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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd kick this one off and tell the story of my next Nicolai.

I've been riding my Ion15 now for a good while and when out with a journo friend who bought my previous AC custom 29 we got talking geo.

He already knew I had put together the Ion15 with Nicolai and the story, he had helped to increase the publicity, he had passed on to another friend who runs Mojo, the UK Fox service guys, what Nicolai had done for me, but more generally, which was news to them anyway, it's clear that a unique selling point for Nicolai isn't well known, certainly in the UK.
Chris at mojo is big on pushing the limits of design and was sold on forward geometry as a concept, having preciously created FrankenDune, with the rear of a Summum and custom length shocks, bushes and angle sets to try and create the geometry he was after. This new knowledge spurred him to engage Nicolai.
You may have seen some pictures of the bike(s) he has now had made by Nicolai, each one more extreme in geometry terms with a focus on outright downhill speed..

I expressed interest in the concept with my friend, I knew of it but had never seen nor ridden one, Mondraker not being a brand on my radar for various reasons, but Fabien Barel had a big hand in it and Cesar Rojo too, both of whom I respect and whose work I had come into contact with through other people in the industry.
Forward Geometry made sense to me, I come from moto's originally and each of my mountain bikes has got longer, I'm not so tall at 1.78m but I always look at a large as being the right ETT but I nearly always want a med ST.
Now my friend had an early 26":eekster: Proto Foxy in the shed, he'd stopped riding it when he bought the AC29 off me, I asked if I could borrow it for testing purposes...

After some messing around with it to get the riding position about the same as my Ion 29 I took it out. First impression sitting on it, I can see everything, axle/wheel, but it feels pretty normal after a moto. Second impression, gee the wheels are small, it feels like a toy!

I start to ride it around the car park, third impression, scary fast steering, what's the HA? (Well 67 it turns out, you can get away with it a bit steeper again due to length, which also helps with not wandering on climbs) surely this won't work for me, I don't like twitchy...
Out on the trail now...so Mondraker sell the concept for its climbing ability and stability, these are things I have on my ion29 in spades, plus better pedalling so what's the big deal...

front end feel, grip, confidence, the ability to naturally weight the front, the speed of steering response is incredible AND stability <said fast, in a high, excited voice as though 5mins after a quadruple espesso!>
I love it, I absolutely LOVE the front end, in fact I'm totally addicted to it!:) As long as long as the front is pointing in the right direction everything else will follow, it makes me feel like a total hooligan, permanently in attack mode, Scandinavian flicks into corners, chin up, eyes wired onto the apex...
Now it may not be the most relaxed state to be in on the trails but but I just feel totally connected to the front when riding it. There is loads of room to move around on the bike too.
Yes it does climb well due to its overall length (The TT is an XL in normal sizing, it's a M), wheels accepted when compared to my 29, it's stable, more so than a comparable 26" bike but with faster steering.

There are definitely things I wanted to change in terms of sizing, it was a little small for me as I have the saddle way back, and the wheels were a shock after my Ion, I've got used to smashing the trail to pieces on that with so much forgiveness, but I am so sold on the concept, it's a total hooligan of a bike soon much fun, basically because of the front.
I'm not convinced its faster than the Ion and it's definitely harder work but incredibly rewarding.

Such a shame just as more people get the concept that Mondraker appear to have backed out of pushing full fat Fwd Geo and gone with 30mm stems rather than near zero possibly for wider acceptance. For me they are marketing the wrong positives of this design, or rather the ones that are less appealing to a lot of riders.

It's never going to work in a 29 format, and why would you do it really, it's a different answer to the same question, delivered in a different way, very much horses for courses, but I did try on paper before settling for 650b as the right compromise.
I'm still totally stoked on the Ion 29 and as one bike for all it's the king, it climbs, pedals and descends equally well..but as I have just taken delivery of an Argon TB...

For me, I HAD to have a bike with this set up but with my tweaks and German build quality, I've never charged into corners with such a feeling of confidence before...the downside I is when you do overlook it, you over cook it big time and it's not pretty!

So here is the resulting geometry, it's longer than a very long thing, this is an XXL by normal sizing. The wheelbase is 35mm longer than my 29..

It's tight at the back the same as an Ion 16 in terms of chainstay length with the same leverage ratio etc, optimised around 1x, there seemed no need to mess with the ST angle.
It was important to get a nice low ST to take advantage of the new Vecnum dropper post, so I plan to run a 170mm drop, I did consider the 200mm but dropping the ST to 420mm would have messed up the aesthetics and taken the Chainstays and shock out of alignment with the top tube. I had asked specifically to make sure we aligned these so it's pleasing on (my) eye.

The optimum trail setting is high and low is more for descending in crazy steeps/alps territory. I was going to make it a bit steeper in the HA but in high at 66.2 that's fine especially with a zero stem and 800mm bar.

Roll on wk 24...

Colour will be raw (again) with some extra love highlights and custom decals..
Build kit will be
Frame: Ion 16 FG
Fork: 2015 Fox 36 160mm
Headset: Hope integrated
Shock: CCDB air.
Seatpost: Vecnum Moveloc
Wheels: Chris King Hubs/derby Carbon 40mm rims 32h/DT SuperComp
Stem: OnOff Stoic 10mm
Bar: Enve DH 800mm /Renthal FatBar
Grips: ESI Race
Drivetrain: Sram XX1
Guide: MRP AM carbon guide
Saddle: SDG/Saevid S1.2
Tyres: Conti TrailKing 2.4 Fr/2.2 R
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I can't quite decide whether to add 5mm to the ETT. Need to know if the ETT and reach are 5mm longer in high mode or if it's just reach.
I hope to pick it up in June so if you're in the vicinity maybe you could😄
The fly in the ointment could be Fox 36 availability...


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
loamranger, I've been thinking about that recently. Still the most sublime feeling fork I have ever used bar none, although the 2012 36 I used recently came close with the non linear airspring.

I've certainly not ruled it out. Deville, possibly with a Kirk rear.
There is still the nagging element of spares/support, not so much from the fork as I understand seals/bushes are the same as used on the Fox 34 and its easy to do? My original Devilles are 3 years old now on the Helius AM my friend still has. Never been serviced, still just fine!

The rear is more of a concern if there's a problem.
Its looking like an Avalanche Float-x may be a possibility but I couldn't then fit a Deville could I, purely based on looks!

Hmm watch this space...for the extra 5mm and what suspension she ends up with!

I need to make sure I can get the CK XD driver too....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Due wk24 loamranger. 5wks. I'll try and get out to pick it up again. I think they are kinda curious now this is the 3rd frame with forward geo.
I have revised the geo slightly to 660mm ETT and 485mm/490mm reach.



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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Loamranger. I am 5'11"? the new Mondraker carbon (and the rest of the range) is based around a 30mm stem now. They have shortened their bikes, I assume to make them more mass market appeal (certainly pretty rare in the UK until massive discounting this year of the 26" 2013s although the frame was almost the price of a Nicolai). All sizes (ST) are 20mm shorter than 2013.
I have done my beta testing on a 2013 med which had 645mm ETT and 480mm reach. I needed more seated room in the TT but the reach was almost spot on, The 5mm Low/10mm High difference in reach on the Ion is to allow for me preferring a wider bar with 2deg more sweep than the test mule had (Renthal Fatbar Vs Easton/Enve DH 800mm )
The change from Mondraker is a pity in my view, although this geometry is clearly not for everyone. Myself I love the look/feel from the cockpit but I can see how it could feel too different and also how different riding styles could struggle with it. Their mission is to sell bikes at the end of the day and much respect and kudos to them for making this leap, I for one am very grateful!
If it was my company I would have kept seat tubes lower across the range in the larger sizes to allow more flexibility in stem selection, especially now we have 150, 170 and 200mm dropper posts.

Final drawing attached.



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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Final decision on colour made. A big dilemma for me. I like the welding so much, I like to see it, but I also like to see some colour an since this will be such a long beast I figured breaking it up visually could be good. I'm also a bit of a weight weenie so it's hard for me to go with powder coat. My favourite colours are blue and green.
Anyway I went with gates team scheme in the end, I do like the look of it. Going to get some graphics sorted out with Hoshi/Holger to suit the model.
You've seen these before I'm sure but I took one look and loved it.


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Great choice pilot, same as my monster truck, it is a great colour combo


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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Aghhh Fox 36 will be out after delivery, BOS are still shaky on parts service, PIke is a known entity, cheaper, even with an Avy cartridge and lighter and user serviceable but does it look as cool!!


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