NS Bikes Snabb T1 2016 Mountain Bike Review

NS Bikes Snabb T1 2016

Reviews / Trail Bikes

NS Bikes 168,575

At A Glance

NS is a well-known name in the bike industry, but it is more often associated with the DH and dirt jump end of the market. Their bikes have always had a unique, built for purpose look to them like they really mean business. The NS Snabb fits right into that bracket, but at the trail bike end of the range. In their own words, “We took into account that NS Bikes customers are usually tough, aggressive riders” and they have a built a bike around this. First impressions are good, a solid looking no nonsense bike. Clear coat finish, for the most part, topped up with Orange and black details, the simplicity adds to the raw performance of the bike. NS haven't swamped the Snabb with gimmicks or fad technology, they’ve gone instead, with a bike which looks functional, fun and bombproof.

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The 142mm of rear travel, provided by the Rock Shox Monarch RT3 is sat in a horst link set up and provides a stable base, supported by the time proven 150mm Rock Shox Pike RC fork up front. Plenty of travel to take on anything you may want to throw at it. For the most part, the build kit mimics this solid format, Stealth Reverb 150mm, SRAM Guide R brakes, SRAM GX 11 speed drivetrain. Other nice touches include an SDG Circuit saddle and is complimented well with an array of NS’s own brand kit, including the new NS Enigma Lite Dynamal rims on NS Rotary hubs which as you’ll come to find out, are pretty resilient.

On The Trail

Off the bat, I was excited to swing a leg over this bike, NS Bikes reputation for fun machines combined with its roomy cockpit and tight back-end meant I knew this bike was going to be right up my street. Described as an aggressive trail bike, it is just that. With the suspension based on the technology used on the Fuzz (their DH frame), it will tackle anything you can throw at it with just over 140mm of travel at the back, supported by the 150mm Pike RC up front. It is, as you’d expect from a company with NS heritage, stable in the air, which gives you unlimited options on the trail, happily cruising through rough rock gardens, roots or just popping it up and over.

Armed with the knowledge that the Snabb T1 was going to be happy with whatever I could throw at it, I proceeded to put it through its paces. First lap out, my classic local loop, a good selection of windy steep climbs, tech traverses and flat out off-camber descents. The Snabb, for its burly exterior and superior aerial ability, is a secret climber, and it made easy work of the steep and tech ups, while still providing me with all the fun of the drop.

The next few rides out consisted of more of the same with a little trail centre action thrown in for good measure, the bike continuing to impress with its climbing ability. It tackled even serious climbs comfortably, in part down to the 75-degree seat tube helping keep the front end down, while the low bottom bracket and responsive suspension kept the back wheel solid and tracking. Once you turned it around at the top of the hill, it became evident that it could be a whole other beast. Entirely confidence inspiring and planted with a large enough cockpit to move around and put the bike where you want it.

At the same time, the short chainstays and steeper head angle than I'm used to, meant that once it was up to speed it felt like it had come alive, twitchy (in a good way) and responsive and a whole lot of fun. Although this responsive nature became more of an issue when I just wanted to lean back and straight-line, as it took a certain amount of concentration to keep it from deviating in the rough.

On the low level, tamer trails, the Snabb T1 had been a lot of fun, I enjoyed the ease of the climbs and got used to the to and fro needed to get the most from descents. It was time to give it a proper outing. Sights fixed on the biggest mountain to hand, I shouldered the bike and got stuck in. The custom formed tubes and low-slung design made for a comfortable carry, and before long I was staring down the snaking singletrack back into the valley that would provide my next 25 solid minutes of thorough bike testing. Steep shale into gravely tight corners, finished off with a consuming boulder field and three wide open, off the brakes, drifty gravel corners later and I was at the bottom with an ear to ear grin and a firm understanding of the Snabb T1’s capabilities in serious terrain.

At this point I was a big fan of the Snabb, it’s responsive, lively handling, and confidence on and off the ground suited my riding style to a tee. I made the decision that I was going to race an upcoming event (the MacAvalache mass start race) on it. Although excited about the prospect of throwing the Snabb down a mountain side in snow, rocks and mud amongst 400 people, it did highlight some of the issues that I felt needed remedying before I went. Initial thoughts had been that I'd like a bigger fork (I usually run 160mm on my own bike) but after some stats comparison I think this was just probably down to the slightly steeper head angle than I'm used to.

Another token in the forks and some fine tuning all round and I was more than happy with the travel, both for comfort and performance. One issue that was more down to personal preference than design was cockpit set up. The own brand Evidence Lite bars although built with a comfortable 9 degrees sweep and easy 21mm rise just didn't feel right for racing (although they had been more than adequate up till then) and were replaced with my normal 800mm set up.

Tyres had to be swapped with something a bit more suited to the terrain. For such a well-specced bike, the performance line Schwalbe’s seemed a little under par, and changing them did make a noticeable difference. The changing of the tyres also highlighted another issue, the own brand Enigma Lite Dynamal rims are advertised as tubeless ready, and as an individual product appear to come with a rim strip, whereas the wheels on the build did not.

In my disorganised state (I blame the race head) I had assumed it would have been as easy as valves and sealant and away with my new tyres, but alas I had to race with tubes. This inevitably came back to bite me in the ass and on the final straight on the last stage I blew out the rear tyre. In defence of the rims, which had otherwise been great, I put in a convincing effort on the rough Glencoe red track with not a breath of air in the tyre and finished the race. The next day with a fresh tube the wheel was as good as new, these rims are seriously solid!

Overall

The NS Snabb T1 lives up to the NS brands heritage and is a highly fun, entirely capable bit of kit. From my experience, it will get you up and down anything you might fancy to take on. If the rowdy and playful nature of the T1 isn't enough gnar for you, there is also an E1 model (the enduro) which boasts 160mm travel front and rear, which would likely give you a bit more straight-line stability.

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This review was in Issue 42 of IMB.

For more information visit NS Bikes

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By Ben Gerrish
Ben Gerrish is a passionate photographer and videographer with a profound love of all things two wheeled. Whether it is riding a BMX around town or rallying an enduro bike down a steep chute in the Lake District he'll always have a smile on his face!

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