My Internship at Nicolai Engineering

Jun 10, 2011 at 9:24
by Michael S.  

During March of this year I was lucky enough to attend a four week internship at Nicolai in the village of Luebbrechtsen, Germany. I am a 24 year old student of mechanical engineering at the Beuth technical college, Berlin. My application, sent per mail, was accepted quickly, which surprised me, knowing this can take months. My luck did not subside, either.

Eager as I was to head out to Nicolai, I was annoyed at the fact of having to carry my luggage, a bike including gear, and camera equipment all day on my 300 kilometre journey. I checked the internet for alternatives to trains, and found a very nice driver offering a ride to Paderborn. The place where I stayed, Brueggen, was on the way, and I thought he could drop me off somewhere nearby. On the day of my departure it turns out I would actually be chauffeured all the way to the front door of my temporary new home. It was a nice place, and as luck would have it, I even met another intern there, who had already been there for two weeks.

The first morning I was eager to get to Nicolai, and my "roommate" showed me the best way to Luebbrechtsen. If it hadn't been for him, I probably would have just passed it, at first glance the place they have is just another farmstead. In fact, I was told many other new interns pass through the town of about 40 inhabitants unknowingly, only to notice, at the end of town, that they had missed the place.

On my first day, I had about 25 new names to remember, which I didn't quit manage. The work I got to do during my internship varied greatly: from washing parts, deburring, changing parts in one of the many machining centers, abrasive blasting, to aiding repair work on an older lathe, getting to know SolidWorks (we use Inventor at school), even working on an assembly group with two others. It was definitely rewarding to get to go through pretty much everything an engineer has contact with during an engineering process.

I got to know lots of bright people during my internship, whom I hopefully get to see more than once in my life. It was an experience I wouldn't want to have missed. I would like to thank Kalle Nicolai and his footmen (oops, employees) for the great time, and hopefully there'll be more memorable moments in the future!


Kalle Nicolai gave me permission to film there, so here's a little impression of what I did during my internship:

Views: 11,467    Faves: 29    Comments: 1



Again, I want to thank these guys loads! Spread the love for custom engineering and true manufacturing!

I also shot a few photos, sorry I'm no professional photographer..

Arrrrr..
In case you love raw aluminium, you'll obviously be more than satisfied.
These things are everywhere at Nicolai even on the bathroom
These things are all over the place, literally everywhere!
Milled parts anyone
Milled aluminium *love
Big respect for these guys
Seriously competent welders here!
Things stay drrty in a real shop At least the windows..
When working hard windows stay drrty..
Which model would you like
Where the magic is at!
Life in br ggen for children.
Life in Brueggen
Must Read This Week






43 Comments

  • + 8
 Welcome to the internship crew! I have done 2 internships there as an Industrial designer. They may have said about a crazy English guy :-) LOL

Great place to work
  • + 2
 Thats pretty awesome. I wonder how many other Industrial Designers/Engineers we have here on PB!?
  • + 3
 Great! I did my internship over there aswell. And now i'm a proud owner of one of their bikes! Amazing company!
  • + 5
 im a big nicolai fan..nice to see they are looking after the young engineers out there. nicolai`s quality is second to none. the welding has to bee seen to appreciate how good the guys are at thier job. quality trough and through.
  • + 2
 The best bike I've ever owned. Looks amazing, rides amazing and the welds are possibly the prettiest things I've ever seen. I heard somewhere that no matter your welding experiance Heir Nicolai wont let you work on the bike till you've had a years training. Says it all really. Form and function all in one!!!
  • + 7
 German Workmenship ^^
  • + 6
 germans mae great cars and why the hell not great bikes!?
  • + 5
 @kmart14: You're totally right. There're so many good engineers in Germany, but nobody manages to put together a good, modern bike for a reasonable price. I'm not a fan of Nicolai at all, I think they waste their potential, their welds may be good, but I've seen lots of bikes from Taiwan whose welds were just as good. The suspension design on their bikes is from the last century, they look all the same, are quite on the heavy side, and are waaaaaay too expensive. Ok, they came out with the G-boxx, but this thing is damn heavy and ugly. All modern bike companies try to improve their bikes all the time, and come out with new gadges, like a low center of gravity, inner cable routing, new materials, new geometry, better suspension design and and and. I can't find anything like that on a Nicolai.
  • + 2
 Last I checked FSR's and single pivots were still racking up wins at WC levels. Your point = just an uneducated opinion.
  • - 4
flag NSGreg (Jun 29, 2011 at 7:58) (Below Threshold)
 Suspension systems are just one point of my criticism. Your argument is invalid. Nicolai isn't even using a Horst Link system. I'm not against single pivots, they can be great, if designed intelligent. The TR450 is using a single pivot, which has the benefit of allowing the guys from Transition to lower the center of gravity of the bike by putting the shock so low down in the frame. I don't think that anyone at Nicolai ever had that thought.
  • + 8
 All points of your 'criticism' are invalid.

1) Price: you have no idea of economics in manufacturing. Try 8 years in manufacturing then get back to me.
2) Design: you clearly have no idea of how suspension systems work, if you’re calling them ‘old’ and outdated (when the same systems are tweaked, and still winning to this day)
3) All Nicolai models feature up to date geometry. 62deg head angle? If you want it.
4) Apperance is subjective
5) They have some very light frames, and most are bang on to what the current market holds.
6) As a engineering professional working in aerospace and defence, I can see the beauty in their builds. Why can’t you? Oh... 19 years old with no experience other than how to work a keyboard. Right.
7) They use horst link on most of their bikes. You're obviously an idiot.

From another post of yours:
“The first thing I saw, was the Nicolai-Sign on the headtube.... I don't actually like these bikes”
So you obviously have an unfounded hate-on for the bikes. That’s fine. We all have opinions. But it doesn’t mean you have a valid point. Because you don’t.
  • + 1
 don't they do full custom as well? I used to pretend my Covert was a Helius $ometime$! on aesthetics, I dig the straight lines in their designs over the current "swoopy looks like a trek" trend. maybe because i grew up bmxican.
  • + 0
 1) Yeah, but why are they way more expensive than other manufacturers? And you pay extra for everything.
2) As I said, I'm not against Single Pivots, FSR or whatever, just read my upper post
3)Yeah, but it costs even more. If I call..... e.g. Cove and give them enough money they'll probably also do that Wink
4)Yes
5)A friend of mine has an Ion that actually weighs under 17kg. With FR tires, Boxxer WC, no bash and only super light parts. Another friend has a Legend MKII wich also weighs under 17kg. With Boxxer Team, Minions DH tires, bash, normal parts. And the Legend is not a super light frame
6)look at your own #4). I'm studying mechanical engineering.
7)Oh, sorry, I can't remember saying anything opposite. Now you're getting personal. So that makes you an Idiot. Is it possibel that you're taking that way to serious?

Yeah, I don't like them. And I explained to you why. I'm not a Nicolai hater, I have 3 friends that only own Nicolai bikes and I accept that.
I'm out. It's always the same, I don't understand these Nicolai fanatics. If you ever say anything against Nicolai they just freak out.
  • + 1
 @NsGreg They do use a horst link see any bike in the Helius range all Horst.
So you know a guy with a light nicoali but still choose to say they are heavy?

So it's less of a freak out man more of emmm your facts are wrong and you pretty much admitted it in you last post.

save up some money and buy one you know you want to!
  • + 2
 You: "Nicolai isn't even using a Horst Link system"
Me: "They use Horst link"
You: "I can't remember saying anything opposite."

Steps to being Greg:
1) Open mouth.
2) Insert foot.

Rather than wate my time on you with the details, I'll let your professors start correcting your shoddy, flawed analysis. Hopefully starting with costs of custom roller bearing systems vs off the shelf ball bearings and the dynamic analysis that comes with it. I wish you all the best with that Degree. If you pull it off you'll start thinking more like me, and less like a freshman with no experience.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: Okay, sorry, my fault, I was to focused on the Ion. It's in the middle of the night here and I just messed up, what I wanted to say.
I'm way too tired to comment the rest of that stuff, you're way to personal and arrogant and I won't ever talk about nicolai, because every nicolai rider I know just freaks out. To some poor people these bikes seem to be more addicting than meth.
@stooky: You don't want to understand my argument, do you? Just because Nicolais can be light if you just leave out half of the parts or use xc-parts, it doesn't mean the frames are light.

The only thing I wanted to say, was that I don't understand the hype they make about Nicolai. But you don't want to understand that, ignore all my points and get insulting. I'm sorry for saying Nicolai does not use a horst-link, but you guys behave really childish and try to impute childishness to me. Good Night.
  • + 1
 @NsGreg.
2009.nicolai.net/manuals/manuals/11-Fig_Horstlink_09.pdf

I haven't gone all mental or childish just debating the point you raised. Which in the most part are wrong.

I do feel your first post was way off the mark which is why some people went a little over the top... nicolai do push their bikes forward G-boxx as you said, just cause it's ugly and mark ones are heavy doesn't mean it isn't a step forward. The Helius AFR is a big change from the FR and it has a lower BB height slacker angles everything you asked for......
  • + 2
 NS Greg you are talking rubbish. Nicolai have incorporated continual development in their designs over the years resulting in better and lighter frames. Considering the quality, Nicolai prices compare very well with other high end manufacturers like Intense and Knolly. I believe that you will see the next generation of horst link designs (Ion) with lower CG compared to the Helius range. They are one of the very few bike companies that actually make practically everything in-house and it is therefore possible for them to custom build a frame. How many bike manufacturers can do that?
  • + 2
 @atrokz

Guys, please.. flame me if you will.

Yes Greg has said some silly things, but he's also made a lot of valid points. You're all taking it like a personal attack when it really isn't. It's merely a young mind interpreting things as he will. If it wasn't for minds like this, you wouldn't see any new designs or engineering. Always question. Never accept.

I'll also add, Greg is German, he speaks two languages fluently. So he clearly isn't an idiot. He's also mature enough to know when he's wrong about something and call it. Instead of taking it personally, perhaps try to correct his mistakes and help him on his way. Blatant fanboyism.
  • + 1
 Yes, he's probably not the village idiot. I'll agree with that. But a 'young mind' should probably get facts straight before absolutely bashing a company with not much to stand on. It's one thing to dislike something (I dislike mushrooms, for instance), but another to make a bunch of claims that are simply untrue (I don't say mushrooms are made of inferior carbon, weight too much, and make you fat) and then argue it. When you open that can of worms and start slandering based on nothing but personal preference, you're open to being flamed. I'm only required to be nice to my mother and my girl, and I certainly don't get paid to be nice. I get paid to get things right. Could I have been nicer? Maybe. Will Greg pay more attention when summing up an opinion. I hope so.
  • + 2
 Amen to using Inventor in school, its annoying doing some freelance stuff during the summer that the industry standard is Solidworks and they're teaching us Autodesk in school :/
  • + 2
 I'm also studying mechanical engineering (finishing second year)... wish I had here in Israel some bike industry \=
thanks for the inspiration though Smile
  • + 6
 @Reubensh: There you go, give your life a new sence. Open your own Bike Factory. This will be a good counterpart against the arm industry.
  • + 3
 Hell yea! good idea haha..

actually, i was thinking more like just moving to Canada or something. but who knows.. everything is possible,
and would be cool to have here a bike factory owned by me. Smile
  • + 3
 haha when you said arm industry i pictured a blooming network of prosthetic arm factories
  • + 1
 hahaha! i was also wondering what is arm industry. thought it has something to do with army, so googled it to make sure.
  • + 1
 Awesome bikes. Have had 5 so far, and rank them as second to nothing when it comes to quality of manufacture. Best built frames on the planet, bar none.
  • + 2
 I'd love so much to have a Nicolai...


... Oh wait, there's one, in my garage! Razz
  • + 4
 niceSmile cool music too
  • + 1
 Thanks alot for this article. It confirmed my opinion that Nicolai was the right choice. I will start my bachelor thesis there at autnum this year Smile
  • + 1
 Nice, have fun!
  • + 3
 Nice insite, nice vid, more of this please PB.
  • + 1
 "Milled aluminium *love"....those should be cut from an extrusion, save mucho $$$$
  • + 1
 Gutted, my internship was with Bosch and on ABS units! Made slightly better being in Charleston SC!!
  • + 1
 The same, I did an internship during 4month at Nicolai. Very good place to work, guys are all very friendly!!!
  • + 1
 I love the fact that they are doing all this in what looks like an old farm. A bike factory with character. Very nice.
  • + 2
 wow Nicolai's got me impressed
  • + 1
 here are some nice videos of the process (cnc, welding...) in the Nicolai factory:
vimeo.com/whyex/videos/sort:oldest
  • + 2
 EPIC!
  • + 1
 Fantastic! Thanks for sharing
  • + 1
 Thanks for the feedback!!
  • + 1
 cool you had the chance to see all of this
  • + 1
 Very nice

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