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.
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.
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.
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.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Anyone besides the rider who lives for riding tight, hiker-built switchback trails.
Price: $12,499 (XX AXS)
Weight: 43lbs (large)