Words: Gerard Lagana

Photos: Gerard Lagana/Chris Dalziel

Dirt jumping and street riding are the core disciplines of NS Bikes that started in the early 2000s making components and steel frame hardtails. NS has been a recognisable brand amongst the scene for many years with the names of Martin Soderstrom and Sam Pilgrim carrying the brand through their early years on the Dirt Jump (DJ) and Slope Style world stage. NS has evolved with the sport as well as their bikes. From World Cup DH and XC to kids 20” and Cyclocross, NS Bikes offer a ride for nearly everyone.

With alloy DJ frames option still available steel is real on the Metropolis. Depending on your riding scene alloy frames are more common amongst most MTB frame manufactures but when you start diving a little deeper into the DJ scene, steel frames tend to pop up more often than you think. Steel being a much more forgiving product than alloy, its quite fitting for a DJ bike when you frequently have hard, heavy landings.

Initial Impressions

Picking up the Metropolis for the first time I was reminded steel does weigh a little more than an alloy frame.  Early NS frames that I have ridden were quite short to make it easy to pump those tight skate park transitions but with the Metropolis feeling like a more modern DJ bike I was excited to go for a roll. I’m on the slightly taller side and having 61mm rise handle bars was fitting to not be slouched over the front end.

Up front is a Manitou Circus Expert fork which was a nice surprise after seeing a lot of frames coming with the Circus Comp which have zero adjustment for spring rate. If you have spent any time around dirt jumps or pump tracks you will pick up riding a stiffer fork is a quick bonus for efficiency and to generate that little extra speed. The little rubber NS bands around the hubs are a nice funny tribute to back in the day, keep your hubs looking fresh. The Metropolis rolls on 26” wheels, keeping it OG!

The frame is welded with 4130 chromoly steel with an intergrated head set and a threaded bottom bracket which is very mountain bike friendly, especially when paired with Race Face Aeffect cranks. NS being a component manufacturer it would only be fitting that this bike has NS components along with their sister brand Octane One (supplying the hubs, seat post and saddle combo). I enjoyed seeing a 6mm hex on the through axle, so it wasn't for a spanner only.

Chromo frames are always nice to look at being much skinnier tubing then alloy frames giving it a more simple feel. NS have finished off the frame with a nice glittery blue paint job which pops in the sun or under lights. Two brakes are a legal requirement for bicycle sales, hence the mechanical front brake, which was taken off right after photos. The trend of the sport is to remove the front brake, so there is one less cable to deal with if you’re into your bar spins or tail whips.

The only changes for our test bike was putting on metal pedals and I swapped out the Kenda Small Block 8 tyres for some Maxxis DTH tyres. Testing mostly on an asphalt pump track, small knobby tyres can be a little bit of a risk with not as much tyre contact for grip around the berms.

Tester: Gerard Lagana

Riding Experience: Riding and casually racing bikes

Generally Rides: SC V10, SC Bronson, Specialized P3

Height: 185cm

Weight: 67kg

Bike Test Track: Darra Pump Track Brisbane QLD

On The Pump track

After a few warm up laps getting use to my new balance point and braking capabilities of the new whip, with speed and confidence building I was starting to manual rollers and popping some of the jumps. My first couple of laps at the pump track was a comforting feeling that nothing felt foreign.

Our pump track testing ground is quite different to your standard little pump track lap. It’s very close to the size of a BMX track. You can still pump around the whole track with quite a few gaps to be made with quite high speeds into berms which can test the nerves knowing you have hard asphalt under you if anything goes wrong.

26” wheels are so fun! It’s such a refreshing feeling having a smaller wheel under you, as well as being on a smaller bike it makes it so much easier to hone in on your balance or timing skills that will benefit you back on the trails.

I haven't used the SRAM Level brake before and after some bedding in it was considerably powerful enough to save me from looping out from a manual gone wrong. There’s very short and sharp braking at a pump track or dirt jumps. Brakes don’t get a massive work out but the Level brake had a really solid lever feel and confidence about it.

Most the time its a struggle getting the fork firm enough for a pump track or DJ bike. But this was not an issue with the Manitou Circus Expert. It’s a coil fork with air assist, so you can preload the coil with air and make it rock solid if you want.

I feel like a lot of brands have found that sweet spot for frame sizing and geometry these days. Not being super short across the top tube, you have so much more stability once the speeds pick up and you're negotiating high speed jumps and manuals. Still having a short 381mm chain stay means that the rear wheel is right underneath you. So with one big pump over a roller you can feel the speed generate real quick. Having a short rear end means you’re closer to the manual balance point and it makes manualing easier through rollers.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on a steel frame and you always hear that “steel is a smoother ride” but I had yet to experience that benefit. After a couple of weeks riding our pump track I was becoming more comfortable on the bike and starting to throw it around a little more in the air over some of the bigger jumps. Now and then you try to crack a whip a little further and it was clear I was not bringing one back! Bracing myself preparing for that harsh side ways landing jarring up my body, it was surprisingly not as harsh as what I have previously experienced. I'd like to say the steel frame absorbed a lot of those forces. This wasn’t my only side ways landing I must admit riding the Metropolis, but I didn’t have to touch the NS wheels for a retension or true for my time riding this bike.

Our Take

With the current trend of pump tracks being built around the country, a DJ bike is the most basic yet beneficial bike you can own to work on your riding skills, fitness and strength while also having bunch of fun with your friends in my opinion. The NS Metropolis is hard to fault with not many components on a DJ bike to go wrong, the one thing I would change is the gear ratio. It was quite a hard gear, even though you don’t have to pedal much at a pump track or set of dirt jumps, just having a slightly lower gear to generate that initially speed a little easier would be on point.

RRP: $2199

Weight: 12.42kg (with front brake and plastic pedals)

From: ridesports.com.au