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  1. #1
    spr
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    Nicolai Helius AM and Chumba XCL

    I am looking for a new bike and was thinking of the Nicolai AM (currently ride a 5.5 Turner Spot).

    I also have an option to buy Chumba XCL (5 inch rear travel),what is the different between the 2 bikes?(looks almost the same)

    Thx

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    I would say alot but foremost build quality! completley different beasts - one is well imho cheap and cheerful the other is class...
    Last edited by derekr; 01-14-2009 at 03:33 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Seems like the XCL and AM are of similar designs (but they will undoubtedly ride different), but they are not in the same class.

  4. #4
    spr
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    XCL Vs AM

    When you say that the frames not in the same class, how do you feel it during the ride?handling?stiff...Its almost half a price

    thx

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    You can debate the differences to the nth degree but the only real way to find out what's different about them is to ride them.

    If you don't have that option, then reviewing the spec sheets will help.

    The crucial difference MAY be that the Chumbas aren't actually using a licenced Horst Link design (licenced from Specialized). It doesn't say on their website whether it is or it isn't, but the design looks a little the old Giant design that looked like a horst link but wasn't. The key difference is where the drop out is in relation to the pivot on the chainstay. The Horst link has the dropout ever so slightly higher than the pivot in order to maintan the desired axle path. By comparrison, the Chumba's dropout is quite a bit higher - older Giants used this same configuration with the bike designed to be run with zero sag. I don't know why. Again I say maybe because I couldn't find anything on their website to confirm this.

    Ellsworth apparently get around the Horst patent by having the dropout exactly in line with the pivot; again, I;m not 100% sure on this and even less sure of the actual diffrences in how the bike rides.

    Nicolai use the licenced Horst Link design, which many people feel is superior in terms of the performance it gives, but again, the only real way to find out is to ride them both. The licencing may add a little to the cost, but it doesn't account for the much bigger price difference.

    What really stands out on the Nicolais is the quality of their construction, for example their welding is exemplary - remember that the quality of the welding goes a long way to determining the strength of the frame. Similarly, the pains that Nicolai go to in order to ensure exact alignment, i.e. the front end lines up perfectly with the rear so your wheels track perfectly. This makes a big difference to how the bike rides, it's ability to hold a line for example. It also makes a big difference to reducing wear at the pivots - poorly aligned frames give rise to unequal force being applied to pivots which places more stress on the bushings and the bearings. You'll notice this when 6 months down the line, your back end is loose and you need to replace all your bushings and bearings.

    But ultimately, I think all of this, while very real, is still just marketing. You could probably ride the Chumba just as effectively as the Helius AM.

    What it really comes down to, and there's really no getting away from this, is WHAT DO YOUR REALLY WANT; what does your heart yearn for; if you bought the Chumba, would you spend the next few years thinking about the Nicolai?

    I think with Nicolais more than any other make, you either want one or you don't. There's not point in trying to rationalise it because ultimately, my mass produced Specialixed Enduro rides as well as the Helium AM. But would I sell my pancreas in order to have the Helius AM even though I have the Enduro? Yes. Make me an offer.

    Buying and owning a Nicolai is very special. The colour choice, the ability to personalise the design with simple things like cable routing, choosing a 1.5 head tube, where you want the graphics and what colour they are. All of this adds up the price along with the very very best welding and construction you can buy.

    If you feel you need to justify the price premium, then more than likely you don't really want a Nicolai.

  6. #6
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    Thats what i meant
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by geetee1972
    You can debate the differences to the nth degree but the only real way to find out what's different about them is to ride them.

    If you don't have that option, then reviewing the spec sheets will help.

    The crucial difference MAY be that the Chumbas aren't actually using a licenced Horst Link design (licenced from Specialized). It doesn't say on their website whether it is or it isn't, but the design looks a little the old Giant design that looked like a horst link but wasn't. The key difference is where the drop out is in relation to the pivot on the chainstay. The Horst link has the dropout ever so slightly higher than the pivot in order to maintan the desired axle path. By comparrison, the Chumba's dropout is quite a bit higher - older Giants used this same configuration with the bike designed to be run with zero sag. I don't know why. Again I say maybe because I couldn't find anything on their website to confirm this.

    Ellsworth apparently get around the Horst patent by having the dropout exactly in line with the pivot; again, I;m not 100% sure on this and even less sure of the actual diffrences in how the bike rides.


    Nicolai use the licenced Horst Link design, which many people feel is superior in terms of the performance it gives, but again, the only real way to find out is to ride them both. The licencing may add a little to the cost, but it doesn't account for the much bigger price difference.

    What really stands out on the Nicolais is the quality of their construction, for example their welding is exemplary - remember that the quality of the welding goes a long way to determining the strength of the frame. Similarly, the pains that Nicolai go to in order to ensure exact alignment, i.e. the front end lines up perfectly with the rear so your wheels track perfectly. This makes a big difference to how the bike rides, it's ability to hold a line for example. It also makes a big difference to reducing wear at the pivots - poorly aligned frames give rise to unequal force being applied to pivots which places more stress on the bushings and the bearings. You'll notice this when 6 months down the line, your back end is loose and you need to replace all your bushings and bearings.

    But ultimately, I think all of this, while very real, is still just marketing. You could probably ride the Chumba just as effectively as the Helius AM.

    What it really comes down to, and there's really no getting away from this, is WHAT DO YOUR REALLY WANT; what does your heart yearn for; if you bought the Chumba, would you spend the next few years thinking about the Nicolai?

    I think with Nicolais more than any other make, you either want one or you don't. There's not point in trying to rationalise it because ultimately, my mass produced Specialixed Enduro rides as well as the Helium AM. But would I sell my pancreas in order to have the Helius AM even though I have the Enduro? Yes. Make me an offer.

    Buying and owning a Nicolai is very special. The colour choice, the ability to personalise the design with simple things like cable routing, choosing a 1.5 head tube, where you want the graphics and what colour they are. All of this adds up the price along with the very very best welding and construction you can buy.

    If you feel you need to justify the price premium, then more than likely you don't really want a Nicolai.
    Most of this post is false, with respect to the Horst Link and what constitutes one.

    First, the FSR patent states a region where the link could be located, and basically, anything right by the dropout on the chainstay is part of it. So far, Rocky got out of it by placing it on the CS, but above the centerline of the dropout. Anything forward and below the dropout (mostly anything) is under FSR, and the EW design is no different. I have previously mentioned that I have confirmed, through a very prominent person at Specialized that the EW design is 100% licensed from Specialized. People don't seem to get that a patent can be infringed upon within another patent design. In this case, there are patented elements within a patented design, and EW has to pay Specialized to use ICT, which was not his own design to begin with and the person that actually invented that linkage arrangement did license it. However, what was interesting was EW made that HL an element of the patent, which ended up being the loophole to get the originator out of the license agreement with EW. It was also shown that the higher an HL was, the less effective it became, but was still under the FSR patent. IN the case of this rocker design, the spacial relationships of the top three rocker pivots was more important than incorporation of the HL.

    Now as far as Chumba goes, guess what about that link?


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    Jerk - I now remember your original comment on this and stand corrected. As I said I wasn't 100% sure about the whole arrangement so thanks for clarifying.

    So the nod as good as a wink to the blind man means the Chumba is a Horst Link?

    ANyway, like I said originally, you can debate to the nth degree (and it is interesting as is mostly anything related to bikes) but you really need to ride the things to know for sure.

  9. #9
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    spr, I used to ride a Turner 5 -spot with Horst Link.....when I switched to Nicolai with Horst Link I found a big improvement....stiffer rear, quicker response, better climbing, lighter riding although the bike weighed more, better acceleration, more confidence. Go for the Nicolai! Also, consider the CC....its a great all round trail bike for the UK....can be built light at 25,5 lbs or go more "all mountain" around 29 lbs.

    What's your type of riding and what would be your suggested spec.?

  10. #10
    spr
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    Hi ryates

    I will use Talas 36 UP FRONT and RP23 for aggresive XC and epic ride of 30 km (i will use only one bike).

    What is the BB of the AM with 545 A C? Do you think that the CC is aggresive compare to the 5.5 Spot?

    Thx

  11. #11
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    AM would be a better match with the Fox 36. RP23 should work ok. Should build to under 32 lbs.

  12. #12
    spr
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    Another question

    ryates , how the CC will handle with 36 Talas?

    What Nicolai frame did you buy instead of the Spot?how the bike handle slow technical climbs and descents?

    Thx

  13. #13
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    My first Nicolai was an 05 FR whch I bought second hand......all round I prefered it to the 5 -Spot. Initially the weight was 35lb, but lowered eventually to 32lb. The 5-Spot weighed around 30lb, but the Nicolai always rode lighter. The old FR is probably closer to the AM than the present FR which has now been made heavier. I did fit a 36 to the Spot which improved handling.

    At present I am riding a new CC which I like a lot.....I think it is a great all round trial bike for the UK....weighs about 29lb with a heavier am build, fitted with DT EX150 20mm bt fork( a to c very low at 520 so no problems with handlimg) very, very plush and stiff.

  14. #14
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    I'm also a big fan of the CC, to be perfectly honest the CC would be more than enough bike for me but i really dont mind the extra weight of the AM as it rides so damn light!

    I think the big thing is as said above; owning a Nicolai is like owning a supercar or such like, its the top of the range hand built frame. This makes it an absolute pleasure to own and ride, the bonus is you also get awesome realiability unlike a supercar

    I think to justify a Nicolai it needs to be built with high spec components, but that can be upgraded over time of course which makes the whole thing an on going enjoyable process!

    I LOVE my Nicolai, i've owned alot of different suposedly high end frames but until i took ownership of the Nicolai i had never actually owned a high end frame! I realise that now so if you can afford to go for it i cant recommend them highly enough and i'm sure every other owner will agree with my statement.

    My only small gripe is the uk service but its a small thing that i'm sure will rectify itself eventually.

    Derek
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    Last edited by derekr; 01-19-2009 at 02:19 AM.
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  15. #15
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    very nice AM, is this the anodized bronze?

  16. #16
    steep fast and loose :)
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    yes - also known as metallic urine

  17. #17
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    ...

    Quote Originally Posted by derekr
    I would say alot but foremost build quality! completley different beasts - one is well imho cheap and cheerful the other is class...
    With all due respect ... how have you concluded the CHUMBA is cheap? One thing we have never done is skimp on quality. We have pristine welding, alignment, and only use the highest quality materials and have spent over 10 years refining suspension designs - our bikes are definitely not cheap to make.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUMBAevo
    With all due respect ... how have you concluded the CHUMBA is cheap? One thing we have never done is skimp on quality. We have pristine welding, alignment, and only use the highest quality materials and have spent over 10 years refining suspension designs - our bikes are definitely not cheap to make.
    i don't doubt your quality against the average manufacturer but i would hardly compare a taiwan frame shop with the work turned out by karl and the guys at nicolai in germany. i still think it's sad that you had to go offshore with your production to be competitive. for a small builder you lost some of the luster off your bikes by doing so in my opinion. was there a comparative drop in price when you did this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by qbert2000
    i don't doubt your quality against the average manufacturer but i would hardly compare a taiwan frame shop with the work turned out by karl and the guys at nicolai in germany. i still think it's sad that you had to go offshore with your production to be competitive. for a small builder you lost some of the luster off your bikes by doing so in my opinion. was there a comparative drop in price when you did this?
    Qbert,

    Thanks - I'd like to clear some stuff up. We still have a full manufacturing facility in-house - and we can build a bike from tubes and blocks of aluminum at our will. In fact, while I type this, I am sitting in our warehouse about 20 feet from our CNC machine.

    I understand there is some stigma against going offshore - but realistically, have you ever tried to make a hydorformed tube, or a carbon fiber yoke in America - especially at the quantities CHUMBA does? If you want junk overseas you'll get junk, but the advancements made in materials technology overseas cannot be ignored if you are willing to pay for it. And yes, we have passed on the savings to the consumer, the XCL was sitting around $2,000 dollars before we reduced costs. Now, you can get a bike with arguably better build quality for $1,500.

    The quality we are turning out in my opinion is some of the best stuff out there - even against in-house builders. How do we know? Because we compare it daily to the models and production we do in-house. We would accept nothing less.

    Grab a CHUMBA frame and put it up against any other frame. Inspect the welds, the alignment, the finish - and you can examine for yourself how we stack up against others.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUMBAevo
    Qbert,

    Thanks - I'd like to clear some stuff up. We still have a full manufacturing facility in-house - and we can build a bike from tubes and blocks of aluminum at our will. In fact, while I type this, I am sitting in our warehouse about 20 feet from our CNC machine.

    I understand there is some stigma against going offshore - but realistically, have you ever tried to make a hydorformed tube, or a carbon fiber yoke in America - especially at the quantities CHUMBA does? If you want junk overseas you'll get junk, but the advancements made in materials technology overseas cannot be ignored if you are willing to pay for it. And yes, we have passed on the savings to the consumer, the XCL was sitting around $2,000 dollars before we reduced costs. Now, you can get a bike with arguably better build quality for $1,500.

    The quality we are turning out in my opinion is some of the best stuff out there - even against in-house builders. How do we know? Because we compare it daily to the models and production we do in-house. We would accept nothing less.

    Grab a CHUMBA frame and put it up against any other frame. Inspect the welds, the alignment, the finish - and you can examine for yourself how we stack up against others.
    thanks for the response. it's good to see savings passed onto customers when a company reduces production costs by going offshore. it's still sad to see work leave north america. as far as hydroformed tubes, i don't understand the benefits to them other than from a design standpoint over standard butted tubes. some manufacturers are going overboard on the swooping tubes, specialized and norco come to mind. is it form over function or the other way around? can you explain what the benefits to hydroformed tubes are?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by qbert2000
    thanks for the response. it's good to see savings passed onto customers when a company reduces production costs by going offshore. it's still sad to see work leave north america. as far as hydroformed tubes, i don't understand the benefits to them other than from a design standpoint over standard butted tubes. some manufacturers are going overboard on the swooping tubes, specialized and norco come to mind. is it form over function or the other way around? can you explain what the benefits to hydroformed tubes are?
    No problem, glad to talk. As one of the owners of the company; there are economic factors we have to consider when outsourcing. As you know, CHUMBA started off as a custom frame builder - with this type of product - we couldn't grow past 2 or 3 people maximum because we were always so busy assembling and producing frames. When we outsourced, it actually freed some of us up to start hiring sales, marketing, operations, and race support. So - after we outsourced, we were actually able to hire a lot more Americans and provide more jobs at home - while providing a superior product at a better price. It made sense for us as a company - of course, it doesn't make sense for every company and we completely respect the choices each bike company makes.

    As far as hydroformed advantages - there are a few. We used make monocoque tubes in-house on our front triangles - you can see our F4 downhill bike, and we would have to place a long weld bead along the length of the tube to acheive the desired look. Many other bicycle companies still use this process. It is very labor intensive - and sometimes, alignment can be issue. However, with hydroforming, in our opinion, it has been very precise, and is shaped as one piece without requiring a weld along the horizontal axis of the tube. By being able to shape it, we were also able to acheive a lower stand over height on the VF2. I agree, some companies might seem to be going a bit over the top - so we tried to keep it low key but still stylish.

    Hope this helps.

    -Alan
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUMBAevo
    I understand there is some stigma against going offshore
    I suppose, to a large extent, people don't buy a bike or frame with their brains: they follow their hearts. I have done that and have two bikes with "proudly welded in Taiwan" stickers and one brazed in Germany.

    I don't have either a Chumba or a Nicolai, but my heart draws me towards Nicolai. Partly it must be the style of the frames and the fact that I am European. I notice that a lot of people in the Nicolai forum are European or at least non-American.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    I suppose, to a large extent, people don't buy a bike or frame with their brains: they follow their hearts. I have done that and have two bikes with "proudly welded in Taiwan" stickers and one brazed in Germany.

    I don't have either a Chumba or a Nicolai, but my heart draws me towards Nicolai. Partly it must be the style of the frames and the fact that I am European. I notice that a lot of people in the Nicolai forum are European or at least non-American.
    I see your point. Nobody can deny that a frame has a soul - and that's part of the appeal of having multiple brands. For CHUMBA, even our XC bikes have some downhill character in them - because they were all inspired by our DH bike feel - good small bump compliance, a rigid chassis to hold a line, and a nice progressive ramping feel for predictable travel that feels bottomless. I have no qualms with people's loyalty to a particular brand, I do however feel its necessary to correct misconceptions about our frame's build quality as we painstakingly spend a lot of money and time ensuring top-notch quality against anything on the market.

    -A.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUMBAevo
    I see your point. Nobody can deny that a frame has a soul - and that's part of the appeal of having multiple brands. For CHUMBA, even our XC bikes have some downhill character in them - because they were all inspired by our DH bike feel - good small bump compliance, a rigid chassis to hold a line, and a nice progressive ramping feel for predictable travel that feels bottomless. I have no qualms with people's loyalty to a particular brand, I do however feel its necessary to correct misconceptions about our frame's build quality as we painstakingly spend a lot of money and time ensuring top-notch quality against anything on the market.

    -A.
    Agree'd appologies for the "Cheap" comment it was most deff. unfounded!

    Have had a look @ your site and the frames look very good.

    I must say its nice to see a bike manu. coming on a forum and showing support for their products! Thats one thing Nicolai need to take note of!

    I'm personally not a big fan of the hydro tubes and do associate them with mass produced frames, but after reading your comments i can see the appeal on a big bike. Is there any benefit other than "The look" on the XC bikes etc ?

    BTW as far as im aware Chumba is virtually unknown in the UK, maybe you should change that?

    Cheers

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekr
    Agree'd appologies for the "Cheap" comment it was most deff. unfounded!

    Have had a look @ your site and the frames look very good.

    I must say its nice to see a bike manu. coming on a forum and showing support for their products! Thats one thing Nicolai need to take note of!

    I'm personally not a big fan of the hydro tubes and do associate them with mass produced frames, but after reading your comments i can see the appeal on a big bike. Is there any benefit other than "The look" on the XC bikes etc ?

    BTW as far as im aware Chumba is virtually unknown in the UK, maybe you should change that?

    Cheers

    Derek
    Hey Derek,

    No worries - it's all good. Here was my speel on hydroformed tubes (although this is relatively new for us - as most of our bikes used to use straight gauge T-6):

    As far as hydroformed advantages - there are a few. We used make monocoque tubes in-house on our front triangles - you can see our F4 downhill bike, and we would have to place a long weld bead along the length of the tube to acheive the desired look. Many other bicycle companies still use this process. It is very labor intensive - and sometimes, alignment can be issue. However, with hydroforming, in our opinion, it has been very precise, and is shaped as one piece without requiring a weld along the horizontal axis of the tube. By being able to shape it, we were also able to acheive a lower stand over height on the VF2. I agree, some companies might seem to be going a bit over the top - so we tried to keep it low key but still stylish.


    As for the UK market, yea - we'd love to get some more exposure over there - any suggestions?

    A.
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