  • E2 tapered headtube
  • 65 or 65.6-degree head angle
  • 66.5 or 67.1-degree actual seat tube angle
  • 350 or 359mm (13.8 or 14.1-inch) bottom bracket height
  • 435 or 433mm (17.1 or 17.05-inch) chainstays
  • BB95 bottom bracket
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size 21.5-inch, no pedals): 28-pounds, 9-oz (12.96kg)
  • $6,089.99 MSRP

After a few legacy aluminum versions of this frame, a bit of carbon is just what the Slash needed. The OCLV Mountain Carbon tubing has a similar look to Trek's Remedy and Fuel EX lines, really slimming the profile of the bike and making it smooth and stealthy. Trek does their best to protect the frame with integrated rubber guards on the downtube, chainstay, and outside of the seat stays.

Out back, the Slash relies on Trek's proven Full Floater suspension design coupled with a magnesium EVO link and Active Braking Pivot (ABP) centered on the 142x12mm rear axle. The RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir shock is possibly one of the most exciting specs on this bike for 2015. Formerly held prisoner to FOX made Dual Rate Control Valve (DRCV) shocks, Trek owners are finally getting what they wished for. While the more common shock is a welcome upgrade, know that it's still a very uncommon 209.5x60.3mm size should you wish to use something different.

The Slash received some updates with the addition of 27.5-inch wheels for 2014 including a slacker head angle and a longer front center. After proving the geometry with the 2014 aluminum version, the carbon version features the exact same numbers. The bike has Trek's Mino Link geometry adjustment system located in the seat stay. In the “high” position the bike has an impressively slack 65.6-degree headtube angle and 14.1-inch bottom bracket height. Flipping the chip to the “low” position brings the head angle down to an even slacker 65-degrees and lowers the bb height to 13.8-inches.

Additional frame features include a tapered headtube, press fit bottom bracket, ISCG tabs, a rear disc brake post mount, optional direct front derailleur mount, 1cm mud clearance with the stock 2.35-inch tires, and room for a water bottle inside the front triangle. Semi-internal routing for the rear derailleur and seatpost add to the clean look, and are made in a way that eliminates cable rattle.

Trek makes the bike in a whopping five sizes (designated 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, and 21.5) and four models, two of which are carbon and two are aluminum. In the carbon variety, the 9.9 model has a full carbon frame, while the 9.8 still has an aluminum chainstay. Our Slash 9.8 test bike is the more reasonably priced carbon model at $6,090. Prices for all models range from $3,620 to $8,880.

On The Trail

The trails in San Luis Obispo, California were the perfect application to test the Slash. With a great mix of long drawn out climbs, short punchy climbs, tight ripping turns, some jumps, and full on chunder, the Slash got everything thrown at it.

Before we could hit the trail, the first thing that needed to be switched up was the bar and stem. The 70mm stem and 750mm wide Bontrager Pro Carbon bars with 15mm rise don't quite match the bike’s capability, especially for our 6'2" and 6'5" testers on a size 21.5 frame. As a result, stem lengths of the 50-55mm variety and bars ranging between 780-800mm were added to the mix in order to give the Slash a setup more conducive to what the bike is capable of. The 480mm reach felt generous and just about perfect while standing, and the 645mm effective top tube was comfortable while seated. Not too long, but also not too short, giving the Slash the best of both worlds.

While the geometry is versatile, it's no doubt geared towards annihilating descents. The two geometry settings - high/slack and low/slacker - allow for terrain dependent tuning. It requires about five minutes of your time to rotate the Mino Link flip chips to the high bottom bracket mode. This feature would come in handy if the terrain you're riding requires more pedal clearance, is flatter, or has a lot of steep climbing. Regardless of which setting you choose, with a head angle in the 65-degree range the Slash is ready to tackle roughest trails out there, and we appreciate the fact that you have a truly slack mode if it's needed. The carbon frame yields a stiffer, yet quieter and lighter ride, giving the bike a more playful feel than its aluminum predecessor that optimizes the fun factor while damping the feel of chattery trail noise.

Because sag percentages are clearly marked, the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair shock made for easy work while setting up the rear end. With the compression setting fully open, the Slash shows it true colors, and the Debonair really allowed the bike to take off through the gnar. At 30-38% sag the shock held itself up in the travel with a buttery smooth feel off the top and seemingly bottomless travel when combined with the bike's progressive suspension design. The shock didn’t pack out and it was quick to react in fast, choppy terrain. Small bump performance was admirable with the Debonair can and the bike seemed to float over the tops of most rocky sections. When things got truly rough, the Slash monster-trucked through feeling very planted and holding its line well, and at no point did we ever feel in over our heads which says volumes about the way it handles. It's still agile enough to fine tune line choice and playful enough to turn up the fun meter. The front wheel just begged to be lifted, and riding manuals through rocky areas was just as fun and smooth as with two wheels.

With the concentric Active Braking Pivot and brake mount on the seat stay, braking may be a bit different than what you are used to. We noticed the lack of brake squat, with the bike remaining up in its rear suspension under heavy braking as opposed to dipping back in its travel a little. While the rear end was able to remain more active over bumps, this would occasionally translate to a slightly imbalanced feeling with a weight bias toward the front end. We initially experienced some traction loss at the rear tire when leading into tight corners following high speed straights, before adjusting our riding style to be a bit more rearward while braking hard.

While the geometry may be very aggressive in many respects, don’t be fooled by the slack head angle. The Slash features a reasonable effective seat tube angle, and depending on the desired front end setup, it actually pedaled very well when it came time to climb back up. Switching to the high geometry mode improves overall handling with less front end pushing and a better feel on all but the steepest downs. The geometry was thoughtfully put together, providing a balanced work-to-play relationship. The Debonair and carbon frame really give the Slash a well-rounded feel without compromising the bike's ability to smash rock gardens.

Based on past experience with an older (pre-2014) version of the same bike, the updated Slash has much improved pedaling performance thanks to additional anti-squat built into the design. Flipping the shock into a firmer compression setting on the uphill felt more at home than legacy version which performed very sluggish on climbs. That said, we feel like the shock’s platform settings still could yield more of a noticeable difference - likely a result of the increased negative air spring volume that makes it so supple off the top. There’s a decent amount of suspension movement while getting up to speed.

Since its carbon fiber diet, the bike has made another big gain in its perceived weight while coasting down the trail. Compared to many 160mm travel bikes it felt agile and light while throwing it around in corners and the air. The actual weight of 28.6-pounds is about average for a size 21.5 (XL) bike with a carbon frame. In comparison, the previous 2014 aluminum Slash 9 we tested weighed 28.75-pounds. A chunk of the weight on the new bike can be attributed to the new Bontrager Maverick Pro wheels, which have a much wider internal rim width and as a result are a bit heavier. The added rotational weight reduced acceleration speed from a slow start.

Build Kit

With the exception of a few minor changes, the build kit on the Slash 9.8 Carbon packs a lot of great performing parts at a good value. The build includes a mix of RockShox, Shimano, and in-house Bontrager components.

As mentioned previously, a bike of this nature would be better suited with a shorter stem around 50mm and handlebars in the 780 to 800mm range.

The front end is equipped with a Dual Position 130/160mm travel RockShox Pike RC fork, which unfortunately just does not have quite the same feel as the standard Pike RCT3 deep in heavy hits. After playing with the travel adjust on a variety of climbing terrain, we did find that the resulting geometry change was nice for some of the steeper bits, but certainly not worth the performance loss on the downs in our eyes.

Bontrager's Maverick Pro Wheels come with Tubeless Ready rim strips installed, saving you some time and hassle. They're 28mm wide internally, which provides great sidewall support for the otherwise somewhat flimsy 2.35-inch Bontrager XR4 Expert tires. Combined with the wide rims the XR4 Expert tires performed well with good grip in most terrain, but we wanted more aggressive cornering knobs up front than what this tire provides. We also flatted more times on the XR4, both front and rear, than any of the other 18 bikes in our test fleet - further evidence that the treads aren’t up to snuff with what the bike is capable of. The rims took a beating as well, falling out of true with a handful of flat spots after just a few rides. The wheels do not have Bontrager's Rapid Drive hubs, and as a result engagement is average.

As with most Trek bikes, the lever on the 142x12mm axle protrudes quite far from the frame due to the ABP design, and is prone to rock strikes when squeezing through tight sections in the trail.

One detail that caused a minor headache while setting up the controls was that the left hand RockShox Reverb lever, when mounted above the bars, does not play well with Shimano XT brake levers. Ideally this bike would be equipped with a right hand Reverb lever installed under the left side.

Shimano's XT hydraulic disc brakes performed admirably with a 203mm rotor up front and 180mm out back. They provided lots of usable power and great control, and we experienced no fade, pumping, or other odd issues.

SRAM's X1 drivetrain provides great 1X performance at a reduced cost with a great gear range, good durability, and a quiet, friction-free ride. There's no rubber guard on the inside of the seat stay, so consider adding a little mastic tape or something similar to really silence the ride.

Long Term Durability

Over the long term, the Slash seems it would be solid, and even though this is the first carbon version of this specific model, the frame didn’t show any sign of weakness during the test. After a number of punctures, however, the Bontrager XR4 tires seemed like they may be the first item to go, and we'd suggest opting for something with better flat protection. Trek backs the frame with three year warranty.

What's The Bottom Line?

The 2015 Trek Slash 9.8 Carbon is one of the most well-rounded bikes in its travel range, though it clearly excels in the roughest terrain you can find. For the price, the carbon frame, and mid-to-high end spec make it a great value. The Slash feels at home on a wide variety of trails, whether it's monster trucking steep, rocky descents with confidence, or dicing through faster trails with a nimble, fun, and playful feel.

Visit www.trekbikes.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 21 photos of the 2015 Trek Slash 9.8 27.5 up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Dylan Stucki - When he's not busy popping no-handed wheelies or shot-gunning beers you're likely to find Dylan comfortably inside the top ten at Big Mountain Enduro races. Since he's a big guy and charges hard he breaks a lot of stuff. He's naturally a perceptive and particular rider who picks up on even the smallest details.

AJ Barlas - In 15 years on the bike AJ has developed a smooth and fluid style. Hailing from Squamish, BC, his preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

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Added a comment about video ONE LAP - Vital MTB Test Sessions on Hazard Peak and Manzanita in SLO 1/22/2015 6:26 PM
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Sure, you can see some photos here: http://www.vitalmtb.com/features/2015-Vital-MTB-Trail-Bike-Test-Sessions-Introduction,836

And here: http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/Just-The-Bangers-2015-Vital-MTB-Test-Sessions-Photo-Gallery,8473/Just-The-Bangers-2015-Vital-MTB-Test-Sessions-Photo-Gallery,85280/bturman,109

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Added a new video FOX MTB Presents Cam McCaul 1/22/2015 5:57 PM
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Tongues out, flat out! Watch Cam McCaul as he rips some trails and does what he's best at during the Fall 2014 Fox gear shoot. Available now on foxhead.com/bike.

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Added a comment about video ONE LAP - Vital MTB Test Sessions on Hazard Peak and Manzanita in SLO 1/22/2015 3:57 PM
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Lear went for it, landed a little wild. That's why the video cuts out there. Haha. Nice one Team Furbs!

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