To begin with, was there ever really any doubt from the brand who originally put themselves on the map for creating amazing dirt jump hardtails that their latest enduro rig wasn’t going to be one of the most playful bikes of 2020?
That’s pretty much it in a ‘nutshell’ really!NS’s range of longer travel bikes haven’t been available over here in Oz for very long now, but they have been knocking out awesome bikes based off of their DJ/freeride roots for many years. Because of their heritage, they have key aspects absolutely nailed. Frame stiffness in the right places, dialled geometry and damn this thing is a looker!
Give us a walk-through of the Define 150’s frame tech and features?
First up we’re talking about a full carbon frame, which is beautifully stiff in all the right areas. High end fixtures on all the pivot points. Semi-integrated/internal cabaling which is sunken into the underside of the downtube for ease of service and what seems like a very high quality and robust paint job. Modern “long, low and slack” geo with the option to adjust reach via the headset cups and rear end travel via an interchangeable lower shock mount.
Another nifty feature about this bike is that you have the option of altering the rear travel and geo by swapping the lower shock mount (sold after market/separately), what difference will that make?
This type of adjustment will continually become more and more common in bikes, it’s almost like having 2 bikes in 1 in some cases. This coupled with something like an alternative chainstay length can take a bike into a whole different calibre of machine!
Even though we’ve tested the top of the line model here it’s still really surprising just how much fiber has been featured in the frame and parts spec, eh? Loving that!
Indeed, this is one Gucci bike, NS have done an amazing job with their frame for this bike and have spec’d it accordingly, their in-house cockpit parts are awesome!!
Considering NS only offer the Define 150 in two frame sizes (Medium and Large) both bikes are actually pretty ‘big’ and ‘long’ – were you surprised with the geometry package that NS have gone for?
To be honest I was a little bit, the geo numbers on the Define 150 are pretty true to current “enduro” race bike standards. For such a freeride blooded brand we didn’t expect it, but they have done very well!
Take a look at those forks! NS have spared no expense with the suspension that they’ve spec’d on this bike. What’s the ride feel and tuneability of the DPX2 air shock and Factory 36 fork with the FIT4 damper inside?
This Fox duo is tried and true, we all know what to expect from them individually and on the NS they perform on cue. The DPX2 rear shock has a livelier feel compared to its bigger X2 brother, with all the high and low speed adjustments you could want. The Fit 4 damper up front is as plush as ever, high and low speed rebound as well as compression adjust means that you can find your sweet spot.
Run us through the rest of the parts spec and how everything performed?
We have touched on the Fox suspension ensemble, along with that there is a long stroke Fox Transfer dropper. SRAM’s mega range ‘Eagle’ takes care of the groupset duties with a mixture of an XO1 derailleur, Descendant Carbon cranks and the rest of the parts are from the GX family. SRAM Guide RS brakes do the slowing and stopping. NS in house parts take care of the rest basically. Carbon bars, with an awesome choker style stem (the finish on these alloy parts is awesome). Rounded out with a very solid set of their own wheels.
Having spent a ton of time testing it on all sorts of different trails did you find yourself wanting to swap out any of the stock parts for different spec or were you pretty happy with everything?
Not really, I was quite happy with how it arrived straight out of the box. There were some instances where the Guide RS brakes weren’t quite enough for the trails we were riding but it wasn’t a huge issue thanks to nice big rotors. Also, on some trail conditions the Schwalbe Magic Mary tyre up front feels like a bit of a drag when it comes to rolling resistance, so I’d probably look at swapping that out for a different option.
Let’s now get down to the business end, how does the Define 150 handle out there on the trails?
The Define wants to be ridden with aggression. Given the long wheelbase (Large being 1297mm, with 440mm chainstays. This means that at speed and in rough sections of trail the bike feels very stable and predictable. Depending on your riding style, the downside to this is that slower tighter riding it may feel like slightly harder work than you’re used to. It’s a ‘ying and yang’ in that sense!
So is it a case of the gnarlier and steeper the trails get the more this bike’s talent starts to shine?
Yep, this bike really is an all-rounder, obviously it’s a long travel burly bruiser, however the 75.5degree seat tube angle puts you in a comfy position to pedal back up to the next run. All that travel really does leave you chomping at the bit for that next descent, as I mentioned earlier, the Define is stiff in all the right places. No unwanted flex from the rear end when belting berms or in the depths of rock gardens. Very confidence inspiring at every obstacle.
For such a big solid bike does it still manage to pedal decently?
I’d say it pedals on par with the majority of 4 bar link suspension designs. There were no surprises on that front, I personally run my suspension on the stiffer side for my weight, but even still I was never thinking or feeling like it was a hog when putting the power down.
And finally what kind of rider is this bike going to suit?
This bike will suit the modern enduro enthusiast, who is after something a little bit different from a visual point of view. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the orange accents on the frame, the overall look of this bike is awesome and has been receiving compliments every time it’s come out of the stable. The geometry suits someone who is focused on the decent & wants a few adjustment options. This has left us with confidence that NS are capable of great things in all corners of MTB, not just the dirt jump scene.
NS Bikes Define 150
Frame size options // Medium and Large
Wheelsize // 29
Frame // ‘Superlite’ carbon throughout
Spec // Fox Factory 36 Float FIT4 fork (160mm travel), Fox Factory Float DPX2 rear shock (160mm travel), Fox Transfer dropper, SRAM Eagle mixed drivetrain, SRAM Guide RS brakes, NS carbon bars, NS stem, NS carbon rims, Schwalbe rubber.