The NS Eccentric ticks all the hardcore hardtail-boxes. Steel frame? Yup, butted Tange 4130 steel. Big fork up front? 140mm of air sprung X-Fusion Sweep R. Dirt jump inspired roots? Very much so. NS is better known for bikes made for hardcore airtime, but it’s been branching out into more versatile fare.
Frame and equipment: more modern than meets the eye
The smart two-tone paint job and clean, classic lines shouldn’t detract from the fact the Eccentric is bang up to date in every other regard. There’s a 142x12mm thru-axle rear end to keep things still at the back, chainguide mounts and a 44mm head tube up front capable of housing any fork steerer standard you like.
In this complete build – the bike is also available as a frame-only for £450 – you get a reasonable spec, with a lot of own brand but decent quality NS finishing kit and SRAM X5/7 drivetrain with a bashguard-equipped double up front. It’s not going to trouble the likes of Canyon for value, but it’s all effective, hardworking equipment, right down the Maxxis Ardent 2.35in tyres on sturdy rims.
The steel frame offers plenty of natural damping when surfaces get rougher
Ride and handling: textbook thrills
The ride is definitely straight out of the old style playbook, with snappy 420mm chainstays and very chuckable feel that’ll have you hopping, popping and generally snapping at the heels of the trail like an excited terrier. Give it some effort through rough ground and it’ll bludgeon its way through, the steel frame’s natural damping helping to mute harshness.
The damping in the X-Fusion fork can get a little overwhelmed at times and there’s more flex than you’d expect despite the 34mm legs and 15mm thru-axle, but by the time you’ve pushed the bike that far you’ll be locked into a white knuckle death grip on the bars anyway.
A more pressing issue is that cornering stability is hindered by the tall front end; a big fork, the biggish wheel and high rise bars aren’t helped by the annoying headset spacer/top cap that lifts it all up even higher. That means that when things go upwards, the front has a tendency to hunt and wander about. The steep seat angle makes it feel slightly shorter in the toptube than it is too, so climbing is definitely about settling in for the duration.
The overall geometry is reasonably conservative with a 67.5-degree head angle, and it feels like it’s more about fun rather than giving you the stretched out, up-and-down-hill attacking position of bikes such as Whyte’s super-slack, long and low 901. That’s kind of the charm though.