I recently spent several hours researching about my potential next purchase; a 2012 Transition Bandit (26”). I couldn’t find much aside from what has been copy/pasted from Transition’s website… Yay… Super helpful… Looking for anything I could on the Bandit, I found/rode a demo Transition Covert from Grassroots Cycles. They’re “close” in design and I felt it would be a good comparison. It was good, but a tiny bit sluggish on climbs and wasn’t what I was looking for. It’d be good for an all-mountain bike, but I already had one of those and wasn’t enjoying it. I want to be able to do the 40-mile XC rides with occasional 4-5’ drops, and challenge myself on super technical climbs... It’s a pretty specific bike I was after. After a bit of dialogue I was assured by the Grassroots Cycles guys that the Bandit would be perfect. Having worked in a few bike shops as a mechanic for 16 years I've owned and ridden a lot of designs (my notables are several FSR bikes, a variety of Trek's ABP bikes, VPP bikes, and a plethora of single pivot bikes). I know my sh*t… I literally plot out suspension and axle-paths on my computer. I’m very weary of single pivot bikes because it comes down to main pivot location and shock/leverage placement. Blah, blah, blah… the thing about single pivot bikes is they can either ride really bad, or really good. Needless to say I was skeptical, but hopeful enough to order one. The verdict: the Bandit works!
It’s one of the most playful trail bikes I’ve ever been on! It's a 5" bike, but with a 142/12mm rear and some fancy engineering the stiffness almost compensates for the lack of travel. It's no doubt a XC bike, but it feels super solid on bigger hits. It's not an “All Mountain” bike... It just feels like a nimble 5" bike that can take a beating. If you hit a big drop you feel it, but you don't feel like it was a bad idea. It's different. My last bike was a beastly heifer that once I got to the top was easy to descend... The Bandit is fun to climb (especially the tough moves), but yet descends super stable.
I’ve only logged about 60 miles so far. It’s not the most through test, but it’s what I can offer in my two weeks of owning ‘er. I’ve done all of the Grand Junction Lunch Loops (first photo and my local trails), Gooseberry Mesa (second photo), and Bootleg Canyon (third photo). I’ve gotta say I’m totally in love with this bike. A yardstick I use is if after an hour into a ride if you’re riding a wheely for no reason, it’s a fun bike. After 2.5 hours of riding Gooseberry Mesa I was riding wheelies and playing around on the rock walls! For me, it may be the best bike I’ve ever owned (for ultra-aggressive XC). If you want a 22 pound bike to do a 100 mile day it’s not for you. If you want to bomb some XC and race SuperD, buy one. I really hope this helped you if you’re looking into a Bandit 26. It's not for everyone, but it's for me!!!