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Nicolai ‘NuVinci’ Helius AM – Unconventionally Driven.

January 15, 2013

Ever since we rode our first G-Boxx equipped Nicolai, we have always loved the fact that it was possible that we did not have to worry about our derailluers getting clipped on rocks during a ride, or getting the derailluer hanger bent just because of a little crash. There are so many ways that a conventional derailluer just isn’t the ideal option for mountain biking as it is relatively fragile and susceptible to a lot of problems when exposed to harsh elements.

There’s no doubt that Nicolai’s G-Boxx and Pinion equipped bikes work GREAT, but the disadvantage is that the frame has to be specifically designed to fit them, and it doesn’t come cheap. That led us to mounting a Rohloff Speedhub on a couple of bikes over the past few years. However, they required special mounts and in the case of the Nicolais that we have converted, new seatstays had to be ordered in order to accommodate them.

We were fortunate to discover about Fallbrook Technologies Inc’s NuVinci N360 continuously variable planetary (CVP) hub, and we were glad to learn that it could be mounted on any bike with a 135mm dropout width. To be honest we only intended to use it on a commuting bike, but since the N360 hub was designed for all types of bikes including MTB’s, we immediately jumped on the chance to mount one on our very own 2013 race bike, a Nicolai Helius AM (that was once equipped with the Rohloff Speedhub).

For those who are unfamiliar with how the N360 CVP hub works, it “uses a set of rotating and tilting balls positioned between the input component (coming from the chain) and the output component (going to the wheel) of the transmission. Tilting the balls by twisting the shifter on the handlebar changes their contact diameters and varies the speed ratio of the drivetrain resulting in a seamless and continuous transition to any ratio within its range.“. It may seem a little confusing at first (even for us), but NuVinci has got a really informative site where you can learn more about the N360 hub.

We immediately fell in love with how great the NuVinci N360 works! Even if we were riding on pavement or in the trails, we could always find that perfect gear ratio thanks to the CVP technology. Gone were the days of being ‘stuck in limbo’ with a gear that was too light because the next highest gear was just too heavy for that current situation (something that we have experienced many times).

Over the past few months, we heavily tested the NuVinci driven Nicolai Helius AM on our local trails and even brought it over to Batam, Indonesia to compete in what was one of the muddiest downhill races we have ever been to, and we’re proud to say that the N360 worked flawlessly over the entire race weekend despite the conditions. Honestly, the only problem that we had during this testing period was the chain tensioner that kept causing the gears to skip under heavy load. But it was soon sorted out when we replaced the tensioner, and it was smooth sailing afterwards.

We can’t deny that we’re fans of unconventionally driven bikes such as our very own NuVinci driven Nicolai Helius AM. Sure, running a NuVinci N360 does have disadvantages in terms of weight distribution, but knowing that your drivetrain is protected from the elements and being able to find that ‘perfect gear’ with it’s CVP technology, we can’t see why it is a great investment.

Feel free to drop us a ring at: 63444579 to arrange for a ride on our NuVinci driven Helius AM!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 30, 2013 6:25 am

    Interesting writeup! What Cog/ChainWheel sizes did you use? I believe Nuvinci insists that the minimum ratio chainwheel:cog should be 1.8:1. Curious what you used. Thanks!

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