From Downcountry to Enduro | Trading a Trek Top Fuel for a Transition Sentinel

Why I got a long travel bike

    The first weekend after starting at the Lost Co, I went riding with all my new coworkers on some of Whatcom County’s infamously steep and loamy trails. I was prepared to have one hell of a time. We blasted Crab Rave and pedaled up a forest road in a torrential downpour. However, my bike wasn’t as prepared as myself.

Out with the old - 2021 Trek Top Fuel

     For the past two years I’ve been pedaling around a Trek Top Fuel. A “down-country” bike with 120/115mm of travel and 29" wheels. For those not familiar, down-country bikes have slightly longer travel and aggressive (longer and slacker) geometry than a typical XC bike would, making them descend better but still climb super well. Just search downcountry on Pinkbike and you’ll figure it out real quick. I *had* the shortest travel bike in the shop by far, but it really fit my riding style at the time, long pedal days with loads of climbing and descending.

    I found the Top Fuel to be easy pedaling and very capable in most applications but I definitely pushed it beyond what the engineers in the corn fields of Wisconsin designed it for. I rode it as if it had longer travel and on trails more suited for bigger bikes. Aggressive is a good way of describing it. Was it fun to ride? Definitely, but riding that soggy fall day made me say “enough is enough, it’s time to make the switch to a big bike”. Fast forward a couple months and I now have a Transition Sentinel hanging in my garage.

  • Size: Large
  • Front Suspension: 120mm Fox 34 Step-Cast Factory w/ FIT4 damper
  • Rear Suspension: 115mm Fox DPS Factory
  • Reach: 470mm
  • HTA: 67.5°
  • Wheelbase: 1185mm

In with the new - 2021 Transition Sentinel

    This is the first long-travel enduro bike I’ve owned with 160mm of front end squish and 150mm in the rear. I’ve gotten a handful of days on it so far and I’m beyond stoked. There are a few reasons why I decided to get the bike I did so let me dive into them more.

More Travel: I thought my 120mm Fox 34 was enough for the vast majority of trails I rode but having a Fox 36 with an extra 40mm of cushion is pretty wonderful, especially for those “oh shit” moments as I start to push my riding and hit bigger features. Not only that but more travel has made it feel like I'm not riding on a packed up fork with just the last ~20mm of travel available. The packed up feeling was most notable on fast, steep and rough trails which I have been seeking out more recently. Another reason is I get more suspension options with a longer travel bike. With numerous offerings from Rockshox and Fox for both air and coil shocks, I can experiment with different setups to find what I think rides the best. I’ve been curious about trying a coil shock so one might be in my future soon, especially given Transitions have fairly progressive leverage ratios. I’m excited about this because I was pretty limited on what I could do suspension-wise with the Top Fuel. More travel, as I’ve also come to learn, is simply more fun for going downhill.

  • Size: Medium
  • Front Suspension: 160mm Fox 36 Performance Elite w/ GRIP2 damper
  • Rear Suspension: 150mm Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate w/ MegNeg
  • Reach: 450mm
  • HTA: 63.6°
  • Wheelbase: 1233mm


     Ability to climb well: Coming from a short travel bike, I was afraid the pedaling ability of long travel 29ers would feel sluggish and unyielding. I’ve been surprised however with how easy it is to pedal, even with hefty Maxxis tires, because I still plan on doing those long pedal days. Mountain bike brands thesedays are really putting effort into making their longer travel bikes more pedal friendly and I thank them for that because a few years ago I don’t think I’d necessarily say the same. Granted, it could also be due to my preference of riding clipless which I believe to be more efficient for pedaling than flats. While my new bike will never pedal as efficiently as my old one, knowing I won’t be cursing my way uphill made a big bike more appealing.   Everyday can't be a shuttle day.

     Geometry: The more aggressive geometry of the Sentinel was also a reason I wanted to make the switch. Most obvious is it’s longer, slacker and has a shorter reach. I had tried to create a similar feel on the Top Fuel with a stubby Spank stem and riser bars, but it still felt as if I ended up riding over the rear tire. It’s a very noticeable difference coming off my little whipper snapper but I’ve found my new riding position to be more centered, my ability to put my weight over the front easier and the point n’ plow, high speed and steep downhill capabilities enhanced. There’s still a lot I can change geometry wise with this bike too which is cool too. Swapping to a lower rise OneUp bar, maybe a Works Components angle adjust headset or even bumping up the travel on my Fox 36 are all options. Ultimately, I think this was the single biggest reason I wanted to go with a bigger travel bike.

As an added bonus is I can keep my job at The Lost Co since it’s an alloy frame.

    Becoming a more confident and faster rider is a simple goal I’ve set myself for this year. Through the reasons I listed above, I think switching bikes was the golden ticket. Hopefully these thoughts might help you decide what your next bike will be.

Here’s to finishing every future ride with a grin on my face!

Got questions? Feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call!




Harrison Winkel



Bellingham, WA

Current Bike: Transition Sentinel

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Bobs, Galbraith / Hamilton Buttes, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

About Me: I'm currently our only part-timer at The Lost Co. Coming from America's Dairyland, Wisconsin, I help Adam answer phones and respond to emails. I loves the smell of coffee, watching sunsets, and long rides in the woods. When I'm not here at the shop, I'm either working at Kulshan Brewing slinging beers or exploring new places around the PNW.