In today’s market, we are always looking for a bike to fit our wants and needs. Constant changes brought on by the cycling industry sometimes make it hard to see the forest through the trees and make the right choice. On every group ride I have been on this year, two topics always come up. One is wheel size and the other is all-mountain; this new breed of bike that is capable of doing it all. I cannot speak for you, but I can bet these two topics have joined you for some of your rides as well. I have been most torn with what wheel size to choose. That was until the Opus Nelson 1 27.5”.
Opus Nelson 1 27.5″ details
- Fork: Rock Shox Pike RC, 150 mm 1.5” taper steerer, QR 15
- Shock: Rock Shox Monarch RT high volume 200 X 57 mm
- Shifters – Derailleurs: Shimano XT, E*Thirteen dual guide, Shimano XT rear
- Brakes: Shimano XT, 160/180mm rotors
- Crank: E*thirteen single with guide 32T
- Wheels: E Thirteen TRS 27.5”
- Tires: Maxxis Ardent
- Handlebar: Easton EA70
- Stem: Promax DA-269 60mm
- Saddle: Selle Italia X1
- Seatpost: Easton EA70 Alloy 31,6 X 350 mm
Well, let me begin by putting you inside my head for a minute. My knowledge of Opus was that they are a Canadian company that only makes quality road and XC race bikes. Now Opus is not new to building bikes, but a 27.5 inch Carbon All mountain bike… well that had me on the fence. The nelson was first introduced back in 2010 as a freeride bike but has evolved into the much more capable all-mountain contender I would have the pleasure of testing.
At first glance the Nelson had nice clean lines and was not overly flashy (a good thing). The high modulus carbon frame is burly but just oh-so-light. The bike’s top tube lines up skillfully with the seat stays giving it a very appealing, traditional look. The floating shock is nicely tucked away in the frame beneath the rider yet easy to access. Everything about this bike is stealth. It felt light using the old pick it up test (we all do it), but hey, what does that really mean? For me that meant it was time to throw a leg over it and see just what Opus was up to.
The 150mm travel Nelson 1 27.5″ that we tested comes with a build that really fits the needs of today’s all-mountain/enduro scene. The underside of the down tube has a clever metal protector that covers both frame and cables, shielding them from the shrapnel you’re sure to kick up shredding aboard this all-mountain killer. The rear floating suspension is spec’d with the Rock Shox Monarch RT that took very little tuning to hit a sweet spot. Combined with a Rock Shox Pike in the front you get a perfect balance, I believe ‘Tango’ is what they used to call it. Having travel adjust on the fork would have been a welcome addition. With Shimano XT brakes and rear derailleur you know you will have the power and reliability that you can count on when you are pushing the limits. The E Thirteen TRS cranks have a nice, light but stiff feel. With the E Thirteen TRS wheels you get great acceleration and know they will hold up well when things get rough. One of the major appeals of 27.5” over a 29er is the weight and these carbon TRS wheels feel as light as the best 26” wheels with all the advantages provided by a bigger wheel.
No fears of dropping your chain, as they went with an E Thirteen guide, keeping you on the gas when it counts. The Selle Italia X1 seat gives the Nelson 1 that nice sleek race look and feel that goes with the rest of the build. Opus found a way to put it all together on a sleek carbon frame. One thing this build was missing for me was a dropper post, but not everyone is a dropper fan.
Once on the bike, I was taken by how it fit me. I usually take some time to get used to how a bike feels, but the Nelson 1 was an instant match. They nailed the numbers and I never second guessed the head or seat angle, climbing or descending. The top tube was roomy and I didn’t feel chocked. After a few cutties, wheelies, and manuals, it was clear that this thing wanted to get moving.
With it being fall here now, the trails are heavily littered with a blanket of slippery leaves. I knew this was going to be fun. As I made my way into the trails I knew that to give it a true test, I needed to take it on my favorite trails/Strava segments and see how it stacked up with my best rides. As I climbed to the top, the Nelson 1 took it with ease, now it’s no XC race climber, but it sure did not feel like I was on an all-mountain bike.
The floating suspension is efficient and didn’t rob me of power or require excessive repositioning to have a comfortable climb up. Once at the top, it was go time. I built up as much speed as I could going into the first downhill. It’s a flat right hand turn into a long washed out rooty left, with little room for error. Speeds in this corner can be as high as 50km/h and the Nelson 1 just floated down, not once breaking loose from its line. Cornering this bike had an inline feel with my feet, as if the harder I pushed my heels into the ground the more the bike dug in, like carving.
I was running over 40psi so I was not expecting to get as much traction as I did. The Maxxis Ardents complimented the bike, offering great traction and low rolling resistance. I found this bike to be EXTREMLY stable at high speeds on rough terrain and did not feel the need to death grip the bars. After completing a few rides it was clear, I was only seconds off my best times, which I have not been able to come close to in a while. While it was never front and center in my mind that I was aboard a 27.5” bike, the performance was.
Opus was not even on my radar as an all-mountain bike candidate but my time aboard the Nelson has changed that perception. I was very impressed. The Nelson is now high on my list of all-mountain title holders. With the Nelson 1, Opus delivers a 27.5″ bike, with all of the benefits provided by a lager wheel size, which still fits rides and handles like a 26″ bike. The Nelson series is comprised of three models, with the entry level Nelson 3 listed at a very affordable $3,645.00. The decked out Nelson 1 we tested has an MSRP of $5,175, which is very, very competitive in the carbon 27.5” all-mountain category.
This bike is for someone who wants to be able to do it all and have a blast doing it. The Nelson would make a perfect Enduro race rig and, in most cases, a DH rig in Ontario. This bike can climb and does not sacrifice its ability to handle when the speed gets turned up. With the Nelson, Opus has made it clear that 26″ is a thing of the past. If you are looking for an all-mountain bike, Opus has made its mark with the Nelson. With me being on the fence before, the Nelson proved me wrong; you should never underestimate a Canadian company with a solid track record. Opus has shown they are pushing their limit’s which will allow you to push yours.