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  1. #1
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    2009 nicolai helius am vs santa cruz nomad

    I cant decide between the santacruz nomad and the helius am. I hope you can help me. I need this bike to climb very steep hills, no matter the weight (I have strong legs), and to ride on very rocky and steep downhills with no more than 6 feet jumps or drops (down slope landings) with some near flat landings. The trails where I ride are singletracks with 1 feet diameter rocks at max, 2 feet steps, and fast turns.

    On basis the last information, which bike could resist this abuse, and still go up in the hills.

    Besides this information I need your help to decide wich wheels, tires, hubs, rims and brakes do I have to use to this riding style.

    I want to put a 44 T bashguard, which one do you recommend me? But please not to expensive stuff.

  2. #2
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    AM is a far better manufactured machine.
    pivots / bushings / bearings are built to last. the AM also is unique in the Helius range in the use of ceramic bearings
    it's a true Horst link too.
    NOMAD is VPP, not my cup of tea. also it's designed in California and more suited to dusty dry riding conditions.
    also the AM has 130/140/150/167mm of adjustable rear travel. incredibly versatile imo.

    where do you live / ride ?

  3. #3
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    Smile

    I live in northern mexico, the conditions are dry and dusty, buy very rocky single tracks.

    I have a doubt, the 2009 helius am has 130, 140, 150 and 160 mm rear travel adjustment, I read this in the nicolai website, or am I wrong, or maybe 2007 or 2008 had this 167 mm rear travel adjustment?

    How much abuse can this bike support? jumps, drops (what height?), rocky descents, etc. Which are the limits of these bike? What else can you tell me about this rig?

  4. #4
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    I can't tell ou about how it rides because i dont have one. however, the am was new for 2009, the helius fr has 167mm travel which can not be adjusted and has done for the past couple of years so this is the one you are thinking about it, NOT the am

  5. #5
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    That is a broad selection of needs, 6 foot to flat is getting up there. For me to be honest, I would almost look at the Helius FR to go against the SC Nomad....

    Very different riding bikes, as TLR mentions, VPP against a true Horst Link... Myself I dont like the feel and performance of VPP's....

    In terms of build quality etc, the Nicolai will blow the SC out of the water.... This is not being critical, just straight up the Nicolai is of far greater quality...

    I have a Helius FR, it rides well all day, it is some 33 lbs and rides up hill great and goes down hill like a demon on fire...... It is strong as can be.....

    Hard to suggest with out seeming biased..... But have owned a Santa Cruz VP Free and the build quality was poo's.... Feel go for a Helius FR or a strongly built Helius AM...
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  6. #6
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    Same here used to own a VP-Free and altho i loved the bike at the time i'm AMAZED in the difference in build quality with the Nicolai. I have a Helius FR sitting around 34lbs but pretty burly build and its an awesome machine!

    I upgraded from the AM to the FR, not that the AM wasnt capable or anything just i felt the seat tube was a bit long for me and a few other little quirks so i went with the tailor option and got the FR.

    If you need any more info just yell....

    How could you live without this gusset





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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekr
    Same here used to own a VP-Free and altho i loved the bike at the time i'm AMAZED in the difference in build quality with the Nicolai. I have a Helius FR sitting around 34lbs but pretty burly build and its an awesome machine!

    I upgraded from the AM to the FR, not that the AM wasnt capable or anything just i felt the seat tube was a bit long for me and a few other little quirks so i went with the tailor option and got the FR.

    If you need any more info just yell....

    How could you live without this gusset





    Derek
    Ok, I have decided to buy a nicolai, but then other doubt has appeared, helius am or helius fr. I ask you because you have had experience with both models. Can you do all day epics with the fr? or it is too heavy. If I buy a fr I will buy a fox dhx 5.0 air, and marzocchi 55 eta 160 mm coil front, mavic 521 wheels, schwalbe fat albert 2.4, slx hubs, dt swiss spokes, full xt drive train, bbg 44 T bashguard, titec saddle, thomson seat post, fsa freeride stem, fsa freeride handle bar, across headset, xt brakes. Do you think a helius fr built this way can do all day epics and climb very steep hills. how much pedal bob will it have? I see not much difference in weight between am and fr, just 1 pound (400 grs). Is it worthy to buy a fr instead am?

    I want this bike to do twice a month downhill runs and to climb hills (steep hills), and then enjoy the downslope. Jumps, drops, etc.

  8. #8
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    Diego , welcome to the dilemma i had .... FR v AM good luck.

    And i can confirm the 2009 (my model) has 167mm rear in top hole .
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  9. #9
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    I have to say unless you have ever broken a bike big time then the AM will do with out over equiping ones self!
    Derekr, I am just changing to V2 180 brake set up instead of mini pro which is now on wifes bike and which I will never get back!

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    diegoperegrina, I've only riden the old FR and the CC.....but I suspect that the AM would be better for twisty single track and the new FR would be better for long DH descents. All Nicolai's climb very well and ride much lighter than their weight would suggest. The new FR would allow you to fit a Totem or 66. The AM will build 1 or 2 lbs lighter. You will love either of them.

  11. #11
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    Same dilema for me
    If as you say, both frames have the same travel, why to choose the FR? considering that im not going big air, the AM frame is 500gr lighter so you can built a lighter bike or go for a coil shock. The problem is the fork, can you spec a 180mm fork on the AM? i like the slacker head angle but im not sure if the bottom braket will go sky high.

  12. #12
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    Cannot spec a 180 mm fork ont he AM, wyou can on the FR....

    I think you should be going with an AM...
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  13. #13
    steep fast and loose :)
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    my AM weighs in at 32lbs including CCDB and TALAS 36's.
    equivalent FR weighs in at 34.5lbs. (DEREKR's)

  14. #14
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    They are both awesome bikes you cant really go wrong, just weigh up the +/-'s and work out what will suit you best.
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  15. #15
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    it's not all about the weight or travel. If you look at it like that then the AM/FR overlap depending on build. BB height and geometry are more important. Both pedal very well. AM definitely turns faster wheras the FR is more stable. It is a tough one though. I'd say the FR has more options up it's sleeve if you plan on chucking on a big fork and doing some DH'ing

  16. #16
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    The AM will suit you as a full on all day trail ripper, where as the FR is this and on steroids......
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  17. #17
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    The bottom line for me was really how much time was spent pedalling up hills and around tech singletrack/xc stuff v the occasional downhill/freeride , the AM won by 99% !
    And i mean downhill and freeride that the AM couldnt handle with ease ..... which in my case is BIGGER than i will ever go

    The FR is the best looking bike on the panet IMO and it was probably that which had me fighting with myself over them.... trying to justify to myself that i needed the FR , but my riding style had AM wrote all over it from kick off
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  18. #18
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    expound please

    Quote Originally Posted by Whafe
    Hard to suggest with out seeming biased..... But have owned a Santa Cruz VP Free and the build quality was poo's.... Feel go for a Helius FR or a strongly built Helius AM...
    What about the build quality was poo? I mean, were the welds breaking on you? Was the rear out of alignment? Did the bearing clap out on you really quick. Were you not able to keep the bike maintained and solid feeling? You say build quality, but do you mean performance? Because if you said it performed like poo, then I can totally understand that.

  19. #19
    steep fast and loose :)
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    this is the best looking nicolai



    and is reason alone to consider the AM.

    the FR has a BMX gusset FFS !
    Last edited by The_Lecht_Rocks; 05-09-2009 at 11:15 AM.

  20. #20
    steep fast and loose :)
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    loki - whafe is using comparitive analysis.
    the nicolais are so far ahead of every other manufacturer of FS frames that everything else just doesn't compare.
    however, other manufacturers can compete on performance and ability

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki
    What about the build quality was poo? I mean, were the welds breaking on you? Was the rear out of alignment? Did the bearing clap out on you really quick. Were you not able to keep the bike maintained and solid feeling? You say build quality, but do you mean performance? Because if you said it performed like poo, then I can totally understand that.
    I sense some sarcasm here Loki.....

    I purchased a VP Free to cover me until Intense made there Large Uzzi VPX some years back..... Of course the welds were not breaking, I was more coming from the fact that the alignment in the rear end was poo's, and I have to say as was my Uzzi when it finally arrived.. And yes the bearings were poo real quick....

    When pointed downhill the bike was very stable, but in other areas it did not float my boat.....

    But also am talking overall build quality and attention to detail, of which I guess you couldnt expect SC build quality to be at the level of Nicolai.... This stuff is important to me and am sure it isnt to many people....... Hope that makes sense....
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  22. #22
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    Not sarcasm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Whafe
    I sense some sarcasm here Loki.....

    I purchased a VP Free to cover me until Intense made there Large Uzzi VPX some years back..... Of course the welds were not breaking, I was more coming from the fact that the alignment in the rear end was poo's, and I have to say as was my Uzzi when it finally arrived.. And yes the bearings were poo real quick....

    When pointed downhill the bike was very stable, but in other areas it did not float my boat.....

    But also am talking overall build quality and attention to detail, of which I guess you couldnt expect SC build quality to be at the level of Nicolai.... This stuff is important to me and am sure it isnt to many people....... Hope that makes sense....
    I wanted to know what wasn't good about the build quality, and you answered.

    I might be picking up a VP-free for a good deal from a friend, so I was just wondering what the big negatives where.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki
    I wanted to know what wasn't good about the build quality, and you answered.

    I might be picking up a VP-free for a good deal from a friend, so I was just wondering what the big negatives where.
    No worries, the VP Free was a good bike, but just didnt skid my wheels on everything....

    If you get one for a good deal, am sure it will serve you well..... Just check the rear end and the bearings...... Good luck with it though...
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  24. #24
    steep fast and loose :)
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    this is the best looking Helius


  25. #25
    steep fast and loose :)
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    oops - sorry for the double post

  26. #26
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    Is indeed a hawt looking Nicolai.... My only jip is the cable for the a n a l dropper..... LOL....
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  27. #27
    steep fast and loose :)
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    fwiw, my mate's just built his 2009 Nomad up. we were on the trail together last night.
    VPP suspension system works differently.
    1.5" HT had a reducer which looks stoopid.
    Nomad frame design is overly complicated, and COMPARED to the Nicolai, the tubing looked cheaply finished.
    no option for a 12mm BT rear either ! WTF ?
    in fact, no options available at all on the NOMAD

    all in, the NICOLAI has multiple build options, frame travel adjustability and SO Much better build quality. simple, but effective, that's the beauty of the proven HL design.

  28. #28
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    I second TLR's comments.... Here Here.... Go the Nicolai's
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  29. #29
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    animate DIEGO y has caso al sensei LOLO

  30. #30
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    I was facing the same choice myself, Helius or Nomad. For me the Helius won on build quality, stiffness and geo. The Nomad is nice frame but considering its a production bike I think it is overpriced compared to the hand crafted Nic (and of course that little bit more common.

    Full build spec and thread to follow, frame should be here some time in July. yipppeeeee!

  31. #31
    steep fast and loose :)
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    rpm - did you buy an AM ?

  32. #32
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    I placed the order with Dan @ HFTH.

    Medium, Hammer mount, 12mm bolt through, red love and RAW finish .

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpm100


    I placed the order with Dan @ HFTH.

    Medium, Hammer mount, 12mm bolt through, red love and RAW finish .
    Yeah baby, go the raw with red Extra Love......

    Cant wait to see it already, me love raw finish......

    How long is the wait?

    Bring it on....
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  34. #34
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    Its gonna be the longest 6-8 weeks of my life.

    The plan is to have the whole bike in silver with red finishing bits.
    Basic spec so far is:-

    2 step Air lyrik (silver with red)
    DHX Air 5
    Red hope pro 2's,silver spokes and DT5.1's (trying to find some AM rims in silver.anyone?)
    Red hope,stem,headset,post clamp etc.
    XT drive
    Thompson silver post
    Marta sl (red of course)
    Easton cnt bars
    Hoses and cables braided silver.

    Hopefully it should look good.

  35. #35
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    Sounds sweet, nice build spec's.... I would consider going with 36 Hole DT 5.1 Rims. I feel it is worth it, my wheels built up with 36 Hole 5.1 rims have been bomb proof and taken a beating.... Just a thought...

    6 - 8 weeks will be well worth it.....



    Quote Originally Posted by rpm100
    Its gonna be the longest 6-8 weeks of my life.

    The plan is to have the whole bike in silver with red finishing bits.
    Basic spec so far is:-

    2 step Air lyrik (silver with red)
    DHX Air 5
    Red hope pro 2's,silver spokes and DT5.1's (trying to find some AM rims in silver.anyone?)
    Red hope,stem,headset,post clamp etc.
    XT drive
    Thompson silver post
    Marta sl (red of course)
    Easton cnt bars
    Hoses and cables braided silver.

    Hopefully it should look good.
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  36. #36
    steep fast and loose :)
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    whafe - 36 hole 5.1D's are less strong than 32 spoke 521's from what i can gather, and 521's are possibly available in silver still.
    rpm - that will be distinctive and funky, although too much colour for my liking.
    i assume you're going Schmidt from the outset ?
    is it a brand new build or are you importing parts ?

  37. #37
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    Good luck with the "6-8 wk wait".....

    I ordered my Helius AM from HftH 10 wks ago and they haven't been invoiced yet (usually 5-10 wkg days prior to delivery) so I'm looking at 12 weeks minimum

  38. #38
    steep fast and loose :)
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    now the weathers picking up (well last week it did), the AM and I are beginning to bond.
    it's ripping up the trail.
    it's fast, agile, and rock solid.
    superior stiffness, perfect geometry for 160mm front / 167mm rear and small and square edged sensitivities, all I can say is i'm starting to be impressed.
    the stability combined with such neutral handling is phenomenal.
    zero brake jack, the CCDB having solved the air shocks mid stroke blow through, and the resolute way it just takes a fukkn hammering are incredible.
    i've slipped on a pair of snakeskin'd big bettys for the rock runs last week, and these have really shown the frameset can take a severe battering.
    with the CCDB, even at full tilt, the bottom out is hard to find.
    my only criticism is the issues i have with pedal strike, but this is now becoming a small price for rock solid, sure footed handling and incredible feedback.
    at no point does the set up not indicate it's intentions - the neutrality means all feedback is telling and comunicaative, but it needs high speed rocky runs to realy get inside what's happening.
    like most good designs, it's difficult to learn just how capable they are until the weather dries out, speeds increase and feedback is available.
    i feel i may have been a bit unfair in my 1st impressions , but it does need massive speed , commitment and bollox to get into the zone with the AM.
    unless you're giving it the tw@tting of it's life, you're just not doing it justice.

    enjoy it, but cane it...for that ,you'll be thankful

  39. #39
    steep fast and loose :)
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    oh - and i reckon the FR needs even bigger speeds and bigger trails to really learn about it's character - i just wish i lived in alpine territory to discover it

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surrey Hills Rider
    Good luck with the "6-8 wk wait".....

    I ordered my Helius AM from HftH 10 wks ago and they haven't been invoiced yet (usually 5-10 wkg days prior to delivery) so I'm looking at 12 weeks minimum

    my st arrived without a word to the shop, no invoice or anything, it just turned up.... it was wrong though

  41. #41
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    TLR great write up, but please, no more.
    I'm am beginning to physically hurt with excitement!

    6,8,10,12 weeks, good things come to those who wait. I just hope we are still in summer by the time I finally get to swing my leg over her.

    S H R what colour, shock and build are you going for?

  42. #42
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    Yeah my frame arrived before the invoice, i think the frame came direct from Germany then Nicolai UK invoice your LBS.

    Agree'd with TLR's he was giving it a good pasting last week on the rocks!
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpm100
    TLR great write up, but please, no more.
    I'm am beginning to physically hurt with excitement!

    6,8,10,12 weeks, good things come to those who wait. I just hope we are still in summer by the time I finally get to swing my leg over her.

    S H R what colour, shock and build are you going for?
    rpm - trust me when you get to the 8 week mark you'll probably start to get fed up....
    I've gone for anno black, extra love red bits & decals, 12mm rear, DHX air shock - although your "natural" finish has got me thinking! (way too late to change now though)
    Build-wise it's full XTR, Van 36's up front, Formula The One brakes, King headset, Thompson bar & stem, Easton DH bars, Hope hubs on Mavic 721's.
    Did you demo the blue AM from HftH? - I had it out about 5 times and I have to say I rode stuff I wouldn't have done on my current bike. Where are you based? - I'm in Dorking.

  44. #44
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    I did indeed test ride the blue demo bike. I took it out for a day and was shocked at the way it tracked.
    Your build sounds sweet. I ride with a guy who races a Nicolai Empire and he swears by his 'The Ones, he's been through most makes of brakes but reckons these are quite literally The One!

    I was tempted to go black ano, but I want to really use this bike and not worry about damn scuffs and chips, so I figured leave it raw and give it that true industrial Nicolai look. If after a while I fancy some colour, I will get it painted.

    I'm from Birmingham, so its a fair trek to HftH !!

  45. #45
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    rpm
    I trust you found some good terrain in the Surrey Hills to test the AM out.
    You've really got me thinking I should have gone raw on the finish - like you I'm not a fan of knackering my paintwork so I'll need plenty of 'copter tape. Dan and Rog at HftH are top guys. The AM demo has gone up north to another Nic dealer so I can't take advantage during the long wait anymore. I don't know about you but reading some of the posts on here my only nagging concern is that after the long wait the spec won't be right - I could live without anno linkages and stickers can be changed but I really want the 12mm back end. I'm probably just being paranoid though!

  46. #46
    steep fast and loose :)
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    SHR : if you have a rear hub that's 12mm adaptable, then i see no reason to not go 12mm rear.
    if however, like me , you run Chris King, then I see no reason to convert to 12mm !

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surrey Hills Rider
    Good luck with the "6-8 wk wait".....

    I ordered my Helius AM from HftH 10 wks ago and they haven't been invoiced yet (usually 5-10 wkg days prior to delivery) so I'm looking at 12 weeks minimum
    Sorry to bring this thread up, just wondering if your bike has arrived yet, if not, I make it 12 weeks and counting!

  48. #48
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    RPM

    It arrived at HftH last friday (11.5 weeks) and they've been building it up this week - It's been in the window of the shop with new bits added day by day. Dan called today to tell me it will be ready tomorrow so I'm bracing myself for some open wallet surgery and looking forward to getting out on the AM.

    Good luck with yours

  49. #49
    steep fast and loose :)
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    shr - we need pics and a review ASAP

  50. #50
    steep fast and loose :)
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    shr - any further forward , pics, review ?

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