Transition Patrol vs. Patrol - See How the 2018 Compares 45

A comprehensive guide to everything new about one of the best mountain bikes on the market.

At a time when many other brands are playing catch up, it feels as though Transition Bikes is pulling ahead. Their 2018 lineup includes a massive overhaul with a focus on their Speed Balanced Geometry concept, and with it comes improved handling and control in almost every scenario.

Let's not discount the previous Patrol, though, which has been praised by many as one of the premier enduro bikes and was a long-standing favorite among the Vital MTB test crew. So how did Transition improve it? We had two size medium Patrol bikes on hand – one new (grey/black) and one old (yellow) – and thought it'd be telling to put them side by side and ride them back to back. Let's dig in...

Back-to-Back Test Video


"Following extensive back-to-back testing I can confidently say that Transition's SBG-equipped bikes will likely lead the next wave in the continued evolution of bicycle geometry. They provide such an intuitive and controlled experience that my riding game goes up a few notches. That's real progress." - Brandon Turman, Vital MTB Product Editor

Curious about how the two bikes were set up or want some more detail? Additional results from our back-to-back testing of these two fine machines are available here.

Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG)

We covered SBG in-depth once before, so let this list serve as a quick guide. The SBG concept incorporates the following five key changes from the previous Patrol:

  • Increased frame reach (450 vs 432mm on a size medium)
  • Slacker headtube angle (64 vs 65-degrees) – Allows the fork to absorb impacts better on all angles, positions the front wheel further forward, and reduces deflection and dive.
  • Steeper seat tube angle (77.1 vs 75.4-degrees) – Brings rider more forward, aids in climbing traction, and reduces seated sag.
  • Shorter stem (40 vs 50mm) – Equates to a modest increase in total reach.
  • Shorter fork offset (37 vs 42mm) – Brings the front axle more rearward and under the rider which further increases front tire traction. Works in unison with the shorter stem length to provide a more direct steering input.

The reduced fork offset is achieved by mating a 26-inch crown-steerer unit (CSU) with 27.5-inch lowers.

You can see the changes in action in this animated GIF:

Geometry Comparison

Note: The new frameset is sold with a FOX DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock (not pictured).

New for 2018, Transition has added a size XS frame. Combined with lower standover heights and longer reaches, the bikes will now suit a wider range of rider sizes. Relative sizing has not changed, however.

The increase in frame reach is a part of the SBG concept so the same size should still feel right for you. Transition says not to be tempted to size down.

Seat tube length has been reduced by 5 to 33mm across the size range, providing more room for longer travel dropper posts.

Head tube heights remain the same, as does the 44/56mm Zero Stack headset size.

A one-degree slacker head angle provides a much more direct bump feel and better braking on the steeps.

Suspension Updates

The fork has been upped from 160mm to 170mm of travel, making the front end even more eager when the going gets rough.

There's an additional 5mm of rear wheel travel to play with, upping the ante from 155mm to 160mm.


On the kinematics side, the new GiddyUp 2.0hhh suspension design provides:

  • A small amount of increased chainstay lengthening around sag for slightly firmer and more efficient pedaling
  • Similar overall chainstay lengthening so there is no notable increase in pedal kickback
  • Slightly more progression

Enduro Max sealed bearings are used throughout. There are now two bearings in the rear pivot. Last year's had a single bearing in this location.

A wider main pivot provides added frame stiffness. The previous Patrol was offset inboard to allow for front derailleur compatibility. In addition, the new Patrol features the same expanding collet main pivot layout as the 2017 Patrol Carbon. It has been simplified for ease of use with fewer small parts compared to the previous alloy version.

Transition saved vertical space by moving from a 230x65mm Metric shock to a trunnion-style 205x65mm Metric shock, allowing for shorter seat tube lengths and standover heights. 

The upper shock mount now has bearings in the rocker versus being a part of the shock assembly.

Additional Frame Updates

Owners of the original Patrol design will be very pleased with Transition's decisions regarding cable routing. Internal routing of the shifter cable and dropper housing has been updated to prevent rattling with large cable port doors that clamp down and allow for easier cable entry/exit. New foam sleeve inserts slide over the cables as an added anti-rattle measure. The rear brake is now externally routed for easier maintenance.

Stealth dropper post routing remains, but there is no longer a water drain into the bottom bracket area (like our makeshift gasket?).

Brake routing follows the top of the chainstay instead of going inside of it, providing more tire clearance. In addition, while frame materials remain the same, the new bike features thicker tubing on the chain and seatstay.

"We build burly bikes for people that shred. We expect them to get ridden harder, so we made them stronger."

No more cables underneath! ISCG05 tabs remain for mounting a chainguide or bash guard.

Tire clearance has improved big time with room for up to 27.5 x 2.8-inch tire. Previously a 2.5-inch tire was the most you could get away with.

Boosted! Up to date from 12x142mm to 12x148mm dropout spacing. It still uses the ultra-clean Syntace X12 rear axle.

Water bottle mount inside the front triangle? Check.

The bike previously supported an E2 Low Direct Mount front derailleur with the addition of an optional mounting bracket. 1X drivetrains continue to lead the way, though, and nixing the mount and cable guides has significant benefits. Both bikes feature a no-BS 73mm BSA threaded bottom bracket.

Recognizing that most riders run a 180mm rotor out back, they've moved to a cleaner and larger post mount compared to the previous 160mm mount.

A new integrated rubber downtube guard protects from rock strikes and mishaps, keeping the frame nicer for longer.

The chainstay guard remains similar, and a new inner seatstay guard adds a needed layer of chainslap protection. The rear derailleur cable is now routed through the chainstay which cleans things up even further. Both bikes use Transition's universal replaceable derailleur hanger.

2018 Build Kits, Pricing and Availability

Looking the bike over, nearly every aspect of an already awesome frame has been updated, tweaked, or tuned for 2018. This is Transition 2.0, and it's awesome.

The new Patrol will be available in Fall 2017. In addition, a variety of RockShox and FOX fork models featuring SBG offsets will be available for purchase with SBG framesets.

Keep an eye on for more details.


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