NS is better known for dirt jump steeds than full-suspension big rigs, but the Fuzz is the firm's first foray into the world of downhill bikes and could well change all that. After a year of testing and development, it’s finally ready for the masses – and we were the first to ride it.
Frame and equipment: reassuringly expensive
The Fuzz frame is constructed from custom formed and butted alloy tubing, and puts out either 199mm or 205mm (7.5/8.1in) of travel, depending on which chainstay length (420 or 438mm) you set the adjustable dropouts up for. It has a tapered head tube and uses the downhill-standard 12x150mm rear axle spacing and 83mm BB shell. The frame has internal cable routing, but also bolt-on hose guides should you want to keep your cables more accessible.
The Fuzz 1 isn’t cheap, but it does come with a component set you won’t want to change in a hurry. RockShox provides the Boxxer RC fork up front and Vivid R2C shock at the rear. SRAM’s X7 Type 2 mech and Truvativ Descendant cranks are transmission highlights, with Avid Code R brakes doing a good job of bringing the Fuzz to a stop.
RockShox takes care of bump-eating duties with a Boxxer RC fork and Vivid R2C shock
NS supplies its own wheels, bar and stem, while sister company Octane One provides the saddle, seatpost and grips. The Super Tacky compound Maxxis Minion boots are a nice touch too.
Ride and handling: warning – may produce ear-to-ear grins
Rolling into our local test tracks, it took a few runs of shock fiddling to fine-tune the bike’s set-up. Adding a couple of clicks of compression damping gave us the planted, supportive feeling we’d been looking for – a surefire confidence builder – and even over square-edged hits, the rear end was hard to get out of shape.
Our medium test bike had a surprisingly roomy 620mm top tube – a length comparable to, if not bigger than, most large downhill frames. The long front centre brings plenty of stability to the table, while the short chainstays definitely put fun at the top of the agenda – we found our speed on the trail increasing rapidly as a by-product of ear-to-ear grins!
The short back end means popping the front end up is a breeze, with an easy-to-find and predictable balance point, no matter where you’re sat in the travel. We tried the 438mm chainstay setting too, but would stick with the shorter setting for all but the fastest and most open of tracks.
When it comes to putting down the power, the NS pedals surprisingly well, and even with heavy tubes in the predictable and grippy Maxxis Minions, the bike accelerates with relative ease for a big downhill rig. If you’re not broad shouldered you’ll probably want to cut down the super-wide 800mm bar or change it for something less flat feeling, and the chunky, old-skool BMX style grips won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but these were our only gripes – the Fuzz certainly shows NS’s DH potential.