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Nicolai Helius CC review

Ridemonkey

This is not an active account
Sep 18, 2002
4,109
0
Toronto, Canada
I have been riding a Nicolai Helius CC for about a year now. These are my findings.

The Nicolais I had seen on the Net were all pretty industrial looking with a lot machined parts and some pretty fat looking welds. I ordered mine with the silver anodized finish to round out the industrial look. I was not disappointed when UPS arrived with my package. In a market where most frames are carbon copies of each other – the Nicolai stands out with its unique construction. Welds are massive. Dropouts are machined from thick aluminum stock and are the biggest I have seen on an XC bike. The headtube is custom machined. Large plate gussets can be found at the seat tube-top tube intersection and almost the entire left seatstay is gusseted to dissipate force from the disc brake mount.

/media/nicolai/june_nicolai.jpg

Nicolai has more options than any frame builder I have come across. LOTS of color and custom frame options (you can even get camo for an upcharge). I got mine silver anodized and without rear V-brake mounts. Bearings at the pivots are optional – but I stuck with the bushings to save a bit of weight. I have to applaud Nicolai for bringing the custom back to custom frames. Companies that are selling 2,000 dollar plus frames should be offering all the options you could ever want – but few do these days.

The frame came with a Rock Shox SID rear shock. There are 4 shock mount holes on the swing link. Mounting the shock to different holes results in a range of travel from 3.5 to 5 inches. I built mine up with a mix of moderately light parts and the bike weighed in at 27.5 pounds with Crossmax wheels and about 30 with my Rhyno Lite wheel set. These weights are pretty reasonable when considering that I was using Hope Mini disc breaks, a Psylo Race fork, and an assortment of moderately light parts.

/media/nicolai/june_nicolai1.jpg
/media/nicolai/june_nicolai2.jpg


On the trail:
The Helius is an all around great bike for a variety of trail conditions. The suspension is active but doesn’t bob much when climbing. The head angle is on the slack side which is great for fast downhills and rocky terrain. The steering is a bit slow in the tight stuff though. I found that the bike was perfectly suited for Colorado/Moab terrain, but is a bit slack for the tighter terrain often found around Bend, Oregon where I have been riding over the last few months. No bike can be perfectly suited for all terrains, but an independently adjustable head angle would have allowed the bike to adapt better to the local trails here in Bend.

I also found that the combination of 4 inches of travel front and rear made for a great do everything bike. The travel was adequate for trips to Moab – and for punishing Front Range Colorado terrain, yet the bike was still fast enough to be raced at competitive XC events. This would be the perfect bike for tough endurance events like the 24 hours of Moab.

In the long run:
I have ridden this bike over a year now and put well over 1000 off road miles on it. It has been 100% trouble free. The bushings are still as good as the day I bought them. Despite many crashes, the massive 6 bolt replaceable derailleur hanger is perfectly straight. No squeaks, rattles, or loose parts ever. Surprisingly the Rock Shox SID shock held up great. It finally gave up and blew out at the one year mark – with not one bit of maintenance in that year. The anodized finish is tough as hell and still looks like new.

In one sense, the Helius is just another Horst-link bike. But this bike isn’t about the newest suspension hype on the market. Its about a time tested design. It’s about remarkable craftsmanship that can’t be found in mass produced bikes. It’s about options and style. If you are looking for the ultimate in high dollar frames – be sure to check out Nicolais line at www.nicolai.net.

/media/nicolai/june_nicolai3.jpg
Seatstay reinforcement


Manufacturers Specs

Helius CC = Large frame size

Specs:
Frame weight incl. shock = 6.1 pounds
Travel options, adjustable from 5/4.5/4/3.5 inches bottom shock mount =
most travel
Easton Ultra Light front tubing, german aircraft aluminum 7005/7020 rear
end (upper and lower chainstays)
IGUS Grade A bushings are utilized in the CC version ONLY - all other
frames have IGUS Grade A bearings. The reason for bushings in the CC
models is simply the added weight factor - at any given time, the
customer can of course switch the bushings out for a bearing kit for a
nominal fee.

Chainstays = 17inch
Wheelbase = 43.5 inches
Top tube = 23 inches
Head angle = 70 degrees
Seatpost = 74 degrees

Options, etc.

Color:
In general, any color option of more than 30 is available - including
mixing and matching of colors, front / rear, as well as camo colors
($200 upcharge). Anodizing (prior to anodizing, the frame is sand
blasted to give it that deep sheen) is available also, in 3 colors,
silver, copper and blackOther options:

Rohloff OEM mounting is available, as is customer specified cable
routing (a nice feature of the build to order program!).
Custom geometry is of course available as well, pricing starts at $300
for a custom fit frame

Price
Retails w/ Fox Float OR Manitou Swinger (new for 03) for $1999.
 

Attachments

Squeak

Get your pork here.
Sep 26, 2001
1,546
0
COlo style
Nice to see a review after a YEAR's worth of hard riding! Glad you still are loving the bike. :)

Great writeup.
 

Ian F

Turbo Monkey
Sep 8, 2001
1,016
0
Philadelphia area
Originally posted by indieboy
great write up bro! i'd disagree on the color statement but i'll leave that at that :D
Agree, but I think RM was referring to the overall options available and not just color options.

Nice review. I wants one... :(
 

indieboy

Want fries with that?
Jan 4, 2002
1,811
1
atlanta
Originally posted by Ian F
Agree, but I think RM was referring to the overall options available and not just color options.

Nice review. I wants one... :(
yeah the overall options they've got a lot no question about it.
 

h3ckl3r

Chimp
Jun 10, 2003
3
0
Very striking that this frame almost looks like my 4 year old
santa cruz heckler!!!! Which I highly recommend for CC racing
and riding, I have ridden mine extensively and have not had
any problems with it either!!! Weight is about 23.5 lbs (without
mud!!)

-Steve
 

Ridemonkey

This is not an active account
Sep 18, 2002
4,109
0
Toronto, Canada
Originally posted by h3ckl3r
Very striking that this frame almost looks like my 4 year old
santa cruz heckler!!!! Which I highly recommend for CC racing
and riding, I have ridden mine extensively and have not had
any problems with it either!!! Weight is about 23.5 lbs (without
mud!!)

-Steve
Other than being made of aluminum tubes, and having rear shocks, how are the two frames similar?
 

indieboy

Want fries with that?
Jan 4, 2002
1,811
1
atlanta
Originally posted by Ridemonkey
Other than being made of aluminum tubes, and having a rear shocks, how are the two frames similar?
i'd like to hear this agruement from this guy as well......
 
Man! This review has me jonesing, but that accursed Nicolai site is hard to figure. I found the geometries, but in metric, and the price, in Euros... I'm just a country boy with no calculator nearby :rolleyes: I couldn't see the bearing option or figure out how I could customize the frame, either. Colors, I found. There are a lot of options. Pretty cool.

Anybody know how/what they change on the frame when you specifcy a weight like 235lb?
 

Ridemonkey

This is not an active account
Sep 18, 2002
4,109
0
Toronto, Canada
Originally posted by EBasil
Man! This review has me jonesing, but that accursed Nicolai site is hard to figure. I found the geometries, but in metric, and the price, in Euros... I'm just a country boy with no calculator nearby :rolleyes: I couldn't see the bearing option or figure out how I could customize the frame, either. Colors, I found. There are a lot of options. Pretty cool.

Anybody know how/what they change on the frame when you specifcy a weight like 235lb?
Yup they REALLY need an English Web site. Danny?
 

-BB-

I broke all the rules, but somehow still became mo
Sep 6, 2001
4,257
28
Livin it up in the O.C.
Originally posted by h3ckl3r
Very striking that this frame almost looks like my 4 year old
santa cruz heckler!!!! Which I highly recommend for CC racing
and riding, I have ridden mine extensively and have not had
any problems with it either!!! Weight is about 23.5 lbs (without
mud!!)

-Steve
Mr. 1 post guy...:rolleyes:

"Well they both have a dropout for a rear wheel.... they are the same color... Both have a Bottom Bracket... "

LOSER.
 

KrusteeButt

I can't believe its not butter!
Jul 3, 2001
350
0
why the hell do YOU care?!
Wow...not very nice guys. Give him a chance, he only posted 3 hours ago.
I understand that you disagree wholeheartedly, but come on.

By the way, I agree...very well written review. Covered a heck of a lotta stuff.
 

Orvan

....................
Mar 5, 2002
1,492
2
Califor-N.I.A.
Originally posted by EBasil
Anybody know how/what they change on the frame when you specifcy a weight like 235lb?
Nicolai bought new machining tools and stuff so I suspect machined parts were made over.. Testament to this would be our new 03 Team Frames, from the Nucleon line up and definitely to my new Lambda DH.. swinglinks are nicer and lean looking.. etc etc etc

as far as the site... wow, even engineering is used on that. I vouched for some simplicity as well. Regardless, I've spent way too much time in it that I was able to comprehend. Euro prices are about the same as US (tho with the inflation I think US is 25% less in exchange rate)..

Nice ride Aaron... and write up too.
I thought of buying Danny's but was sold after Sea Otter (or so he told me)
 
:)
Orven, since I don't speak or read German, I'm gonna ask you forward and get answers to these:

--What is the top tube length on an XL Helius? How about the XXL?
--What are the seat and head tube angles on an XL?
--Does Nicolai change anything on the bike based on the rider weight information they ask for?
--Are their any dealers in SoCal, and how about San Diego?
--Is the Manitou Swinger (SPV, right?) available on the bike?
--What do they cost in Gringo Dollars, and to whom to we pay our cash? I hope it's not some wire account in Germany...
--what's the RideMonkey Discount? Like 30%? :cool:
--how much weight does a bearing kit add to the Helius, and what's it cost?
 

Orvan

....................
Mar 5, 2002
1,492
2
Califor-N.I.A.
Originally posted by EBasil
:)
Orven, since I don't speak or read German, I'm gonna ask you forward and get answers to these:

--What is the top tube length on an XL Helius? How about the XXL?
--What are the seat and head tube angles on an XL?
--Does Nicolai change anything on the bike based on the rider weight information they ask for?
--Are their any dealers in SoCal, and how about San Diego?
--Is the Manitou Swinger (SPV, right?) available on the bike?
--What do they cost in Gringo Dollars, and to whom to we pay our cash? I hope it's not some wire account in Germany...
--what's the RideMonkey Discount? Like 30%? :cool:
--how much weight does a bearing kit add to the Helius, and what's it cost?
this is the right person to inquire to regarding your questions.
I focus more on the DH end of the frames so I'm gonna have to do a lil research for the specific specs you're asking. But I'm positive Danny will have this info and insight handy.
Please email him at Danny@Nicolai-usa.com

but to answer a couple of your questions quickly:
Yes, there is a distributor of Nicolai frames in the US.. Danny..danny@nicolai-usa.com
Buyers can pay directly to Danny...cash, check and some credit cards.
Some frames are available for test rides..including some of the current team race frames (DH)..

oh, I don't speak german but I like hearing German girls talk...!!
 

reflux

Turbo Monkey
Mar 18, 2002
4,622
2
G14 Classified
Originally posted by -BB-
Mr. 1 post guy...:rolleyes:

"Well they both have a dropout for a rear wheel.... they are the same color... Both have a Bottom Bracket... "

LOSER.
I do believe the sarcastic happy face was left out of this post. Let us all try to remember what it was like the first time we posted on this board. After all, it's the job of all the grizzled veterans on this site to show the newbies their way.;)

H3ckl3r, it's all good bro; throw out some sarcasm back at -BB- and RM. Something along the lines of, "Nicolai? I thought I was comparing my Heckler to a Jamis."

reflux
(it's freakin 3am...)
 

h3ckl3r

Chimp
Jun 10, 2003
3
0
Thanks for all the "positive" words of encouragement for a new poster!!! Sorry I didn't post a picture of my heckler, trying to
dig one up. I'll try and post a pic soon so you can see similarities in the geometry and welds.

Regards,
da h3ckl3r
 

Orvan

....................
Mar 5, 2002
1,492
2
Califor-N.I.A.
Originally posted by h3ckl3r
Thanks for all the "positive" words of encouragement for a new poster!!! Sorry I didn't post a picture of my heckler, trying to
dig one up. I'll try and post a pic soon so you can see similarities in the geometry and welds.

Regards,
da h3ckl3r
it's cool..welcome to the Monkey... I was stripped nekkid and pelted with bb pellets when I first posted...:devil:

But comparing it to a heckler is so far off just by design and features. Heckler is a single pivot design to begin with.

As similar as they may "seem" really, it's just a matter of what attention was given to each frame and Nicolai paid attention to almost every inch of their frames. You really have to see a Nicolai frame in person, anyone of the Nicolai frames, to really see and marvel at it. The welds, the cnc'd parts, gussets and finish.

Picture: here's one of the coolest thing Karl Nicolai puts on a lot of his frames.... their in-house drop outs. It's replaceable, available in 9mm or 12mm axle versions.


not a Helius CC since but to show the clean big welds and attention to details and frame options afforded to riders


cheers
 
Direct from Danny:

Top tube length = 23.7 inches



Seat and head tube angles on the XL are the same as on the other sizes…



Custom designs and specs are available; they start at around $300…



Manitou Swinger will probably be available or the equivalent 5th Element air shock



Cost in Gringo Dollars is $2100 – cash is payable to me directly and not some wire account in Germany



Bearing kit weight – I’ll have to check on that – most people opt for the Helius FR with a coil shock if they go that route – the bushings are all grade A Igus and will last you a while.



Let me know if you have any additional questions,



Danny
 

El Grande

Chimp
Feb 18, 2004
1
0
Originally posted by EBasil
Man! This review has me jonesing, but that accursed Nicolai site is hard to figure. I found the geometries, but in metric, and the price, in Euros... I'm just a country boy with no calculator nearby :rolleyes: I couldn't see the bearing option or figure out how I could customize the frame, either. Colors, I found. There are a lot of options. Pretty cool.

Anybody know how/what they change on the frame when you specifcy a weight like 235lb?
You can get the FR Frame with the tubing from their Helius ST or (like I have ordered) with only the lower tubing from the ST.

For further questions: There is a pure Nicolai (in german) forum at

http://www.mtb-news.de/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=137