2019 Transition Scout Alloy GX Bike

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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2019 Transition Scout Alloy GX
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Long-Term Test: Transition Scout

Nine months and countless rides aboard a promising rig reveal where it excels and where it could be improved. Let's dig in...

Rating: Vital Review
Long-Term Test: Transition Scout

What is it that makes a bike fun? What do we require it be capable of? What boxes must it check? Pedaling, pumping, jumping, climbing, descending? Surviving, encouraging, enjoying? The list could be a mile long and will vary from bike to bike and rider to rider. Hopping on the Transition Scout, a mid-travel trail/all-mountain bike with Transition's Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG) and GiddyUp 2.0HH suspension, we expect some fun will be had. Will it check all our boxes though?

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Great cornering feel and performance
  • Quieting yet lively over chunky descents
  • Doesn't lose much speed or hang up on rocky descents
  • Responsive and accurate steering
  • Suitable for both male and female riders
  • Feels heavy when grinding up climbs
  • Seat tube angle could be steeper
  • Noisy chain slap in the rough stuff
  • Lighter-weight riders may be limited by the stock shock tune
  • Not an e-bike (kidding!)

Transition Scout Alloy GX Highlights

  • Heat-treated hydroformed alloy frame
  • 27.5-inch (650b) wheels
  • 130mm (5.1-inches) rear travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) front
  • GiddyUp 2.0HH suspension with Enduro Max sealed bearings
  • Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG) with shorter 37mm fork offset
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket with ISCG05 tabs
  • Tire clearance up to 27.5 x 2.8-inches
  • Internal derailleur and external brake cable routing
  • Molded rubber downtube and chainstay protection
  • Water bottle mounts inside front triangle
  • Rattle-free internal cable port covers
  • 12x148mm Boost dropout spacing
  • Measured weight (size small, tubeless, no pedals): 32.5-pounds (14.7kg)
  • Available sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Three-year frame warranty
  • MSRP: $3,999 USD

In 2018, Transition made some sweeping changes to their platform, rethinking how bike geometry is approached. Sure, it's 2019 now, but you can love a dog as much as you can a puppy. So here's the skinny on what gives the Transition Scout its bark.

Ever evolving, advancing, and improving – the search for the holy grail of bike design often brings engineers, designers, and test riders face to face with geometry. Searching for the recipe to a better-handling bike, Transition looked beyond the repetitive longer-and-slacker trend the industry was following knowing there was still room for improvement. Their attention focused in part on fork offset and its effect on steering trail. After a few years of experimenting and testing different blends of offset and frame geometry, Transition's "R&D" division found a winning combo. Their new geometry approach, SBG, was born. Truly a system, SBG incorporates five components working in concert: increased frame reach, a slacker headtube angle, steeper seat tube angle, a shorter stem, and a shorter fork offset. Like a masonry arch, each supports the other and the shortened fork offset is the keystone holding it all together. The resulting ride qualities include calmer cornering, more direct control and better braking on the steeps, less deflection over bumps, plus improved stability and front-wheel traction. If you want even more nitty-gritty details on SBG, check out Vital MTB's in-depth story.

The Transition Scout can accommodate riders big and small, from 4'8" (1.43m) tall with their size XS frame to 6'9" (2.06m) with the XL. Part of the SBG system, the Scout has a longer top tube length, reach, and thus wheelbase than the previous generation. It also has a 2-degree slacker 65-degree head tube angle. The SBG Scout doesn't, however, see a significant change in seat tube angle from the previous generation and is only a tenth of a degree steeper. The SBG Scout does have shorter seat tube lengths and up to a 13mm difference is seen on the size small frame – a plus for smaller riders and those looking to maximize dropper post travel.

Another feature is the GiddyUp 2.0hh suspension design. This brings increased pedaling efficiency, a wider sag range, and increased small bump sensitivity. All good things. The suspension is tuned to have a moderate amount of chain growth which provides improved traction while climbing without a notable increase in pedal kickback. Additionally, GiddyUp 2.0hh is slightly more progressive than the original GiddyUp design.

On The Trail

Straight out of the gate there's a bit of reprogramming required and kicking of bad habits to feel at home on the new SBG geometry design. Once we got serious about steering by leaning the bike and not turning the bars as much, we were in business. From the trails of Colorado, Arizona, and Utah to the South Island of New Zealand and even Whistler Bike Park, the Scout was put through its paces over nine months.

When descending any trail, the Scout is a fun ride. It's planted and stable at speed. Sure, it's a smaller bike for the tall order of taking on something like Whistler Bike Park, but all 130 and 150mm of travel did an impressive job of it. You didn't find us faffing around at the base. In the steeps of the Colorado high country, the Scout proved to be supportive and grounded. Even when off-line going into steep switchbacks, it could still pull off the feat. In high-speed chunk, the bike feels quieting yet awake and active. It isn't slowed down or hung up by geologic obstacles. Unfortunately, though, it's also through this chunk and especially right after a big compression that there often is a bit of chain slap. This Scout doesn't possess Navy SEAL stealth.

Searching for the recipe to a better-handling bike, Transition looked beyond the repetitive longer-and-slacker trend the industry was following knowing there was still room for improvement.

Playing around and doing the fun stuff, like cornering, jumping, and pumping, the Scout is no sloth. It isn't quite a jackrabbit though either. Cornering is great, and even if traction is lacking given the terrain there's no need for concern. Getting loose is as fun as carving turns with this one. Coming from a 44mm offset fork, a standout difference on the Scout's shorter 37mm offset is that the front wheel stays planted and tracks where expected. But if the bars are used to steer, the bike can feel a bit twitchy – a reminder to ride like Spike the bulldog in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, strong through the arms and shoulders with elbows out despite the summer's growth of oak brush. Jumping: if it's built, the bike can fly. After-work flow trail laps are good fun aboard the Scout. Getting hang time off smaller natural contours of the trail, however, takes more effort. Pumping is a similar experience. It can be done just fine but there isn't quite the level of acceleration that could be possible, likely as a result of more linear suspension than competing designs.

While going downhill is a blast, climbing the Scout can be a chore. A good attitude to adopt when riding this bike is the age-old phrase, "We'll get there when we get there." The opportunity to build some great strength while climbing is one side of the coin, but for the average rider who squeaks out a few shorter rides per week after clocking out from the ol' nine-to-five, there might not be much inspiration to start racing enduros. We could feel every ounce of our size small Scout's 32.5-pounds when pedaling uphill.

Aside from the heft, the bike is efficient and its geometry is pretty good for the task of climbing. A steeper seat tube angle could be an improvement. Starting with the saddle centered on the rails, it felt a bit like driving a car from the back seat. A lot of time was spent perched on the tip of the saddle to get the leverage and balance we wanted when climbing. Moving the saddle all the way forward on the rails, past the maximum recommended markings, got us to a happier place. Getting out of the saddle to put in some stronger pedal strokes feels great with no excess bobbing and a balanced feel. Navigating and powering through more technical moves, the bike also does well. The suspension soaks up its share while helping to maintain rear-wheel traction, yet still provides enough platform for good power transfer. Surprisingly, the front end is less prone to wondering than one might expect with the 65-degree head angle.

Build Kit

The GX build is one of two available from Transition for 2019, the other being an NX build. The Scout GX features FOX Performance suspension, SRAM drivetrain and brakes, Maxxis tires, Stan's NoTubes wheels, and a RockShox dropper post. All solid options for the rider on a budget wanting some promised performance.

Stepping into the ring, taking hits left and right, the FOX 36 Grip 2 Performance Elite fork and DPX2 Performance shock didn't disappoint. They performed well and felt balanced working together. The suggested sag points were spot on, and ultimately we chose to run the rear end at the firmer end of the range. We were pushing the limits of the shock's rebound range with a 160-pound (72.6kg) rider, including ride gear. A bit heavily damped, there was often only one click left in the fast direction. Cold weather rides and lighter riders may have an issue with running out of clicks.

SRAM's GX Eagle drivetrain did its job and provided that lifesaving 500% range when climbs got long or steep. Getting that b-screw tension just right can be a challenge on GX drivetrains, though, and without it being spot on shifting can be a bit jarring going into some cogs. At the GX level some precision in the shifting is lost since the components are not individually machined. Once set up well, it works well. Another quirk experienced with this drivetrain on a muddy, rainy ride through some stickier clay-based muds was its readiness to drop the chain. Not ideal and maybe some trail karma kicking in for getting caught out in those conditions.

We did have some trouble with the SRAM Guide R brakes during our testing period. After a strong start, they stopped attending the party a few months in. We went through a few rounds of partial and full bleeds trying to improve the inconsistent lever pull on the rear brake. By the end, despite our best efforts, the lever would pull to the bar during extended braking on longer descents. Giving it the boot for the remainder of our testing, we swapped ‘em out for backup brakes. At least making the swap was easy since the rear brake is externally routed – a nice advantage for maintenance.

Maxxis tires are a trusted go-to and the Minion DHF 3C WT and Minion DHR II 3C WT mix is a tried and true combo. The 2.5-inch width front and 2.4-inch rear were also ideal sizes. We wouldn't personally prefer anything wider where we tend to feel more squirm than we'd like at lower pressures and more bounce at higher pressures. The tires held up reasonably well through our testing period. They wore down at an expected rate and survived without any punctures or slashes that weren't salvageable by a quality tubeless sealant.

Stan's NoTubes Flow S1 Team alloy wheels, all things considered, made it through. There are a few smaller dings in the rear rim and one doozy. That Moab rock came out of nowhere, we swear. The bead held on for months but later took some finagling with a plug to hold when a tire swap was done for the Whistler trip. (Prior preparation and DH casings prevent piss poor park runs.) The spokes and their tension held up with very little adjustment needed, and the hub engagement was enough to suit our needs. We've had other wheels show for better and for worse, but for the price point you have to pick your possible battles and pick your upgrades.

The RockShox Reverb behaved itself in action but developed a few millimeters of squish and some rotational play. Such seems to be the game with these things and many dropper posts share this struggle, though the newest Reverb will address the squish. The size small bike comes with a 125mm travel post which would sometimes feel more up in our business than we'd like. For the bike parks or pump track, we'd lower the post as far as the frame would allow. We would love to have more travel, but crunching the numbers revealed that a 150mm Reverb wouldn't fit on a size small frame and still accommodate our 30-inch inseam length. We swapped the plunger style lever for a 1x lever early on – nobody's got time for that reach these days, especially those with smaller hands.

Not the flashy show horse or zippy racehorse, the Scout is the consistent and reliable stable horse that can be ridden day after day.

Lastly, the cockpit and seating. Race Face Chester 35mm handlebars were provided with a generous 780mm width on the size small bike. We trimmed that down to our default 750mm width, but after experiencing SBG we might have liked to keep it a bit wider. Our word to the wiser: with the new geometry's steering feel, do some experimenting with bar width before chopping it out of habit.

Match your shoes and belt and match your bar and stem, or so it usually goes from the assembly line. To match the Race Face bars, a 40mm long Aeffect R stem is supplied on all bike sizes. That shorter length is part of the SBG system to balance the shorter fork offset. It works.

Grips and saddles are personal touches where each rider has a different priority. Knowing ours, we swapped out the provided ANVL Forge Chromoly saddle and ODI Elite Flow grips. We know riders that are perfectly happy with these stock options, both men and women. But for us, the more comfortable WTB Koda saddle and some cushy ODI Longneck grips go with us to every bike.

Long Term Durability

The Scout's burly alloy frame will probably last for years, but will show its wear and tear unless you wrap it straight away. As soon as we built up the bike, we added clear vinyl to the downtube and key locations on the rear triangle. Unforeseen scratches and scrapes in unprotected areas of the bike will be remembered as they go through the paint pretty easily. Another part of the frame showing its abuse is where the chain just barely misses the rubber chainstay guard, taking some bites out of the edge of the stay. During a dropped chain event, albeit very brief, there was also visible work done on the frame and wear on the derailleur cable where it routes just behind the chainring. This cable location is also causing cable-rub wear on the lower pivot. Oh, mountain bikes: loved and abused.

Over the course of nine months there hasn't been any creaking or squeaking from the frame. It has the added benefit of a threaded bottom bracket as well. When it's time to replace bearings, Transition takes the guesswork out and has Enduro Max bearing kits available on their website and everything is relatively easy to access.

Speaking of bearings, the FSA headset on this model is unsealed and developed some feel-able play that couldn't be tightened away. As previously discussed, other weak points include the rear rim and brakes requiring some serious shop attention. The rest of it we'd expect to hold up for a while longer. Looking at this as a base bike to be updated as needed for performance or weight savings, we'd focus on the cassette and wheels first.

What's The Bottom Line?

So, is the Transition Scout Alloy GX a fun bike? Yes, it is. Did it check all the boxes? Most of them. Descending, cornering, surviving, encouraging, and enjoying? Yes, absolutely. The SBG system and GiddyUp 2.0HH suspension made for a comfortable, stable, well-handling bike. Pumping and jumping? Not a sloth and not a jackrabbit. It's capable in all those departments but won't hand success to you on a silver platter and skills are needed to get the best results. Climbing? Welp, we'll see you at the top. Save us a beer. Getting up the hill can be a chore because the Scout feels heavy when fighting gravity. One thing is for sure though, you'll get stronger riding it.

Is the Scout GX build worth it? You get a pretty solid base bike for a reasonable cost. The paint will show its age and you'll likely need replacement parts along the way, but we could see this being a great bike for the average rider who will ride it for years. Not the flashy show horse or zippy racehorse, the Scout is the consistent and reliable stable horse that can be ridden day after day.

Visit www.transitionbikes.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 3.5 stars
  • Descending: 4.5 stars
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars
  • Value: 3.5 stars
  • Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent

About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 12 // Height: 5'7" (1.70m) // Weight: 155-pounds (70.3kg)

"Going downhill puts a smile on my face and I climb for beer." Courtney routinely shocks the boys with her speed and has experience in various disciplines. A silent force behind the scenes for Vital MTB, she's posted up in Durango, Colorado and has ridden dozens of women's bikes. Her technical background helps her think critically about products and how they can be improved.

Photos by Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Transition Scout Alloy GX Bike
Model Year 2019
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
XS, SM, MD, LG, XL View Geometry
Size XS SM MD LG XL
Top Tube Length 547mm 575mm 603mm 632mm 660mm
Head Tube Angle 65° 65° 65° 65° 65°
Head Tube Length 100mm 110mm 120mm 130mm 140mm
Seat Tube Angle 76.6° 76.1° 75.5° 75° 74.6°
Seat Tube Length 355mm 380mm 410mm 450mm 495mm
Bottom Bracket Height 20mm drop 20mm drop 20mm drop 20mm drop 20mm drop
Chainstay Length 425mm 425mm 425mm 425mm 425mm
Wheelbase 1131mm 1160mm 1189mm 1218mm 1247mm
Standover 675mm 675mm 685mm 695mm 710mm
Reach 400mm 425mm 450mm 475mm 500mm
Stack 589mm 598mm 607mm 617mm 626mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details Heat treated hydroformed alloy
Rear Travel 130mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Performance, 210mm x 55mm
Fork FOX 36 Grip 2 Performance Elite
Fork Travel 150mm
Head Tube Diameter 44mm zero stack (top) / 56mm zero stack (bottom)
Headset FSA No.57E
Handlebar Race Face Chester 35mm diameter, 760mm x 10mm (XS), 780mm x 20mm (SM), 780mm x 35mm (MD, LG, XL)
Stem Race Face Aeffect R, 40mm length
Grips ODI Elite Flow
Brakes SRAM Guide R, 180mm rotors (front and rear)
Brake Levers SRAM Guide R
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX Eagle
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide None included
Cranks SRAM Descendent 7K DUB, 170mm
Chainrings 32 tooth
Bottom Bracket 73mm threaded
Pedals None included
Chain SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
Cassette SRAM XG 1275, 10-50 tooth, 12-speed
Rims Stan's Flow S1 Team
Hubs Stan's Neo with Durasync
Spokes Sapim Race black 2.0mm/1.8mm/2.0mm
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 3C WT, 27.5 x 2.5
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C WT, 27.5 x 2.4
Saddle ANVL Forge chromoly
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth, 100mm (XS), 125mm (SM), 150mm (MD), 170mm (LG, XL)
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions Boost 148
Max. Tire Size 27.5 x 2.8
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Desert Tan, Slate Blue
Warranty 3 years on frame for original owner from the date of purchase
Weight 33 lb 3.9 oz (15,080 g)
Miscellaneous Internal cable routing
Integrated frame protection
Price $3,999
More Info

​www.transitionbikes.com

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