The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Transition Scout GX 2019 Review

A suprememly fun and shockingly aggressive 130mm trail bike.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $3,999 List
Pros:  High fun-factor, punches above its travel class, stellar build kit
Cons:  Heavy, not the best choice for full-day rides
Manufacturer:   Transition Bikes
By Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens  ⋅  Nov 8, 2018
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 29
  • Fun Factor - 25% 9
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 8
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 6
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 5

The Skinny

The Transition Scout GX is a shockingly fun trail bike. The 130-ish millimeter travel class is very competitive with plenty of great options available in both wheel sizes. The Scout stands out as truly unique as it delivers a supremely high fun-factor, enduro-style downhill confidence, and reliable climbing in a mid-travel package. Three testers spent two weeks smashing this bicycle up and down the Sierra Nevada mountains to determine the key ride characteristics and important subtleties. Despite its heft, the Scout delivers comfortable and reasonably efficient climbing. On the descent, the Transition offers a capable and frolicsome ride. The aggressive geometry provides excellent stability and sky-high level of confidence typically associated with longer travel bikes. Despite its enduro-esque angles, the Scout retains a zippy and athletic feel while encouraging shenanigans in the form of boosts, manuals, and berm slashes. At $3999, it is easy to call the Scout GX a strong value given its unique personality and stellar component grouping that includes a 170mm dropper post, a SRAM GX Eagle Drivetrain, and Fox suspension.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Scout's versatility is one of its key assets.
The Scout's versatility is one of its key assets.

Should I Buy This Bike?


Transition's markets the Scout as a fun, playful, and versatile trail bike that strikes a "sweet spot" with 130mm of rear wheel travel and aggressive angles. We found that this assessment hits the proverbial nail on the head. This mid-travel shredder is supremely fun. There are a lot of 130mm trail bikes that climb much better. There are also better options for all-day rides. That said, few, if any, bikes in this travel class can match this bike's sky-high fun factor. The Scout punches far above its weight class on the descent and is not shy when pointed down fairly rowdy trails. Oh yeah, it also rails berms and flow trails with a balanced feel in the air.

Like the idea of a fun trail bike? Prefer wagon wheels? The Transition Smuggler is a fun-loving, short-travel, 29er. The Smuggler shares some of Scout's frolicsome genes, but runs 120mm of rear wheel travel. The Scout is a more confident descender and more playful bike. Thanks to the bigger wheels and more upright geometry, the Smuggler is a better choice than the Scout for long rides with substantial amounts of climbing. Build kits are available carbon fiber only at the moment with build kits starting at $3999. You can buy an aluminum Smuggler frame for $1999.

This 130mm trail bike punches far above its weight class.
This 130mm trail bike punches far above its weight class.

On a tight budget? The Canyon Spectral is a very fun and affordable 140mm trail bike. It rolls on 27.5-inch wheels and produces an impressive blend of climbing and descending performance. The Spectral can't come close to matching the Scout's smile-inducing levels of fun or aggressive descending. That said, the Spectral climbs as well, if not better, than the Transition and is over two pounds lighter. The best part? Our Spectral AL 6.0 sells for $2399 with a stellar build kit that includes a RockShox Pike, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and SRAM Guide R brakes.

Frame Design


The Scout is designed around 130mm of rear wheel travel. Transition's suspension design is called the Giddy Up 2.0hh, which is a Horst Link, or four-bar, design. The frame has a main pivot above the bottom bracket, a rocker link on the seat tube, and a pivot forward of the rear axle on the chainstay. This system is simple and reliable. Downhill performance is smooth and provides an excellent feel over chatter. On the ascent, the suspension is very active and offers impressive traction, but climbing efficiency relies heavily on the shock's climb switch.

The Scout and its four-bar suspension.
The Scout and its four-bar suspension.

We measured our large test bike. It has a 630 mm effective top tube and 424mm chainstays to create a 1220mm wheelbase. We measured the reach to be 472mm. With the stock 150mm fork, the head angle measured 64.9-degrees. The seat tube angle is 75.0-degrees, and the bottom bracket came out to 338mm. Our large bike weighs 32 lbs 5 oz set up tubeless without pedals.

Design Highlights

  • Available in aluminum only.
  • 130mm of rear wheel travel, designed around 150mm fork
  • 27.5-inch wheels with clearance for up to 2.8-inch wide tires
  • Boost Spacing
  • Available in XS-XL frame sizes
  • Threaded Bottom Bracket
  • Two available build kits - Scout NX $2999, Scout GX $3999 (tested), Frame Only - $1999
  • Three-Year Warranty

This bicycle is comfortable on a wide range of trails.
This bicycle is comfortable on a wide range of trails.

Downhill Performance


The Scout is a fun descender that punches above its weight class. This bicycle ticks all of the boxes including stability, aggressive geometry, and a playful feel. The versatility of this mid-travel shredder stands out as it performs well on a huge range of terrain. The component grouping, highlighted by a 170mm dropper post, works well on the descent.

The Scout is a more confident descender than any 130mm travel bike we have tested. This bike uses Transition's Speed Balanced Geometry (SBG). Essentially, SBG uses a slack head tube angle with a reduced offset fork which brings the axle back towards the frame. This is intended to improve steering at all speeds, add traction, and deliver enhanced weight distribution. Long story short: it works. SBG offers the benefits of a slack front end on steep trails and high speeds without feeling clunky in tight corners or at slower speeds. One of our favorite trail bikes, the Ibis Ripmo, also uses a reduced offset fork paired with a slack front end. We expect this design to become more and more prevalent in the coming years.

The Scout is remarkably smooth over small to mid-sized rocks gardens.
The Scout is remarkably smooth over small to mid-sized rocks gardens.

The Scout operates very well at speed and is unperturbed by chunky trails. Feeding it into rock gardens is confident and stable. On chattery, smaller, rock gardens, the Giddy Up four-bar suspension is calm and muted. The Scout cruises right over the small stuff. On bigger and steeper lines, the Transition stands up remarkably well given its mid-travel designation. The rear end, equipped with a Fox DPX2, handles larger impacts well. The Transition bike strikes a nice balance of small bump performance and big-hit support. The mean front end comprised of a 150mm Fox 36 and 2.5-inch Maxxis Minion is stout and is not easily deflected. To be very clear, this is not a true enduro or park bike, but the Scout can get impressively radical on rowdy terrain for a bike with 130mm of travel.

The 2.5-inch Minion DHF a confident and reliable front end.
The 2.5-inch Minion DHF a confident and reliable front end.

On fast and flowy trails, the Scout rails. The 2.5-inch Minion DHF is aggressive and backs up to rider input. This bike dips into berms effectively and rips through corners. The mid-travel platform is firm enough to push against through pumps and rolls in the trail. Despite its enduro-esque angles, the Scout rides more like a mid-travel bike on fast and smooth trails. This bike was impressive on jump lines by providing a balanced and predictable feel.

The component group on our Scout GX is dialed. The Fox 36 paired with a 2.5-inch Maxxis DHF is a classic and reliable combination. This tried and true combination creates a confident and aggressive front end. The SRAM Guide R brakes are decisively fine. One highlight is the 170mm RockShox Reverb dropper post. For years, the 150mm dropper post has been standard fare, but in the couple years, longer droppers are becoming more prevalent. 170mm+ posts are typically found on large and extra large frames. Long-travel dropper posts open the door to getting extra rad on the descent. While lowering your seat by an extra 20mm sounds trivial, it is noticeable, and it is awesome.

The active suspension delivers excellent traction over technical climbs.
The active suspension delivers excellent traction over technical climbs.

Climbing Performance


The Scout is a capable climber that sets you up in a comfortable position. Despite its heft, this bike spins its way uphill relatively efficiently. Given the length of this bike, it crawls up rocky climbs effectively and navigates switchbacks surprisingly well. Make no mistake, the Scout shines as a playful, descending, bike, not for feathery climbing abilities.

This bike sets you up in a comfortable and efficient climbing position. The rider is more or less floating on top of the bottom bracket which is beneficial to power transfer. The climbing motion is effective, but there is no denying this bike is heavy. At approximately 32.5-lbs the Scout is portly and you can feel it on the climb. As a result, this bike is not the best choice for rides with multi-hour climbs or full-day rides. This shouldn't come as a surprise, this bike is all about a high fun-factor and ripping downhills, not supreme climbing efficiency. Still, the Scout holds its own. For how ridiculously good this bike descends, it climbs pretty well.

On smoother climbs  use the shock's climb switch.
On smoother climbs, use the shock's climb switch.

The SBG plays a role on the ascent. Despite the slack head tube angle, the Scout steers well. It navigates uphill switchbacks relatively easily and responds to minimal rider input. The spacious cockpit creates an airy feel and allows the rider plenty of space to shift weight around on steep or technical pitches. This bike has a longer 1220mm wheelbase and it creates a rock-crawling feel. Line the bike up with a technical, punchy, climb, and give her some gas. Barring a disastrous line choice, the Scout will scoot right up and over the chunk.

As with most four-bar bikes, the Scout relies heavily on the shock's climb switch. If you live in a land of ultra-technical and rough climbs, you may want to think about leaving the shock open for enhanced traction. Most riders will want to flip the climb switch into the middle position. This eliminates pedal bob and makes better use of your energy. In addition, the climb switch preserves the geometry a little bit. In the open position, the bike sags into its travel and the head tube angle and seat tube angle slacken. Using the climb switch prevents the bicycle from sagging into its travel thus preserving efficient geometry.

The SRAM Eagle drivetrain worked well through testing. The 32:50-tooth climbing gear is fine, but some riders might consider a 30-tooth chainring for lighter climbing. The Stan's wheels offer a solid tire footprint and the 29mm inner diameter is about standard for 2018. The Stan's Neo hubs offer 10-degree engagement which is decent for a stock wheelset.

Photo Tour


The 150mm Fox 36 Performance was rock-solid.
The Float DPX2 rear shock was an impressive specification for a bike at this price point.
The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is solid  riders may consider switching to a 32-tooth chainring.
The 50-tooth climbing ring on the GX Eagle cassette comes in handy with this hefty bicycle.
We love long travel dropper posts.
SRAM Guide R brakes aren't sexy but they deliver power and solid brake feel.
It is hard to beat a 2.5-inch Maxxis Minion DHF on the front of an aggressive trail bike.
The 2.4-inch Maxxis Minion DHR II offers excellent braking bite and climbing traction.

Value


The Scout GX delivers a unique and charismatic ride that would be a great option for a lot of riders in a lot of locations. The build kit on our $3999 test bike is great. With the blend of excellent on-trail performance, solid build kit, and reasonable price, it is easy to call this bike a strong value.

The Scout gets it done on punchy climbs.
The Scout gets it done on punchy climbs.

Conclusion


The Transition Scout GX is a killer trail bike with an attitude. This bicycle offers a supremely fun ride and makes sense in many applications. Downhill performance is aggressive and stable. The Scout can punch far above its weight class thanks to its mini-enduro feel. The climbing abilities are good enough to get you on top of any climb. This fun-loving, aggressive, trail bike sells for a reasonable $3999 with stellar components…we love it.


Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens