The NS Define 130 is has a good shape and feels rapid and engaging
Based in Poland, NS has built a reputation for modern, forward-thinking bikes like this new NS Define 130 2 29er.
NS Define 130 2 need to know
- Progressively sized 29er version of the classic NS Snabb delivering 130mm travel
- Fox Performance-level suspension with a 140mm suspension fork
- Available in only two sizes, but the frame comes with custom headset cups to adjust the reach
- Shares frame with the Snabb and can be converted to a 155mm travel bike
The Define 130 is NS’ mid-travel big wheeler, using a 130mm travel full carbon chassis, with adjustability built in for both size and geometry, both of which we’ll get to in a minute.
The frame’s 4-bar suspension is modelled directly on the NS Snabb. This mimicry extends to the leverage curves and pivot placements, with the shock driven by a seriously sculpted one-piece rocker link. The low-slung chassis neatly hides the main pivot, using big oversized bearings in the seat tube to boost stiffness and reliability.
The whole package feels stiff and solid, where the frame has good standover clearance, a suitably steep seat angle for climbing and a slight top tube hump closer to the headtube for added strength.
To complement the relatively long 1260mm wheelbase and more relaxed angles than your typical shorter travel 29er), the Fox Performance fork uses a reduced, 44mm fork offset. This is then paired with a short, quicker-steering, 45mm stem to better balance the steering response and increase reactiveness at the handlebar.
There’s good mud clearance in the rear stays and, with the paint-splattered finish, curvy carbon lines and some flash ‘oil slick’ finish components, the Define looks the part for sub four grand machine. It has to be said, though, how some parts are a bit lower tier than expected for this much money.
Like the ‘Performance’ series Nobby Nic Addix tyres with innertubes didn’t really create the best first impression. The tyres are mounted on 32-hole alloy hoops with own brand rims and NS hubs (with more ‘oil slick’ bling) and the package rolls really fast, but the rubber feels plasticey, lacks compliance, and ultimately doesn’t grip well enough; all of which hinders a bike with this much potential in tougher terrain.
At least there’s no shortage of stopping power, even of it doesn’t always translate to speed reduction due the tyres. And while the SRAM Guide T levers with 4-piston Guide R calipers easily lock the wheels, the lever is stiffer to pull than pricier models.
In terms of acceleration, the Define’s drivetrain is a mixture of an NX Eagle shifter, and heavier 12 cassette which aren’t quite a match for higher-tier GX Eagle rear mech and Descendant DUB crank. One highlight is a smooth action of the 150mm X-Fusion Manic dropper that I’ve used on quite a few bikes now, and has always proven reliable with a super lightweight action to the underbar remote.
Even though the Fox 140mm fork uses the brand’s lower-level GRIP damper, it’s actually perfectly good with smooth tracking and enough support to hammer the steepest descents without having to hang of the back of the bike. Having 10mm more fork travel matches well with the back end too, and the handlebar doesn’t feel overly high, or bring too much lightness or anything weird to the steering response.
Out back the Fox Performance shock has a 3-position low-speed compression adjuster to firm damping if needed and I found this useful at a bike park with loads of hard-packed jumps and rollers. But even with the shock fully open, the NS has real good zip when cranking hard, and eats up solid singletrack hits when stomping round trail centre-style tracks.
How it rides
Interestingly, the Define frame feels even longer than advertised (likely thanks to the low BB) when out of the saddle pedalling, and the steering and handling are very neutral and easy to adapt to straight away.
While being stretched out and stable at speed, the Define 130 has a real precise and rapid feel to it. It eggs you on to ride really aggressively and literally drags you down mellower trails like there’s a tailwind, rolling quickly and maintaining speed really well over small bumps on stone-flecked, man-made, armoured trails.
When the bumps and hits ramp up though (or when deeper roots and rocks come into the equation), the Define can feel a bit ‘bony’ and disconnected from the ground. The travel never feels lacking in terms of depth of movement, or that there’s not enough outright bounce, it’s more how there’s too much feedback coming through the chassis that translates to plenty of vibration through your feet and hands, even from medium size hits. On this score, I’m convinced the Schwalbe tyres aren’t helping, and they would be a relatively cheap fix.
Ultimately, the Define is has a good shape and feels rapid and engaging. It also has an interesting trick in being adjustable with the potential for two different travel set-ups. With the BB in the lower setting it’s a real corner slasher, but this First Ride was a little frustrated by some kit masking the Define’s potential, so, even in the dry conditions I rode, it was hard to really push on and get a true sense of the Define’s limits.