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Nicolai Helius TB 650B – Details, Bro

August 26, 2014

The Helius TB is Nicolai’s latest answer to the ultimate lightweight XC/Trail frame that does not only climb well, but doesn’t lack on the descents either. Despite having 130mm of rear wheel travel and a fairly slack 67.5 degree headtube angle, Nicolai claims that it is still one hell of a capable machine, thanks to its geometry and suspension kinematics.

We had no doubts about their claims but we were really hoping to try it out for ourselves. Thankfully, a customer of ours placed an order for this tailor-made anodised gold/blue Helius TB 650B specially built for both local/regional trails and races (most of which are the long distance XC types). The build had to be as light as it possibly could without sacrificing reliability and the need for  ‘carbon everything’.

One of the only few carbon parts on the bike were the ENVE RSR bars that were bolted onto a 50mm Thomson Elite X4 stem. Shimano’s XTR brakes provided more than enough stopping power with the help of Braking’s laser-cut 180mm (front)/160mm (rear) rotors.

We simply had to give this build our own unique touches to do the tailor-made frame some justice. Starting with a set of custom chrome blue and gold die-cut vinyl for the RockShox Revelation.

The 140mm of travel up front was great during descents and high speed corners. But it never felt excessive to us, even when it came to steep climbs.

The light/linear tune of the RockShox Monarch shock was a perfect compliment to the Revelation up front. It did not require any high end suspension to keep the bike planted on the trails thanks to the low weight of the bike.

Once again, aesthetic details were a top priority, and a set of custom chrome blue Nicolai decals were produced for the frame.

It didn’t just stop at the frame and fork though, the SRAM XX1 cranks were given that special touch of chrome blue too.

We also stepped it up in the details game, and gave the DMR Vault’s a set of alternate blue/gold pins to match the rest of the bike.

SRAM’s awesome XX1 drivetrain provided an adequate range of gears and shifting was as crisp as can be.

The tubeless converted Atomlab Suprelite SL 650B rims were laced to their Pimplite hubs (Pimplite 102 rear), with Phil Wood spokes and Atomlab Torque nipples; and wrapped in Maxxis’ Ardent rubber.

Weighing in at 12.03kg, with a 1122mm wheelbase, the Helius TB felt very well balanced despite it’s relatively low weight. Nicolai got it spot-on, it had a perfect combination of being able to climb like a Helius RC (Nicolai’s discontinued XC race frame) and descend like a Helius AC (Nicolai’s’ current all-mountain frame in the Helius range). You could say we had so much fun on it in our local trails that we were hesitant to return the bike after a few test rides.

Incidentally, the 2015 Nicolai Helius AC (pictured here) has gone through some slight revisions making it even more similar to the TB with a drop in rear wheel travel, turning it into a dedicated trail machine, while the ION16 takes on the All-Mountain duties in the Nicolai range for 2015. With Eurobike 2014 just around the corner, we’re excited to see what else Nicolai has in store for 2015.

Photos via: Benjamin Teo and Nicolai

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