2015 NS Snabb E

First let me say I am in no way affiliated with NS nor am I getting paid for this review. I wonít go into the typical review of the company itself that detailed information can be found on their website. In short NS is a true grassroots company that specializes in dj and slopestyle bikes until recently they have thrown their hats into the crowded DH and Enduro/all mountain market.

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Itís actually kind of funny how I stumbled upon NS in the first place, while working for a bike manufacturer (in a different segment of the industry mind you) I was tasked with finding a new distributor in the vast Canadian market so I called up Lama Cycles in Sherbrooke QC and was pleasantly surprised with how knowledgeable they were with the ins and outs of what it meant to be a distribution partner of our products. After many hours speaking to Justin I knew this was the outfit we wanted our products at. After looking on their site I noticed they carried NS bikes and we started talking about the brand, and how they had a dedicated race team on the DH model dubbed the Fuzz and how they were testing a new model the Snabb. Well it just so happened that I was in the market for a new long travel 27.5 bike and he let me know it just came into stock so I picked one up. I will say that NS could not have asked for a more knowledgable and well supported outfit than Lama cycles if you have any questions about the brand make sure to visit their website at www.lamacycles.com

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The Snabb comes in two flavors the T(trail) and the E(enduro) with the main difference being the amount of travel, angles and weight. The former gets 140mm and the latter getting 163mm. I bought the frame only and built it up, here are the specs:

  • 2015 NS Snabb E Medium Frame 163mm travel Rock shox monarch RT3 debonair
  • Rock shox Pike RCT3 160mm travel
  • Sram X01 1x11 drivetrain
  • Sram X01 170mm crank and 32T race face ring
  • Sram Guide RSC brakes 180/160
  • Race face SIXc carbon bar 10mm rise 35mm clamp
  • 40mm Easton Haven stem
  • Reverb stealth 125mm
  • Shimano XT Trail pedals


Two wheel sets tested
Wheel set 1:
Mavic Crossmax XL with Mavic Quest 2.4 tires front and rear
Wheel set 2:
Derby wide HD carbon rims with Project 321 hubs 35mm internal Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 DH casing front and Maxis Minion DHR II 2.4 DH casing rear tires.
Weight with wheel set 1-28.76 lbs w/pedals
Weight with wheel set 2-30.86 lbs w/pedals


So after taking the frame out of the box I was immediately impressed with the fit and finish. The top half of the frame is gloss black and the lower half was matte, it really does have a killer look. I chose the all black model with the other option being red and matte black. The snabb gives you the option to run your cables internally or externally which I found to be an awesome feature of this bike since I have done both and both work great and are rattle free. Also it has a threaded BB as opposed to the T models press fit hallelujah, also it has ISCG 05 tabs if you want to run a chain guide. The bike was an easy build compared to most manufacturers and having that versatility to run the cables internally or externally was a joy. The Snabb came together at a relatively svelte 28.76 pounds with pedals, and considering that the frame was over 7 pounds with shock it was surprising. A couple things of note are that this frame does not come with a down tube protector which I found odd and the rear axle is a thru bolt with no quick release which could be a plus or minus depending on who you ask. For me I would have preferred a DT swiss RWS or Rock Shox Maxle.

Before I get to ride impressions their are a couple things about the geometry I would like to discuss. This bike has been dubbed long, low and slack well I guess that is typical of almost every enduro bike on the market(I know theres that word again)but this bikes reach is quite a bit longer than most at 445mm in a medium which is why i chose a 40mm stem and it is not quite as slack as some others at 66 degrees with a 160mm fork but it does still retain short chain stays at 430mm so it is kind of a hybrid, oh and if you didn't know already it is using traditional 4 bar horst link suspension which immediately felt familiar since I was coming off of a Specialized s-works Enduro before purchasing this bike.

Decending:
Now to the meat and potatoes, how does it ride? The first test was a good one, I went to Trestle DH park to test the bikes handling prowess at speed. I have the rear Monarch shock set up with a recommended 30% sag which felt like the sweet spot for this suspension. What was immediately noticeable was how much grip this bike has which is in part due to its long wheelbase(1185mm) short chain stays and itís longer reach. Their is grip for days, this cannot be stated enough you really feel like you are in the center of the bike and when pointed downhill the suspension feels planted and active, the same holds true for its cornering prowess because you are so centered over the bike you can just rail corners and stay planted in berms. Popping off jumps it felt light and flickable it just felt bomb proof, it really is a point and shoot bike. NS says they took the suspension characteristics from their DH bike and I have to agree with them on that because it is so damn stable through rock gardens and tricky chunder that a DH park run like Trestle DH will provide. I will say one thing though the rear Monarch shock feels incredibly under gunned when using the Snabb in this environment. The shock is tuned linear per the specs and the suspension is very progressive, after doing a run on rainmaker I found that the suspension felt like it was ramping up rather quickly with my initial pressure settings so I had to lower shock pressure which caused me to blow through the travel rather easily. This was not as apparent on normal trail riding but it is worth noting if you are planning to use this bike as a park shredder that you may want to purchase an after market shock like a cane creek db cs or something of that ilk.

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Climbing:
Well I will say NS does not pretend to market the E model as a mountain goat in itís climbing prowess. It will get you to where you need to go but it will take some time to get there. The rear end is stiff and feels very planted and because of this it gives you a very confidence inspiring feel when climbing over technical, rocky, hair raising terrain, but for those long steep slogs I found myself wanting something with a shorter wheelbase and shorter reach, I ran the shock in it center trail position which adds a pedaling platform to the bike. When left full open I feel that their was some pedal induced feedback to the ride but I felt no need to run it fully locked out which is also an option with the RT3. It is by no means a bad climbing bike but it was clear that they made this frame to excel at going the other direction.

Conclusion:
In short NS have made a killer enduro/trail bike here, it is stable at speed the geometry is spot on for gnarly descents and the ease of build and maintenance is the icing on the cake. It may not be carbon(which they are releasing for 2016)but it will take anything you can throw at it. Well worth the purchase price.

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Pros:
-Burly frame built like a tank.
-Fantastic weld quality fit and finish is top notch for an aluminum bike.
-To quote every bike manufacturer ďit corners like a dream"
-Incredibly planted while descending, felt felt bottomless at times.
-Routing is amazingly intuitive, run it internal, run it external, or a bit of both you can decide.
-You can run a really wide rim/tire combination, I ran a 35mm internal rim with a 2.4 minion and still had room to spare

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Cons:
-Not a sprightly climber almost too much grip while climbing if their is such a thing.
-No down tube protection, my down tube has gotten pretty beat up but purchase a Lizard Skins leather down tube protector and it will fix this.
-Rear shock can at times feel under gunned if using for itís intended purpose you may want a piggy back shock like they are using on the 2016 model.
-Rear thru bolt, not really a con for me but i can see some folks being disappointed by this.
-Frame is a bit of a pig at 7.1 lbs with a shock in a medium but it doesnít ride that heavy that is the trade off for durability.

If you have any questions about the frame that I did not discuss above feel free to ask, I will try and answer them to my best ability.