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Thread: AM vs ION16

  1. #1
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! AM vs ION16

    Anyone can compare the AM with ION16. Climbing, Downhill, acceleration, stability... Is ION16 far "better"??

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    i cant say for sure as ive not ridden the ion16 however i have ridden both their bigger brothers. the AFR and ION18. the ION is a step forward in handling than the AFR(easier to turn and holds a line better)and it climbs just as well. it certainly does nothing worse than the AFR.

    i havnt studied the numbers for the ion16 but i seem to remember that the effective ST was a good bit slacker than the AM?
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    One of the main differences, and its not 'better' just different is the Ion has a significantly more linear progressive suspension curve meaning its more suited to taking bigger hits constantly, more of a DH rear suspension feel but the start of stroke is progressive with a slightly higher BB pivot point to stiffen up under initial pedalling load, so faster pick up out of the saddle.

    The Helius AM has a regressive curve initially meaning very plush but less responsive to pedalling but it then moves into a very progressive curve which is generally more forgiving of average air shocks and gives up its travel less easily.

    Ion doesn't have adjustable rear travel if that's important to you.
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    Thank you for both replies!!

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    Hi the_pilot,

    Just reading your reply concerning the differences between the ION 16 and the AM suspension, can I ask if either bike suffer's from 'pedal bob'??

    Also, is the ION 16 suspension set up the same as the ION 18??

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    On the Helius It's more sensitive to shock choice with regard to pedalling performance, but all the decent shocks with some form of platform damping these days combat that effectively so you don't notice in the real world unless out the saddle stomping on the flat. So a Fox RP23 CTD, RS Monarch plus etc all work really well. I never picked up on excessive pedal bob, certainly not in the way I did when I had The likes of Spesh FSR linkage set ups.

    The Ion is less sensitive to pedal induced bob than the Helius by design ( but as mentioned its not a real world issue for the Helius AM) but the Ion will be more sensitive to how well a shock is set up in the remainder of the travel. Being more linear progressive curve a badly set up air shock will blow through the travel rather easily and offer little mid stroke support. This is where a trad coil is ideal. It's also why Nicolai recommend the likes of the CCDB air for the Ion so this can be managed with both damping and volume. Basically the shock chamber volume needs to be adjusted to suit the bike/rider, but that's pretty easy to do without even removing the shock on most unit these days.

    So, the short answer is the Ion will suffer slightly less from pedal induced bob, but neither is any different to any other bike out there save the specific anti squat vpp/DW link type designs.

    As for the Ion 18 vs 16 I can't say. I know the pivot point has been changed on the 16 to specifically stiffen up the rear under initial pedalling load, this has a downside in that there is slightly more kick back, but there is a price to pay for everything. The reason for that is the Ion 16 is more enduro/all round focused like the Helius AM so pedalling is an important element and why people describe it as 'picking up' quickly, this is less of an issue with the 18 as its primarily designed to head down quickly so a nice linear progressive action throughout the stroke is what you want to manage repeated hits.

    Sorry for waffling on...
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    Hi the_pilot,

    Thanks for the prompt and detailed reply.

    I am hoping to join the Nicolai family but cannot decide between the Helius AM or the ION 18, I have been lucky enough to ride my friends Helius AM and your summary of the suspension feel is spot on but, I also like the look of the ION 18, which I have not had a chance to ride.

    I would prefer to build the ION 18 but leaning more towards a AM type set up so I can ride up the hills as well as down. Your earlier comments 'more of a DH rear suspension feel' & 'with a slightly higher BB pivot point to stiffen up under initial pedalling load, so faster pick up out of the saddle' describe's what I'm looking for but being able to pedal is an important issue!!.

    Being the first to the top of every hill is not important but I do need the bike to climb well enough that I don't need oxygen every time I finally reach the top?

    Do you think the linear type suspension is suited to a AM type set up based around the ION 18 platform??

    Thanks in advance.

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    Do you meant the ion 16? The 18 is more dh orientated, the 16 more comparable to the AM in weight, travel and intent
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    I'm with Dipper here, the 18 is a different beast in terms of intent than the Ion 16. The 16 is interchangeable with the Helius AM in terms of use and it would come down to what you might prefer as a 'feel' they are practically the same geometry too. The 18 is a light DH bike in its intended use.

    It sounds to me like you would be best suited to a Helius AM or Ion 16 with 170mm forks..but as to the choice, I doubt you would be disappointed in either. Maybe try and get to a NICOLAI demo day. They show where and when they are on their website.
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    Thanks for all your feedback.

    I was looking for a AM type bike with a bit more travel than the typical 160-170mm, maybe I'm looking for something that isn't available!! I now understand that the ION 18 is for DH / Freeride only however, because the geometry is so close to the ION 16, I thought that I could adapt it to suit my requirements and benefit from the longer travel.

    Thanks also for the suggestion to fit a 170mm fork, I will look again at both the Helius AM and the ION 16.

    All the best.

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    Ah, of course you could use the the Ion18 as a bike like you describe which I think is a light free ride bike really but I would think 34-35lbs is the best you could expect in terms of weight. It will pedal as well as anything else with that kind of purpose. you could spec an Ion 16 but to take a 180 fork and Nicolai will adjust the downtime/gusseting etc to fit.
    That's the beauty of a Nicolai, they will listen to these kind of requests!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_pilot View Post
    but as mentioned its not a real world issue for the Helius AM
    I can attest it is not. But I will be installing high volume can for CCDBA, and about to order -7mm shock mount, to lower it 10mm, slacke 0.5 degree, and run in 158mm mode - with 170mm/ZS front. I think it may be better. It actually will approximate Ion 16 geometry change. Will see. Nice to be able to tweak, but I have to admit that there is no real reason. Best bike I have ridden (but I did not ride Ion )

    170mm Lyrik runs very well on Helius - but I had to use Orbit E ZS headset for 1.5" (49mm) headtube - not the best headset, but it works..

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