Bike Check: Lars Sternberg’s One-Off 27.5″ Race Bike
It looks like a Bandit, it smells like a Bandit, but it’s not a Bandit. Get up close and you won’t notice anything different until your eyes glance down at the tires. The difference between 26” and 27.5” wheelsize is subtle but the burly tires are clearly emblazoned 650B.
We spoke at length with Lars Stenburg about his cleverly camouflaged test mule and personal setup. Drop past the break for the details.
Over the course of his career as a professional cyclist, Lars has raced BMX, DH, Dual Slalom, Super D, and probably the occasional Klunker. Recently he began to dedicate a significant portion of his race calendar to Enduro events, which frequently feature brutal timed downhill sections that can push the limits of what is capable on a trail bike.
In response to the overall ruggedness of the terrain, various athletes have converted to larger frames and shorter stems. For example, last year, 5’10 Lars rode a medium Covert (a 6″ all mountain bike) with an angle set headset to slacken the bike by 1.5 degrees. The more relaxed geometry increased the bikes stability when things got rowdy during timed descents.
For 2013, Lars has transitioned to a larger frame, a shorter stem, and a wider bar. The difference in reach is minimal but the size large frame offers the advantage of a slightly longer wheelbase. Is this setup for everyone? Probably not. It’s best suited for an advanced rider because it demands a skilled bike handler to compensate for the lack of weight over the front end when climbing and cornering.
XTR components and Fox Doss remote round out the handelbar components. Lars is currently testing these thin new Anvil grips, which should be available later this summer.
This prototype test mule was developed specifically to test out the 27.5 wheelsize. During the testing process, they’ve learned several things that will help them develop their new platform. The regular Transition Bandit is a 130mm (5.1″) trail bike with Lars is running a larger fork on this platform because the test mule wasn’t slack enough with the larger wheels for his riding style.
While his front squish looked like a run of the mill Fox Float, the two flashy RAD (racing applications development) stickers told a different story.
The conditions at the first stop on the National Enduro Tour in Hood River Enduro changed hourly. On some runs riders were greeted with perfectly tacky berms, only to be confronted by greasy snot around the next bend. An aggressive tire with tall side knobs and low PSI, was the only line of defense.
Anvil grips weren’t the only thing Lars was testing this weekend. Interested in learning more about Transitions new in-house component group? Check out all the details here.
Shimano showcased this modular chain retention device last year at Sea Otter. Since then, it’s become available in Europe and is now appearing state side on pro bikes. The lower guide is spring mounted and will tuck up on impact.
Transition is based in the Pacific Northwest, where the rain don’t stop. The huge clearance on this prototype easily handled all the mud these chunky Schwalbe tires could devour.
So is the Bandit a sign of things to come? Yes and no. Mr. Lars N Bars was pretty adamant that this bike was a complete one-off but told us that Transition is working on an altogether new platform for the tweener wheels.