Field Test Review: 2024 Nicolai Nucleon 16 Supre - The Silent Plow

Oct 16, 2023 at 14:13
by Mike Kazimer  

PINKBIKE FIELD TEST REVIEW

Nicolai Nucleon 16



Words by Mike Kazimer; photography by Tom Richards


The Nicolai Nucleon is one of the wildest looking bikes in this year's Enduro Field Test, and that's saying something considering it's up against the Pole Onni and Unno Burn. If there was ever a bike that looking like it was supposed to be part of a bigger machine, this is the one.

The amount of CNC work and welding that goes into creating one aluminum frame is impressive, and then there's the Lal Supre drivetrain, which tucks the derailleur safely between the seatstay and chainstay. The Nucleon is also available with a more conventional drivetrain, but the terrain in and out of the Whistler Bike Park seemed like the ideal place to test this novel creation.

Nicolai offer the Nucleon in a variety of different configurations – 29” or mixed wheels, 165 or 178mm of travel, powder coated or anodized frame finishes, and in five different frame sizes.

Nucleon 16 Details

• Travel: 165mm / 170mm fork
• Mixed wheels
• 64° head angle
• 78.4° seat angle
• 434mm chainstays
• Reach: 490 (M)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Weight: 39.8 lb / 18 kg
• Price: $11,100 USD as tested / $4,300 for frame and drivetrain
• More info: lalbikes.com/supre-bikes/nicolai-nucleon-16
Our size medium test bike (Yes, medium - I accidentally said it was a large in the above video. Sorry.) arrived with a mixed-wheel setup with 165mm of travel and a 170mm fork. That setup gives it a long reach of 490mm, 445mm chainstays, and a 64-degree head angle.

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The components on our test bike were selected by Cedric Eveleigh, the creator of the Lal drivetrain, which is how it ended up with the ISM PM 2.0 saddle. That part pick alone caused no shortage of lift line comments – it's not a seat that you see on a mountain bike every day. The other components were a bit more typical, and included a RockShox Zeb fork, Fox DHX coil shock, WeAreOne carbon wheels laced to Onyx hubs, TRP DH-Evo brakes, and Race Face Era cranks.

Figuring out the exact price for this build is a little tricky, but if you were to pay full retail for every part it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $11,100 USD. For riders that want to build up their own bike from scratch, the frame and drivetrain can be purchased from Lal for approximately $4,300 USD.




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Climbing

Weighing at nearly 40 pounds, the Nicolai Nucleon is a hefty amalgamation of aluminum tubing, and it doesn't exactly fly up the hill. The weight is one factor in its sluggish climbing performance, and the Onyx hub doesn't really help things either. That hub does have instant engagement, but in the easiest couple gear (where you'll likely be quite often on the Nicolai) the hub has more of a spongy feel due to the way the sprag clutch mechanism functions.

'Precise' isn't a term I'd use for the Nicolai, climbing or descending; it's happiest mowing down whatever is in its path, rather than performing more delicate maneuvers. There's not shortage of traction, though, and as long as you can maintain momentum, and don't need to make any sudden tight turns, it'll suck up just about anything in its way.

The Nucleon may be a lethargic climber, but the seated climbing position is comfortable – the steep seat angle and tall stack create a very upright position that helps to moderate the bike's overall length. The suspension remains fairly calm when seated, but it does start dipping into its travel during out-of-the-saddle efforts. The idler and derailleur pulley both stayed fairly quiet, as long as the chain had been lubed recently. Compared to the Trek Slash, the sound of Nicolai's drivetrain / idler setup isn't nearly as noticeable while climbing.

Overall, this is a bike that's best suited to rides that involve a logging road grind to the top followed by a rowdy descent, rather than something you'd want to take on an all-day, meandering epic.

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Descending

The Nucleon is incredibly quiet, a refreshing change from some of the clattery contraptions out there. There's zero hub noise, chain slap, or cable rattle, which meant there weren't any noises to take away from the Nucleon's incredible ability to mow over anything in its way. The general sentiment was that it felt like the most high pivot of the high pivot bikes – its strong suit is making menacing, jagged rocks feel like little pebbles in the trail.

The downside to all that chunder-smoothing goodness is that it can be a challenge to get the Nucleon off the ground, especially at slower speeds. It did well in the bike park, where there's no shortage of bigger jumps and wide open trails, but it was more of a handful when picking apart tighter, jankier trails. Generating speed by pumping the terrain can be tricky too; it feels like it wants to hunker down and sprawl out rather than spring forward like the Ibis HD6 or Unno Burn.

Even with some geometry numbers that appear fairly extreme on paper, the Nucleon does feel well-balanced. It's a big bike, but it didn't feel overly difficult to manage, at least on the terrain it was designed for. One part of the frame design that stuck out (literally) was the seatstay – some testers mentioned occasionally hitting their heels and ankles on that wider part of the frame.


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Technical Report

Lal Supre Drive: The Lal drivetrain isn't like anything else out there, and it's great to see a small upstart company come up with a unique solution to the decades-old problem of derailleurs that dangle beneath a frame. The fact that it requires a high-pivot suspension design along with a damper hidden in the downtube are two points that'll hinder widespread acceptance, but even the fact that you can actually purchase a bike with this drivetrain is impressive.

As for the actual shifting performance, it reminded me of a regular Shimano drivetrain, likely due in part to the use of a Shimano shifter. It works well, but it's not mind-blowingly fast, or able to shift under load any better than a standard drivetrain would be.

Realistically, I see the ideal candidate for the Super Drive as being the same type of person who would be considering the Nucleon, someone whose trails look more like scree fields, and who wants a bike that'll smooth everything out while also finishing each ride with an intact drivetrain. The fact that spare parts aren't as easy to obtain as they would be with a SRAM or Shimano drivertrain is something to keep in mind - while the derailleur should theoretically be less prone to damage, if something does happen it'll be a little trickier to find a replacement part.

ISM PM 2.0 saddle: The PM 2.0 is designed for moutain biking, even if it looks like something you'd expect to see on a triathlon bike, and it also happens to resemble Zoidberg from Futurama. There's plenty of padding, and it is comfortable, although there's a fair bit of flex at the back, where the seat isn't supported by the rails. I'm not going to rush out to put it on my personal bike, but it exists out there in the world for riders who struggle with more traditionally shaped seats.

Cable routing: The Nucleon can be set up with thru-headset cable routing, or 3D-printed, stick-on cable guides can be used, as was the case on our test bike. I'll take external routing over thru-headset routing any day, but it would have been nice to see dedicated guides – several of the stick-on ones came unglued, and seemed like an oversight considering the attention to detail that goes into the rest of the frame's construction.





Pros

+ Impressive ability to blast through rough terrain
+ Very, very quiet
+ Drivetrain is tucked out of the way


Cons

- Feels lethargic while climbing and on mellower terrain, heavy
- Lots of moving parts due to unique drivetrain and high pivot design.
- Cable routing seemed like an afterthought.




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The 2023 Enduro Field Test is presented Bluegrass



Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,710 articles

299 Comments
  • 185 2
 Arguably the most interesting bike on test. Glad to see more attempts at real innovation being taken to market. Not sure if it is my thing, the geo looks pretty good, but I do like a lighter bike and being able maintain stuff easily.
  • 16 0
 There is a normal derailleur version ass well, much cheaper also ...
  • 46 149
flag gearbo-x (Oct 25, 2023 at 9:32) (Below Threshold)
 This aint innovation, its a lipstick on a pig. When was the last time someone released a new car with chains and cogs exposed? Not even tractors have those anymore. So why are we still stuck with trying to put bandaid when we can actually put some good effort into enclosing, sealing and isolating all potential debris and elemnts away from moving parts?

Ie. Gearboxes
  • 34 0
 @lkubica: a direct ride comparison between the Lal drive train and the conventional drivetrain versions would be very interesting. See how it affects suspension movement on an identical bike.
  • 24 3
 @gearbo-x: When was the last time new car was released with a drive chain?
  • 23 3
 @gearbo-x: whether it’s a gearbox or otherwise, overall agree.

Any machine used regularly in dirt/sand/mud/water would benefit from a sealed transmission, that’s pretty hard to dispute.
  • 35 1
 The Lal drive train may not be perfect but hey, it's certainly not trying to solve an issue completely made up by the bike industry. It's not everyday you see an innovation from a small start up having real-world benefits over the status-quo.
  • 9 1
 @gearbo-x: this system is more efficent and lightr than a gearbox(unfortunatly the frame does not us the advantages from the drivetrain over a garbox well)
  • 5 0
 If we continue to see so many HP bikes I think that more brands should consider this layout. It looks like the packaging is a little tight, but this just makes sense. Good review, , I'm just curious about the " lots of moving parts due to the unique drivetrain " it could well be that there are fewer parts in this chain tension damper than a typical roller clutch in a derailleur, I'm really unsure about this. Can someone clarify?
  • 20 9
 @gearbo-x: I’d rather hose my bike down after every ride and change a chain once a year than have to deal with an enclosed heavy gearbox system. Nobody likes knocking a derailuer of a rock but worse case scenario you’re £50-150 out of pocket and ten wasted minutes on a the bike stand.
  • 12 0
 @MarcusBrody: when's the last you saw a dirt bike with a driveshaft?
  • 11 0
 @gearbo-x: because we don't turn 100 bhp plus from our legs. Things tend to be more restrictive.
  • 15 0
 @Intensevp: pff speak for yourself. /s
  • 24 0
 @AddisonEverett: The Nicolai race team had the option of riding the conventional drivetrain version or the Supre Drive version. They did a whole bunch of back to back testing and all chose to race on the Supre Drive version due to improved suspension performance and far better chain retention.
  • 1 0
 @aham1203: I am curious why. The only thing that can have influence on suspension is lower chain growth which can be remedied exactly just like in Lal version - with a chain guide. Lal version is probably marginally better but costs 1k EUR more so... For a race team maybe.
  • 25 0
 @uponcripplecreek: The clutches in conventional derailleurs are similar in complexity to our damper, but clutches are far less durable. Derailleurs often get thrown out because the clutch is worn out. One of the benefits of hydraulic damping is that there are no sliding surfaces getting worn out (it works with viscous friction of forcing fluid through a tight passage). And the sealing in our hydraulic damper is very good at this point - there's virtually no leaking, so the system is durable.
  • 16 0
 @lkubica: It's a good question why the Supre Drive improves suspension performance. Two reasons are the reduced lower chain growth like you mentioned and also lower unsprung weight. The Supre Drive aligns the lower section of chain with the main suspension pivot point, so there's very little movement of the tensioner arm caused by suspension motion (this is not the case for many other high pivot bikes). And the Supre derailleur is lighter than conventional derailleurs so there's reduced unsprung weight (and also increased sprung weight, making the bike more stable).
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: I think that lots of other stuff can influence suspension, unsprung weight and friction comes to mind. Maybe not enough to be noticed in this case but who knows. I talking here about lighter shifting bits bolted to the rear end, and friction in the clutch when the suspension pulls on it, which we don't really know about with this new design.
  • 4 8
flag jesse-effing-edwards (Oct 25, 2023 at 12:02) (Below Threshold)
 I'd rather everyone stops all other innovation outside of making a gearbox everyone wants so we can stop it with these Rube Goldberg machines today's bikes are becoming. All those wheels and bearings and it feels lethargic on climbs...nope! I would only ever go to that complex a bike if the difference between it and a more traditional frame was like the difference between full sus from 1999 and one today. If it's not game changing why would you buy it?
  • 1 2
 @cedric-eveleigh: It's true but I my experience (which of course is mine andimited) lower chain growth has unperceivable influence on suspension . Also the dirrerence of say 50g around rear mech compared to 1. 5kg wheel is negliglibe. So I am still not very convinced if the difference can be so visible. Maybe there are other differences, the links driving the shock look different on both versions.
  • 5 2
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Im not sure I would ever want a gear box on my own bikes. don't get me wrong, I understand the benefits of moving more weight to the center and off of the rear wheel when it comes to stability and suspension performance, but I wouldn't say it is all positives and no negatives. Given that a box would only have 1 external gear, the chain forces on the bike would remain the same all the time, which would have to cause a compromise between a naturally firmer platform while climbing and a more open one while descending. Chain growth in each gear can be accounted for with derailleurs and cassettes as we have them now, and used in helping a bike both climb and descend well. If you don't have that anymore you would have to use the damping circuit in the shock exclusively to make the bike firmer. Gear boxes have potential, especially the ones built into ebike motors, but I don't think they will ever wholesale replace derailleurs and cassettes.
  • 5 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: this makes sense, I've been frustrated with the durability of clutches, specially on full suspension bikes where they get more solicited. Not relying on a friction device is just better. I was very impressed when I looked at the drawings of your design when they were released. All the best to you.
  • 4 3
 @AddisonEverett: I think this kinda gets to my point. Existing gearboxes aren't doing the job, but it's hard to believe if there was a concerted effort to solve some of these issues we could move forward without dangling rear mechs and drive trains that are exposed to the elements. I'd take a high pivot with an extra guidewheel and a pinion type set up, as that would be pretty simple in comparison to this. I'm just not interested in a million bearings etc. to solve the derailleure problem when I think there could be a solution to a contained transmission like every other off road vehicle has.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Have you ridden a Zerode with a pinion? I think they do the job better than any other bike I've ridden.
  • 8 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: this concerted effort to solve some of these issues has been going on for hundreds of years. From early crane mechanism, to waterwheel, clocks, every car manufacturers, wind turbine manufacturing, nearly every kind of power generation including aerospace.Everyone is trying to make gears more efficient . Even the tiniest gains are significant. Personally I find it perfectly believable that a concerted effort would not yield a gearbox that rivals the efficiency and weight of derailleur drivetrain. I would be surprised if solutions came from the bicycle industry, because it is comparatively insignificant to other industries.
  • 6 0
 @uponcripplecreek: Meshing gears and driveshafts come come with lots of unavoidable drag. they will never be common on sport mountain bikes. Maybe e bikes, but not ones you pedal.
  • 3 0
 @AddisonEverett: extremely valid point I have not considered regarding gearbox bikes. I am pretty convinced gearboxes will become a ubiquitous part of ebikes and regular bikes will always use a chain drive transmission. the weight and efficiency are impossible to beat unless a totally new gear concept is used.
  • 2 0
 @AddisonEverett: I think you've got it backwards there. Most suspension designs with 1x drivetrains have more antisquat (i.e. a firmer platform) in the harder gears, and are softer in the climbing gears. Having only one rear sprocket helps alleviate this problem.
  • 3 8
flag jesse-effing-edwards (Oct 25, 2023 at 14:52) (Below Threshold)
 @MorganBH: No, I haven't even seen one in real life. I did try out a rohloff, but only in a parking lot and it didn't feel that great. Doesn't seem like an insurmountable task to create some kind of contained drivetrain system that could have low drag and decent shifting, I just don't think it's been a priorty for R&D cause we have good-enough systems that get worn out nice & fast so need lots of replacement parts.
  • 2 1
 @MarcusBrody: technically any with a timing chain.
  • 4 1
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I think you'd better go try one then, before you pontificate with such certainty.
  • 2 6
flag jesse-effing-edwards (Oct 25, 2023 at 16:07) (Below Threshold)
 @MorganBH: Did I say anything about them being great now? Or something along the lines of it would be great to focus on making them great, so we could all enjoy simple drive trains that don't have to be replaced regularly and don't involve many spinning parts exposed to the elements. You think rear mechs dangling off bikes is the absolutely best way we could ever possibly engineer drive trains for off road bikes? That's it, pinnacle achieved.
  • 2 0
 @uponcripplecreek: IIRC in an interview last year, it was stated that the Supre drivetrain basically has the same number of parts as a normal derailleur drivetrain. It just separates the tensioner pulley from the rear derailleur and moves it up behind the chainring.
  • 3 0
 @thenotoriousmic: as a mechanic, I love to hear you hose your bike down frequently
  • 2 3
 @cedric-eveleigh: derailleurs often get thrown out because the clutch is worn? What sort of numbers make up this postulate of yours, because I'd be surprised if it is at all an accurate statement. It's simple to rebuild, repair or replace the clutch in most circumstances.
  • 2 1
 @jesse-effing-edwards: full sus in 1999 included both amazing and terrible designs, so your statement lacks clarity
  • 2 1
 It looks like a overly engineered, complicated POS, that I would only wanna ride DH's on but no more and never want to give it a bike wash either.
  • 1 1
 @MorganBH: That sound kinky AF you freakCop !
lol
  • 2 0
 @lukemech: how do you get to a sram clutch? I guess you can saw the derailleur body in half! I sure lots of mechanics would love to know how you've done it or seen it done.
  • 9 9
 @uponcripplecreek: Sram derailleur? No one actually runs those, do they? They just come on cheaper bikes that people don't custom build, as a placeholder for real components. They aren't meant for actually riding. Next you are going to tell me you ride sram brakes too?
  • 2 3
 @lukemech: whoever's downvoting has zero sense of humor...
  • 3 0
 @lukemech: thats just not true. sram clutches are gone every few months and are not replaceable. only shimano is
  • 1 0
 @aham1203: they have a race team? Hope not in XC =)
  • 1 1
 Another angle: The bike industry is simply shooting itself in the foot with overhyped complex designs that add cost , weight and reliability issues against dubious or slight real world benefits with tradeoffs that don't really balance the cost/complexity/reliability issues.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: Strange Pinkbike moaned about that yet forgot to mention that option?
  • 2 0
 Whole bike is interesting but at that price I would at least expect cable guides to stay put and not have to use zip ties. Sometimes the basics are as much if not more important than the specifics.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: you make a great point about sending the resources to making a gearbox. I’m good with that.
  • 1 0
 @opignonlibre: strange because the Nicolai G1 does not have this problem.
  • 1 0
 @gearbo-x: Do you own a gearbox bike? Since a good selection of brands and models have been readily available for purchse for years if not decades, I assume you have bee riding exclusively gearbox bikes for a while now?

I never understand those pb commenters crying for gearboxes. They are there for you, just put your money where your mouth is and go buy them already.
  • 127 3
 This feels like a genuine innovation, not damped steering, not thru-headset routing. Appreciate the review of such a strange machine, and props to Nicolai for being the first to take the plunge on the Lal Supre Drive.
  • 6 2
 Good damped steering might have a place in DH bikes, but I mean a real damper and not the Canyon system. Having bars that resist being jerked around in high speed rough terrain could be really good for racing. Basically like a fully closed high speed circuit and a fully open low speed. I can see that helping riders track through rough terrain and crash less because of it.
  • 1 0
 @AddisonEverett: Ya you're right, a good damped steering system could certainly be beneficial on DH bikes. Maybe even for Enduro racers, but these are pretty narrow use cases. I perceive this to be more innovative because it addresses a problem we've long sought an answer to, and can be applicable to a wide(ish) group of people. Its still niche and won't work for everyone, but it at least provides a more tangible benefit vs some bs "innovation" like headset routing or 1-piece bar/stem combos.
  • 2 0
 @AddisonEverett: Yep, while pre-riding and training for an upcoming enduro race... toward the end of one of my training stages, I was just f*cking gassed and crashed because while I was trying to maintain speed, I didn't have the remaining stamina to absorb/fight the forces coming back at me through that terrain at that speed. A big hit knocked wheel/handlebars sideways.... if I wasn't as tired as I was, I would have just muscled through it, but in my state, I just couldn't, so the wheel tucked and I crashed. Wasn't too bad, just a good hipper. But I could see how a damper would be useful here.
  • 2 0
 I am excited to see WRPs headset? Mounted steering damper. Was rad seeing his feedback using the WP adjustable one and the difference it made on the DH track
  • 1 1
 Damped steering seems like something relatively simple that could have a very noticeable effect on how a bike rides. This seems like a proprietary repackaging of a standard derailleur. I have no idea why dampers get so much hate, but this is getting so much praise.
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: been there, I was thinking about a crash I had at my last DH race this year, a steering damper could have helped, but first I need to strengthen my chest and arms first haha. I have a video of it. youtube.com/shorts/pYUacb4iSeI?si=sKM72AS7-0AE-yCV
  • 2 0
 Steering damper is absolutely innovations. It’s the idiotic KIS that isn’t. They even had the opportunity to maker it a damper, but no…it’s just for centering. A thing pretty much no one asked for.
  • 1 0
 @AddisonEverett:
  • 63 2
 A common con in these videos is that 160/170 enduro bikes are "not great on flatter rolling terrain," like does that actually need to be said? Maybe I am too far down the rabbit hole of bike nerdery but it seems to me that an enduro bike by definition is for winch and plummet riding at speed. If you want something more nimble for having fun, going slow and doing jumps then get a 130mm trail bike.
  • 16 0
 Riding a 160/150 Sentinel now, and have ridden a 160/160 Relay. Those bikes can be remarkably fun and lively, while still being pretty darn plowable. You're right - full on super enduro bikes are pretty narrowly tailored (your phrase 'winch and plummet' is an apt descriptor for that). When you think back to their enduro field test last year, they made a big point about drawing a line between bikes that were still fit for purpose as an allrounder single bike quiver (like the Fezzari La Sal, despite it's 170/170 travel numbers and slack geo) and those that more narrowly tailored. Not sure it's a con, rather than just what it's meant to do - but given how many folks around here (Bellingham) ride Enduro bikes as their one bike quiver, I think drawing attention to that is good consumer advice.
  • 11 0
 Absolutely love the "winch and plummet"
  • 4 0
 Agreed, but that's an inherent drawback of a smaller rear wheel. All mullets feel noticably slower in flat terrain compared to the corresponding 29er version.
  • 3 0
 This bike sounds more like winch and plow. Which is pretty agricultural for a piece of sporting equipment.
  • 3 0
 Give me a light nimble efficient bike that needs lots of body language to get down an hill over a lethargic barge that eats downhills any day. Unless you crave the adrenaline of pure speed and big jumps, a poppy bike is just more fun.
  • 3 0
 @blackthorne: racing and hitting big jumps is fun
  • 6 0
 Ehh I'm on a 160/170 Rocky Altitude and it's pretty good at carrying speed/pedalling. A big reason I bought it was the Pinkbike review helping me identify it as a more nimble/snappy ride vs the enduro plows out there. Super useful commentary imo.
  • 1 0
 Some 160 bikes work well on the flat for their travel and rip on the downs, they are the ones that set the bar, which is unfortunate for the other ones who can't match that bar.
  • 1 0
 No 160/170mm bike is going to feel like an XC bike, but there can be huge differences in how sprightly they feel on flatter trails.
It's one of the key buying considerations for me actually. I want the "winch" bit to be as painless as possible.
And yes, I have a 120/130mm trail bike as well Razz
  • 2 0
 @chakaping: The difference between a 120mm bike and a 160mm bike on the climbs is mostly down to the choice of components and not the amount of travel. Especially the wheels and tyres.

There is something nice about not riding a plough though and having to be more choice about lines on an XC(ish) 120mm bike.
  • 1 0
 its relative

its good or bad for a bike with of its "class"
  • 1 0
 @betsie: I often use the same wheels and tyres on both.
The difference for me is a combination of suspension being more planted vs. lively and frame & fork being a fair bit heavier.
  • 49 0
 Picked one up recently. It's awesome. As mentioned in the article, not the worlds most efficient climber, but either am I.
ep1.pinkbike.org/p6pb25771986/p6pb25771986.jpg
  • 20 0
 Wow, it looks amazing. Great choice of colors, IMO suit the bike much better than those of the bike tested here.
  • 9 0
 It's an absolute monstrosity, and I kind of love it.
  • 5 0
 great looking rig
  • 2 0
 Very nice!
  • 4 0
 The resemblance to the lovechild of twin legends Nucleon M-Pire and Brooklyn Race Link gives 2004 me raging nostalgia wood. Congrats on an awesome and unique ride.
  • 3 1
 Nice!
But do you really ride uphill with this saddle angle?
  • 2 0
 @effeffeff: Angle? Yes. Height no. I mean how else would I?
  • 3 0
 @fjm35:

Thanks! Yeah it was a real struggle selecting colors. So many options!
  • 1 0
 What's the seat post insertion length?
  • 3 0
 @kd12: I bought a bike from them two years ago. Selecting colors came with a number of sleepless nights…anyways, you did very well!
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: eh not sure it's a good way down there. Could have inserted the entire post but I don't mind where it is. It's a 150mm travel, so where it's at when bottomed is generally how I like it for downhilling
  • 1 0
 @kd12: 150mm post is on the very short side, guess I have to contact Nikolai then.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica:

I bought this frame and put it together. The post isn't from Nicolai.
  • 1 0
 @kd12: yeah, I meant that it is not useful info for me, not hating on anyone
  • 52 1
 Pro: it looks really really cool!
  • 8 0
 The longer I look at it the more I like it. It's such a unique looking thing even if you ignored the craziest part of the bike, rear end. Look at that connecting piece from the top tube to the seat tube, and the little brace between the top and down tube, and the tubes themselves are angular looking...so cool!
  • 28 0
 I've owned 3 Nicolai bikes: Nucleon ST, UFO DS, Ion 18. I can say, without a doubt, that Nicolai makes amazing bikes. I've loved them all, for different reasons. The UFO DS is still (by far) my favorite bike I've ever owned.

That being said, (most) of these bikes are complicated and heavy. You either love or hate the way they look—but few people, after riding one, ever have anything except a smile on their face.
  • 4 0
 i had a ufo ds as well. pretty neat; an aggressive short travel trailbike well ahead of its time.
  • 5 0
 I have owned dozens of bikes, including a half dozen enduro bikes, and my G1 is by far my favorite bike, generally speaking. There are other bikes I still like better for certain things, and other bikes I still want for certain things, but it is far and away the only bike I have owned that just works exactly how it is supposed to, is easy to maintain, and that I actually intend to keep for at least 5 years. (Other than a couple BMX bikes and my Stooge Mk4, but those are really in different categories entirely.)
  • 34 3
 3 "interesting" bikes with new takes in various things and the main takeaway I'm getting is that a "normal" bike is better.
  • 12 0
 I am a pretty bike fan of normal bikes. Normal bikes are sweet. They work and they're light and I can get spare parts for them.

I think it's important to remember though "normal" bikes have been refined for ages and their function maximised. When you make a fresh stab into new territory the first stab is often not very refined.

Imagine a really nice horse and cart vs a really shitty, smelly, noisy combustion engine car that breaks down often and you have to wind it up for ages before it will even start. Can imagine lots of horse and cart owners not seeing what all the fuss is about with the petrol car - that thing sucks.

Modern derailleur designs are pretty flawed, so there is definitely potential for a gearbox or a solution like the above to replace it provide lots of benefits. Not sure if this is the finished product yet though. Interesting concept for sure but probably needs a Shimano or a SRAM to work on it to get it to be really good. Can't imagine that happening any time soon.
  • 1 0
 This one seems like a very good bike for a specific purpose. If your trails are very rocky and natural, e.g. in the high alpine, this could be just the bike.
  • 8 0
 @Ttimer: problem is, if your trails are in the high alpine, you probably have lots of tech climbing to do as well
  • 10 0
 @tom666: i'd argue that modern derailleur designs are extremely well refined - which is why alternative systems have a very difficult time establishing any sort of meaningful foothold. i used to be a gearbox evangelist (back when mech drivetrains WERE shit), but with current hardware (that's lighter / cheaper / more efficient - and i haven't broke a mech in years), the enthusiasm has waned.

that said, i still love to see innovative development like this. impressive what cedric has accomplished so far.
  • 2 3
 @tom666: You're spot on that current "normal" drive trains are highly evolved/refined iterations of a very mature and proven concept with some major inherent flaws. Thing is, the Lal Supre adds a huge amount of complication but addresses only part of those flaws. Yes, they tuck the intricate bits into the protected rear triangle, and if you're the kind of rider who smashes through rock gardens a bunch, that's huge (and a good fit for this bike). But you only have a part of the weight (the derailleur cage, essentially) moved to the center - the stump "derailleur" and the cassette are still hanging on the rear end. As much as I think that gear boxes have so far not come anywhere close to living up to the hyped up hopes people have for them - they seem like a much cleaner solution - especially since much of the mechanical stuff is nicely tucked away inside the box away from grit and grime.
  • 1 0
 from the way you are looking at it, a normal bike is better in the same way a toyota is better than a lotus.
  • 6 1
 @g-42: it does not add a huge amount of complication(it doesnt add anything). it just packages everything different.

also the Lal drive uses many sshimano XT components
  • 4 1
 @mariomtblt: That's not a very good comparison... both bikes are still very high performance so it's more like a Corvette vs a Pagani. Both very high performance, but one offers slightly higher performance in specific areas, is more desirable, niche, expensive and lust worthy, but also more difficult to live with day to day. While the other is cheaper, more bare bones, but offers 90% of the performance of the more expensive more complicated vehicle while being much easier to live with on a daily basis.

The Corolla in this comparison would be a $500 step-through commuter.
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: yeah that works, haha good one.
  • 1 0
 @arrowheadrush: There's quite a few gondolas Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I agree. Some interesting things going on here, I guess, but so much of it seems like a potential headache down the road.
  • 24 0
 This bike has some actually interesting innovation compared to the pole and the unno. This review has left me wanting to at least test ride one, while the unno and pole reviews have not.
  • 19 0
 Such an unbelievably cool frame and it is so refreshing to see actual innovation these days. It's wonderful seeing the Supre Drive make it to production as well. I've been lusting over Nicolai frames for 20 something years and it's not stopping now. Do I need one? Well, yeah, actually, I might...
  • 16 0
 Hi, I'm Max from Nicolai Sales and Customers Support. We are excited and happy to see our bike here.

The tested Nucleon 16 is a custom build done by LAL Bikes. However, the price was calculated based on the regular store prices for all components. We offer the Nucleon 16 Supre in a different high-quality series configuration already for 7999 € / $ 8436. We love the LAL drive but for those of you who are more on the conservative side, the Nucleon 16 is also available with a different rear end as Nucleon 16 UDH for SRAM Transmission derailleurs. And we have already found a better solution for the cable holders that have come loose in the test. If you are interested in getting your own Bump Sucking Silent Plow: The Nucleon 16 Supre is available in Canada and the US through LAL Bikes. Please check out our website for recent photos.

Thank you for your great feedback and constructive criticism and thank you Cedric for getting this done!
  • 4 0
 Great points! Thanks Max.
  • 13 0
 After all these tests, it really just re-affirms for me... give me a $4k horst bike with a basic drivetrain, performance elite suspension and good brakes = 90% (or more) of the performance of these bikes and is much easier to live with day to day.
  • 4 0
 I got a Privateer 161 and it's exactly that.
  • 2 0
 Yeah, these reviews just makes me appreciate my -21 Altitude even more. Such a good bike!
  • 8 0
 I really like this bike! I hope it catches on enough to get a better chance to refine the design. Seem like all of you are a harder on your reviews this time around.
  • 10 0
 All that talk about the seat and no picture of the seat Frown
  • 1 0
 Google ISM saddles and you'll see what they're talking about. It's briefly shown in the video about 2 thirds through
  • 2 0
 Just click the link in the article.
  • 10 4
 Normal sized (Kazimer) people are running big stack heights these days, funny to think when everyone was rocking flat bars and no stack i couldnt understand it, i tested it and found 35-50mm riser bars and stackers always gave a far better ride, especially when running a longer bike.

I like the rear mech position, just makes sense, bike looks sick AF, definitely a pin up!
  • 4 7
 If your bars aren't at least as high as your seat at full extensions, they're probably too low. Common problem on larger sized bikes as stack tends to not grow proportionately with the rest of the frame.
  • 6 0
 @haen: being a lanky twat, I'd genuinely need bars with about 300mm rise to get them same height as my seat at full extension.
  • 3 1
 @bigtim: Brutal but you should go as high as you can. It will transform your bike.
  • 3 0
 @haen: This is actually a really good rule of thumb, I always start my setup from here.
  • 1 0
 @haen:

"If your bars aren't at least as high as your seat at full extensions"

I ended up with 75mm Spank bars for that reason :/ (XL legs at L height).
  • 1 0
 @Beskyd: Well done
  • 2 0
 @haen: already there with big stack of spacers and ludicrous rise bars.
  • 1 0
 @haen: Counterpoint. I'm taller than @bigtim, almost guarantee it. If my bars are anywhere close to the height of my saddle I can't corner, I can't jump, I can't ride steeps. 50-60mm saddle to bar drop is my sweet spot.

I'll always recommend the lowest bar position you can get away with since it puts you in a more dynamic and powerful position on the bike. Higher cockpits limit mobility.
  • 1 0
 @GTscoob: I'm 13 foot, 8 inches tall. Nearly.
  • 2 0
 @bigtim: I'm running an 83mm high rise bar and 40mm of spacers.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/24303728
  • 2 0
 @GTscoob: My experience is the exact opposite. I don't want to be supporting my weight with arms, that is a terribly compromised position as you have very poor bike/body separation. Higher bars allow me to keep more weight in my feet, and I can still load the front of the bike when necessary.

If you're riding a large bike with short chainstays, more weight over the front is required to generate grip. If you have a more balanced front/rear balance, this isn't necessary.
  • 1 0
 @GTscoob: I would say you potentially need a longer bike then, this will in turn require a higher stack/bar height, which on the whole would give you more room to manoeuvre/weight the bike.
How tall are you and big Tim? I’m 6’ 4”.
  • 1 0
 @DG370: I'm just under 6'5". The problem with running alot of spacers under the stem is that yiu are shortening the cockpit space because of the fork angle. The trouble with running really high bars is that you run the risk of changing handling if you aren't careful with the bar roll, it's easy to go too far forwards or backwards, and a degree roll makes a big change forwards or backwards at the grip position. And it's expensive to buy loads of height bars!
  • 1 0
 @bigtim: you’re pretty damn close to me then, I run 475/480 reach on a typical 29er enduro stack height frame (620), 30mm of stackers and 50mm bars, I like my bikes agile/sporty.
Ultimately wether I go shorter or longer on the bike I always run a Ben Cathro grip height of circa 1120.
I get you with the bar roll, but I love riser bars as it enables good height without an overly ‘reachy’ bike, depends what ppl ride and preference but I don’t like being miles behind the front axle what with 63HA!
  • 1 0
 @DG370: 6'9" here riding a custom frame with 535mm reach and 697mm stack. Don't need a longer bike at all, have no problems with maneuverability and bike control. There's a little weight on my hands, a lot on my feet and my style definitely drives the bike through my feet (I'm an old HT/SS guy, light hands heavy feet style always).

If my bars get higher, I end up putting more weight on my hands to drive the bike, they're low enough that I balance most of my weight on my core and legs.
  • 8 0
 I find it hard to belive that the saddle got the most comments on the lift lines...
  • 2 0
 I've heard really good thing about those saddles, but exclusively from triathletes...
  • 35 1
 @AddisonEverett: Just to clarify what he's saying: triathletes would happily sit on a cactus for 24.8 miles if it gave them a measurable time advantage.
  • 8 0
 @donaarblitzen: upwards of 144 miles actually.
  • 8 0
 @AddisonEverett: even a triathlete wouldn't sit on a cactus for that long. Through extensive testing we've found that 24.8 miles is as much as the average tri competitor would site on a cactus for a measurable advantage.
  • 8 2
 All I get from th se last reviews is "Don't buy these bikes if you want have fun". Also the tales of "Weight doesn't matter" sound ever less convincing, according to these reviews and also my idea of mountain biking.
  • 4 0
 The first two bikes, yup. Wasn't even clear what they were trying to be. This one is more "This bike is designed for a very specific kind of fun" - which to me is just fine.
  • 3 2
 @nilswalk: Fair point to this last one. But in my opinion a bike should not exceed 14 kg. I climb a lot to gain my "all mountain" descents, so it can't be a total pain going uphill.
  • 5 0
 @Alexh1983: then this isn’t the bike for you! Nor for me, either. But I still love that it exists and wish I had a use for it Big Grin
  • 3 0
 @Alexh1983: Same, but there are less and less "Trail" bikes out there fulfilling this requirement. Some brands now give you the option to buy a "rolling chassis" but I want the opposite, a non-rolling complete bike - keep your cheap heavy stock wheels and let me decide what to put on as I'll invariably upgrade the wheels first on any bike.
  • 2 0
 @rarerider: same, I ditched my stumpjumper wheels after about two months, they was heavy and stiff, they let down a lot my stumpy.

My xt build with hunt wheels, and rockshox suspensions is perfect for my idea of mountain biking. Done at an honest price and with a good weight.
  • 1 0
 The Nucleon can almost certainly be built a pound our two lighter, which puts it at or below the weight of plenty of the staff rides and enduro racer actual weights
  • 5 0
 I feel like you guys missed out by not having a specific, up close video of how the derailleur and idler wheel move while shifting. Put the bike on a workstand, a camera on a tripod, spins the pedals and shift. I'd really love to see how everything moves in unison.
  • 3 0
 You can see how the derailleur and tensioner arm move while shifting in the video a little ways down in this page: lalbikes.com
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: hi Cedric, thanks for showing up. I have a hard time visualizing the " more moving parts due to unconventional drivetrain " claim in the cons. Seems to me like it should be pretty close, just in different places. Then again I've never taken apart a derailleur clutch. The bike looks very busy, but that's just industrial design decisions. Congratulations on having come this far with this passion project.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: Yeah, saw that already, thanks. Does it shift different under load? Would still like to see an in-studio video, maybe even in slo-mo, of how everything moves.
  • 3 0
 @adrock-whistler: It shifts under load just like a full Shimano 12-speed drivetrain. Shifting under load is determined primarily by the chain and cassette, which are Shimano parts for the current Supre Drive.
  • 7 0
 Really freaking cool bike, and reviews about as expected, but that cable management is a major fail on a $4k+ frame
  • 3 0
 I feel like we have 3 niche bikes in the test but so far none of them really get a good note? I find it hard to even point out it could excell at only anything and that would be their target group.

pole: weird suspension, super stiff, multibike design (dh and enduro) doesn't work
unno: even weirder supsension, frame is utter bollocks (rattling bottle, seat mast)
nicolai: ploughs trough everything, feels lethargic, making thing simple on the same page making things more complicated
  • 3 0
 Well the Part pinkbike forgot to mention is that you can replace the rear with a Standard UDH Setup. This will also be cheaper.
  • 1 2
 the Nicolia is excatly as complicated as a Forbiddn Dreadnought/Druid V1 or a Deviate Claymore,Highlander or the Trek slash or a Norco Range or a devinci spartan..........

But with more sufficent damper and larger cogs(so its a more pourpose build High pivot drivetrain not a more complicated one)

it looks more complicated but it isnt(count the parts)
  • 1 2
 All of this to point out that the Trek Slash Ultimate 12k is the best enduro bike (and cost-effective)
  • 2 0
 For a lot of the trails I like to ride, the Nucleon would be amazing. Steep terrain, where you're mostly breaking to get rid of speed rather than pumping to generate. I think bigger, more muscular people, can get along with a bike like this better too, because it's easier for us to push through the squish. The only problem I see with this bike is the price tag.
  • 4 1
 I'm curious if you tried to order spare parts for the drivetrain to verify if it is actually worse. None of my local shops would have the derailleur I want in stock anyway and it looks like you can order all the parts direct from Nicolai or Lal.
  • 2 1
 My thought as well... sometimes these niche products offer much better support and can get you a part within a week while it'll take SRAM two weeks just to get back to a shop inquiry.
  • 3 0
 Allll that and no cable guides... bummer. Not that I've got $11k to spend on an enduro bike right now, but if I did, I'd have to pass based on this, nobody spending that kind of coin should have tape-on guides that fall off every few rides like some clapped out 20yr old hoopty. I hope Nicolai can get that added as a running change, as I do love the concept of this bike.
  • 3 0
 "BUMP-SUCKER!". Are you listening Transition? We have a name for your next dual crown, 170 mil, gearbox superenduro bike. I had a good laugh at the staff acting like 12 year olds. Pinkbike editors are like my imaginary cool friends who have a pseudo-stable job that is a lot cooler than my job
  • 5 0
 At this point here, all we need to know, is there a Huck to flat video this year?
  • 14 0
 Yes.
  • 6 0
 I'm so ready to see the Supre Drive on a peppier bike.
  • 2 0
 I'd think that on any bike that's not designed to maximize plowing through rock gardens, the main benefit of this drivetrain (getting the fragile bits out of harm's way) is less of a selling point.
  • 13 0
 A peppier bike is in the works!
  • 2 0
 @g-42: I disagree, I've bent or wrecked my derailleur getting too close to large trailside boulders in corners, and in really deep rutted trails, neither of which were high-speed situations or plowing of any capacity.
Stashing the derailleur away so it can't be snagged by obstacles or even just bend when your bike falls over after you have pitched it up poorly with a stick to take a photo is a benefit any time.
  • 3 1
 Looks awesome! The weakness are pretty weak. Sucks at climbing. . .who cares?! It’s an enduro bike! Complicated. . .of course! Cable routing sucks. . .well, that’s true I guess. This seems like an ideal bike for wireless electronic shifting, I wonder why they didn’t go that direction when developing the system? Anyhow, I love it. It eats up the trails, runs silent, and looks beastly! I bet whatever “wins” this enduro bike shoot-out will be the most average, boring bike. Just a hunch, but I feel like the PB dudes favor familiarity when it comes to how a bike rides over innovation.
  • 2 0
 I still don't understand why this drivetrain REQUIRES a high pivot layout. I see how it is working that way now, but it seems tweaking a few things it could be ran on a hardtail or more standard layout. Is this feasible? I feel like it could look so much cleaner and there are alot of reasons a hardtail would be a good candidate for it
  • 2 0
 It needs the space behind the crank for the tensioner to move around. Most bikes have a chainstay and pivot assembly in that area. For sure other designs could be adjusted to accommodate this design and hope we see that. This feels like a good moment for some boutique builders to get involved.
  • 2 0
 This is the ONE actually innovative bike in test. As such, some things work better than others. As it sits, I’d call this a DH bike with a single crown fork bolted on. But……curious to see if the drivetrain becomes more common/lighter/more affordable. Not worrying about cashing out another rear derailleur on narrow rock chutes would be really nice.
  • 2 0
 Nicolai bikes are heavy indeed but those weldings are insane when you see them live. I remember seeing one last summer at the bike park, the frame is like a tank. Geometry is spot on and Nicolai are recognized for their different approach, tbh form all the bikes that you had for this test session this is the one that I want to try.
  • 2 0
 That thing is such a beautiful piece of work. I wouldn't buy it even if I'd have the money to spend on it. Just the lines with that intricate high pivot design, absolutely stunning.
  • 4 0
 Not having the derailleur cage hanging down is a real bonus for rough trails.
  • 3 2
 Cool bike but i dont understand the concept.
The main Advantages of this drivetrain over a gearbox is weight and efficency but this bike is heavy and bad up hill.
So this bike is made for the descents but than a Gearbox would be advantageous(fully enclosed, centraliced weight, reduced unsprung mass(better rear suspension performance=>more traction), stronger rear wheel).
So i think a bike with the Lal drive should be lighter and more climbing focused than anything gearbox.
Just make a sub 35lbs carbon version or get the Kavenz VHP 16 with a gearbox(might also be lighter)
  • 7 0
 The Supre Drive is a lot more efficient and lighter than a gearbox. Taking the Pinion gearbox as an example, it can add about 1.5kg to a bike, whereas the Supre Drive adds roughly 200g compared to XT. In terms of drag, the Supre Drive is much more efficient than a gearbox and also more efficient than other high pivot drivetrains according to our measurements: lalbikes.com/efficiency
  • 3 0
 @cedric-eveleigh:
I know

And nothing but respect for you’re system

But the Nicolai as a package is heavy af (you could build a gearbox bike which is lighter)

I don’t criticise the Lal drive but the implementation
  • 2 1
 Why do you think it's bad uphill? They said it has great traction, just a little bob when standing up. I generally don't stand up to pedal.
  • 3 0
 @MorganBH: Because it says so right in the article. "The weight is one factor in its sluggish climbing performance".
If the math checks out that a Supre Drive adds only about 200g then I would absolutely love to see a sub 14kg trail bike using it, which should be well achievable (though probably not with a Nicolai frame).
  • 1 0
 I saw these bikes in person and I thought I was in trouble with the Carabinerri bike cops as they clocked our speed down the Whistler crossroads connector. I genuinely thought I was getting my pass revoked. Well played Pinkies.
  • 2 0
 Seems like a shame this bike isn't 180/180? If I'm carrying that much weight around for a bike that's obviously geared towards descending, why not go all-in? Tweaking the linkage ratio doesn't add weight...
  • 2 0
 Was wondering about this too. According to Nicolai, you can bump the shock's stroke up to 65mm for 175mm of travel
  • 4 0
 @cod51: Yes, that's right. And a 180mm fork can be up front making the bike basically 180/180.
  • 4 0
 Beneath the clothes, we find a man... and beneath the man, we find his... nucleon.
  • 1 0
 One unspoken problem (which may be of no consequence) this bike solves is that there's good chain engagement on the chainwheel. So many high pivot designs seem like they only use 10 teeth on the chainwheel. As chains wear, I worry that you'd have some skipping under tension at the chainwheel on some of them. This is a very innovative drivetrain and I hope they succeed. They've done so much work for so long to bring it to market.
  • 1 0
 You can see the bike pack up in transitions, and the wheel doesn't quite track the back side of more rounded drop offs. Bikes this long don't need as much low speed damping to control pitch anyways. Nicolai could probably send a frame with a custom rebound tune that isn't so digressive, but you will want a fork with separate high and low speed rebound to work around it, or else you will spend hours revalving the fork's high speed rebound to match your new settings.
  • 9 5
 The HD6 has to be the winner here
  • 2 0
 I think it'll come down to the HD6 and Slash as your top contenders, with the Slash a bit more "smash/plow" and the HD6 a bit more sporty.
  • 4 0
 but 435mm chainstays at 508mm reach?

i thought will get more ballanced bikes
  • 2 1
 @JasperTS: I think Henry is right saying we will see longer chainstays. I prefer at least 445 mm on my size smedium bike with around 460 reach.
  • 4 0
 @kokofosho: yes but ibis sees it different

but maybe not everybike is ment for everbody
  • 2 0
 @JasperTS: I see no reason why every bike must be for everybody lol. I like my defunct GG shred dogg with 423mm chainstays on a Size 2 (medium). Those chainstays on anything larger just seem out of date... but hey specific tools for specific jobs.
  • 1 0
 I am fond of my Scor 4060 . I think it has 432mm chainstays with a 487 reach. It's not a park bike ( even with the 180 mm Zeb and ridden poorly in the park by this author) We should see some more discussions on chainstay in this series. It does force you to weight the fork A LOT more.
  • 4 0
 All I see is maintenance, lots of maintenance ...
  • 2 0
 its the same as most other High Pivot Bikes(same amount fo linkages bearings and idlers) just arranged different
  • 4 0
 @JasperTS: It's got 3 pulleys (one on the gear changer, the idler and the tensioner). That's one fewer than most HPI bikes.
  • 1 0
 @alexsin:
f*ck I can’t count
  • 1 0
 Just got rid of a high pivot cannondale. I think my high pivot days are over. In the PNW you have to clean the chain EVERY dusty or wet ride. Only on perfect hero dirt or gravel can you go 2 decent rides without cleaning, regressing, and recleaning the drivetrain. Even with high end Demonde lube
  • 2 0
 @henryquinney how does this compare to the Spire? Better? Not as good? Really interested to see how you like this as you love the Spire.
  • 2 1
 I think we figured out bikes a couple years ago and now we're reaching. Good riders, or any rider, doesn't need this complication to ride well or have a good time. What a weird list of Enduro bikes this year
  • 1 0
 Interesting but I wonder if how the chain is routed causes noticeable resistance I have a forbidden druid and I am sure that it's not as efficient as a non idler but I don't notice it riding
  • 2 2
 I'll preface this by saying I enjoy these reviews and read/watch each one as they are released. Nevertheless, I don't find them particularly useful as a tool to help me determine which bike to invest in. This bike, for instance is a poor climber and doesn't get off the ground well. Ok, but what about the other factors I might consider? And how do those factors compare to the other bikes on test? As we enter ski season, I see myriad articles comparing multiple factors that might influence my choice of ski and each one gives me a grid of several performance elements that will help me narrow my choices. I can look at those and say these are the four or five factors that matter most to me and go work from there with demos, etc. With the field tests I am left to excavate small details from the narrative without direct comparison. Does the Chromag climb at a 7 of 10 vs. a 5 of 10 for this bike? Don't know. Does the Unno corner at 8 of 10 vs 5 of ten for the Ibis? Who knows. And can't PB get more testers for this process? With skis, there are often riders with various skill levels. My preferences as a mediocre rider will be different than Henry's, who is a more expert rider than me.
  • 3 0
 We have a roundtable discussion on the way that should hopefully help with some of your questions, along with a video detailing the pros and cons of each bike. As for having more testers, all of the bikes in this round were ridden by four riders. And if you have any specific questions about a bike, just ask.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Mike, hi!

Have considered adding a table with scales 1 - 10 like Climbing (maybe with a breakdown into fire road vs tech climbing), Descending, Stability, Agility, etc. to your field test reviews? I think it might address the comparison issue between different bikes in a test.

Also, I would appreciate at least a brief summary about a bike (who it is for) at the end of each such article.

Sorry for being nerdy.
  • 2 0
 Dude!! that is an interesting looking bike! Still notsure what I think about those mechs - would be cool to see and ride a bike with one.
  • 2 0
 Many places for mud to accumulate on that . I like this bike, but it really makes me appreciate the current bike I ride.
  • 4 1
 Looks like a...nevermind.
  • 2 0
 just thinking about cleaning this bike regularly is giving me anxiety. Looks sick though!
  • 2 0
 Spongy feel is not because that's how the sprag clutch works but because Onyx chose low-torque clutches for their hubs.
  • 4 1
 And why did they choose low torque clutches? Because of weight. So it's because of how the sprag clutch works that they had to make this compromise.

What you said is like saying "the electric car has a lower range than the equivalent gas car not because it's electric, but because the designers chose to spec low watt-hour batteries on it". Technically you're correct, but at the core it's just a drawback of the technology that's being used in this application.

Onyx has a much less spongy clutch in the classic hub, but it's heavier and not many riders bought them (at least in my area). I've been running the vesper for a couple years now and my next rear hub is going to be an onyx classic. The silence is so nice, and the additional weight will be worth it if it gets rid of the sponginess imo.
  • 1 0
 @sdurant12: technically is the best kind of correct.
  • 1 2
 @sdurant12: No. It's drawback of bad decision. The sprag clutch manufacturer precisely specifies conditions at which the declared nominal torque capacity can be achieved. If you don't follow it you cannot expect the capacity. It is but advantage of the sprag that they allow you slight overtorqueing.
.
I designed and got made rear hub with sprag clutches one grade higher (30mm internal shaft) and the soft engagement can be felt only at start from track-standing or during pedalling over roots at lowest gears. Definitely not spongy like Vesper. I won't use other clutch for my next hubs, the sprag clutch has many advantages that are generally not described.
  • 6 0
 The "spongy" feel of Onyx, for those that actually ride them, is usually a pro not a con. I would describe it more as a soft, but firm, engagement, versus the metallic, abrupt engagement of pawls etc. If there is power lost it's minuscule. It's like the feeling of proper clutch slip in a manual car versus dropping clutch into gear.
  • 1 0
 @zuker81: I went through 2 vespers and a classic plus proto internals before I gave up on it. The 'problem' with soft is that it's one step away from from slip. I could get the hub to slip in my 3 easiest gears. Not what you want powering up a tech bit or climb. I think it's brilliant for anyone that it works for though. I loved it going down. I'm just a bad combo of heavy and strong. Broke a 54 DT ratchet, so 36 DT is a sweet spot for me. Hoping some other silent not-that-heavy hub comes along. The old unsprung weight thing.
  • 1 0
 The mech looks like a shimano with bottom cage removed. It would be cool if you could do that - take off the cage on any mech, and use it on this bike
  • 4 0
 It's not possible to simply remove the cage on a derailleur and use the rest of that derailleur with the Supre Drive. The main reason for that is that regular derailleurs have their guide pulley eccentric to the pivot of the cage, so the cage rotation is an important part of the movement of that guide pulley, which has to have a very specific path for good shifting.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: thanks Cedric. Another hypothetical: could this ever work without the idler if you had a large enough chainring (say, a gravel chainring) and a small enough cassette?
  • 3 0
 @mattg95: Yes, check this out. I quoted this patent in my own patent application. I didn't know about this at the time when I invented the Supre Drive, but it's relevant and interesting bike tech history.

worldwide.espacenet.com/patent/search/family/009269499/publication/FR819641A?q=pn%3D%22FR819641A%22
  • 2 0
 Where are all the commenters loosing their sheet over super boost like they did for Evils'?
  • 2 0
 Why did you leave the Slash for last? Waiting for enough test to see if chain comes off?
  • 2 0
 Since Nicolai builds this bike with a derailleur and a Pinion gearbox, I might suggest having a comparison of all three.
  • 1 1
 EXT Aria or E-Storia locks nearly rigid above sag point. At least you’re climbing a 40# hardtail at that stage. A proper rear shock would make all the difference on this and most rigs
  • 1 0
 After I got over all those jockey wheels. I actually love this bike. The geo is good and I don't car about weight I ride steel frames and coil forks.
  • 1 0
 I love the new nature documentary format with David Attenborough narrating the species in the wild and the two professors giving their in-the-field observances
  • 3 0
 Much want!
  • 1 0
 Here I am, wondering what would happen if I fell and my junk got caught up in all that.
  • 5 0
 I'm addition to not rolling naked, you shouldn't ride naked either....
  • 1 0
 @RusMan: Shhh... Don't tell anyone
  • 3 0
 Pole UNNO lol?
  • 3 1
 Who is this bike even built for? Josh Bender 20 years ago?
  • 1 0
 better late than never I say, I love it
  • 2 0
 Love it, wish I had the bread to own it.
  • 1 0
 I feel pretty confident saying this: that saddle spec was a straight up troll......
  • 7 0
 I honestly wanted to put a regular saddle on but I forgot to order one. When we were building up the bike last minute, I put on whatever I had which was one of these ISM saddles. But I have no regrets because I like to shake things up.
  • 3 0
 Oversight*
  • 3 1
 18 KG ?? They sell champion calves with the bike ?
  • 1 0
 legs and heart !
  • 2 0
 These drive trains are getting out of hand
  • 1 0
 It's everything they can do to keep selling the same lipstick, but even with a change in position, it's still just a derailleur. At this point, as much as I can appreciate the time and effort that went into redesigning this bike around that Supra drivetrain, I'd just as soon have a gearbox and never have drivetrain issues again.
  • 2 0
 I would be curious to know how this bike does in the mud....
  • 2 0
 I'm just here for the Zoidberg references.
  • 1 0
 is the bolt on rear part of the derailleur or is it manufactured for this bike only I am unfamiliar with it....thx
  • 1 0
 Dream machine! I would love to have one for a dirty weekend.
  • 1 0
 I had to double check it wasn't really called "LOL drivetrain"
  • 1 2
 geo chart says 515mm reach for Large not 490.. interesting whether to downsize to Medium for review or to simply run a Large in keeping with designers intentions
  • 2 0
 I think Mike just made a little mistake in the video. 492mm reach is for size medium which is what they tested. A size medium Nucleon is like a size large of a lot of other brands.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: indeed. v interesting that a brand as Nicolai, which designs bikes with such 'considered' geo, contrary to 'commercial/market trends, to be ignored in favour of consistency.
It is the same as Transition turning up with a 62.5 HTA and the testers putting an angleset in it to bring it in line with the mean HTA on test, no??
  • 5 0
 @rookie100, we tested a medium, as I mentioned in the intro to this article. We didn't ignore any sizing recommendations - Nicolai recommends this size for riders between 170-186 cm.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks for the response - the geo chart I see recommends a Medium for 170-180mm but that's fair. Definitely interested in the 'control' element of the test. But it is very hard to have a standardised geo amongst bikes when testers are so different also. Very difficult task and you guys do an awesome job
  • 2 0
 Such a beauty
  • 2 0
 This is so cool!
  • 1 0
 Seems you might hit your chainstays instead of your derailleur
  • 1 0
 Make a 8” dual crown 7 speed version?
  • 1 0
 what's stopping you?
  • 1 0
 Irony overload: "seemed like an overside"
  • 1 0
 the stick on cable routing screams "we ran out of time!"
  • 1 0
 Linkage so crazy that we are ignoring the tri saddle
  • 1 0
 Glue on cable guides? About as useful as edible handlebars.
  • 1 0
 This is actually the bike I want to buy. #f*ckclimbingfast
  • 1 1
 That's a long way around a problem. Be better with a gearbox, just saying..
  • 2 0
 Nicolai uber alles !
  • 2 0
 Competition, I fell in love with my G16 as soon as I saw it, but honestly this one is "pretty" challenging.
  • 1 0
 For $11k I'd expect cleaner looking welds
  • 1 0
 The more I read about this bike the more I want it…
  • 5 7
 This field test seems like a bunch of very niche bikes. This thing looks awesome, but clearly for a pretty narrow slice of the market.
  • 20 2
 Commencal, nukeproof, trek, and ibis are also included. I think it strikes a great compromise between exotic and mundane.
  • 2 1
 @sspiff: true, I guess I'm just watching the reviews on the more exotic bikes and ignoring the rest.
  • 1 1
 Seams like they needed a shock with a bit more HSC damping?
  • 1 0
 Looks simple enough.
  • 1 1
 ... I'm no mechanic, but that thing looks MISERABLE to work on!
  • 1 0
 Needs more chain.
  • 1 0
 Wrong a TRON
  • 3 6
 Hmm... I commented on this article saying I'd be surprised if the chain stayed on with two idlers and zero chain guides. It has been mysteriously deleted...
  • 7 0
 No mystery, it's just in the below threshold land at the very bottom of the page. For the record, we didn't have any issues with dropped chains on this bike.
  • 7 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks Mike, I will put my tinfoil hat away now...
  • 6 0
 Interestingly the Nicolai race team tested both the Supre Drive and SRAM Transmission versions of the bike. With the SRAM drivetrain they needed an idler chain guide to stop the chain falling off multiple times a ride. With the improved chain damping on the Supre Drive we have never had issues dropping the chain off the idler in all of our testing with no chain guide.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: give the people what they want! How many times did the trek chain drop?
  • 1 0
 @DCF: lewis buchannan wants to know
  • 1 0
 if you check at www.nicolai-bicycles.com/frames-full-suspension it has a chaindrive on the upper idler
  • 1 2
 Route those cables through the headset and take my money!
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