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Nicolai ION 14 ‘Wild Fire’ – The Jack of All Trades?

July 3, 2013

We’ve had the pleasure of building up some amazing Nicolai’s throughout the years, and it’s no doubt that one of the most memorable builds in recent times had to be this Nicolai ION 14 ‘Wild Fire’, owned by a very close friend of ours.

Regular visitors/customers of AttitudeBikes would have definitely seen this bike in our showroom, as the owner usually leaves his bike to our care when he isn’t riding. It also meant that we got to ride this bike regularly, which he gladly allowed us to.

Throughout the past year, we’ve ridden/raced the Wild Fire on various trails from local cross-country loops, downhill trails, to the local BMX track, and we thought it would be perfect to do a little review and give you guys an insight on how versatile this 4-5″ travel bike can really be on local trails with just minor changes to it’s set up. As you can see, nothing much has changed on the bike since we built it over a year ago.

To keep things fresh, we will be comparing how we set up the Wild Fire for the recent Red Bull Dark Knights (a short course, urban downhill race), and the Chase The Sun MTB Series (a XC endurance race).

Apart from running slightly different drivetrains, there were no other changes in components during the two races.

We stuck with the Hammerschmidt during Red Bull Dark Knights as there (sadly) were some sudden, short climbs that led straight to descents throughout the course. With a flick of the lever to the 1:1 gear, we could easily climb, shift it back into overdrive and put the power down.

For Chase The Sun, we swapped the Hammerschmidt out with a 1×10 drivetrain as it kept the overall weight low, and it simplified gear changes for us so that we could concentrate on pushing as many laps as we could. It also helped greatly that the XC course was much more predictable.

The progressive ION linkage worked brilliantly. It’s pedaling efficiency was great when sprinting/accelerating, and once we hit the mid-stroke in the rough sections, the four-bar linkage really soaked everything in its path.

Running a slighty softer air pressure on RockShox’s Monarch Plus rear shock during the Chase The Sun series, we also took advantage of the 3-Position Compression settings. Fully opened, it was perfect for overtaking riders on their XC race machines during the descents. Flicking it into the mid compression ‘Pedal’ setting gave us just the right amount of damping when maneuvering over rocks, logs, and sketchy rooted sections, but yet it remained efficient when we needed to climb. When the compression was completely locked, the Wild Fire accelerated even better on the flats sections, making it easier to maintain cadence and speed. It worked really well for long climbs too, if you knew the track well.

To be honest, we never expected an excellent 4X/Slopestyle machine like the ION 14 to be such a versatile bike even in the trails. Sure, it may not be the best at climbing, but it was VERY acceptable in our opinion. Minor tweaks in it’s setup turned it into a great short travel trail bike, perfect for our trails in Singapore.

Sadly, we recently received news that the ION 14 will no longer be available in Nicolai’s official 2014 production line up, but this is just gonna build more anticipation for the ION16 as we wait for it to arrive on our shores soon!

All photos courtesy of Benjamin Teo/Oh Cheese Visuals for AttitudeBikes.

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