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  1. #1
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    Helius AM or AC?

    I'm thinking about treating myself this year as I've got a big birthday coming up

    I want a Helius but not sure whether to go for an AM or an AC

    I live in the UK, in the Peak District so there's some fairly challenging rides nearby, but then again its not the Alps

    I am hoping to get to the Alps now and again, and can only afford to keep one bike, so I'm unsure what to go for

  2. #2
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    There's no right or wrong answer really, not least because you can run the AM in several different builds/travel settings so it's very versatile. It is more bike than you'll ever find yourself wanting for UK trail riding though so opting for it would be on the basis that you will want to take it to the Alps regularly, maybe hit some UK DH trails/uplifts or if you're a balls out, hit the rough stuff pretty hard and weigh more than say 95kg type of rider.

    At that point, the extra metal and stiffness of the AM makes sense. This is the category I fall into being heavier at 105kg and relatively quick downhill and especially over rocks.

    Put it this way, on the AM last August in Verbier, I was more than able to keep up with another very capable rider on an Orange 224 with a Cane Creek and Totem Coil forks; point being that the AM is not going to lose out until the terrain gets very serious. It's easily on a par with a DH bike for most of what you would ride in the UK, short of something like Fort Bill or the silly steep DH tracks in north Wales.

    But it is quite a bit heavier than the AC; you're adding 400g or about one pound in weight, so unless you really need the extra metal, the AC might still be a better choice.

    Here's a thing. I'm originally from south Manchester and I'm going to be heading up there in March for a visit and ride so if you want to have a go on my AM you're welcome to. There should be an AC knocking about for a demo as well. If 18Bikes don't have one, I can arrange to bring one from my local bike shop, but it would be kind of on the understanding that you bought any future bike from them, otherwise it would be a little off to be taking advantage.

    My AM is a customised large in the older geometry, I can explain that in more detail if you want to take me up on the offer. I might also be able to bring a mate with me who has a new medium.

  3. #3
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    I've always been a fan of big bikes but probably as they had better angles than lighter bikes. Now we're seeing lighter trail bikes like the newer, slacker Ac with head angles @ 67.5deg and 150mm travel so they feel like big bikes but without the weight. Also suspension is getting cleverer with more midrange support(Bos and fit cart fox's for example) so you can get away with less without feeling like you need more travel

    You won't go wrong with either and there is quite a bit of overlap. Realistic minimum weight for an AM is 30lb(although mines 34 with dropper and hammerschmidt) and say a couple lb less for an AC
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  4. #4
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    Speaking of AM's geetee, mine looks scarily similar to yours! Dizzy urban camo front, grey rear, Bo's vipr, deville 170's and Easton haven(alloy) wheels. Oh and reverb post!
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  5. #5
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    I'm tall and skinny 6'2" and about 75 kg so I'm thinking the AC might be enough

    I ride a large Patriot at the moment and its a hefty old thing

  6. #6
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    Or how about an old style AM? I've got just the thing don't think there's a great deal of difference between the original AM and the current AC. Sure geetee will keep you right on that though as his AM is an original as well
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  7. #7
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    Jools, my AM is a large with a short seat tube, so basically the same dimensions as the one that Dipper is selling. The AC that my local has is the older geometry and is only a medium so way too small for you. My large AM would be spot on.

    I'm aiming to be up there third weekend in March 24th but I am flexible. You could try mine and then make a decision on Dippers or a new one.

  8. #8
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    I am 6ft and 100kg and ride a large AC.
    I have owned 2 FR's aswell,and an Ion.
    If you are just xc/trail riding the Ac is brilliant.I hit most things on my AC that i used to hit of the Fr.I just avoid anything big to flat.
    The AC is not as big built as an Fr/am,so i treat it with more care.
    I have not ridden the peaks,but have ridden trail centres on my AC and Dartmoor and lots of trails locally.
    Awesome bike.Love the AC.
    You wont be disapointed.

  9. #9
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    All I'm wondering is if an AC could handle a trip to the Alps

    I know plenty of people have ridden Orange 5's in the Alps so I'm guessing it would be do-able

    And geetee, sounds good, thanks for the offer

  10. #10
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    A friend of mine on an AC won Trans Provence no trouble and that was gnarly. and I did it on a rigid and it didn't break.

    Nicolai overbuild for strength and stiffness. Mark of Singletrack took his AC to the alps with Fox 36's and had no problems!

    Having said that I have a spec for an AM at 28lb and one at 29lb, all with normal non exotic kit, just careful build and I know the weights cos...well best not ask.. Below is the 29lb build, a few small changes saves another pound without going crazy on cost just changes saddle, discs, cassette, stem, grips.

    Dippers Black AM would save 4 figures over a new one which would pay for most of it and you'd have a bullet proof trail bike at a really good weight. Sounds like a plan to me ;-)


    Spec by philip.pryor, on Flickr" width="549">
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  11. #11
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    Thanks for the info, it looks fairly reasonable price wise

    I'm not really looking for a used bike, I need to spec the colour myself

  12. #12
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    Thats fair enough, just trying to be helpful.

    In which case an AC will be more than man enough for what you describe and more of a trail geometry than the current AM which is geared more to descending.

    I've ridden my 20lb RC 120mm/100mm down CwmCarn downhill with no ill effects and in the peaks ( my nearest proper natural riding, I live near Leicester), Brecons, and thrash it off the jumps and black runs at Cannock, again with no ill effects. Great fun :-)

    I'm waiting for an AC29 to replace my AM at the moment and I'm getting that specifically to thrash in Enduro races in the alps and Italian race series...



    Read all the above numbers into a frame 3-400g lighter so a 27-28lb bike. Bonza, Enjoy the colour configurator.

    There is another colour configurator set up by someone else that has I think all the RALs
    iscape.de Nicolai Helius AM Konfigurator
    iscape.de Nicolai Helius AM Konfigurator
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  13. #13
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    Yeah, my gut feeling is steering me towards an AC as I think it will feel more lively, especially on xc rides over here. At most I can only see me getting to the Alps for a few days a year.

    Thanks for the colour configurator link, most helpful

  14. #14
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    Pilot there is something fishy about the listing and the total weight. My AM is now running pretty much about as light as you could possible build an AM and it's still showing 29lbs 7ozs on my Park digital scales.

    Having been very anal about weight as well, I have also done the 'take everything off and weigh it individually' exercise, which I'm pretty sure is what you're alluding to having done, but rightly not admiting to it

    I'm running 1x10 with Carbon wheels,

  15. #15
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    Pilot I think you've been a touch optimistic with the wheels on that build. The UST 2.25 Ardents are 1760g a pair (like you I've taken every thing off the bike and weighed each part individually because I am sad like that! ) so that makes the wheels 1313g without rim tape or latex. The Easton Haven Carbons are 1450 a pair and the Arch rim is heavier than the Easton one so I think probably those wheels and tyres are more like 3360g. Either way, I also don't think a wheel built with an Arch rim is going to last very long on an AM being ridden hard in the Alps or the Peak (christ my supposedly bomb proof Eastons only survived 3 hours in the Alps before the rear gave up!) Your build is also missing a chain device, which again it woluld need if being ridden properly.

    My AM is 13.35kg/29lbs 7ozs with the following spec:



    I've got exactly 230g of excess weight on it. If I switched to a regular CK headset rather than the steel set I've got, and stuck in a star nut rather than the CK preloaded, I would just about scrape under the 29lbs mark.

  16. #16
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    Oh I can save you more than that.

    Where do you think the 230g is so I don't duplicate ;-)

    You owe me 200g in your saddle alone!!

    The wheel weight is from my own experience, rims, spokes, tyres and hubs all weighed. (420g rim, 288g spokes at that length, 64 3x none of this 24 nonsense ;-), 285g, 175g hubs, 650g tyres)

    my xtr race crank and ring is 647g inc BB, the middleburn and ck closer to 700g

    Chain is 50g more than YBN

    Starnut is 30g heavier than a gum gum and more than that less than a compression plug

    Chainguide, even without the bottom is probably 60g more than a weeze or carbocage at 65g with the bottom guide.

    Cables are at least 50g heavier than alligators

    Grips are 60g heavier than Ozriders (which I use on my AM lovely grips)

    Even a standard CK is 50g heavier tthan a light Acros non ceramic

    The rear skewer is 25g heavier than a hollow axle steel qr.

    Pedals are 50g heavier than PointOne non Ti (mine are 320g) not weighed them tho going on manufacturer weight.

    And if your going to use light tyres get some shwalbes on it rocket Ron and Nobby Nic for the win at sub 900g for both :-)
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  17. #17
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    Please take that last post as intended. All in good fun. Not everyone wants to sit on my saddle!!!
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  18. #18
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    Oh don't worry Pilot, I take it very well indeed

    I ballsed up on the previous post, thought that it hadn't made it over.

  19. #19
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    Of course the huge variable is Nics frame weight. my RC was spot on. Sdr08s AC was about 350g heavier than quoted.

    And you're right that frame weight in there is for a medium and a large is required here.

    Basically the actual frame weight could mess up my weights by. Pound. Your frame is large and painted isn't it so 300g for paint and another 100g ish for large. A bit for 1.5" headtube if that too.

    You wouldn't run those tyres in the alps would you?
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  20. #20
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    I like the people on this forum, we really should get together for a beer sometime :-)
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  21. #21
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    Arches would be fine in the alps every now and then on a well built wheel, obviously depends on how hard you ride. I've run Olympics in the gnarr before without trouble. Jool's is only 75kg remember.
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  22. #22
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    Pilot - I'm heading up to the Peak end of March if you wanted to share some trals.

    My frame is 3188g - I know because I stripped it right back and weighed it, along with every other bit on the bike.

    I wouldn't run those tyres in the alps; come to think of it I wouldn't run them in the Peak either. I have to run at least a rear dual ply tyre, if not front and rear otherwise I just get pinch flats every km. I am heavy though and not especially graceful over rocks. Because I'm heavy I can carry OK speed and my wheels just take a pounding. My local trails are all roots and loam, no rocks, so I can get away with it here.

    I'm 105kg!

  23. #23
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    I just would like to add something to this conversation: I had an AC but I was "forced" to change it for an AM. My AC frame bend in the down and top tubes right after the head tube in a front crash into a tree... The AC is lighter but AM significantly solid. AC can handle big drops and jumps and it's a super fast trail bike, but it seems to have vulnerable points along the frame.

    I'm sure you can't go wrong with an AC but I think you should now about this...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_pilot View Post
    I've ridden my 20lb RC 120mm/100mm down CwmCarn downhill with no ill effects and in the peaks ( my nearest proper natural riding, I live near Leicester), Brecons, and thrash it off the jumps and black runs at Cannock, again with no ill effects. Great fun :-)

    I'm waiting for an AC29 to replace my AM at the moment and I'm getting that specifically to thrash in Enduro races in the alps and Italian race series...
    I'm interested in the AC29 and RC. Which do you think you would take off for a casual ride on mellow terrain? What about on rocky, rooty, more difficult terrain? What about a day-long tour with friends, say 1500m? What about a 5 or 6-day tour with 1200-1600m each day? Not racing, just riding about for fun.

    Just curious, as I am idly daydreaming about a 2nd bike (in addition to my 14kg AC) for certain applications! I'm no racer (and never will be), but I'm contemplating a transalp type tour and more day tours with friends with mellower bikes on relatively easy terrain.

  25. #25
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    Get together for a beer? Get you pair in a pub and I don't think I'd make it past 9 oclock!
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  26. #26
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    Dipper I did hear you were a light weight who can't take his drink

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by tantrumizer View Post
    I'm interested in the AC29 and RC. Which do you think you would take off for a casual ride on mellow terrain?

    Well the answer to that one is undoubtedly my RC, no question.


    What about on rocky, rooty, more difficult terrain?
    The answer to that one is it depends on its nature. If it was a fast bombing descend day then I'd take the AC but if it was a just technical terrain both climbing and descending, maybe tight in the woods then the RC, in many ways technical terrain, if not really fast is easier on a 26", its definitely one of its strengths. It may only have 120/100 but its very plush, accurate and easy to manoeuvre being so light. I was tempted to try the front with a 29" front wheel for certain applications but the more I ride it the less I think its worth it, its that good.

    What about a day-long tour with friends, say 1500m?
    A day long tour again could be either bike really depending on the nature of it, assuming 1500m climbing, that would be ok on both bikes for me, but that is the usual climbing for the Enduro races I do, but much less tiring on the RC due to its weight. The AC will roll well but ultimately its those climbs that will suck it out of you. However if its just one day, being properly knackered isn't a problem.

    The Black Mountains 3 day is ideal for the RC for example, 2000m a day climbing, 75km a day, a combination of technical rocky, fire road and natural bridleway in the Brecons, nothing crazy in terms of descending, although the gap is pretty rocky. You can't ride the RC as fast in the gnarr obviously.

    Similar was the Lakes Epic last year, RC territory with 75km through the Lakes, over 2000m climbing, technical up and down, but not balls out fast terrain in horrible weather.

    Whereas for an Enduro race with similar distances, I'd have the AC out to attack all the descents, but thats a race.

    What about a 5 or 6-day tour with 1200-1600m each day? Not racing, just riding about for fun.
    RC for me on that one again, its so light and responsive that amount of climbing is just not a problem and it is huge fun, very flickable and lively. Different to bruising your way through and flattening terrain, which is also great fun but in a different way. I think the level of gnarr does matter though, if that tour was taking place in the South of France, Maritime Alps or similar, I'd be taking the AC, just because its sooo rocky and has 30minute descents.


    Just curious, as I am idly daydreaming about a 2nd bike (in addition to my 14kg AC) for certain applications! I'm no racer (and never will be), but I'm contemplating a transalp type tour and more day tours with friends with mellower bikes on relatively easy terrain.
    For that the RC is great, it is a shame Nicolai weren't prepared to build an RC in a 29er flavour for me, however, the RC is better than I had hoped, the people I discussed it with before taking the plunge were right. It is so light, I can get away with very fast rolling very light tyres which makes life easier still.

    I am also very impressed by the plushness and stiffness of the lefty fork on it, that with the Kashima RP23 does make the suspension very very plush and yet it pedals brilliantly in and out of the saddle, I never use the pro pedal. There is an alternative also currently in the form of German:A, who make a conventional fork around the same weight. However the lefty stands out for its stiffness and plushness, I often think its set too soft the small bump compliance is so good, but sag, pressures and response are spot on.

    Not sure where you are but if its UK and you wanted to get together for a ride sometime you can happily try it out. Demo's might be a bit hard to come by, mine is currently the only one in the UK!

    Finally I don't know whether its still there, but there was a cancelled order with Nic UK in a Large size at an outstanding price, like half price!!! Dipper has details. I could have had large or med really. Large is perfect for a nice short 50 or 70mm stem. The shortest I can run on a lefty is 80mm so I went med.

    Hope that helps. In summary I'd say Nicolai's description of the RC as Race/Marathon/Tour is spot on.
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  28. #28
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    I can't take my drink by the way!
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by geetee1972 View Post
    Dipper I did hear you were a light weight who can't take his drink
    You've seen the Facebook pics then?
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_pilot View Post
    Not sure where you are but if its UK and you wanted to get together for a ride sometime you can happily try it out. Demo's might be a bit hard to come by, mine is currently the only one in the UK!
    Thanks for the very generous offer, but I'm in Switzerland (but in the relatively less mountainous bit). My local dealer won't have an AC29 until summer and isn't planning to get an RC at all, hence my request for some rider feedback.

    Phil, your feedback is really interesting and much appreciated! I guess my options would be either to get an AC29 and put the HS and maybe some other heavy bits on it, then lighten my AC. Or leave the AC as is and have an RC as the light bike.

    That said, probably I should just ride my current bike around regardless. But I somehow doubt my capacity to get the HS and a 14kg AC up extended steep sections. And I'm feeling a strange yearning to experience some of the Swiss mountains in a non-lift-assisted way - which I would never have imagined wanting to do at all until recently.

    Quote Originally Posted by the_pilot View Post
    Finally I don't know whether its still there, but there was a cancelled order with Nic UK in a Large size at an outstanding price, like half price!!! Dipper has details. ]
    Dipper, you can send me a PM if you like.

  31. #31
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    Sorry, just realised this thread has been a bit hijacked into a "AC29 or RC" discussion (and about beer), so apologies for my part in this derailing.

  32. #32
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    I'm sure Jools is ok. We've decided he should get an AC
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  33. #33
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    pilot - interesting that Nicolai would not build a RC29er... Seems odd, I had contemplated asking on more than one occasion... I think I could also shed the AC29er, and get an RC29er.... Have the AM29er and a RC29er....

    Anyway, sorry to derail a derailed thread even more.... As we know, Jools is down with an AC...... Do feel Jools should well look at a AC29er.....

    dipper, make sure the urban camo goes to a good home... That is my most favorite frame of all time I have owned
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  34. #34
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    Maybe Nicolai will put the AC29enduro into their lineup Kind of the AM to your monster truck Ion of the 29er world.


    Helius ACe Final by philip.pryor, on Flickr

    Should be great fun. My intention is to run it at 120mm most of the time and with a 68.5-69deg head angle most of the time with 140mm forks.

    Something like this could be worth considering Jools. It will be AC tubing to keep the weight down apart from the down tube which will be slightly heavier duty to allow the bigger fork to be used.

    It can be run as a standard AC, although with an 8mm shorter chain stay OR it can have bigger forks and a much slacker head angle. target weight is about 29lbs.
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  35. #35
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    Actually looking again at what you're after Jools, the above Nicolai may be just up your street. It should be here mid march. Since the Peak is pretty local to me we could hook up and you can have a bash if you like. Essentially I have tried to design it so it works well in the UK in terms of pedalling, mud clearance etc. but has the capability to hang with the big boys enduro racing in the alps by changing the head angle and rear travel (Though the latter is a feature all Helius' have, this is the first I will have had with the intention of only going for the bigger travel when in the big mountains.

    And Geetee, it'd be great to hook up in the peaks late March, look forward too it :-).
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