Replacement for an old friend

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      My beloved Transition Preston FR cracked where the toptube and headtube meet. This was a very sad day. As always the gang at Transition went above my expectations to support their product and replaced my Preston with a Covert V2 for a whole sale price. Honestly, I had my eye on new Bandit, but that type of wear-and-tare crack with less than four years of riding made me nervous about a frame with so little metal. The gang at Transition agreed and a fancy new Covert was on the way. Rarely does a rider get to compare frames with identical components. Every component for the Covert with the exception of headset, saddle, and steatpost was coming over from the Preston.
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      Transferring from the Preston was a 2010 RockShox Revelation Team, 2006 DHX 5.0 air, Shimano Saint (810 series) Stoppers, a SRAM X-7 drive train (various years), 2010 Shimano SLX cranks, King hubs laced to Stan’s Flow rims. The Preston was ISCG, whereas the Covert was ISCG-05. That meant the E13 LG+ was gone. It took a while for the replacement to arrive so I still haven’t trail test the MRP miniG2. Instead, I taped up an old front changer to create tight groove for the chain to run in. The seatpost is a Performance Bikes special. The saddle came from Transition. Oh yeah, new cables and housing; those on the Preston were part of the original build. The first build came in three pounds lighter than the Preston at about 29 pounds.

      I am not going to review components, just the frame. The ride destinations are my technical favorites for the Austin area: Emma Long City Park (a motocross track), Reveille Peak Ranch (a new re-entry for the area), and Madrone.

      I’ve ridden many frame designs and regarding pedaling the only one that has impressed me is linear travel designs like Astrix and Ellsworth. Every other full suspension design I have ridden sacrifices some part of the initial pedal stroke to load up the suspension. The Covert, with its single pivot axle path, doesn’t require this load up. The initial pedal stroke transfers power nearly immediately to the rear tire. I used zero pedal damping from the DHX 5.0. I can’t see the linkage when riding the Covert. So, some bob might occur. However, it’s not enough to accept the loss of small bump compliance experienced with pedal damping systems. The pedaling is so smooth I am seriously considering moving from a 32 to a 34 tooth ring.

      The stable pedaling created a bit of scoot for the bike that I lacked familiarity. City Park is the roughest riding on the list. It lacks flow, but it has moments that are DH technical. Some of the low intermediate technical pedals we flattened by the rear suspension. I could clear these sections on the Preston but rarely clean them. My hope is that these flattened sections will allow me more entertaining access to other more advanced pedals on the trail. City Park has a section where you hoist the bike atop a 12 inch step, pedal through two bike lengths of rough ground rock, and the roll down a 24 inch step. I couldn’t ride this in flow with the Preston. The pedal section removed all stability. It’s cake on the Covert. Until this year, the Preston had been the best “mid-saddle” pedaling bike I have ridden. I spent four days on a Cove G-spot in Moab/Grand Junction. Both the G-spot and Covert have superior pedaling characteristics when the saddle is between XC and DH heights. As far as City Park’s DH technical sections, it’s a Transition.

      Reveille Peak Ranch has re-invented itself this year as they enter the “for pay” riding market. It’s now my favorite place to ride within two hours of Austin. RPR falls just shy of City Park for technical, but the climbs are much more enjoyable and the descents have much more flow. Riding the flowy sections at RHR meant I was much more aware of body position on the descents. I loved the Preston because it required active body positioning to ride successfully. It was very similar to surfing. The Covert doesn’t require such active body positioning. The Covert allows the rider to sit neutrally between the hubs and conquer most trail segments. My old Astrix Stryke exhibited this behavior. The Stryke demanded you stay in the neutral position and avoid active body positioning. The Covert comes to life the same way the Preston does with active body positioning. The longer cockpit and lack of requirement for active positioning mean you need to remind yourself to be active when out of the saddle. However, you’re definitely rewarded for your efforts.
      The Preston’s ultimate weakness was chatter. The tight snappy wheelbase freaked when the trail was jittery without being technical. The Covert gobbles chatter like a DH bike. Two sections at RHR have chatter that obscured trail vision on the Preston and seriously requested a bit of breaking. The Covert had me seeking more speed in these sections. The Covert slayed every section RHR had to offer except one. An intermediate switchback on an otherwise novice trail section sent me over the bars. Bike design is economic and thus experiences trade-offs. The story is too long for text. However, the extended wheelbase and lighter trail weight on the Covert put me in position to do something stupid, and I obliged.

      Prior to RHR, Madrone was my favorite riding in the two-hour range from Austin. Mardrone is fairly flat trail network with long low intermediate technical climbs, okay up-hills. The length of these climbs can make them feel more technical than they are. Keeping momentum is hypercritical. That made this physically grueling ride on the Preston. The Covert chewed threw it. Remaining in heavier gears was a breeze. I did have some problems with high-intermediate obstacles found at Madrone. I think much of that derives from the more efficient pedaling throwing off my rhythm for breaks. I was hitting the obstacles when winded instead of fresh.

      After the first three days of riding the Covert is the quiver killing bike Transition claims. I don’t think I would put it through a full season of DH. That’s a durability thing, not a performance thing. It’s the best all-mountain bike I have ridden. I am biased here. Like Vans shoes, Transition’s geometries have fit me perfectly. This is my fourth Tranny and they haven’t missed. The G-spot I rode in Moab exhibited similar in performance, but some small geometry issues left me wanting more. The versatility of this bike exceeds my 04 Norco Shore. The 12 pound weight difference means the Covert simply blows the Shore away.

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