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Nicolai Argon AM Pinion 650B – Green Menace II.

August 22, 2013

Nicolai’s Argon hardtail frames have been in their lineup for as long as we could remember. Over the years, it has evolved to meet the needs of riders from various cycling disciplines; from XC riders, to roadies, and even down to average commuter.

In 2011, Nicolai team riders Daniel Jahn and Frank ‘Schneidi’ Schneider helped with the development of the Argon FR. Thanks to their input, the Nicolai Argon AM was born, and Schneidi took the Masters Challenge win at the Megavalanche the following year, on a SINGLESPEED Gates Carbon Drive equipped Argon AM.

Well, only the bravest like Frank Schneider would bother riding a singlespeed hardtail in the Mega (we wouldn’t even want to ride one to commute for that matter); that is why for us normal folk, we spec ours with gears.

This anodised black Argon AM Pinion 650B with anodised green extra love bits was one of our most eagerly anticipated frames that arrived during the recent Nicolai shipment.

You might even find the colour scheme a little familiar as it belongs to the same owner as this Nucleon AM.

It also happens to be the first 650B bike that we built, so it really does have a special place in our hearts.

The Argon also features this newly designed headtube gusset, keeping the front end nice and stiff for those long travel forks…

… Like the all-new murdered-out 160mm RockShox Pike RCT3, one of the plushest forks out of the box!

These were the first pair of Atomlab Suprelite SL 650B’s that we built, lacing them to Chris King hubs (142 x 12mm in the rear) with Phil Wood spokes and Atomlab’s Torque nipples. Rubber side down were Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s.

The drivetrain is by far our favourite part of the Argon. The Gates Carbon belt driven Pinion gearbox makes maintenance a breeze as there are no chains to lube, and all 18 gears are protected in it’s sealed housing.

Besides having a longer lifespan than a regular chained setup, you can instantly feel power being transferred to the rear wheel during each stroke of the pedal. It’s simply lovely, and we wish all bikes could be belt driven!

The weight of the Pinion gearbox was also barely noticeable when we test rode the bike, it still felt really quick and agile!

Gear shifts were also lightning quick via Pinion’s own shifter.

With all that said, it only leaves us with one problem, saving up more money to get one for ourselves.

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Oh wait, but In addition to that, Nicolai just released the Argon FAT (For All Terrain) at the recent Nicolai Hausmesse 2013. I guess that now makes it two Argon’s on our ‘to buy’ list.

Argon AM Pinion 650B photos courtesy of Benjamin Teo/Oh Cheese Visuals for AttitudeBikes.

Argon FAT photo courtesy of Nicolai Bikes.

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Nicolai Helius RC – RAW

August 6, 2013

Sure, it may not descend as well, or be as fun as most modern trail bikes; but in the hands of an experienced rider, the Nicolai Helius RC is one hell of a fast bike in our local trails, thanks to its low weight and efficient cross country geometry.

This build was conceptualised when the owner was upgrading from his trusty titanium XC hardtail, and requested for a quick/lightweight short travel full suspension bike for local terrain. It couldn’t have too much rear travel like a regular trail bike, and it had to be reliable.

We’re big fans of internal drivetrains at AttitudeBikes, and we know that there’s nothing more reliable than keeping them sealed, away from the elements.

Hence we spec’ed the Helius RC with the 14-speed Rohloff Speedhub. Installation was a breeze thanks to the Rohloff cable guides on the frame.

The Rohloff chain tensioner and the bottom bracket mounted Carbocage XC guide keeps the chain nicely secured.

With just around four inches of rear wheel travel from the DT Swiss rear shock, pedalling efficiency is not compromised, but it is still forgiving when things start to get rough in the trail. Not like it really mattered to the owner though, cause he already had blistering pace on his hardtail!

The entire raw finish on the frame (except for the bronze anodised chainstay) wasn’t meant for weight savings, it was for aesthetics, and we LOVE it.

Check out the beautifully CNC’d headtube! The raw finish simply brings out the details to another level.

With the new longer travel/trail focused Helius TB replacing the Helius RC in 2013’s Nicolai line up, we’re excited to see how it performs against the RC. But one thing is for sure though, we’ll definitely miss having a super fast XC race fully in the Nicolai line-up!

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

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.

Nicolai Helius AM – Creating the Perfect All-Mountain Machine.

May 11, 2013

For those of you who have been regularly following our Facebook page, you would have seen a few photos of this Nicolai Helius AM throughout the past few weeks. When we were given the green light to build it for the owner (who resides in China), we were told to spare no expense in creating the perfect All-Mountain bike that we possibly could. We managed to grab a few shots of it before it flew over to it’s new home in China, so that we could give you guys the lowdown.

The cockpit comprises of an ENVE DH bar, bolted to a 50mm Thomson Elite X4 stem.

Stopping power is provided by Magura’s MT6 brakes, which in our opinion, have got a really comfortable and easy to adjust lever.

180mm rotors also give it a really nice and balanced amount of modulation or lock when required.

The Helius AM is also built with a 2013 RockShox Lyrik RC2 DH that we reworked once we took it out from the box, complimenting the Vivid Air rear shock extremely well.

While it may not be the lightest rim around, Atomlab’s DHR’s strike a perfect balance between weight and strength. They are laced to DT Swiss 240s hubs with Phil Wood spokes and Atomlab’s oversized Torque Nipples.

We really liked the new KS LEV dropper post with it’s latest design that ensures zero cable movement.

The perfect All-Mountain bike cannot be complete without SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain. We chose to run the trigger over the grip shifters as they gave a more ‘solid’ feel during shifts.

It may look silly with a 10-42T cassette in the rear but it just works so well. We got to test this bike out during our recent trip to China and we were blown away by how good the XX1 drivetrain worked.

Last but not least, we fitted on DMR’s Brendog pedals that provide a really nice and large platform that offers tons of grip/stability, especially when things get rough!

We’ll leave you with more photos of this sub 13kg Nicolai Helius AM. There is no denying that we’re really loving the raw finish as it allows us to appreciate the craftsmanship behind each Nicolai even more.

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

Nicolai Helius AM – A Timeless Classic

April 12, 2013

Although the design of Nicolai’s Helius platform of bikes might share the same ‘DNA’ as it’s older brother, (the legendary Trombone from 1997), it is still one of the perfect examples of ‘not fixing it if it isn’t broken’. Through the years it has retained it’s signature four bar linkage design, and Nicolai has been making subtle improvements to it, eventually evolving to what it is today.

And while Nicolai recently started the production of the all new ION 16, that has identical travel with the Helius AM, there is no other 160mm travel bike in the Nicolai range that rides like a Helius AM does. Thanks to it’s linkage characteristics, it basically soaks up everything in it’s path, which is something that some riders prefer over the stiffer and more responsive ride that the ION gives.

We had no worries about building the Helius AM’s wheels with Atomlab Suprelite rims laced with Pillar titanium spokes, as the owner is one of the smoothest riders we know.

To have the drivetrain running quietly and seamlessly, the owner opted to have his bike spec’ed with a Rohloff Speedub.

This allowed him to run a single chainring in the front, protected by a locally produced bash ring…

…while all 14 gears are protected inside the hub, away from the elements.

Cable routing from the shifter…

…all the way down to the Speedhub was a breeze thanks to the Rohloff specific guides.

Suspension set up on a bike like this is imperative, and it’s potential can definitely be maximised thanks to the BOS Deville fork, and a custom tuned RockShox Vivid Air shock in the rear.

We’re amazed at how brilliant the Helius platform rides 16 years on. It’s truly a timeless classic and we’re excited to see how Nicolai will continue to evolve it.

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

Nicolai Nucleon AM – An Acquired Taste.

April 2, 2013

Nicolai’s Nucleon AM has always been a bit of an ‘acquired taste’ for some people when it comes to the ideal All-Mountain bike. Even though it’s lighter than it’s predecessor, the Nucleon TFR, it still has a bit of a weight penalty that is apparent when climbing.

However, there are those who look beyond that, and what they see is a bloody reliable All-Mountain bike that is built like a tank, capable of performing just as well is it did when it first arrived, despite all that it’s been thrown at.

So when the time came for an upgrade from his Nucleon TFR, it absolutely did not come as a surprise to us when the new owner of  this pre-owned Nucleon AM decided to purchase it.

Once sporting a glossy sky blue paintjob, we stripped the paint off the main triangle and chainstay, and sent it to get airbrushed in glossy metallic orange.

The functional cockpit features a bell that is perfect for signaling to that rider in front to ‘kindly move to the side as my bike is faster than yours’.

A RockShox Vivid Air in the rear provides the supple feel of a coil shock, without the added weight.

Some like it, some don’t, but dropper posts like this X Fusion Hilo are quite the norm for All-Mountain bikes.

There’s no doubt that the main feature of this bike has got to be the G-Boxx, a sealed gearbox located at the bottom bracket area, where all of it’s moving components are protected from the elements.

Not to worry, your eyes aren’t playing a trick on you as the driving chain is indeed on the left hand side of the bike. It is designed as such in order for the heavily-modified Rohloff system to work.

Nicolai has spec’ed all of it’s G-Boxx frames with the patented Compound Rear Hub to not only enable easy removal of the rear wheel…

… it also gives the bike an optimum chainline.

This, just like all other Nucleon AM’s, may not be the fastest nor the lightest All-Mountain bikes in the market, but theres no denying that it’s owner can’t wait to hit the trails with it again.

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

Nicolai Helius AM – Anodised Perfection.

March 13, 2013

Followers on our Facebook page would instantly recognise this particular Nicolai Helius AM on the left. Inspired by the gold anodised finish on his brother’s ION 20 (right), and loving the anodised purple finish that Nicolai offered, it led the owner to ordering his Helius AM in an anodised purple/gold finish. It wasn’t all about aesthetics though, as the anodised finish also provided practical advantages, such as a reduction in the overall weight and maintenance.

Now that the photos have finally been released, let’s check out some shots of this really sick build!

We were glad that we were able to source for anodised purple components that suited the rest of bike perfectly, such as Deity’s Dirty 30 bar and the DMR’s Vault pedals.

All 6+ inches of rear travel on the Cane Creek Double Barrel rear shock sure didn’t look out of place on the Helius AM at all.

Sure, the saddle isn’t anodised, but the purple and yellow colourway suited the rest of the bike perfectly!

The Nicolai HammerSchmidt Pimp Kit was spec’ed not just because of it’s anodised gold finish, but it also has technical improvements. It gets machined thinner towards the outer circle to provide more clearance for the rider’s ankles, and it also features optimised cable routing.

Judging from the number of ‘likes’ that the earlier photos of this bike have been receiving on our Facebook page, we guess everyone loves it just as much as we do. Now this is what we call “Anodised Perfection”.

All photos courtesy of Yan Rahardjo.

(Thinking of getting a new bike with a crazier anodised finish than this Helius AM? Well, look no further as Nicolai offers 9 different anodised colours for their entire range of frames. Call us at: +65 63444579, or drop us an email at: info@attitudebikes.com.sg for enquires and more information.)