TRANSITION SENTINEL - BIKE TEST
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Transition have really stepped up the game in recent times. The addition of the new geometry setup that has been championed by the likes of Chris Porter at Mojo Rising. This “more out there” setup includes head angle changes, fork offsets and longer-lower bikes.
The all new Sentinel 29er has all these things mated up to some big wheels. Transition call this SBG (speed balance geometry). This concept was sprung upon me over a load of beer while sat around a table in Finale. With big talk about numbers and being the best handling bike ever, this had to be put to the test.
This is the Aluminium bike as opposed to the carbon version. This was all that was available at the time but it would have been the bike that l'd have chosen.
Shape and Fit
With the size Large sent over from transition, it did feel a little small to start with. But after throwing a tape over the bike it measured up well. With 475mm reach figures, 64 degree head angle and 1247mm wheelbase, these are good numbers. This should translate to a stable and easy ride. The standover height on these new bikes really is low. With a 700mm height on the large, the frame is well and truly out of the way.
The nice aggressive wide RaceFace bar fitted with the 800mm width gives a comfy cockpit area. It also helps make the bike feel even larger when in the riding position.
Suspension and Chassis
The same classic Transition chassis look remains, with the four bar linkage driving a Fox suspension platform on this model. The rear linkage, constructed from aluminium, is a single piece unit that has welded in bracing for increased stiffness. This then drives a Trinion mounted Fox Float DPX2 rear damper which pushes out 140mm of rear travel.
Upfront some more Fox goodies, with the 44mm offset 160mm travel Fox 36 Float Elite fork in keeping with the stealth look that the bike has going on. The RockShox model also has a 42mm offset.
With some serious kit bolted on board the Sentinel there is no doubt that this is aimed at the enduro crowd. New SRAM Code brakes and some Maxxis DHF and DHR tyres, it’s a great looking bike. Eagle gearing and E-13 hoops help what is the £5,049 build.
Fork: FOX 36 FLOAT RC2 PERFORMANCE ELITE
Shock: FOX DPX2 PERFORMANCE ELITE
Bar: RACE FACE ATLAS 35 (800MM X 20MM)
Stem: RACE FACE AEFFECT R (40MM)
Headset: CANE CREEK 40 SERIES
Brakes: SRAM CODE RSC
Shifters: SRAM X01 EAGLE
Crankset: SRAM DESCENDENT CARBON (30T, 170MM)
Rear mech: SRAM X01 EAGLE
Cassette: SRAM XG 1275 (10-501)
Chain: SRAM GX EAGLE
Seatpost: ROCKSHOX REVERB STEALTH 1 X REMOTE
Saddle: ANVL FORGE STEALTH CROMO
Wheels: E*THIRTEEN TRS+
First impressions were not as great as I would have thought. Something just did not hit the mark for me. This bike was going head to head with my favourite on the market, currently the Orbea Rallon. These two bikes are trying to do the same job but in different ways. One carbon and one alloy but both 29” enduro weapons. Both long, low and slack. After one ride I seemed to have nailed the issue on the head and changed up the wheelset for a more robust option. The E-13 wheelset that was specified didn’t seem man enough for the job in hand having bent the wheel after the first ride. Changing up the hoops made a massive difference. The Sentinel really benefits from being ridden hard. The faster the bike is pushed the more you get from it. The 'Speed Balance Geometry' seems to be doing its job. Having the playful feel that I would look for in any bike but traction at all times. The fork offset being at 44mm as opposed to the standard 51mm for a 29” bike gives a much nimbler feel when getting into steeper more technical terrain.
With only minor issues and after some setup the Transition Sentinel was an absolute blast to ride. It is always a tough call when pitching a bike against something that is as good as the Rallon but it has come out of the corner fighting. With a simple wheel swap the bike was transformed.
A small Issue with the Sentinel that is not hard to remedy was the fact that the bike came fitted with tubes. This is such a tiny thing and it would be simple to set up tubeless (before the rear wheel exploded) but it is always a nice touch, when buying an expensive bike, to have this done for you.
The wheel set is the second thing. As mentioned previously, this is not the end of the world and simply changing these out for something a little more robust would make all the difference. In this case some carbon rimmed Roval wheels were fitted.
The paint work looks amazing when removed from the box. Such detail. But make sure if buying one of these that ALL areas that will rub, chip or scratch are well protected and covered. As nice as it looks the paint is thin and marks very easily.
Not the perfect bike but one giant leap in the right direction. With simple lines and design the Transition Sentinel really has fitted nicely into the Transitions lineup. This sits perfectly above the Smuggler with an aggressive stance and a solid feel. There is a carbon chassis model that could be a tad lighter. When it comes down to it this alloy model with a few tasteful changes, will work well. All in all a super fast and fun bike with a clean and silent ride.
WORDS - Ieuan Williams
PHOTOS - Callum Philpot, Ieuan Williams