The Snabb E
NS market the Snabb as an enduro offering that isn’t scared to take the big hits and that is built and tuned accordingly. With 163mm of travel, a 66º head angle, ‘linear tune’ (we’ll get back to that) RockShox Monarch shock and four-bar Horst link design, the Snabb E hits the mark on paper. It’s available in three sizes, Small to Large, of which we’ve been riding the Large. At 6.7lb for the frame and a full build coming in around 30lb it’s not the absolute lightest, but if its longevity you’re after then you won’t be too fussed about that.
This bike has been ridden by a number of Dirt regulars now. The Large we’ve been riding is long for an L, but the size range, of which this is the biggest, leaves a gap for the taller riders out there.
Low, long and slack is how NS describe the Snabb. And with a couple more centimetres over the likes of the YT Capra or Specialized Demo in the front end (with a 1214 wheelbase on the Large) and similarly low BB that is mostly true, although its 66º head angle isn’t particularly slack by modern terms (Orange Alpine is 65º, Spesh Enduro 65.5º). The ‘short’ 430mm chainstay is in line with the Capra and it’s a tad longer than the Enduro or Kona’s Process 153, just for comparison. The 75º seat angle is nice and steep, putting the seat in a good position over the pedals when it’s up in climbing position.
While it’s far less fancy looking than many bikes on the market, the Snabb has rarely failed to find fans no matter where it’s gone with us. Simplicity is king, and that is proved through its traditional but sleek styling.
The Snabb promises strength and it doesn’t disappoint. Al6061 and 6066 T6 butted tubing and double pass welding (one pass with heat only, the second with heat and filler) is nothing massively out of the ordinary, but ‘no gimmicks’ is something that NS do well. They haven’t tried to go wild with making the bike a flashy showpiece and through doing so have made something durable and simple (and still good looking). Round tubes, solid welds, plenty of material where it is needed, beefy tapered headtube, big bearings. The 142×12 bolt-in axle is stiff as you like and never comes loose. It all adds up to one strong, dependable bike.
The Snabb promises strength and it doesn’t disappoint.
Drivetrain is designed around a 1X setup, with pivot location apparently optimised for this modern almost-standard (come on, pretty much anything in mountain biking warrants the word ‘standard’ doesn’t it?). On those lines, there are ISCG 05 tabs if you want to run a chain guide and 73mm threaded BB.
Cable routing seems like a snore-inducing subject of conversation, but some companies still can’t get it right. NS have though, and there are all the options you could wish for, with either internal or external options. We’ve gone for the former to keep things clean and tidy and it’s silent – no cable rattle whatsoever (plus the chainstay is well defended by an NS-branded protector), just the noise of tyres buzzing on dirt… nice.
It’s also worth noting NS’ warranty and crash replacement policy. As they highlight, in mountain biking warranties can be a bit of a grey area. Different riders give different levels of abuse to their bikes so claims are mostly ‘judged individually’. Their 3-year warranty (on full suss) is solid though, and the crash replacement policy offers a new bike at 50% of the broken one’s suggested retail. They are clearly confident that their bikes will last and this confirms the Snabb’s durability.
At £1,449 for the frame and £3,200 for the top-end spec complete, we’re not talking fall-on-floor bargain but for a dealer-only purchase with the after-sales support that goes with it this also isn’t a bank breaker by mountain biking terms. It’s in line with similar bikes by bigger brands, although the bargain full builds available on the electronic market can’t be ignored.
What NS say about the Snabb
“The Snabb was designed with the aim to optimise the following traits: function, weight and reliability. Impressing the public with gimmicks, ‘patents’ and ‘systems’ was not on our list.” – Great! This is intended as a no-BS bike and that is exactly what it is.
“Many elements of the frame, including the suspension characteristics are inspired by the Fuzz, our new DH frame that has already proven itself on the race tracks.” – We got on well with the Fuzz and like the comparison, backing up that this is a bike to be ridden hard, and for those focused on the downhill. Along those lines, we should note that it isn’t the most absolute most spritely on the uphills. It’ll get you there though.
“The geometry is modern, low, long and slack. We took into account that NS Bikes customers are usually tough, aggressive riders and expect our products to hold up to seasons of abuse.” – If anything we would even go slacker, just to rake things out a bit more and make the most of the tough nature of this bike with even more emphasis on the downhill side.
Laps on the Snabb
It’s not a lively bike, but once you get used to its planted, solid trundle and start to ride the front wheel it comes to life. The Snabb goes seriously fast.
We might as well get the negatives out the way, because there aren’t many. The shock took some time to get to a good feeling. NS note in their marketing that the tune is ‘linear’, but contrary to that the linkage is very progressive, a ‘feeling of support’ as NS put it, but perhaps a little too much. Things ramp up mighty quick out back, meaning that we ended up running lower and lower shock pressures just to get the thing through its travel, and even then we never properly bottomed it out. Seeing this through optimist’s eyes you could say that the progressive linkage makes for a bike that can be ridden hard and is made for those who huck… but in reality it seems an area that really needs refining to get the most out of the suspension. Having said that, the suspension works well and in most situations it is very composed. It’s just lacking full depth to its travel.
Back to the good stuff: Grip levels on this bike are unruly. A factor also helped by great balance between the wheels; its short 430mm chainstay that isn’t short to the point of ridiculous and long 785mm (size L) front-centre weight seems to spread well between the wheels. The thing has little torsional flex without being boneshakingly rigid, so it has enough give to take out small trail chatter and add to the grip levels, but overall feels absolutely solid.
The Snabb is absolutely in its element when posed with the sort of terrain most enduro bikes would be intimidated by. Mega technical problems, high speeds, steep usually-downhill-bike terrain is where this thing really impresses. And threading around turns – it loves the corners. It’s in flatter terrain that its slight porkiness could be said to affect its pick up of speed in sprinting and pumping situations.
The Snabb is absolutely in its element when posed with the sort of terrain most enduro bikes would be intimidated by.
With over eight months of hard riding the Snabb E has never faltered in its durability. It has taken cross country rides, Alpine epics and even Morzine downhill runs in its stride. I honestly can’t say any other bike I’ve been in possession of another bike in its category that has ever stood up to so much abuse without even the slightest whimper: bearings are still solid as you like, paint is showing a few signs of wear but nothing drastic, there are no dents, cracks or signs of an early death… This may all sound like basics, but with the amount of riding bikes that come through the Dirt office door get there are few that really stand the test of time. Now when recommending a bike to friends (who ride hard, have little extra money to waste and just want a bike that they can get out the shed every time knowing it is ready to be ridden) this one comes top of my list. It’s even got great bottle cage mounting for the ultimate back-to-the-future in bike tech pickiness.
The Snabb E has proved itself as a proper rider’s bike. What does that mean? It means it’s durable, the angles are pretty much spot on, the bearings don’t explode after one ride and you can throw it in the van knowing that it will be ready for any ride you take it on. And it’s a lot of fun to ride. It’s not a full-blown racer’s bike, but at around 30lb for a build, competition isn’t out of the question in any way, and at least you know it’ll get you to the finish line.
While we feel the linkage needs refining to make the most out of the bike’s suspension, small bumps and big hits are well taken care of. We’d like to see a less drastically progressive curve and then this thing would be unstoppable.
Shock: RockShox Monarch (Debonair)
Material: AL6061/6066 T6
Head angle: 66º
Sizes: Small (579mm effective top tube, 1156mm wheelbase); Medium (607 ETT 1185 WB); Large (635 ETT, 1214 WB)
It’s durable, the angles are pretty much spot on, the bearings don’t explode after one ride and you can throw it in the van knowing that it will be ready for any ride you take it on…