Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup




Photos by Max Rhulen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic

Following our Dissected feature on the Transition Relay vs Repeater, we managed to keep hold of Transition’s offering to the aggressive SL eMTB rider. Featuring capable geometry combined with a 160mm travel (or the 170mm PNW version) rear suspension and Fazua’s Ride 60 drive system, the Transition Relay promised to be a killer ride, and ranked well in terms of shred-friendliness in this year’s lightweight, SL eBike Group Review.


• 160mm Horst Link Suspension
• 29” Wheels
• Fazua Ride 60 Motor
• 430Wh Battery
• 2-Pos adjustable Geometry
• HTA 64
• STA 77.8 (effective, Large)
• REACH 485 (Large)

Price: $6,799 – $12,499

2023 SL EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – The Transition Relay was one of the eight eMTBs we tested in our inaugural lightweight eBike group test. We’ve seen a rapid and impressive growth in this category and after fielding so many requests and comments in our well established, annual full-power EMTB SHOOTOUT series, it only seemed natural to give this category the attention it deserves.

This group review was made possible thanks to the amazing support of Schwalbe Tires and their brilliant new Tacky Chan tires, which we outfitted each and every bike with for a consistent test platform.

We’d also like to thank Ninja MTB and Glade Optics.

Our crew did plenty of testing around Central Oregon before heading down to one of our favorite places to ride, Klamath Falls, Oregon. Thanks for the hospitality Discover Klamath and the beautiful Running Y Resort.

2023 eMTB SL Group Review: Logo List


The Transition Relay is a lightweight enduro eBike, powered by the Fazua Ride 60 system, which delivers 60Nm of torque. Designed to be ridden with or without the battery, the Relay is Transition’s take on the ultimate versatility of the SL eMTB market.

DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS | Only two bikes in our Group Review are powered by the Fazua Ride 60 system. Our testers agree it’s got some very clear advantages over the 50Nm drive units from TQ and Specialized and even the 60Nm Shimano STEPS RS unit. Transition gives the Relay a tool-free, removable 430Wh battery, with the system designed to be ridden with or without the battery, and claims the user will perceive no drag when switched off, effectively giving you a normal enduro bike and an SL eMTB in one. Battery power should be extendable to 640Wh with the Fazua range extender once it is released, which was supposed to be many months ago at this point.

Fazua’s neat 3-way Ring Control handlebar remote offers the control of three different power modes and walk mode. Breeze, River and Rocket are the three main modes – plus the ability to unleash the full power of the system for four seconds with the “Boost” function on the controller. This is accessed by holding the toggle lever forward while riding. Nestled within the top tube of the Relay is the LED Hub display unit, which features five LED lights that change color and drop down as battery is consumed in 20% increments. The Hub also has a plug in a USB-C device for charging or updating the system. Further information and customization can be achieved within the Fazua app.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

FRAME AND FEATURES | Transition offers their Relay in a choice of Alloy or Carbon frame options, both featuring all the same features and geometry but with reduced weight for the carbon frame. Both frames have a flip chip to modify geometry or to offset the geometry change caused by fitting a different size rear wheel. As standard the Relay has a pair of 29” wheels while the Relay PNW has a mixed wheel (29” front, 27.5” rear) setup. The size Extra Small frames have a pair of 27.5” wheels to best fit smaller riders.

Features include a tool mount on the underside of the top tube to carry accessories, a bashguard integrated to keep the chainring and motor housing safe, internal cable routing without headset integration; and room in the front triangle for at least a 450ml Fidlock bottle.

SUSPENSION | Transition continues to use their Horst Link suspension system, named Giddy Up, to control the movement of the rear wheel on the Relay. Standard models have 160mm of travel whereas the Relay PNW gets bumped up to 170mm thanks to its longer stroke shock. There’s 26% progression in this system, letting it work happily with coil or air shocks depending on rider preference. Transition recommends rear sag in the 28-34% range, letting you choose your preference of poppy and playful or more planted and comfortable.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

GEOMETRY | Transition’s Speed Balanced Geometry yields a well-balanced bike, with aggressive numbers all round that avoid going too far in any direction. They have an impressive XS-XXL size range for the Relay, covering reach numbers from 410mm to 535mm. This resulted in a very capable and confident bike overall, although a couple scenarios did leave us putting in a bit more effort or counterbalancing to keep this big ‘n burly bike navigating tight switchbacks.

BUILD SPECS | Transition offers the Relay in a wide range of specs, from the $6,799 Relay Alloy NX to the $12,499 Relay XX AXS we tested, as well as two PNW specs for the harder charging riders.

The XX AXS Relay we tested retails for $12,499 and features a selection of components that is sure to keep most riders very happy with an overall weight of 43lbs. Suspension duties are handled by Fox with their Factory level 36 Float Grip2 160mm fork and Float X rear shock. Braking and drivetrain duties are handled by SRAM with their CODE Ultimate Stealth brakes and a full XX Eagle AXS Transmission drivetrain, aside from the carbon Praxis crank arms. OneUp Components are called upon for their excellent dropper post and carbon handlebar. This bar is clamped by in-house brand ANVL’s alloy stem. As standard the Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro Carbon wheels are wrapped with a Maxxis Assegai and DHR2 EXO+ tire combo. However, for this shootout we partnered with Schwalbe Tires to run their new Tacky Chan tires in the Super Trail casing.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup


SETUP | Getting the Transition Relay dialed in was one of the quickest tasks of the Group Review. We settled on our preferred sag range, adjusted levers and bar roll and just let it rip from there! This bike required minimal fussing with a crowd-pleasing suspension platform that just worked. We updated the Fazua system upon delivery, which was pretty easy to do, and played around a bit with power assist percentages to see how easy the app was to use but felt more than pleased with Transition’s tune.

ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | At first, we were bummed that the Transition Relay didn’t have a charge port on the frame and battery removal was required to charge the bike. We soon grew to accept it and while we wouldn’t be mad if they added a port, it was far from a deal-breaker. The battery cover door could certainly be improved though, detracting from the overall feeling of quality with its fiddly latch.

We had a couple issues where the bike would lose power randomly, which after talking to Transition we found out was caused by us not pushing the battery in hard enough. It requires an extra push to really seat apparently. The other issue we had was when we tried turning the bike on before a ride and got nothing. No power. Transition rushed us a new Ring Controller, drive unit and LED Hub as we were just a week away from our final shooting/test session. When we began to loosen the Ring Controller on the handlebar for removal, the LED lights turned on! Apparently, something in the Ring Controller decided to stop working under the torque we had applied to the hardware, even though it hadn’t changed from the first two months that we’d been riding it. Either way, we snugged the Ring Controller up again, but just a bit looser than before and rode the bike for another eight days without a single problem. So, if you’re a Fazua owner who’s lost power, try loosening your Ring Controller and see if that brings it back.

Beyond those two issues, we really like the stealthy sleekness of the Fazua unit, however the fact that the Ring Controller is the only way to select power scares us. If we crashed and broke the tab or ring on the trail, it would suck to have no way to turn on the bike or select a power mode to finish the ride.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

MOTOR POWER & RANGE | Fazua’s Ride 60 drive unit is the second most powerful, behind the Giant SyncDrive (85Nm). Compared to the 50Nm of torque from the Specialized unit and TQ HPR 50 motors, the Fazua Ride 60 in both the Pivot Shuttle SL and Transition Relay feels steps ahead of the 50Nm motors in this group review. Even on a big and burly 160mm 29er, the Fazua helped riders stay near the front of the pack on flats and steeper climbs as well. Where the TQ and Specialized units felt quite speedy on the flats but would drop off on steeper climbs, the Ride 60 offered a more consistent feel from the flats to the climbs. The engagement is fast, but not quite as seamless as the TQ, but we’d doubt most riders would notice if they weren’t spending countless hours hopping between the two drive units back to back, day in and day out.

Range on the Transition was pretty solid thanks to the sizeable battery and efficient drive unit. We wouldn’t be bummed to have a range extender for bigger days as it would allow us to utilize the Boost mode more often and get even more laps in, but on our 10.5-mile Range and Efficiency Test Loop, the Relay was very competitive with its battery consumption.

CLIMBING | There is no denying the Transition Relay is a downhill-biased enduro or freeride eMTB, depending on the spec selected. The geometry is suited for high speeds and charging hard, but the powerful and silent Fazua Ride 60 mean that getting back to the top of your favorite downhills won’t be an arduous affair. Transition’s suspension platform is very comfortable for all types of riding and the seated climbing position is very nice. The only real climbing struggles we faced were on tight switchbacks. The length of the bike and high stack height meant we had to get out of the saddle and do a bit of Body English to counterbalance the bike as we’d negotiate the tight, awkward corners.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

DESCENDING | When it came time to hit the biggest jumps, drops or go as fast as possible through gnarly terrain, our riders all gravitated towards the Relay. It offered an impressive mix of playfulness and ‘plowfulness’ that rewarded different riders’ style and trail selections. Whether it was sessioning jump lines or yanking the bike as far as you could send it into a rock garden, the Transition Relay and that damned-impressive Float X shock just kept charging down the trail.

Confidence, comfort and an overall aggressive rider mentality meant this bike was always at or near the front of the pack when it came time to point down the mountain.

FINISH AND VALUE | Transition bikes used to be known for having an exceptional value to their bikes, I don’t think we’re the only ones who remember how affordable they used to be. Granted, their bikes have evolved and improved quite significantly over the years as well, but we would not say this bike, in this spec is great value. Despite whatever notions of nostalgia for budget-friendly Transition Bikes of old, they are on-par with some other higher-tier brands who ask a premium for their builds. The question is do consumers feel comfortable dropping Pivot money on a Transition? We don’t know, but the market and consumers will be sure to answer that.

When it comes to our objective feedback comparing the Relay to other bikes we’ve seen, touched, and tested, we’d say it’s not far off. There are some areas the Transition boasts nice features that stand out, and others where we feel it’s not quite as luxurious as the price tag suggests. Namely the toggle/lever for the battery cover and the ease of reinstalling the battery cover. Also, electronic wiring inside the frame could be a bit tidier as some excess wiring did get pinched during one of our battery installs. The paint seems pretty good overall, but we had an issue with hardware, cranks and bits loosening during our first ride. Something Transition was aware of as apparently a round of bikes didn’t quite get snugged up properly on the line. This isn’t something unique or new to Transition, but we feel that it’s worth noting as a brand charging premium pricing needs to also deliver premium products, experience, and QC to their customers. Maybe we’re being a bit harsh on Transition here, but this bike rides so well we don’t have much else to criticize beyond their $12,500 price tag and that a bike this expensive really should be 100% dialed.

Transition Relay XX AXS Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

The Wolf’s Last Word

We’ve not yet published the Grand Finale to our SL/Lightweight Group Review so we’ll try not to spoil anything more than we already have, but the Transition Relay is a standout bike for our entire crew this year! Aside from our pricing and value qualms and the battery door latch frustrating us from time to time, there was not a single thing that this bike did not do on the trails. It is definitely a bigger, longer bike that will require a certain mentality and terrain to really shine, but it’s very much the bike a majority of our testers wanted to keep and take home.

Transition told us the Relay is the eBike they built for themselves because it’s how they envision eBikes being. It shows as the Relay is one of the most capable, fun and bad ass mountain bikes we’ve ridden.


Anyone besides the rider who lives for riding tight, hiker-built switchback trails.

Price: $12,499 (XX AXS)
Weight: 43lbs (large)


Frame: Carbon | 160mm
Fork: Fox Factory 36 Grip2 | 160mm
Shock: Fox Factory Float X 2-pos | 205x60mm

Motor: Fazua Ride60 | 450W | 60Nm | 1.96kg
Battery: Fazua Internal | 430Wh | Integrated | 2.2kg
Display: Fazua LED Hub
Remote: Fazua Ring Controller

Brakes: SRAM CODE Ultimate Stealth 200F/R rotors
Handlebar: OneUp Carbon | 35mm Rise | 800 W
Stem: ANVL Swage | 40mm Length
Headset: FSA NO.55R
Seatpost: OneUp Dropper | XS: 120mm; S: 150mm; M: 180mm; L-XXL: 210mm
Saddle: SDG Bel Air 3

Wheels: Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro Carbon
Front tire: Maxxis Assegai | EXO+ | 29″ x 2.5″
Rear tire: Maxxis Minion DHR2 | EXO+ | 29″ x 2.4″

Cassette: SRAM XS 1297 | T-Type | 10-52T
Cranks: Praxis Carbon ETOR | XS: 160mm, S-XXL: 165mm
Shifter: SRAM POD Ultimate | 12s
Derailleur: SRAM XX Eagle AXS Transmission | 12s

We Dig

Suspension platform does it all!
Supple, supportive, poppy, composed
Fast and ready to send
Jumps and plays well
Long pedals or full-face helmets, it’s ready for all

We Don’t

Not best value
Battery door latch can be tricky
Not best on tight switchbacks


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