Nico Lau's Cube Stereo - Crankworx Rotorua

Mar 26, 2015
by Mike Levy  
Nico Lau bike check.

Nico Lau's Cube Stereo Race Bike

Nico Lau is a man who isn't afraid to do things a bit differently, as the setup of his 160mm travel Cube proves. While the majority of us, and likely a lot of the EWS field, would build a 160mm travel bike up in a predictable way - picture a fork with similar travel, probably a single chain ring and chain guide combo, and a relatively low handlebar position - Nico tends to, ahem, think a bit more outside the box. This approach even applies to his suspension setup (more on that later), and it results in a pretty unique riding bike, as I got to discover at last year's EWS race in Whistler.


FOX Suspension

Lau's suspension setup for the first race of the 2015 EWS season mirrors what he rode for much of 2014, with one exception: his custom tuned Float X is equipped with the new EVOL air can that we've seen on other FOX sponsored athletes at the Rotorua race. This is the large-volume air can that provides a more linear feel and requires higher pressures, and Lau explained to us that he prefers the more consistent feel through the stroke that it provides - he's referring to a more linear spring rate that doesn't ramp up drastically in the later stages of its stroke. If his spring rate and rebound settings are anything like what it was when I rode his bike last year, there's a good chance that most of us would find it surprisingly soft and quick to return.
Nico Lau bike check.
Lau's Float X uses a large volume air can, and he can firm it up via the CTD remote on his handlebar.

Yes, this makes for an odd feeling on flat ground, but the bike turns into serious animal on steep or fast trails because the soft rear end helps to both keep the back end low and the head angle a bit slacker than it would be if he was running a more traditional setup. As always, he uses a remote to control the shock's CTD function when on the move.

His 180mm travel FOX 36 has 20mm over what most of his competition is running, further helping matters when the things get serious. It's worth noting that the 180mm FOX has a pretty respectable axle-to-crown height that doesn't slow the bike's handling as much as one might assume, although 'balance' might not be a word in Nico's vocabulary - the fork was much firmer than the other end of the bike in Whistler. It's an unconventional setup, but it's also one that he uses to go very, very fast, and he's often regarded as one of the quickest downhillers on the EWS circuit. Maybe we should all be having a go at a setup from left field?


Nico Lau bike check.
More batteries: Lau is using Shimano's Di2 drivetrain and two chain rings... but not a front shifter.
Nico Lau bike check.
The Di2 front derailleur has been programmed to shift all on its own.



Shimano XTR Di2 Drivetrain

We showed you Justin Leov's Di2 equipped Remedy yesterday, but he's not the only guy with batteries bolted to his bike. Lau is another racer with Shimano's top tier off-road drivetrain, but, unlike Leov, Nico is running two chain rings... but still only using a single shifter on the right hand side. His Di2 has been programmed to shift between the small and large chain rings all on its own, which is pretty damn cool, and it means that his cluttered cockpit setup from last season is a little bit cleaner this year. That said, there's still both the D.O.S.S and CTD remotes, both with two levers each, beside his left grip. This setup, with 36 and 28 tooth 'rings, lets him save his legs for when it really counts, and he said that we really likes the gearing range that it provides. In fact, he wants to go even higher on the top end by using a 38 tooth 'ring as soon as he can get his French paws on one. He's also running a small chain tensioning device zip-tied to the bike's chain stay, but not the milled down XTR large chain ring that we saw him employ as a guard last season. He told us that his chain retention has been ''perfect'' so far, and he's clearly confident in it if he's rocking it at an EWS race.

Nico Lau bike check.
There's no shifter on the left side, but there's still things to do: the D.O.S.S. remote is on the bottom, while the CTD remote is up top.
Nico Lau bike check.
The Di2 shifter has the right side looking pretty clean.



Nico's handlebar looks to be higher than the average nineteen year old visiting Amsterdam for the first time, but while the positioning is certainly tall, it's not as drastic as it might look. Those spacers and the tall, conical cap of the FSA headset look odd, but keep in mind that the Cube's head tube is a bit shorter than what's used on many other bikes, so some compensating must be done. Lau is also aiming to create a cockpit that resembles a downhill bike, which isn't out of line given that an EWS event is basically a handful of downhill races that you have to pedal to the top of. The bike's 180mm travel fork, combined with the two tall headset spacers under his stem, gives him the DH bike-esque front end that he feels allows him to push hard when things get hectic.

His Di2 drivetrain makes it obvious that Lau isn't afraid of batteries or technology, and he's mounted up a GPS unit to keep track of his progress throughout the day. Also, the Di2's computer head is tucked up behind his handlebar and right up against the stem in order to protect it if things go south at speed.
Nico Lau bike check.
Plenty of spacers, and also plenty of room to tinker with different handlebar heights as he sees fit, especially if he decides to use a 160mm travel fork instead of the 180mm model shown here - he can keep the handlebar height consistent regardless.



49 Comments

  • + 111
 "Nico's handlebar looks to be higher than the average tourist visiting Amsterdam for the first time"
Pinkbike, you are perfect
  • + 26
 And by pink bike you mean Mike Levy, seeing as how's they're his words.
  • + 4
 and it's so true. PB you killed it
  • + 10
 that front ring change is very clever, wonder if its fit and forget though. Han Solo had more problems with his hyperdrive!!
  • + 11
 wtf?
  • + 1
 @klerric
once the mapping has been done, it does not require any maintenance apart from the usual cleaning.
  • + 1
 By ek that's an impressive bit of kit.....you fitted one yet @hampsteadbandit
  • + 1
 @klerric

not seen any MTB Di2 through the workshop yet

but plenty of Road Di2 for repair, diagnostics and custom builds / upgrades

ep1.pinkbike.org/p6pb12026513/p5pb12026513.jpg
  • + 4
 Surely not a production Nobby Nic on the rear? Whilst the tread could suit an Enduro rear, those on sale surely have a carcass far too light/thin/vulnerable to survive EWS. Despite no 'Prototype' or 'First Ride' lettering that I can see, it does seem to lack the production versions' 3 or 4 product-type logos for DD/SS carcass, TLE tubeless easy, PS compound etc.
  • + 2
 There is no reason why should't it be a production one, I am sure his head is able to factor it in into the line choice and riding technique, if he only decides that such twist in the game is worth the play. Martin Maes rode Conti MKings II in finale ligure. I personally would screw them up even riding as slow as I tend to do. Those guys do ram into stuff harder and faster than "WE" do, but they are also better at avoiding trouble, because they have more experience with screwing up and surviving stuff Wink
  • + 2
 Looks like procore to me (the valve!)?
  • + 1
 Its the New generation of Nobby Nic, new size and casing options, they reviewed them here last fall.

www.pinkbike.com/news/schwalbe-2015-nobby-nic-review.html
  • + 1
 Procore can be fitted to any tyre on a rim that is wide enough
  • + 1
 1 tyRE And another tyre, 2 tyres? one tyre over another tyr?
  • + 4
 Hey @Mutly , the tire he is running is a production Nobby Nic wit TSC and SnakeSkin Carcass in 27.5". Nico also has a Firstride version (prototype) he can run which has a slightly stronger carcass, but this would add a bit of weight, so Nico might go for the light version as you can buy it in shops. Our prototypes are visible due to the Firstride label as on front of his bike.

Procore is mounted f+r.
  • + 4
 Hello @Schwalbe! If I may take this occasion to ask you a question that I never got answered via email (I sent several, with no reply): do Rocket Ron and Nobby Nic in Snake skin version share the same carcass as Rock Razor, Magic Mary and Hans Dampf Evo SS? I have experience on both RoRo and NoNic to get their knobbs torn out under hard braking- will the same happen with RoRa and MaMa? Or fo they have a bit more rubber above treads? I ask because everytime it happens it results in hard to fix puncture that no amount of sealant can seal.

/Wacek
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns - I`m sorry to hear that. Did you emailed us to the HQ in Germany / info@schwalbe.com? Usually we answer EVERY mail within 48h on workdays. However, if you have a question always feel free so send us a mail or write us a message on facebook.

The carcass does not have an influence on the mentioned torn-out knobs. This can only be the compound. We`ve seen this with the old TSC but these tires were produced till late 2013. The new TSC performance is far better than this. Every tire with the new 2015-labels (such as Nico is riding it on the rear) should fully satisfy you.

Since RoRo is only available in PSC, I would need this tire here to have a look at it, it`s really hard to judge with no see. Maybe you can send us a mail, pm, message on facebook, postcard or just call us and we will see what we can do for you.
  • + 2
 Thank you very much I will try to call you. Just wanted to say that despite those tiny durability issues I remain a huge fan of your products due to fantastic combination of grippy, mud shedding tread patterns, balanced compounds all inwell rolling package at incredible weight. Also great price if bought from bike components de. All that for aggressive XC/ trail riding I do for most of the time on bike! I don't know how you squeezed out so much uphill grip out of those tiny knobbs of Rock Razor bit I am amazed! I am very excited to try Procore.

Cheers, kerp up the good work, always a fan of your stuff Big Grin
  • + 1
 I just put my hands on latest Nobby Nic 2015 yesterday - it looks burlier than previous one and offers more grip. It is not Magic Mary or Minion but it's grippier than the previous one and lets go in a bit more predictable manner. It is much better on the rear. It still hooks up nicely on uphills. It feels slower on fireroad and on asphalt but who cares about that? I will have to ride it side by side to Hans Dampf because it seems that this tyre just became obsolete... it feels a lot like HD so on front it is just ok in wet Euro conditions.

@Schwalbe, if you ever think of replacing HD look at Spec Butcher Control - it rolls relatively well, is light and sidewalls hold up. It feels like a Minion or MMary that's been to hairdresser and got a slight cut. Your side knobbs from RoRa or MaMary would turn it into a beast. Otherwise any chance to get Rock Razor with Nobby Nic center knobbs, for those who roll on slower trails but are cornering hedonists? Big Grin
  • + 1
 Hans Dampfs are significantly heavier than 2015 Nobby Nics so, I assume, resist damage/slits/punctures more and so occupy a different slot in the durability ladder, for example, a rung underneath Schwalbe Special Gravity (tough 'Enduro' tyres that I have trusted to withstand fairly extreme rocky terrain - Antur Stiniog, BPW blacks [on rear), Alps, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Molini etc.on a 160mm bike) I can only voice comparisons on the UK conditions I know best. The Nobby Nic15 should be fine for UK XC/and light Trail Centres (where trails/rocks are laid/designed not to have undue puncture hazhards or have hedges shedding thorny cuttings and detritus), as long as inflated sufficiently to discourage excessive pinching. That's why I've bought some. Light weight for not-too-risky duties. Too vulnerable to risk for a rear, especially on a hard-tail, (no Procore assumed) for my general back-country Trail riding, with its haphazard natural hazards - where newbies and weight-weenies on lightweight tyres make a total nuisance of themselves ruining rides for others with totally avoidable puncture quotient.
THANKS Schwalbe for response. I use mainly your tyres. I find it a shame the 2.25" Fat Alberts are dropped, but have bought stock, for my 100mm bike. Nico, helped with ProCore, must factor in line choice - as per WakiComment above - far far more expertly than I. Yes.
  • + 5
 Pfff. I was riding with 40+ mm of spacer way before it was cool. Watch, he'll have a 100mm stem on that thing before the end of the season.
  • + 3
 Sic setup, I dig it, Im lf a different thought, I like to know the Geo, stock and then with the 180mm fork these guys can get custom Geo and have a huge input into prod models, so hell be riding what he wants, but I reckon its slacker lower longer than people think, CS dont look long to me and whats long these days esp on a 27.5" rig, I like the thinking on shock setup, very moto and also tried that on and off for years, alway run my fork harder than shock always, prob no where near as hard as his though, the new shock intrgues me sounds mint. I relate this dude to Fabian Barrel seems hes learned allot from Fabs thought process and not scared to be different and not follow the pack or LBS stuck in 1990 ways, headtubes are way short now, stacks are lower, geo is so different, long front centers people forget all this when it comes to setup, just saying.

Place is off the hook to, rode past while he was stoppped the Schleyer aka(Ritchie Schley) yesterday and so many sic looking bikes and riders, I want to prop all the outside, overseas guys and gals they have all been super freindly out on the trails in Whaka too awesome!
  • + 3
 Id like some info on that tire setup! Nobby Nic in the rear is like bringing a knife to a gunfight, and that First Ride badge on the front has me curious as a cat. Maybe a tamed down version of the Magic Mary? I've never ridden the Hans Dampf but maybe they are adding a new E-specific to the lineup.
  • + 5
 It will be the new Nobby Nic, I've read several short reviews of it and it seems to outclass the old one by a long margin. It's Schwalbe's re-entry of an all-round trail-/enduro-tyre.
  • + 2
 I think he's using the schwalbe procore system... that's why he can ride the nobby without issues
  • + 1
 Hey @somismtb, TYI I`ve just answered the question a bit above.
  • + 5
 It's a *tall* bike!
btw check out Nico's cornering technique on Vital....likely the sickest cornering ever.
  • + 1
 That really gives perspective of the pro's abilities and handling skills!!
  • + 5
 may be sick to watch, but Florian Nicolai at 00:50 is way more effective and clean
  • + 2
 The endo by his team mate is easier on the eye!
  • + 1
 Nico's not showing off. It's a technique he uses (vimeo.com/85522982). And yes his teammate has indeed made a cleaner pass but still it takes a lot of confidence to endo a switchback
  • + 2
 This bike has kind outdated geometry. Very long chainstays but Nico is a Jedi Master Smile
And due to sick paintings this bike looks awesome!!!!
  • + 2
 Such a nice looking bike!

Very happy to see Greg Callaghan riding for Cube this season also. About time get got some decent support! Smile
  • + 2
 Nico's bike is going to be perfect for when the EWS comes to Crested Butte, Colorado. Welcome to climbing at 10,000 ft above sea level. Wheeezeee
  • + 1
 28T x 40T = 0.70 gear ratio or slightly easier than 30T x 42T on a 1 x 11 set up. Obviously he is stupid fit as a EWS athlete but nothing that a normal person could not ride most of the ups with. Interesting choice.
  • + 2
 yeah but 36x11 is waaaay faster than 30x11
  • + 0
 Di2 with a double up front.................. One shifter on 2 rings. ....................... ..............................................................priceless
  • + 1
 The chainguide is the Bionicon c guide ECO, if it's good enough for Nico.....
  • + 1
 Is c guide spotting like Where's Wally for Bionicon geeks?
  • + 2
 I hope he gets them for free. I broke 2 Bionicon C guides before I gave up on throwing $50 towards a dinky chain guide.
  • + 1
 I'd expect he has Schwalbe's Procore which would allow him to run a tyre like the nobby nic?
  • + 1
 New 2.35 Nobby Nic is a pretty decent patterned tyre.
  • + 1
 Looks a little "Ellsworthy", but that don't mean I hate it.
  • + 1
 Anyone who says this is an ugly bike is WRONG.
  • + 1
 Nice setup!
  • + 1
 he need power bank ^^

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.048960
Mobile Version of Website