I love my Preston. Very, very happy with it, but I realize it’s not the state of the art from an engineering perspective. The following post appeared a few days ago on the mtbr.com Transition forum, and I totally agree with it — even if I’m not going to trade in my Preston anytime soon.
I made the change from a 2007 Preston to a 2008 Nomad a couple of months ago and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. IMO the Nomad is superior in every way. Lighter, more travel, and you can really tell with every pedal stroke that the suspension design is more sophisticated. Where the Preston was harsh and I could never get it dialed in to eliminate bob and still feel plush, the Nomad feels amazingly plush and bottomless but is rock solid under pedaling. The real wheel moves back slightly when it hits obstacles, so you just glide right over them. The difference is enough that I regularly find myself cleaning technical obstacles I never did on the Preston. I too was worried about the longer chainstays and slacker angles on the Nomad, but like the Preston, the Nomad has a relatively short toptube which keeps it nimble. It doesn’t feel “choppered out” at all and climbs better than the tank-like Preston. By all reports, the Nomad is just as strong as the Preston too (well, stronger really, with all those broken Prestons out there lately. In fairness it sounds like that was probably just a bad batch of welding though).Don’t get me wrong, the Preston’s not a bad bike. I like that Transition is a small grassroots company with a cool reputation (rather than the yuppie association that SC has) and their bikes are a great value, not to mention better-looking than the weird humpy Nomad. But if you can afford the Nomad, it has a whole world of advantages with no real disadvantages. I hated the Preston at Whistler, it just didn’t have enough travel. Then for smooth XC trails, it felt too heavy. The range of riding it was well-suited for was a lot narrower than the Nomad, which can be ridden at the bike park and XC trails and everything in between. I mostly credit this to the VPP suspension, along with the lighter weight allowed by engineered, hydroformed tubing, which Transition really does not have the resources for. I think Transition’s engineering is more experience-based than technology-based, which doesn’t really give the same degree of sophistication IMO.
My comment to this: the Nomad is indeed a beatiful bike, and everybody agrees that this is a bike that excels at both climbing and descending. But it’s way too expensive, and it’s probably too stylish for my taste (I prefer the raw looks of all Transitions, with their punch-in-the-eye colors and their straight and squared tubes).
I realize that the Preston is too heavy (mine is a 16.5kg bike, i.e. more than 36lbs); about the suspension design, I also realize that this is a very simple layout, but somehow it works pretty well for me. I can’t really notice any bobbing once the propedal of my DHX5.0 is dialled all the way in; I can’t feel the suspension locking up under braking.
And the limited amount of travel… well that’s something that you know well in advance, Transition says clearly that this is a short travel freeride bike. To be honest, I haven’t really felt any need for more travel; it’s been a few months of riding my Preston now, and I’ve never suffered on both fast downhill courses and gnarly rocky trails. Yes of course if I had more travel I could go faster and safer, but this is my first full suspension bike, and I feel like I have so much to learn; being more careful in my approach to this wonderful world of offroad biking, having a bike that does not suck up all the obstacles along the trail, really pushes me to improve my riding skills.