“Stay true, stay eccentric“ is emblazoned on the toptube of the NS Bikes “Eccentric“ hardtail in sweeping letters. A statement that we’re happy to sign! But does doing without rear suspension really mean this? We decided to take a risk and experiment with a hardtail.
At the heart of the Eccentric is a 2.4kg steel frame, which is also available individually. We like both the quality workmanship and useful features such as the 142x12mm rear thru axle, which gives a noticeably stiffer frame. In addition, the frame has a pleasant in-built damping effect; you can feel that NS Bikes have a long tradition in building steel dirt jump bikes. Especially the super short 420mm chainstays — please note that on a 27.5″ wheel frame, these could easily come straight off a dirt jumper! Together with a 67.5° head tube angle, everything points to a super nippy bike.
The high quality frame is also noticeable in the price: at € 1,799, the Eccentric isn’t exactly a complete bargain as you won’t find fancy, lightweight parts here. The buyer gets a mostly reliable and functional build kit: the SRAM 2×10 drivetrain is made up of an X.7 rear mech with X.5 triggers and front derailleur, while Avid-Elixir 5 brakes offers sufficient stopping power.
The wheelset, made up of NS-JALCO-DD28-rims and NS-15-hubs, didn’t give us any reason to complain on smoother trails. After lots of rides on hefty terrain we had to re-tension the spokes and true the wheels. The Maxxis Ardent tyres were a good choice as they have a wide range of use.
Money was saved in spec’ing the seatpost, however: it’s clear we can’t really expect a dropper post in this price range, but to only be able to adjust the saddle height with a hex wrench isn’t really up-to-date. This much purism isn’t really necessary.
Luckily, you can get round this shortfall without a big investment by fitting a quick release seat clamp.
The X-Fusion Sweep R fork surprised us with its plush suspension action. The 140mm fork is comfortable and generates plenty of front wheel grip. In steep sections and during hard braking we would have liked a bit more compression damping even though the front end of the bike is quite high in general. The Sweep tends to dive too deeply, but is absolutely perfect for beginners or those with a less aggressive riding style.
But how does the NS Bikes Eccentric manage on the trail? Can a hardtail trail bike be as fun where a normal enduro rider would have at least 140mm of rear suspension travel?
In order to find out we left our normal (full suss) enduro bikes at home for a few weeks and rode the Eccentric instead — the trails, of course, stayed the same.
Heading up, the first “aha” effect was quickly revealed: a hardtail goes forward better than even the most efficient rear suspension. The pleasant, more upright than stretched position on the bike, the stiff frame, and the grippy 27.5″ wheels transferred our energy reliably into the ground. At the same time, with the subtle damping of steel tubing, the bike always felt comfortable. On steep climbs it requires more rider engagement to keep the front wheel planted — a consequence of the high front end.
On the trail the short chainstays really came into their own, and together with the steep front end give the bike its nimble and playful character. The Eccentric swiftly carves through corners and can be pumped through compressions with ease. The bike is ridiculously easy to get up onto the back wheel and tempts you to take off on every small bump — the finest hardtail fun! It’s really no comparison to the cumbersome XC hardtails which many of us grew up with.
The Eccentric was especially good fun on flowing trails, but also on rough sections where the stiff frame and great geometry made riding an exciting challenge — good technique and line choices were essential. This was hardtail riding as it should be. On steep descents the diving fork slightly spoilt the fun, but with the high front we never had any ‘over-the-bars’ moments to contend with.
Conclusion: high-tech full-suss bikes or not, the NS Bikes Eccentric proves that a hardtail is still a whole heap of fun on the trails! The high quality steel frame with its agile geometry is a solid base for custom builds. Even though it’s no bargain, the tested complete bike at € 1,799 is a well-rounded package for beginners. With a few upgrades (seat clamp or dropper post, bashguard) you can increase the fun factor even more.
Size: S; M (tested); L; | Top Tube Horizontal: 623 mm | Seat Tube Angle: 73.0° | Bottom Bracket Height: 312 mm | Chainstay Length: 420 mm | Head Tube Angle: 67.5° | Wheelbase: 1.145 mm | Reach: 430 mm | Stack: 632 mm
Price €,1.799- (Frame Only: € 519)
Weight: 13,1 kg
Alternatives: NS Bikes only offers one build kit. The high-quality steel frame is available individually and is a great base for your own custom build. Our tip: 1×11 drivetrain, flatbar, dropper post!
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Words: Aaron Steinke Photos: Christoph Bayer
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