NS Bikes Outline AL Race 160 Mixes Wheel Sizes, Presents Prime Construct Specs [Review]
I recall the primary 29er I rode again within the day. It was an aluminum Bianchi SOK singlespeed with Avid Juicy brakes that by no means give up and a 100mm RockShox Reba fork. What a whip. I transitioned from 26″ to the large hoops with out spending any important time on 27.5″ bikes, and once I take a look at bikes from the center dimension now I can admire lots of the platform’s distinctive character traits. So when the chance got here as much as take a look at out this mixed-wheel bike I used to be greater than a little bit excited. Would it not actually maintain all the greatest bits of each 29″ and 27.5″ bikes?
The Define AL Race 160 from Poland’s NS Bikes is an extended journey enduro race machine designed round as we speak’s trendy gravity programs. With a 170mm fork and 160mm of rear journey, blended wheels, and that blingy beer-colored Kashima coating, it ought to assist riders discover their restrict on practically any race monitor.
I’m going to kick this evaluation off in reverse, with the much less tangible “felt” components first. The burning query I had for this bike was “what’s particular about blended wheels?” The lukewarm reply is that I’m nonetheless unsure. Whereas the bike performs effectively on quite a lot of terrain, I don’t have the sense that it rips out of corners sooner than an analogous 27.5″ bike, or flattens rock gardens like a full fledged 29er. As a substitute, It rides very well in quite a lot of conditions however doesn’t essentially outshine a symmetrical-wheeled bike in any of them.
I rode this bike for a number of laps at La Thuile Bike Park, and on tremendous tough terrain the entrance finish does roll with the impacts a little bit simpler than a full 27.5″ setup would, however the rear tire sometimes hangs up on bigger holes the place a 29″ circle can extra simply roll by. These properties pushed me to place my weight additional ahead, just like how I’d trip some single pivot bikes or a hardtail that may get hung up and slowed down. With the best place, this subject is basically mitigated, but it surely does take time to develop accustomed to.
On the extra rhythmic sections of bumpy trails, the Outline glides properly, aided by the graceful Fox Manufacturing unit suspension and skinny Maxxis EXO tire casings that take up path chatter effectively. Anyplace a 27.5″ bike would truthful effectively, it does, with one shocking bonus.
The principle place that the Outline AL Race 160 feels exceptionally good is in steep turns when the underside of the rear tire is rolling above the entrance hub. It has a candy carving sensation like that of fats parabolic skis in contemporary snow. I can’t assure that that is as a result of blended wheels, or the bike design extra typically, but it surely feels implausible. For those who wish to fly by steep turns with out muscling the bike, or actually fascinated by it in any respect, this whip is value an in depth look.
Sufficient in regards to the blended wheels. The Outline AL Race 160 is a superb bike in its personal proper. Setting it up is a breeze in case you are accustomed to Fox suspension, although it does ship with tubes within the tires so that can value a while and sealant. I needed to pump about 20 PSI greater than I sometimes would into the shock to attain the assist I used to be on the lookout for, however as soon as I hit the best quantity the Fox DPX2 shock labored as splendidly because it does on every other bike. Aside from that a lot of the settings have been fast and simple to type out.
At 32lbs (14.5kg) on the nostril for a dimension medium, this alloy bike isn’t the heaviest enduro sled on the market, and there are a number of parts that may very well be swapped out to shed a little bit heft. With a reasonably steep 76° seat tube angle, the Outline climbs higher than a few of its enduro racing friends. There may be little pedal bob to talk of, and with a ahead saddle place, the entrance wheel tracks effectively sufficient contemplating its slack 64.3° headtube angle.
The medium body’s 457mm attain is someplace in the midst of the present enduro geometry vary, and paired with its 438mm chainstays this bike feels neither playful nor planted, however someplace in between. The slack head tube has saved me from a couple of poor line alternative, and total the bike feels effectively balanced on rowdy descents regardless of the occasional rear tire snag. Aside from the cornering sensations talked about above the Outline has a largely unremarkable descending character. It descends effectively, and there isn’t a lot that stands out about the way it does so. Possibly that’s a extremely good factor?
Lastly, enduro bikes have to be sprintable. Racers must put all their breakfast into the pedals to exit corners and difficult rock gardens with a tough dash, and that is the place the Outline AL Race 160 might actually use a number of quantity spacers within the shock. Whereas the bike feels decently supported by the mid-stroke on descents given its lengthy 160mm of rear journey, it soaks up lots of throttle once I get up and attempt to flip my lungs inside out. I attempted including low-speed compression to the shock, however with sufficient compression to enhance mid-stroke efficiency it turns into too harsh. This bike is a primary candidate for a quantity spacer or two.
The alloy body
The body makes use of a down tube channel to cover the cable housing and brake hose, and together with the exterior backside bracket cups this bike is a house mechanic’s delight. A variety of lengthy journey body producers have gone away from mounting cables under the down tube the place they are often broken by rocks. Whereas there’s a small plastic cowl close to the BB, I’d be involved about severing a brake line if this have been my private bike.
The rear triangle has ample area for extensive 2.5″ tires and their requisite mud, and the principle pivot hasn’t managed to gather an abundance of mud on moist rides. NS lengthened the seat stays to make the body mixed-wheel suitable, which lifted the BB and put the pinnacle tube angle again to the identical place it will be with symmetrical wheels. The corporate makes an equivalent 29er mannequin in each alloy and carbon fiber.
The chainstay is effectively protected, and together with the SRAM derailleur clutch it retains the bike surprisingly quiet. A reliable 4 bar suspension design makes issues easy all through, and this bike needs to be a straightforward one to take care of for privateer racers and arduous charging path riders.
The shock mount might be flipped to regulate the BB peak up and down by 5mm, and riders can even buy a special mount that cuts the bike’s journey to 130mm. Two bikes in a single? Sure please.
It’s no secret that the Fox Manufacturing unit 36 fork and DPX2 shock on the Outline Race AL are a implausible piece of package. The suspension on this bike works flawlessly, regardless of doubtlessly needing a number of spacers, and it definitely looks like the best steadiness for the body’s leverage curve and supposed use.
The management heart on this construct can also be effectively suited to a great day trip on the race course, with a set of SRAM G2 RSC 4-pot brakes and a 12-speed X01/GX Eagle blended drivetrain. I managed to blow by brake pads with this bike for some motive. After attempting a number of totally different manufacturers I landed on a set of Alligator semi-metailc pads which have held up far longer than the unique SRAM set.
The home model 35mm carbon handlebar is as stiff as any. Possibly a little bit too stiff for my style. The remainder of the home model package has a scathed-copper look that matches the body effectively, and most of it’s proper in keeping with the bike’s gravity race focus.
My main criticism in regards to the Outline is identical as practically each different enduro bike that I take a look at; the tires are useless for anyone who wants to race an enduro or trip equally tough trails. I gained’t digress right here, as everyone knows Maxxis EXO casings are nowhere close to powerful sufficient for gravity bikes. I flatted the rear tire twice and the entrance as soon as earlier than altering each. In brief, this bike wants a downhill casing on the rear wheel and at the least a heavier gravity casing up entrance. Tires are a horrible place to shave weight.
At €5699, the Outline AL Race 160 has an awesome element spec and a decidedly comfy trip high quality. Although it didn’t promote me on the mixed-wheel platform simply but it does trip very effectively and would undoubtedly be a enjoyable bike for racing enduro. I need to re-highlight the steep flip love for this mannequin, because it really is one thing particular. On a great day, I like to push traction velocity within the turns and this bike was a pleasure to lean over.