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The story behind Transition’s Speed Balanced Geometry

A bike informally named “the Super Smuggler” was Lars’s testing machine while developing SBG. Tucked deep in the PNW woods, he rode this trail over and over to unlock the magic.

Transition has long been one of Mtbr’s favorite mid-sized bike brands. They make some great riding bikes — and don’t take themselves overly seriously. They’re also not afraid to push the development envelope, as witnessed by the work they’ve done with fork offsets.

In the past few years, bike geometry has evolved significantly, with the longer, slacker, and lower ethos fully permeating frame design. These new era geometries inspire confidence at speed, but Transition argued that they suffer at slower speeds and on flatter terrain. The culprit is the front wheel, which sits too far ahead of the rider.

Speed Balanced Geometry explained.

To maximize the benefits of these new era trends, Transition believes fork offset needs to change. A shorter fork offset brings the front axle rearward, moving it under the rider. Combined with the shorter stem lengths that are now popular, you gain better front wheel traction. Or so the thinking goes

The concept is called Speed Balanced Geometry, and consists of five key dimensions: frame reach, head tube angle, seat tube angle, stem length, and fork offset. Most brands have figured out that longer frames, slacker head angles, steep seat tubes, and shorter stems are better, but now more attention is being paid to fork offset.

The production Sentinel came to life.

In Transitions new Behind the Bikes video series, episode No. 1 heads to Transition staffer Lar Sternberg’s home garage, where he delved into a 2-year exploration of bike geometry. The end result was taking standards that have long been outdated and pushing manufactures to support a new vision. It was a long road, but it eventually lead to a new wave of bike design Transition calls Speed Balanced Geometry.

Here’s how Lars recalls the process:

Speed Balanced Geometry, or SBG, may sound like a bunch of marketing speak. But that couldn’t be farther from what lies beneath those three letters. When I joined the crew at Transition Bikes, I walked into one of Transition’s biggest projects to date.

At the time, it was a tangled mash up of technical geometry terms that would quickly turn away even the biggest bike nerds. Fork offset, front center, trail, and wheel flop, just to name a few. As things ramped up, it became confusing enough to where we internally needed a way to talk about what we were doing, and thus, Speed Balanced Geometry was coined.

You can call it SBG, or just “how Transition bikes ride”, either way it boils down to providing a means of simplifying the technical terms that make our bikes ride the way they do.

So you can call it SBG, or just “how Transition bikes ride”, either way it boils down to providing a means of simplifying the technical terms that make our bikes ride the way they do. Our SBG bikes have been out for a year now, and we thought it was time to show the world how they came to light.

Starting from Lars’s home work bench, moving up through the minds at Transition, working with the two major suspension companies, and eventually getting into the hands of riders across the globe. SBG is live and on the trails. Some will brush this off as marketing, but it was a developed for the pursuit of better bikes, and not just Some Bulls*#t Gimmick, as they say.

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