The NS Snabb 130 Plus 1 is billed as a burly all-rounder, capable of keeping up with the DH rigs whilst also being able to hang with your XC mates on a big loop.

Ben has had the NS Snabb 130 Plus 1 for a few months of hard and varied riding to find out if it is as versatile as promised.

Photos by Dave Price.

Key features:

  • 130mm rear, 140mm front travel
  • 29″ wheels
  • Fox 34 Performance fork.
  • Trunnion mount Fox Performance DPS rear shock
  • SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed groupset
  • nsbikes.com
  • £3,399.99 RRP

Frame and Build

Apart from the extra seat post brace that creates an extra triangle, the Snabb cuts a familiar silhouette with its Horst link, 4 bar suspension design. Finished in a hard wearing grey and black colour scheme, the aluminium frame has a nice finish with neat welds and swooping lines. My only gripe with the frame was some suspect cable routing that needed some work to quieten down on rough and chattery trails.

Numbers-wise, NS have fully embraced the longer, lower and slacker mantra with the latest incarnations of the Snabb platform. The size large tested here has a whopping 480mm reach, 37mm bottom bracket drop and 66 degree head angle, which combined with the 438mm chainstays makes for a really well balanced and very capable bike. The low top tube gives plenty of standover clearance and the only thing I would change would be the effective seat angle which feels a bit slack and dated at 74.5 degrees.

The Snabb doesn’t have loads of travel with 130mm rear and 140mm at the front, but the Fox Performance suspension punches above its weight at both ends, holding you in the middle of the travel and providing plentiful grip in all conditions. In particular I was worried about the Fox 34 fork being too weedy and flexy for the sort of riding I do, but throughout the whole test it felt remarkably solid and composed.

Gears are provided by a SRAM GX groupset, all except the cassette which is actually the cheaper and heavier NX model, which also means that it runs on a Shimano style freehub body rather than a SRAM XD driver which is worth knowing in case you want to upgrade the rear wheel or cassette.

Shifting was hit and miss throughout the test period and I spent a lot of time fiddling with the B-Tension screw and the barrel adjusters to get the crisp shifting I wanted. A few knocks to the rear mech didn’t help things but it does remind you that Eagle groupsets are just not as robust as 11 speed ones in my experience.

Braking was also taken care of my SRAM with a set of Guide Rs running 180mm discs. They were bang on throughout the test with no need to bleed and a great, consistent lever feel from the first ride to the last.

Finishing kit was mostly NS own-brand and whilst it was decent quality, the styling left a lot to be desired in my opinion. The 45mm stem, seat clamp and grips are all brown to compliment the skin wall tyres, and whilst the stem and seat clamp were functional at least, the grips were minging and I swapped them after just two rides. Just too big and too squishy. There are also weird rubber bands around the hubs that I assume are there to appeal to kids, but for adults spending over £3k on a bike they are a bit weird.

NS also provided the wheelset made up of Enigma Roll 29” rims featuring 32 spokes and 35mm internal rim width, all laced to NS Rotary hubs. The actual rims proved to be pretty tough, shrugging off quite a few rocks and roots without denting, however by the end of several months of testing the rear rim would need tensioning up after every ride. It just would not stay true and probably needs a trip to the LBS for a more skilled mechanic to work their magic.

Up Hills

Trying to sum up the climbing manners of the Snabb 130 Plus 1 is a bit tricky as it simply gets on with it in an entirely competent and unremarkable way. The seat angle is a bit slack, meaning I slid the saddle forwards, but otherwise it is pretty typical in its climbing performance compared to bikes of similar intentions.

On tech climbs it scampers up nicely with the shock in the open position providing plenty of bite without wallowing around wasting energy. The only time that it struggled was on greasy or wet trails where the WTB Trail Boss rear tyre would constantly spin out. On long fire road or tarmac drags I did tend to reach for the climb switch but that was mostly to steepen the geometry, not because it bobbed around much under power.

Stans Flow EX3Stans flow EX3

Down Hills

When I first unboxed the Snabb I took one look at the WTB Trail Boss tyres in the light casing and fast rolling compound and I literally did a bit of a face palm. Yet another manufacturer speccing lightweight tyres that are not up to the job. NS are clearly looking to save cash and advertise a lighter bike weight by speccing these tyres. Given that NS advertise this as a bike for keeping up with your mates on DH bikes, at the very least they could have specced the high grip front tyre.

Anyway, I set them up tubeless and went for my first ride which ended with blood pouring from my knee as the front tyre washed on a flat turn. It just broke away so quickly and under so little load, catching me out big time. Amateur. On the second ride I punctured the rear tyre beyond repair on a pretty tame trail. For the rest of the test I ran a variety of tyres on the NS, including the new Maxxis EXO+ casing Minions, a Specialized Eliminator and the new Hutchinson Griffus.

Now running on decent rubber and having forgiven the Snabb I quickly felt at home, finding the roomy sizing and balanced geometry an absolute pleasure to rag around my local woods. There are no strange handling quirks or unusual feelings, it is just a bike that is really easy to ride fast. Really fast.

The stiff frame and poppy suspension feel let you pump out of turns and over roots and rollers, carrying mad speed, and all whilst having a shit load of fun. This short travel 29er is a total ripper of a bike and I absolutely loved riding it. Despite its length it handles tight corners with ease, leaning in and carving a predictable arc through the dirt, only braking loose when you want it to.

When things get fast, rough and wild the geometry lets you hold lines and speed that you would not think possible given the amount of travel on offer. It skims and skips over the roughest terrain, and gives you the confidence to stay off the brakes. In fast berms it supports you enough so you can hold your body position, keep your head up and spot the exit.

Obviously with only 130-140mm travel it is not the most comfy ride over long and blown out tracks, and this is made worse by the stiff frame, but if you can hold onto it, is is super fast wherever you want to ride it. In the deep, dark valleys of South Wales where I like to ride, the Snabb was in its element snaking its way down steep chutes and through the most tech trails that the area has to offer. The geometry just works as a whole system to create an easy bike to ride anywhere and coupled with the very capable Fox Performance suspension at both ends you find you have a bike that really can keep up with the lads on enduro bikes.

Reliability

The SRAM GX drivetrain needed a lot of adjustment throughout the test period and the rear tyre only lasted two rides.

On a brighter note, despite several good crashes and loads of riding and being loaded into vans, the paint is in really good condition and the bike still looks new.

Compare

I have not enjoyed a bike this much since the amazing Merida 160 800 that I spent last summer on. On paper they are very different bikes but on the trails they are both totally under rated, stealth slayers that can take care of business.

As far as other short travel trail bikes go the closest bike I can compare it to would be the Intense Primer that I raced Ard Rock Enduro on in 2018. The Primer is a total rocket ship designed for speed over comfort, delivering a lively and lightning-fast ride.

The Primer is a bit more poppy, but also more of a handful, requiring a higher level of skill and commitment to unlock its secrets. The Snabb is easier to ride fast and has a more comfy ride and is probably a better all round UK trail bike for most people than the Primer which is more direct, less forgiving and best suited to the quickest rider in the group.

What do we think?

The NS Snabb 130 Plus 1 absolutely rips. Simple as that…

We Love

  • So fast
  • So capable
  • Easy speed
  • Fun

Could Do Better

  • Rubbish tyres
  • Dubious styling

Full spec and details on the NS Snabb 130 Plus 1 and the rest of the Snabb rage can be found on NS Bikes’ website here.


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