Do you remember when mountain bikes (mostly) just came with 26″ wheels? Yeah, I don’t miss those days either, nor the tubes and crappy rim brakes that accompanied them. This latest 160/170mm Define AL Race bike from NS Bikes is my first foray into rolling with two different tire diameters on the same frame, and I look forward to searching for any advantages or disadvantages.
To achieve the “mullet” mix with their recently released aluminum Define frame NS Bikes elongated the seatstays, while the chainstays are their standard 27.5″ set. The midsize rear wheel pushes through a horst link suspension platform, damped by a lightweight Fox Factory DPX2 shock.
The lower shock mount can be flipped to raise the bottom bracket by 5mm, which I will likely be doing with this bike as it feels a little too low for my liking. On the first few test runs I slapped the pedals against the ground while climbing multiple times.
The rear triangle has mad mud clearance with the 27.5 x 2.5″ Maxxis Aggressor. As with most new enduro and all mountain bikes, the Define AL Race 160 comes with a pair of Maxxis EXO casings that are nowhere near tough enough for the bike’s intended use. I managed to puncture both of them on the first day, and they were immediately replaced. Light tires and inferior brakes on long-travel bikes are about as cool as innertubes. We’ll all be better off when they go away.
Fortunately, NS Bikes mounted up a decent set of stoppers on this build, with the SRAM G2 RSC. The rear brake hose and shift cable for the SRAM X01 derailleur run down a channel similar to the one GT uses to keep their bikes looking clean and easy to maintain. Paired with an external BB, home mechanics should be pleased to play with this bike.
To finish off the build, NS chose a 150mm Fox Performance Transfer dropper post and a 170mm Factory 36 fork with the versatile GRIP2 damper.
The medium frame has an average length 457mm reach, 438mm chainstays, an appropriately slack 64.3° headtube angle, and a comfortable climbing perch at 76° for the effective seattube angle. With a 432mm seattube measurement, the medium should fit shorter riders fairly well.
The NS Define Al Race 160 is polished off with a bevy of NS branded bits that match the frame’s sparkly splatter paint. The colorway could be described as “spent copper” or “train track pennies.” This high-end aluminum build is priced at €5,699 (about $6,700USD).
Stay tuned for the full review of this full metal machine when the leaves start to match its hubs.