Transition Smuggler 2023 – the cult classic trail mountain bike returns

Transition Smuggler mountain bike
(Image credit: Transition)

Transition Bikes recently dropped its superlight weight e-MTB – the Relay, and now has announced the return of its cult classic trail mountain bike, the Smuggler. After a year of anticipation, the Smuggler is ready to make a comeback in both carbon and alloy options. 

An instant classic when it was first released, the Smuggler has a devout following, that sits somewhere between two of the PNW brand's most popular bikes in their lineup. The Transition Smuggler is aimed to blend the efficiency of the Spur with some of the capabilities of the Sentinel. The brand says it's light, nimble, built for fun and packs an extra bit of confidence that will make the Smuggler one of the best trail mountain bikes around.

Transition Smuggler trail bike

The Smuggler comes in carbon and alloy options (Image credit: Transition)

Like a reliable tool, the best trail bikes are the go-to bikes capable of handling just about every type of mountain bike situation. The Smuggler should have you covered for any trail pointed up, down, and all around. With a pair of 29-inch wheels, 130mm rear travel and 140mm front, the Smuggler might just have all the versatility a rider could want in a mountain bike.

As mentioned, the Smuggler sits squarely between the Transition Spur and the Transition Sentinel in terms of travel, geometry, and capability, and it shares some of these highly rated mountain bikes' best qualities. A highly progressive leverage curve and comfortable, confidence-inspiring geometry will make it capable and eager to keep going mile after mile, and should handle as much of the rough stuff a rider throws its way.

Transition Smuggler close up view of newly designed headtube area

Internal gear and brake pipework enters the frame through the headtube (Image credit: Transition)

Transition has gone back to the drawing board with its 'The Smuggler Project' developing frame design features, intending to push clean aesthetics while still offering easy servicing. The most notable design enhancement is in the new headtube area, providing better functionality and serviceability. 

The new headtube has integrated bearing cups, so does away with the need for headset cups to be pressed into the frame. This allows the frame to have super clean cable ports at the front of the headtube with fully guided internal cable routing from the headtube to the port above the bottom bracket shell. From there, cables cleanly enter the rear triangle hidden from view.

Close up view of rear shock on the transition smuggler mountain bike

The rear suspension setup allows for adjusting the travel from 130 to 140mm (Image credit: Transition)

The kinematics are similar to the Spur with a little over 27 percent progression and Transition say this provides a bottomless feel in a mid-travel package. Paired with the Fox Float X shock, the Smuggler can be set up to suit any rider's preference. Rear travel can be increased by removing the travel reducer in the shock to bump the travel up to 140mm. Looking for a bit more progression? Just add a larger volume spacer. All of this equates to a super lively, active, and forgiving rear suspension feel on any terrain – Transition claim.

Transition Smuggler being ridden downhill

The new Smuggler comes in two colors – Orchid and Expresso (Image credit: Transition)

Transition Smuggler pricing and availability 

Transition says framesets will be in stock in North America at the time of launch with more builds to be announced in the spring along with pricing and availability in the UK and other regions. The Smuggler comes in four build specs starting with the one alloy framed models and a further three carbon framed versions – all available in the usual Transition wide selection of sizing of XS to XXL.

  • Frameset Carbon w/shock: $3,699 USD / CA$4,999 
  • NX Alloy: $3,999 USD / CA$5,399 
  • GX Mechanical Carbon: $5,999 USD / CA$8,999 
  • GX AXS Carbon: $7,299 USD / CA$9,899 
  • XO AXS Carbon: $8,499 USD / CA$11,499 

Transition Smuggler XO AXS carbon spec

  • Frame: Smuggler Carbon 
  • Fork: Fox Float 34 Grip 2 Factory 140mm Travel
  • Shock: Fox Float X Factory 2 Position 130mm Travel
  • Seatpost:OneUp Dropper Post internal 120-210mm
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XO AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC 200mm F 180mm R
  • Wheels: Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro Alloy
  • Tires: Maxiss Aggressor F Maxxis Dissector R
  • Color: Orchid / Espresso
  • Included: SRAM AXS Battery Charger, Tubeless Valves & Sealant
  • Size: XS-XXL
  • Price: $8,499 USD / CA$11,499 

We will hopefully have a first ride review on the Transition Smuggler very soon, meanwhile for more information, head to transitionbikes.com and do check out 'Searching for the Smuggler' video below.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm