Review: NS Bikes Synonym TR1 - Not Your Typical XC Bike

Feb 3, 2020
by David Arthur  


NS Bikes isn’t a company synonymous with cross-country, but its new Synonym represents a serious investment into the category and illustrates the growth of a brand that started out making handlebars for freeride bikes.

The Synonym is an XC rig that comes in two flavours: the RC, short for race, packs 100mm of travel, while the TR on test here, short for trail, boosts travel to 120mm for a bit more shredding capability if you’re not into pulling on spandex and pinning on a number.
NS Bikes Synonym TR1

Travel: 120mm f/r
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: Carbon main frame and swingarm
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: L w/o pedals 27.01 lb (12.2kg)
Price: €5,999
More info: www.nsbikes.com

Both bikes share a smart carbon frame and swingarm, par for the course on XC bikes, but it’s the geometry that sets this bike apart. Borrowing heavily from its burlier bikes, this is an XC rig with geometry that lives up to the oft used progressive tag and is enough to embarrass many longer travel trail bikes.

There are four complete builds available in the range. The top of the range TR1 model here costs €5,999 and is specced with a SRAM Eagle X01/GX groupset, Level TL brakes with 180mm disc rotors, NS wheels with Maxxis Recon/Ikon tyres, a Fox Transfer 150mm dropper, and a Fox 34 StepCast fork and Float DPS shock both linked to a remote handlebar lockout lever. The TR also gets a shorter stem, wider riser bar and wider tires.

bigquotesThis is truly a trail rider’s XC bike. No longer do you have to tippy-toe down trails; instead, the geometry and suspension let you give it the beans as hard as you can on the descents and keep the lead you gained on the climb to get there. More than anything, it’s a bike that just lets you rip and have fun, at speed, just about everywhere. David Arthur







NS Bikes Synonym


Construction and Features

At the heart of the Synonym is a full carbon fiber main frame and swingarm with the same mold used for both the RC and TR; the only difference is that a higher-end carbon layup is used for the RC to shed a bit of weight for a claimed frame weight of 1,900g. The TR, as it’s built to take more abuse, weighs a claimed 2,050g, which is still damn light.

Frame weight has been kept low by omitting a seatstay pivot and instead using flex into the flattened tube profile. A short rocker linkage drives the vertically mounted shock with oodles of space for a big water bottle, with high and low positions, and spare tubes and tools strapped to the frame.

The frame has been optimised for 1x drivetrains as is common these days. All cables and the rear brake hose are internally routed, though the latter does pop out of the down tube and kink around the bottom of the shock and into the end of the chainstay, which looks a little convoluted but presented no issues during riding. There’s a 1.5” tapered head tube up front and Boost axle spacing out back.



NS Bikes Synonym


NS Bikes Synonym
Full carbon and internal routing.
NS Bikes Synonym
The hub cleaner is a throwback to the 90s.


Geometry & Sizing

NS Bikes Synonym TR1

Progressive is the keyword here and I really do mean it, NS Bikes hasn’t pulled any punches in penning geometry that is longer than many trail and enduro bikes.

There are four sizes to choose from with the size large pictured here weighing in with a mammoth (for a XC bike) 491mm reach and slack head angle (again, for a XC bike) of 66-degrees. The seat angle is reasonably steep at 76-degrees while the wheelbase is 1232mm and the 438mm chainstays are the same across the size range.

The RC version is even longer! Due to a 20mm shorter fork it has a longer reach of 500mm and the angles steepen to 67-degrees and 77-degrees for the head and seat tube angles respectively.


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Suspension Design

The suspension has been designed to provide a bike that pedals very efficiently with a progressive leverage ratio and regressive end. The anti-squat is above 100% throughout most of the travel, sitting at 124% at sag in the lowest gear, dropping to 117% in a middle gear. This is aimed at ensuring there is minimal unwanted suspension movement when pedalling but also, according to NS Bikes, to provide active suspension that helps on technical climbs.

The lockout lever has been integral to the Synonym, as the company explains: “For riders coming from the classic enduro/trail scene the remote switch on the bars may seem like something that just adds clutter to the cockpit, but actually our core test riders swear by it. Once you get used to it, switching the suspension on and off becomes something like a sixth sense - kind of like lowering or raising the dropper post.”

The RC and TR models share the same suspension design and shock, but the stroke is longer on the latter to deliver that extra 20mm of wheel travel. The TR uses a 165x42.5 shock paired with a Fox 34 StepCast fork, compared to 165x37.5 with a Fox 32 for the RC bike.

Both bikes employ a remote push-to-unlock lever which activates both fork and shock simultaneously for more efficient pedalling when you need it on the climbs. But as you can see from the pictures, the result is a lot of extra cabling in front of the handlebars. Good job most of it is routed inside the frame.


Specifications

Specifications
Price $5999
Travel 120mm
Rear Shock Fox Factory Float DPS
Fork Fox Factory 34 Step Cast Float FIT4, 120mm travel
Cassette Sram XG-1275, 10-50t 12 speed
Crankarms Truvativ X1 Carbon DUB 170mm 34t (XL size 175mm)
Bottom Bracket Sram DUB Press Fit BB92
Rear Derailleur Sram X01 Eagle type 3 12spd
Chain Sram, 12 spd
Shifter Pods Sram GX Eagle, 12spd
Handlebar NS Licence Carbon Mini Rise Lite 31.8, 760mm, 15mm rise
Stem Synonym Trail 31.8 (S: 50, M, L & XL: 60mm), angle +5°
Grips NS Hold Fast supersoft
Brakes Sram Level TL
Wheelset NS Enigma Lite 29", 32h, tubeless ready
Hubs NS Rotary Straight Pull Cassette 148x12mm Boost (sealed bearings)
Rim NS Enigma Lite 29", 32h, tubeless ready
Tires Maxxis Recon 2.4WT EXO/TR / Maxxis Ikon 2.35 EXO/TR
Seat Octane One Crit, Ti-Alloy rails
Seatpost Fox Transfer Performance Elite S: 120mm, M, L, XL: 150mm



NS Bikes Synonym










Test Bike Setup

Getting the Synonym ready to ride was relatively easy, really, with a little tinkering to the suspension required once I had dialled in the right amount of sag for my weight. The rear suspension was set at 25% sag and the fork was set to the recommended settings from Fox.

I changed two things, the front tire just to give a bit more front-end traction in the currently muddy trail conditions, and experimented with 35 and 50mm stems instead of the 60mm stock stem, which I found to be a little long given the reach of the bike. Testing took place at all my usual go-to trail spots, leaning towards hillier rides and racking up 4 and 5 hours at a time, with a mix of rooty trails and loads of mud peppered with the occasional rock; fairly typical UK trail fodder.

Merida Big Trail
David Arthur // Technical Editor
Age: 39
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 150 lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @davidjarthur

NS Bikes Synonym

Climbing

The one thing that all bikes with XC in their description must be able to do is climb fast and efficiently, and the NS Bikes Synonym does not disappoint. It’s not the fastest bike I’ve tested on my local climbs, but it sure does haul ass when you’re battling gravity. Smooth fireroads are dispatched as effortlessly as is possible without a 250W motor between your legs. There’s minimal movement from the shock in open mode, with the lockout lever useful on very smooth trails or if you’re raging out of the saddle.

If you’re not trying to squeeze out every ounce of efficiency, there’s adequate anti-squat in the suspension that it’s very stable in the fully open mode. On more technical climbs the Synonym lets you monster over any root and rocks in your path, with ample traction even from the stock Maxxis tires. I did, however, find some very tight uphill switchbacks that required some of my best trial bike skills (I have none) to get around without stalling or dabbing, but it was fine in all other cornering situations.

It is long compared to most other XC bikes on the market and those I’ve tested in the last year, but I never felt intimidated or swamped by the reach and with a shorter stem, the position and fit are one of comfort. Weight distribution is good, with your position putting you forward of the bottom bracket and keeping weight on the front wheel, helping to keep it glued to the ground on steep climbs.

The Synonym feels more muted than shorter and steeper XC bikes, which is to be expected given the geometry differences. It’s not quite as flighty or edgy perhaps, which can lull you into writing it off as a ponderous bike, but that calmness makes it ideal for long-distance marathon rides when you’re going at 80% rather than eyeballs out 100% XC racing. This is where I gelled with the bike, plotting a long route that was going to see me out in the saddle for most of the available daylight. If I ever do Cape Epic again, this would be an ideal bike because it’s got that relaxed feeling about it.

But it is bloomin’ fast when you really open up the tanks and do your best gurning.

NS Bikes Synonym

Descending

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.

NS Bikes Synonym





NS Bikes Synonym
NS Bikes Synonym TR


How does it compare?

Modern XC bikes are transforming from previously steep and short geometry to increasingly progressive numbers and angles. Of the bikes I’ve ridden in the past year or two, the Mondraker F-Podium RR, the racier version of the Downcountry edition put through the Field Test recently, is a good comparison. It’s not quite an apples to apples comparison (the Podium comes in a trail build as well), but it’s close enough to draw some interesting differences.

When it comes to raw speed, the Mondraker streaks ahead. It’s much lighter, which pays dividends on the climbs, while the shorter reach and steeper head angle provide a bike that handles much more sharply. It feels more like an XC race bike designed for the sole task of going flat out everywhere. In comparison, the Synonym isn’t quite as light so climbing progress is dented, and the geometry gives a much calmer persona which pays you back on the steep techy stuff, where it can leave the Mondraker in a cloud of dust. Both bikes are extraordinarily good compared to what was available 5-10 years ago and shows XC bikes are going in the right direction.


NS Bikes Synonym

NS Bikes Synonym
NS Bikes Synonym


Technical Report

Maxxis Tires: Tires on XC bikes are very much course and condition dependent and for the majority of my riding on muddy trails the Rekon/Ikon pairing worked well, though I did chuck on a beefier front tire when the trails got gloopy just to keep the front wheel going where I wanted it on steeper trails.

SRAM Eagle Drivetrain: The price isn’t cheap, so the X01 Eagle rear derailleur looks good, but look closer and you find money-saving in the GX shifter and XG-1275 cassette. Granted they worked just fine with crisp gear changes and reliability.

Fox Suspension: The upgrade to the 34 StepCast fork with its 120mm travel is a clear indication of the sort of riding the bike is intended for, and performance is excellent. It’s easy to set up, smooth and controlled throughout and pairs well with the Fox rear shock. Both can be locked out at the same time but it’s something I rarely used.


Pros

+ Geometry
+ Feels like a short travel trail bike
Cons

- Remote lockout
- Not the lightest in this category
- Seat tube could be shorter for longer droppers/shorter legged riders





Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesCall it downcountry, call it the evolution of the cross-country bike, the Synonym TR1 is highly capable bike going down steep and techy trails and properly rapid up the climbs, with handling that lets you enjoy every sort of trail. I’m a big fan of short travel bikes for their efficient pedalling and low weight, but I don’t want to be stumped on the descents. By taking the geometry to such extremes and wrapping it up with a light, stiff and clean looking carbon frame and mostly on-point equipment, the Synonym TR proves that short travel bikes can be as much fun as bigger bikes when the trail gets steep and techy. Swap the tires and shorten the stem and it’s huge fun. David Arthur









205 Comments

  • 150 3
 Not sure what I think of the name Synonym... I assume they couldn't think of any other words with similar meanings to use instead.
  • 5 36
flag cky78 (Feb 3, 2020 at 5:00) (Below Threshold)
 Gets down off high horse.... The tire logos and the air valves aren't even lined up. Did even bother with the review......
  • 11 2
 Looks like a Synonym!
  • 3 2
 Just the same ol' stuff.
  • 24 0
 Dammit everytime I say the name it comes out as cinnamon.
  • 4 0
 I see no name
  • 1 0
 I don't think there is an equivalent...
  • 1 0
 @promdi: underrated comment Smile
  • 118 14
 Dear Pinkbike, can you please STOP putting remote lockouts in cons for XC bikes reviews?
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.
  • 37 22
 My point is that they do an XC version of this bike, where a remote lockout makes sense. Since this is the trail version, I felt they could have gotten rid of it. Personal preference of course, and your comment highlights the fact that a remote locker isn't a con for everybody, and that's just fine Smile
  • 46 13
 @davidarthur: Yeah I got that from the article.
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).
  • 10 28
flag mnorris122 (Feb 3, 2020 at 3:06) (Below Threshold)
 Thing is, this isn't an XC bike, absolutely no one who wants to be competitive would show up to an XC event on this...if this bike is fine for marathon racing, then literally anything short of an enduro bike is fine for marathon.
  • 18 15
 @Becciu: I disagree that it's mandatory for marathon racing, but that's down to the individual rider and the course. Thing is, it pedals so well in open mode you don't really need to lock it out all the time. Instead of lockout I'd rather a firmer mode, like Scott with the TwinLoc. That would be more useful
  • 19 1
 @mnorris122: Last time I checked, apart from being safe to ride, the are exactly zilch regulations when it comes to which bike to ride in an XC race (any MTB race for that matter). Does it make sense to show up at a climby XCM in the Alps on an Enduro bike? Probably not. Will anyone stop you? Nope, no problem.

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..
  • 21 1
 @pensamtb: Fair enough, as usual the main determinant is athlete ability.
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.
  • 1 5
flag jclnv (Feb 3, 2020 at 6:28) (Below Threshold)
 @Becciu: If the AS numbers are correct, it doesn’t need a lock-out.
  • 13 3
 @jclnv: Antisquat schmantisquat, every bike needs a full lockout when you're sprinting for the line.
  • 8 3
 I have a Spark and my biggest complaint is the dumb remote. You "need" a lockout on XC race bikes like that because the open mode is way too soft for climbing and the firm mode is way too firm for descending. If it had a full range compression adjust instead you could set it at the correct setting somewhere in the middle and it'd be fine, even for racing. Seriously my number one ask for an XC race bike is a proper 8-10 click compression adjust instead of the stupid 3 position lever where none of the 3 positions are really what you want.
  • 3 0
 @davidarthur: maybe put it under neutral?
  • 7 8
 @mnorris122: In 25 years of XC races I’ve never sprinted for the line. Regardless, if it’s got 124% AS at sag you ain’t going to benefit anything. I’d argue you would benefit more by removing the weight of the remote and cable.
  • 17 2
 @jclnv: are you always coming last? Or you simply refuse to sprint because of your personal principles?
  • 1 0
 @Becciu: IMO the real con isn't that it has a lockout but that there is no way to buy it without the lockout. On a more trail-focused bike like this, there really should be at least one build kit or frame-only option without the lockout. I think David's idea of only putting the lockout on the 100mm builds makes a lot of sense.
  • 2 0
 @GZMS: Ha! True, I am usually hanging out of my ass by then as I have to ride the descents like I’m in an Enduro to have any chance of doing well with my rather average 4W/KG. I just find XC races, especially marathons, get smashed to bits and it’s a time trial 90% of the time.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: then i am guessing it's just your canadian races that are boring.. in the old world, marathons have hundreds or sometimes thousands of riders lined up at the start.. so even with 2w/kg you will have a group to ride with and to sprint for the 762nd place..
  • 2 0
 @mnorris122: BC bike race? I'd call that a XC race. This is perfect for that, lockout and all.
  • 7 1
 I think it all comes down to this: reviews are subjective. What is a con for someone might be a pro for someone else (it obviously is for whoever built/spec'ed the bike).
The author did a good enough job going into detail on this bike for people to make their own decision on pros/cons.
  • 11 2
 @GZMS: I wish we had a stronger XC race following here. People are too busy getting rad bro and drinking craft beers.
  • 3 0
 @davidarthur: while I rarely need a lockout anymore, when I was regularly doing 15 plus hour training weeks, and zip tying number plates on, I sure liked lockouts. I just don’t really have the power anymore looking to stand up and maintain speed on that short steep roll to maintain the pace. But for those that do train that much, especially the ultra- marathon crowd (where half the rides end up with a lot of gravel grinding seeking out training mileage), lockouts are pretty nifty and a sought after feature. Just a bit of perspective.
  • 11 2
 @davidarthur: Personal preferences should not be cons. An XC trail bike can certainly benefit from a remote lockout for the majority of people. Thus the comment that it should not be listed as a 'Con', because you don't personally like them. Reviews could be objective, and objectively it is useful for an XC bike to have this feature. And your reasoning fails even more because since the real purpose of an XC trail bike is to allow it to be ride trails a little better but still be raceable for say Sport Class races, that a lockout would even be more useful for the race situations that it would be used for, since presumably locking out 120mm of travel would be even more useful than locking out 100mm travel when racing.

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.
  • 3 0
 Won't buy a bike ever again without a dual remote lockout. Just like a dropper, it's a must have
  • 2 0
 @dthomp325: Yet (IMHO) the con in the review should be that the remote is dumb/improvable (maybe suggesting how to reach so), not the mere fact that is included in the bike package.
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.
  • 4 0
 As someone that works in a bike shop I agree with pinkbike.. we rarely have issues with hydraulic circuits but the number of remote lockout systems that come back because it "just stopped working" is hilarious.. they're a pain to fit.. replace cables add weight and any bike frame worth its while pedals really well without reaching for them... If it's smooth enough that you need it it's not a problem taking your hand off the bar for 2 seconds
  • 1 0
 @shawndashf1: NS bike are notoriously for their long seat tubes.
  • 2 0
 @Becciu: I race XC occasionally. I don't think a lockout is necessary, rather it is a crutch for lack of adjustability and/or bad suspension dynamics. I have a 150mm trail/enduro bike with a coil shock. Dial in the compression to the right spot and it has minimal movement on climbs and actually pedals much better than my 100mm air sprung XC bike in "open" mode. I do consider it a negative to spec the lockout version over adjustable compression even for pure XC racing. If companies are going to spec these things they should at least make it easy and relatively inexpensive to swap the remote for a standard compression adjust, but that is typically not the case and you likely have to spend $$$ to buy a whole new shock, which is a big negative in my mind.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: how do you optimize for descending and climbing then? I've heard people say what you are saying before, but in my mind...if your bike is optimized for descending, how could it work without lockout for climbing or sprinting out of saddle?

Most lockout are not truly LOCKING but simple bumping up the compression significantly.
  • 1 2
 @jclnv: XC racing is way too far up its own ass. While I enjoy watching it from time to time, I'm glad it doesn't have more of a following here
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I already explained, you get a shock with a full range compression adjust so you can set it at the point where it works for both climbing and descending without having to faff about with levers. The crappy 3-way remote levers found on XC shocks typically have three settings: "not enough damping", "too much damping", and "pavement", but what I really want is the ability to set "just the right amount of damping".
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: which depends on going up, down and a myriad of other factors. Aren't you compromising by trying to figure out one setting that works for everything? I'd take an active setup for the downs with a rigid setup for the ups, which a lockout gives yoy...what's not to like about that?
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: because all 3 settings have either too much or not enough damping and are not what I want for either up or down, nor do I want to have to worry about flipping a lever every time the conditions change. It's like having the option of a 2.2 tire or a 2.8 tire when you want a 2.4.
  • 2 0
 @dthomp325: so you dont wanna flip a lever? Set it up for best performance downhill and flip the lever on way up...what's not to like about that?

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...
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I can't set it up for best performance downhill or uphill because the only options are "open" where it doesn't have enough compression for either descending or pedaling and "firm", which has too much compression causing lack of traction on climbs and harshness on descents. There are no other settings, that's the problem.
  • 62 0
 Do we now have subcategories of categories? Just when mountain biking was divisive enough!

xC race
xC xc
xC trail
Downcountry xc
Downcountry downcountry
Downcountry trail
Trail xc
Trail trail
Trail enduro
..............
  • 26 0
 I was going to help you subcategorize the All Mountain and Enduro categories, but i dont think the internet technology is quite advanced enough to process that...
  • 30 0
 What about FreeCountry? Downcountry is like for racing, FreeCountry is for fun, occasional rushing down local ravine out of trail. It's really what I like to do...
  • 4 1
 That's TRAIL at that weight , heavy slack definitely not xc . Unless the standard for xc has changed .
  • 18 0
 Nearly all of those categories are Synonyms
  • 23 15
 I don’t understand why can’t we have 100mm frame with 180 fork, 63 head angle, 79 seat angle and 490 stays right away. Just say it’s an aggressive xc bike. This incremental development is annoying, why do I have to wait until 2030 to rub this superior geometry into faces of XCers saying: wake up!
  • 9 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'd like Trek to release the Supercaliber FR. Virtually nothing at the rear and a big tasty 200mm fork up front.
  • 12 9
 @T4THH: Seshiber
  • 1 0
 @pperini: haha! Yes!
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: take a hardtail frame, put a SoftWheel to the back and fox40 th front and here you go!
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: .50 Caliber
  • 5 5
 @JimmyWeir: 12.7 Caliber with 180 Totem V2 and Pinkbike audience is losing their sht! The second coming of Christ! The rebirth of Vishnu! The freeing of Balder...
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: 180 Totem V2 with new steerer tube standart!
  • 2 0
 Oh man! I can’t wait to go for a rip on the trail on my Trail Trail bike!
  • 1 0
 Its just that categories are shifting laterally. Modern downcountry bikes are essentially yesterdays trail bikes.
  • 4 0
 @T4THH: Back in the day had an ex girlfriend that fit that description spot on!
  • 5 2
 This is the bike most people who buy enduro bikes should buy. I know loads of people who would massively benefit from this geometry so buy enduro bikes but simply don’t need enduro travel.
  • 2 3
 @StevieJB: heh, I can easily argue that people don’t need woke as fuk geometry. And if they don’t need rhat rear wheel travel why do they keep the front at 150-160? Come on... Almost everyone has their “A-ha” moment when it comes to wanting less rear wheel travel and then they unconsciously build the bike back to what it was as Enduro bike. Big fork and fat knobby tires. Eventually some of them realize: oh... ehm... I may as well buy Enduro bike. If you have minions front and rear with 160 front travel and 120 in the rear you are fooling yourself. Either keep it as a fun poppy flickable DC/trail bike or keep the enduro and just run a bit less sag and a bit less rebound.
  • 5 2
 @WAKIdesigns: you simply don’t get it do you?
  • 2 0
 This is more like freeride downcountry extreme, spandex optional.
  • 2 1
 @jorgeposada: It just shows that most riders try and fool themselves into thinking most of their riding is smashing gnar when the reality is 99% county bridle ways and climbing fire roads for 2minutes of down that’s not that gnar at all. What this type of bike is, is for what they really ride absolutely perfectly - an XC bike, even some supposed trail bikes have too steep head tubes to make that down really the fun it could be. I live in the middle of the uk, I have an enduro bike - I use maybe 3 weeks of the year fully when I am riding gnar of southern spain, Madeira or Gran Canaria. The rest of the time i’m on a hard tail or even enduro races and some downhill races in the uk on a 130mm travel trail bike, it’s faster, less knackering on the ups and more fun. You need a 160mm + when you are having to land into rocks or go over big rocks. You don’t need that for some roots, what you do need is some slack geometry that you won’t even notice on the fire road climb.
  • 4 2
 @StevieJB: no mate you don’t get it. You don’t get that there are people out there who are... fast enough Zzzz... by your logic DH bikes are reserved for DH World Cup and possibly only for VDS and Andorra. I am soon 40 - I need error margin and I couldn’t give a flying damn about pumping out junk miles as if they were giving out medals for annual mileage or verts... when I want lighter feel in the 160 bike I install fast rolling tires, decrease SAG and rebound a bit. Into the park, fork to 180, DH tires, all base settings. One bike, many uses. Race XC... holy crap. What else? Gravel Grand Fondo? This is not Bike Radar or Cycling News.
  • 4 2
 @WAKIdesigns: do you even ride?
  • 2 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Sales of DH bikes speak for itself, not needed by 99% of riders
  • 3 3
 @StevieJB: I just hope you are faster on the way up than on the way down...
  • 4 2
 @WAKIdesigns: who gives a shit how I ride? Thing is I ride a decent amount (do you, you never post riding photos, you just troll comments) in different places and I know a lot of average normal mountain bikers not internet hero’s like your self would be far happier overall on a lighter more efficient bike than hauling an enduro bike around. I know my place I’m a I race maybe one or twice a year just to remind myself not to get too fat at 43 years old - I finish mid field DH / Enduro, I have not raced XC since I was 16 when again I was mid field. You seem to have it in your head that it’s all about smashing gnar the only time people ride and not even against the clock. WTF do they need to over bike for, all it will do is knacker themselves out by the time they get to the fun bit.
  • 3 0
 @StevieJB: Not everybody is most riders.
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: indeed totally agree. I think we will see a lot more bikes like this as, not all as you rightly say, but a lot of people I bet out there own enduro bikes and think I love the way it rides but of my 160mm travel the rubber band shows I only use 100mm. So what’s the point? I don’t need a big hard core heavy build, go lighter build, this is a light frame compared to an enduro bike but with the same sort of angles it’s an all round winner for those guys. I’m happy to admit of the 70 - 80 days I ride a year this would be best for 60 days the rest yes I need a real enduro bike. I bet I’m not the only one who has more than one bike. Choose the best for the job.
  • 1 0
 @StevieJB: Yes the right tool for the job could have summarized all that mumbling.
  • 23 0
 Wouldn't it make sense to compare this to the Scott Spark as well?

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.
  • 7 0
 I'm pretty sure the comparisons are based on what the tester has had the chance to ride. But I agree that there are some much better comparisons out there.
  • 7 0
 @hangdogr: Considering the Spark is a benchmark by which both the XC race and the Downcountry categories can be measured by, it's a bit of a shame none of the PB testers have ridden one.
  • 5 0
 Yeah the spark should be the standard by which others are measured. I've never even seen a Mondraker lol.
  • 3 1
 Which Spark model do you think it compares to geometry wise?
Sparks have old school slack seat tube angles and I'm pretty sure the HT is steeper and the top tube not as long.
  • 2 0
 @ichabodchain: That's exactly why I think comparing the two would be quite interesting for a lot of people. Take two bikes that look rather similar at a glance (say this and the Spark 900) and see how the current "progressive" XC/Trail geometry compares to something that is maybe a bit more conservative by today's standards but might not have been all that much when it was releases (only) a few years ago.
  • 16 0
 This is not downcountry, its crosshill
  • 21 8
 Remote lockout on a XC bike as a con - Pinkbike is so woke right now the eyeballs with pupils dilated 100% are falling out. In the next round upforked full suspension bike with negative rear travel.
  • 5 1
 Okay who taught you the word "woke"? It's bad enough having to hear it in our shit ass, American media, but now from the great Swede too? LOL. You're killing me!
  • 7 3
 @mybaben: if I didn’t think “being woke” is lame I wouldn’t use it as a form of mockery. When I was like 30 I got “woke”: I got into Marxism, Environmentalism, Noam Chomsky, organic eating and what not... I felt like I have seen through everything. I remember that time quite well. And then I slowly started realizing that it is all a mental state, some bullshit we all feel from time to time, that most of people believing in same stuff as me are fkng hipocrites, I am a hipocrite, we just get on a high horse to not feel inferior. Moral superiority front, a bunch of millenial a*sholes. So I died inside and laugh at people who get into this state and feel so convinced and so confident they have seen through stuff. Funny enough... it was also the time when I sold my Enduro bike and got a 120 bike... oh the irony... so yeah - so many “woke” people these days. So many opportunities to jump on a trend that make you feel like you discovered some deeper knowledge, that makes everything fall into place.
  • 1 0
 This. Spot on. @mybaben:
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: @Bimmer28
LOL. Okay, good to know you were just being sarcastic. Wink
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...
  • 1 0
 Chomsky the gatekeeper.
  • 13 2
 When they say this a trail riders xc bike do they actually just mean it’s a trail bike. No one would seriously ride an Xc bike that rode like a trail bike
  • 10 1
 it's an xc racer's enduro bike
  • 10 0
 @JimmyWeir: I prefer to think of it as a road biker's freeride bike.
  • 12 0
 @seraph: Could also be a freeride biker's road bike?
  • 3 1
 @yupstate: @seraph: @JimmyWeir: you three need to go on a comedy tour together. That made my day.
  • 2 1
 The top Masters xc racer likes his Revolver 120.
  • 11 2
 When are we going to stop drinking the "long low slack" kewl-aid for every bike? If it takes "trials skills" to uphill corner on a short-travel trail or long-travel XC bike (I'm not using the other terms) ... I think you're on the wrong bike. If you're willing to sacrifice the climbing ability for descending ability, why would you ride some flexy short travel rig when you can get a longer travel bike that climbs well and slays the descents?
  • 1 0
 I agree in general, but this bike doesn't sound too bad. At least its not sporting a 65.5* HTA and weighing in at 31lbs.
  • 1 0
 Review says it's "like a short travel trail bike", maybe because it has the same Geo as a 140mm trail bike from 5 years ago. I wonder how it handles a 5 foot huck to flat.
  • 1 0
 Yup
  • 10 0
 Good to see proper European dirt on Pinkbike. Only seeing Sedona and other great US location make me jalous when winter comes !
  • 6 0
 Love this comment! Just keeping the balance
  • 4 0
 No need to go that far.
It's 23ºC here where I live today. Wanna ride after lunch?
  • 4 0
 @nozes: nobody likes a show-off!
  • 8 2
 Very neat looking, these new short travel lightweight mountain bikes with head angles from 4 year old trail and enduro bikes really seem like they would suit 90% of the average trail punter who's lugging around far too much bike for their ability and trail difficulty. About chuffin time!
  • 2 0
 The Spark is nearly identical and it's quite a lot of bike. Wouldn't bring it to Whistler but for all the trails I frequent most, it does very well.
  • 1 0
 If you have a lockout on the rear how much "extra bike" are you really lugging around to have 140mm travel? All this is giving you is a lighter weight flexy frame. So you're saving maybe 2 pounds overall?
  • 12 3
 "But it is bloomin’ fast when you really open up the tanks and do your best gurning."

Translation to English please
  • 14 0
 It is in English... I guess in American it'd read something like "But it's darn quick when you get on the gas and stare down the dirt like a 17-hunnerd lb rodeo bull"
  • 1 0
 @ROOTminus1: yep, that quote is about as 'english' as it gets
  • 7 0
 If it's 66HA 120 travel 29er that's what it is. Why out every bike into a pigeonhole when you almost need as many pigeon holes as bikes!
  • 5 0
 www.carbonda.com/mountain/full-suspension/98.html

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
  • 5 4
 Or just take a dump and save 2 pounds.
  • 2 0
 Looks pretty darn similar. So, are you saying the NS is a catalogue bike? Sort of disappointed...
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Believe that's the case for the front triangle at least
  • 4 0
 I never understood why brands like NS wouldn't just add the simple extra pivot on the chainstay to decouple the suspension from the braking and pedals kickback? Plus I always wonder how much abuse flexing carbon rear stays can withstand long-term...
  • 1 0
 Was just reading this review thinking ‘if only this came as frame only...’

How much did it cost you? Gotta be the same mould, those numbers seem identical
  • 1 0
 @motard5: carbon fishing rods flex away quite happily for years
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: you'd be shocked at how many smaller companies bikes are slightly modified catalog bikes.
  • 1 0
 @Dropthedebt: or take dump and save 4 pounds.
  • 1 0
 @motard5: the flex is tiny. I've had/have two flex stay bikes a 100mm and my current 130mm.
Even the 130mm flexes so little its almost imperceptable.
  • 1 0
 @luckbox How much did you get it for direct?
  • 2 0
 @StevieJB: its around $850 not sure if that includes shipping and local import duties.
  • 1 0
 @StevieJB: but with the corona virus it is sure to be slowed down in delivery time.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: Good price though, worth the wait, looking forward to seeing the build.
  • 2 0
 @StevieJB: check this out the who did this review David Arthur is going to buy one build it up and review it.

First video youtu.be/Jqb_hHcVgTI
  • 1 0
 @luckbox I've just been in contact with them to place an order, $740 for the regular frame inc headset, rear axle & delivery to the UK, superlight versions $190 extra - I'm going for the standard one. I think I'm going to build it up 100mm rear 120mm front, mainly due to 165x38 mm shocks being cheap and easily available, can get a new monarch for £125, 165x42mm shocks seem to be double the price.
  • 7 0
 Remote lockout is a bad thing?
  • 5 4
 Yeah, no more cred points for making it on time with everyone else / excuses for coming last... I honestly don’t understand why PB journalists keep it as a point of pride not to use lock out and then rationalize it. Mike even wrote an article saying lock outs make bikes worse because they force a compromise...
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Suspension itself is a compromise, from certain point of view...
  • 4 0
 @Sirflyingv: steady on there Obi Wan.
  • 3 1
 I think there are enough bikes now in this segment that the "not your typical xc bike" tagline doesn't really apply anymore. In fact, I think it would be more atypical for a bike in this segment not to have the numbers of a bike like this. I like the numbers personally but not exactly as revolutionary as it was two or three years ago.
  • 3 0
 All of those companies are too late for the party with the so called downcountry, Scott have this bike from late 2016 and its called Scott Spark 900 120/120 for xc marathon or put 130 fork and go for the party Wink
  • 2 0
 I'd like a review of these newer CX bikes, in proper CX trim, reviewed as used for CX/racing purposes. I'm in the market, coming from a good pedalling platform 27.5 ride, used to be a roadie.. I just want to know how the newer CX geometry fares, any drawbacks etc.

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.
  • 2 0
 Why are you talking about cyclocross bikes here?
  • 2 0
 @LeDuke: I'm wondering if he meant to type "XC"? LOL.
  • 2 0
 @mybaben: lol! my brain. Yup..
  • 3 0
 i like pinkbike but i do feel like most of the reviewers just want enduro bikes for everything lol. its like a steeper head tube than 76 degrees is just a bad idea on everything. updated geo this and downcountry that.
  • 5 1
 The bike is literally named “trail”, yet you still review it as an XC bike.
  • 4 0
 Reminds me of a certain bike that is a top trail bike yet was reviewed in the downcountry category.
  • 1 0
 This is a lot of bike from a small bike manufacturer and it's high end AF! Very impressive job to NS and personally, I do like the remote lock out. I think Scott did it first and that thing is something you always want once you have it. People don't realize how much climbing they're doing and how amazing the dual lockout is... Hope I can have a go at this bike soon!
  • 1 0
 Ya its pretty badass for a chinese catalog frame.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: evolve are catalog frames and look what jordan boostmaster does to his
  • 1 0
 @Civicowner: oh im on one too.

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.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: What catalog frame is this anyway?
  • 1 0
 when there's no pivot in the chainstays and then designed in flex in the seatstays does this means that its actually a linkage driven single pivot....i thought it was difficult to design in anti-squat on such a bike. not complaining just interested in how this works.
  • 1 0
 anti squat has nothing to do with single pivot or not.
  • 3 0
 Actually, the only one calling bikes "downcountry" is Pinkbike. Looks like a short travel trail bike.
  • 2 0
 Hold up - has randwick woods actually made it into pinkbike?! ????
Great review. Interesting to see NS go down the XC route! But seem to be keeping with their DNA at least
  • 1 1
 fuuu. My v1 following is 27 lbs. with 65ish head (140mm) and burly build beats this. Ha, late to the party. This ain't new shit... news = new shit. tell me if it is better and why. but my bike is better than this and needs no f*cking hype.
  • 1 0
 not sure im a fan of all these sub catagories of bikes....

still a fan of the simpler:

dh
freeride
all-mountain
trail
xc

thats all we need surely no need for this downs-country nonsense.
  • 4 2
 Another cons:
STILL a single crown fork on a down-trail-country XC bike... what a shame
  • 4 1
 Synonym for Norco Revolver FS 2020?
  • 1 0
 I've been looking for a new XC bike, and this looks like it checks all the boxes. Is there any way to demo NS bikes in the US?
  • 2 0
 There's a Horst link on the frame diagram, but not on actual bike pictured. What's up with that?
  • 1 0
 That's an odd one! Just a generic graphic I guess. The actual frame uses flex in the stays instead of a pivot to save weight
  • 1 1
 how well does the rear triangle hold up with no pivot? 'flex' sounds fine in the marketing print, but how does it really hold up after thousands of miles? Have you tested any bikes longer term with that setup?
  • 1 0
 Huh? This is one of the most common designs out there. Scott, Orbea, Cannondale, Canyon, etc. all use it for XC frames.
  • 1 0
 It flexes very little.
Here can you see the flex? m.pinkbike.com/video/511045
  • 6 3
 This bike is sick.
  • 5 1
 Might I suggest "ill"?
  • 5 1
 Definitely unwell
  • 3 1
 Are there typical XC bikes left?
  • 8 0
 Yes, but called gravel bikes now ????
  • 2 0
 I want me Eccentric babck
  • 3 0
 Trailcountry?
  • 3 1
 Hei HEI, that's a nice bike.
  • 2 0
 Oil rubbed bronze is no longer for bathroom fixtures I see
  • 3 1
 Aggressive XC? so a trail bike?
  • 2 1
 Hub cleaner a throw back to the 90's? If you are saying the 1990's they go way back before then.
  • 1 0
 no, 1890s, smfh
  • 2 0
 suddenly gutted i havent got a hub cleaner on my bike too
  • 1 0
 LT brakes on 6k bike, with low long and slack geo? How the f riders should slow them self’s going downhill?
  • 1 1
 I agree: LT brakes and some GX snuck in for 6K? Weak specs there.
  • 2 0
 This is such a good candidate for HUCK TO FLAT!!! please?
  • 1 3
 Remotes are for your television. Good suspension does not need a lock out (or firm out because they don’t lock out anymore) I think riders think they need them. I’d like to know how often pro riders use them or forget they have one and leave the switch in the wrong position. I know I would forget to lock out or unlock when I had them. Or forget to extend that stupid TALAS back to 160.
  • 4 0
 Definitely consider the source on this, because it's from Scott trying to market their Twinloc, but supposedly Nino is using the lever some 160 times in a race: www.scott-sports.com/us/en/page/twinloc
  • 2 1
 @something979: interesting. I’d really like to see numbers for efficiency too.
  • 2 0
 Back in my XC days I did a training camp with a world 24hr champ. Her view for any races was that suspension was set and forget. You want it dialled in for the course on the day and then left.
  • 4 3
 The Norco Optic really has opened the door...
  • 2 1
 No, nobody said downcountry.
  • 1 0
 One and a half bottle mount. Nice.
  • 1 0
 Nice rig! Looks like a lot of fun! Pin’er for the winner!
  • 1 0
 how much for the hub cleaner?
  • 1 0
 @davidarthur what stem did you end up settling on?
  • 2 0
 Stuck with a 50mm stem in the end, that suited me pretty well
  • 1 0
 @davidarthur: do you think a medium bike would have been a better size for you? You are kind of in between the large and medium, and on a frame with such long reach, I would have chosen medium with your preferences. It would have given you the ability to run a longer stem, improving the tight switchback ability. I'm sure the bike would still be a stable descender for a xc bike, but probably had climbing characteristics much more like a xc bike also. Medium may have also given you the ability to run the longer dropper you noted in the cons. You would have to measure the insertion depth, but maybe it would have allowed more drop...just food for thought. It is possible you just tested the wrong size for your preferences or requirements.
  • 1 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: If other NS bikes are anything to go on medium suits me at 5,10”, I live in different places so have two NS eccentrics one L one M as buying the 2nd (I had a medium) I wondered if a L would be better (from all the internet hype of longer = better), it isn’t I’ve decided after a lot of riding. When I got my most recent NS a Snabb 150 I went medium it’s bang on perfect. It took riding both for a prolonged time to come to that conclusion, so it’s not something you’d regret as such if you know know difference. The L maybe slightly more comfortable with a 45mm stem v’s 50mm I have on the medium, but the medium handles better and is more fun for me.
  • 2 0
 Not an XC bike...
  • 1 0
 Gosh I love North Shore Bikes.
  • 1 0
 No Pinkbike. Nobody said Downcountry but you...and Mondraker.
  • 1 0
 So in other words it's a 29'r version of my Focus Spine????
  • 2 1
 great looking bike !
  • 1 1
 Classy looks but, as if NS are now making all out XC bikes.....
  • 1 2
 I remember when the first Giant Anthem 29er caused a stir a decade ago in the XC sector. Things have improved nicely...
  • 1 0
 ...hub cleaner?
  • 3 2
 Old dudes would tie a loop of rag that was very loose. As it flopped around it would remove road grime and dust from the hub, and polish it too. Quite a roadie thing. For MTB and mud... nah.
  • 2 0
 @iamamodel: Thanks for the insight! I'm old and thought I'd seen it all...wish I had an old Livestrong bracelet to put around a hub.
  • 1 0
 Remain verifiable
  • 2 0
 On second thought, the synonymity of the Synonym with synonyms ends with homonymity. Names don't mean. Maybe it's an obscure reference to the GT Verb
  • 1 1
 This looks identical to the pivot mach 4 SL
  • 1 2
 Which pants is David wearing on the fotos?
  • 1 0
 Those are no pants
  • 1 0
 They're called the Gore C3 Gore-Tex Active Pants and I highly recommend them. I'll never go back to wearing shorts in the winter now, pants - or trousers as they should really be called - are where it's at. I'll write a review if PB allow me
  • 1 0
 @davidarthur: I'm curious about the pants and tried googling, to no avail. Do you have a link to the trousers?
  • 2 0
 @Dropthedebt: Yes those are them. They're warm and breathable and best of all keep the mud off your legs so less mess at the end of a ride. They're not waterproof but resistant to puddle splashes, and it takes a fair amount of constant rain before the fabric really wets out and you can feel it on your legs.

Just missing some proper pockets
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