Did somebody say downcountry? This is more than just a pumped-up XC bike, and it fully lives up to the trail designation. It’s more than just able to get down steep and techy descents without scaring the living daylights out of you like so many traditional XC race bikes; you can truly rip up the corners as if you were on a longer travel trail bike. For the rider that values speed across all terrain and wants to enjoy the descents, and has some big marathon rides planned, it’s a damn good choice.
The geometry gives you immense confidence. There's no teetering down techy trails looking for the chicken line - instead, you can cash in your climbing tokens for a wild and thrilling ride down the hill. The Synonym feels perfectly balanced and you’re able to put the Fox 34 precisely where you want it, pointing and shooting around or over obstacles with enough nimbleness to ensure it’s a lively ride.
As you might expect, the Synonym’s geometry does entice you into hitting lines harder and faster, and there is a limit to what you can get away with when you’ve only got 120mm suspension travel. But the suspension copes with the hard stuff, absorbing the chunky landings extremely well with no harsh bottom out, and the frame and Fox 34 fork are stiff enough to ensure it delivers a precise feeling ride. I had no ‘oh shit I’m in out of my depth’ moments as I have done on more conservative XC bikes. There’s ample grip from the tires when it’s dry or mildly moist, but you might want to swap in a burlier front tire if you are going to ride in the mud or wring it hard on the technical trails.
Dropper posts are integral to longer travel bikes, but they’re starting to appear on top-level XC racer bikes, and in this trail tune it’s something I appreciated, with a 150mm dropper on the large and XL sizes. I’m indifferent to the remote lockout, I appreciate it’s a requirement on a XC race bike, but I feel this trail focused bike could have done away with the lockout lever and its mess of cables and relied on the excellent suspension in all situations. It would then avoid the annoyance of accidentally tapping the lockout lever when you reach for the dropper lever directly above it just as you’re dropping into a steep chute.
NS Bikes set out to create a XC bike that would bring all their experience with bigger trail and enduro bikes to create a XC and lightweight trail bike that could descend better than anything else out there, and they have succeeded. From groomed trail center fodder where it’s smooth and precise to natural rooty tracks where it can show a clean pair of heels to most other XC bikes, it’s a very accomplished bike. Impressive for the company’s first stab at a XC bike.
I get you're on the "too cool for school" agenda, but, for people on the market for a bike aimed to race XC, remote lockout is mandatory, not a nice optional.
But in the same article you've stated thet the bike is game for marathon racing.
In that enviroment lockout is mandatory, plain and simple.
Like it or not but it has place on this bike and to put in in the cons is quite unfair (IMHO).
Unless you're racing for a placing where weight and maximum efficiency really make a difference (assuming you maxed out your personal physiology), the bike really makes a rather marginal difference. I have done XCMs on a 15kg Enduro bike and the year on year difference vs the same race on an XC race bike was ~5 minutes on a 4h30 race time. I guess what you lose on climbing speed, you gain in more confident descending. The only thing I changed was swapping in some slightly faster rolling tires..
But i don't buy the "make time up in confident descending" at all. Time spent on Uphill/Downhill ratio is something like 90/10. No bike in the world will make that up.
The author did a good enough job going into detail on this bike for people to make their own decision on pros/cons.
So to further explain why. Perhaps you just don't like 29r wheels, you prefer 27.5. So for every review, whether the bike rides well or not, you like a con as '29 inch wheels'. Which would be silly, wouldn't you agree?
Also, the con for the seat-tube length is equally lame. XC bikes don't need 200 mm droppers. 100 to 125 is plenty for the conditions this kind of bike would typically see. So, not really a con. If you think you 'need' a super long travel dropper for XC trail riding, then probably you are not really XC trail riding and your don't have the right bike anyways.
I don't want to pass as a lockout fan, since i don't race xc and i don't see a great point for it on my long travel trail bike: i just find a little unfair that in nearly every xc bike on pinkbike, the designed tester whine a little that a race bike (i get that this is the "trail" version of that bike, but in my mind the costumer for a bike like this is still a biker that aim for xc riding and racing but don't want to buy a dedicated trail rider for the times he/she get a little wild) feature race must haves.
Most lockout are not truly LOCKING but simple bumping up the compression significantly.
Using your example, why not use a 2.4 DH casing and have option of 2.2 light casing on way up.
I must not get it...
The are quite a few similarities:
- 120mm Trail and 100m RC version
- Vertical, inverted shock with "flex in the stays"
- Remote lockout for shock & fork (simultaneously), even the levers look rather similar (had to look for a pic of that on the second page of the gallery, though. Might be worth including into the article, since it comes up a few times)
So to me, it would interesting how their geometries would differentiate the two on the trial.
Sparks have old school slack seat tube angles and I'm pretty sure the HT is steeper and the top tube not as long.
LOL. Okay, good to know you were just being sarcastic.
But on the serious side, props to you for getting into Chomsky. Unfortunately here in the States most people don't know who he is or what he really talks about...
It's 23ºC here where I live today. Wanna ride after lunch?
NS is using their own rear linkage, but you can get a T700/T800 layup (saving half a pound) when ordering direct. Hoping mine gets here soon
How much did it cost you? Gotta be the same mould, those numbers seem identical
Even the 130mm flexes so little its almost imperceptable.
First video youtu.be/Jqb_hHcVgTI
Translation to English please
All of these reviews always go after some middle of the road 120mm semi-trail configuration and then gripe about it not being burly enough, but also not CX enough? Who is the audience? In what context are they being reviewed.. seems odd.
Its just funny that its ok when a company puts their name on one and charges 5k fo it.
But if i buy one from the manufacturer direct alot of people look down on it and big brands tell people its a death trap.
Great review. Interesting to see NS go down the XC route! But seem to be keeping with their DNA at least
still a fan of the simpler:
thats all we need surely no need for this downs-country nonsense.
STILL a single crown fork on a down-trail-country XC bike... what a shame
Here can you see the flex? m.pinkbike.com/video/511045
Just missing some proper pockets