NS Bikes Outline AL Race 160 Mixes Wheel Sizes, Gives High 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 massive hoops with out spending any vital time on 27.5″ bikes, and once I check bikes from the center dimension now I can respect quite a lot of the platform’s distinctive character traits. So when the chance got here as much as check out this mixed-wheel bike I used to be greater than somewhat excited. Wouldn’t it actually maintain the entire 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 in the present day’s fashionable gravity programs. With a 170mm fork and 160mm of rear journey, combined 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” parts first. The burning query I had for this bike was “what’s particular about combined wheels?” The lukewarm reply is that I’m nonetheless unsure. Whereas the bike performs properly on a wide range of terrain, I don’t have the sense that it rips out of corners quicker than the same 27.5″ bike, or flattens rock gardens like a full fledged 29er. As a substitute, It rides very well in a wide range of conditions however doesn’t essentially outshine a symmetrical-wheeled bike in any of them.
I rode this bike for a couple of laps at La Thuile Bike Park, and on tremendous tough terrain the entrance finish does roll with the impacts somewhat simpler than a full 27.5″ setup would, however the rear tire often hangs up on bigger holes the place a 29″ circle can extra simply roll via. These properties pushed me to place my weight additional ahead, much like how I’d experience some single pivot bikes or a hardtail that may get hung up and slowed down. With the proper place, this difficulty is essentially mitigated, nevertheless it does take time to develop accustomed to.
On the extra rhythmic sections of bumpy trails, the Outline glides properly, aided by the sleek Fox Manufacturing unit suspension and skinny Maxxis EXO tire casings that soak up path chatter properly. Anyplace a 27.5″ bike would honest properly, 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 recent snow. I can’t assure that that is as a result of combined wheels, or the bike design extra usually, nevertheless it feels unbelievable. For those who prefer to fly via steep turns with out muscling the bike, or actually desirous about it in any respect, this whip is value a detailed look.
Sufficient in regards to the combined wheels. The Outline AL Race 160 is a good bike in its personal proper. Setting it up is a breeze in case you are acquainted with Fox suspension, although it does ship with tubes within the tires so that may 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 searching for, however as soon as I hit the proper quantity the Fox DPX2 shock labored as splendidly because it does on some other bike. Aside from that a lot of the settings had been fast and simple to kind 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 elements that might be swapped out to shed somewhat 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 properly 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 multiple poor line selection, and general the bike feels properly 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 properly, and there isn’t a lot that stands out about the way it does so. Possibly that’s a very good factor?
Lastly, enduro bikes should be sprintable. Racers need to put all their breakfast into the pedals to exit corners and tough rock gardens with a tough dash, and that is the place the Outline AL Race 160 may actually use a couple of quantity spacers within the shock. Whereas the bike feels decently supported via the mid-stroke on descents given its lengthy 160mm of rear journey, it soaks up quite a lot 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 whole lot of lengthy journey body producers have gone away from mounting cables beneath 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 had been my private bike.
The rear triangle has ample house for huge 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 appropriate, which lifted the BB and put the pinnacle tube angle again to the identical place it could be with symmetrical wheels. The corporate makes an equivalent 29er mannequin in each alloy and carbon fiber.
The chainstay is properly 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 exhausting charging path riders.
The shock mount will 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 unbelievable piece of package. The suspension on this bike works flawlessly, regardless of probably needing a couple of spacers, and it actually seems like the proper steadiness for the body’s leverage curve and meant use.
The management middle on this construct can be properly suited to day trip on the race course, with a set of SRAM G2 RSC 4-pot brakes and a 12-speed X01/GX Eagle combined drivetrain. I managed to blow via brake pads with this bike for some cause. After making an attempt a number of completely 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 somewhat too stiff for my style. The remainder of the home model package has a scathed-copper look that matches the body properly, and most of it’s proper consistent with the bike’s gravity race focus.
My main criticism in regards to the Outline is similar as practically each different enduro bike that I check; the tires are useless for anyone who wants to race an enduro or experience equally tough trails. I received’t digress right here, as everyone knows Maxxis EXO casings are nowhere close to robust 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 incredible part spec and a decidedly comfy experience high quality. Although it didn’t promote me on the mixed-wheel platform simply but it does experience very properly and would undoubtedly be a enjoyable bike for racing enduro. I wish to re-highlight the steep flip love for this mannequin, because it actually is one thing particular. On day, I like to push traction pace within the turns and this bike was a pleasure to lean over.