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  1. #1
    steep fast and loose :)
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    Nicolai Helius AM - Ridden and rated !!!!

    Ridden today - 1st AM in the country [UK] - Eclectic build mix to get a ride in. Build equipment selection not finalised yet as it was thrown together with stuff lying around the workshop, but opinion so far is positive. Less stable than the FR, faster to turn, happier in it's travel and more responsive to suspension input and settings than the FR, yet almost equally as rigid.
    Full review and pics will follow, but here's a couple of pics to begin with ;-0






  2. #2
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
    Reputation: crisillo's Avatar
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    nice!

  3. #3
    wyrd bi ful rd
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    that looks gooooood ...

    repositioned pix to level the wheels ... hope you dont mind LR ... thought the seat tube looks a bit too steep when compared to a certain other's FR then realised that the base of the wheels were not level ...

    20080802 Whafes FR MTBR FORUM.jpg
    20080802 reposition LRs bike MTBR FORUM.jpg

    a better perspective? ... slightly better but the position of the camera is not the same ...

    the head and seat tube angles for the AM looked almost the same whereas the FR has a slightly slacker head ... naturally due to its FR role ...

  4. #4
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    Nice..very nice. That camo frame is a very well painted frame.

    Since I don't believe we have a site that lists costs in US dollar, what is the price range of the AM and FR? I'm sure they are more than the high-end frames we have here due to many reasons (esp the Euro versus USD action) but I really have no idea by how much.

  5. #5
    steep fast and loose :)
    Reputation: The_Lecht_Rocks's Avatar
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    all AM angles are 'apparently' the same as the FR, although , nobody really knows and the FR has now gone to a new home, so difficult to compare.
    however, the AM rides trail far better than the FR as it's able to use it's suspension correctly, not requiring huge square edged hits to get it moving. The FR is definitely a battleship , more poignant for uplift assisted riding, whereas the AM is rooted firmly in the trail riding category, where we spend 95% of our time riding.
    The other interesting issue, FR -v- AM, is the leverage ratio of the AM is definitely greater than that of the FR, as a consequence of extended seatstays perhaps. this lets a similar spring rated coil shock drop deeper into it's sag, therby giving the suspension a far more active feel. Without doubt, riding the AM was more similar to my 6 Pack CCDB than the FR CCDB arrangement. However, further comment will come from Dipper in due course, i expect

  6. #6
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    Looking good Dipper. I'll have to take the FR up your way in the next few weeks to compare.

  7. #7
    steep fast and loose :)
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    Paul - I think you'll be somewaht disappointed - The AM is equally as capable as the FR , but the AM rewards suspension set up and lighter riders far more than the big hitting FR.
    It has the FR's stiffness, but the AM is simply sublime, and athletic in the way it explodes out of the berms, esp. the runs on Ordiequish (sp ???).
    It steers faster, is more progressive in the mid-stroke and seems to have better mid stroke damping (even using the supplied DHX5, not even used the CCDB yet !)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Lecht_Rocks
    the leverage ratio of the AM is definitely greater than that of the FR, as a consequence of extended seatstays perhaps. this lets a similar spring rated coil shock drop deeper into it's sag, therby giving the suspension a far more active feel. Without doubt, riding the AM was more similar to my 6 Pack CCDB than the FR CCDB arrangement. However, further comment will come from Dipper in due course, i expect
    Interesting.. the sag on my CCDB FR is 33-36% dependant on preload and its super super active... the tinyest pebble or round root seems to get sucked up. Not sure u had the right spring on the FR and or too much preload?

    looks very nice btw.. does it have better standover clearance that the FR?

  9. #9
    lazy piston
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    Hey The_Lecht_Rocks, thanks for the pics and the review!

    One question though: are you comparing the AM to the '08 FR or to an earlier version? I'm asking this because I read somewhere that the AM is very much like the '07 FR and it filled the niche that got empty when the FR was beefed up and rated for more freeride stuff for '08.

  10. #10
    steep fast and loose :)
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    c/f the 08 FR

  11. #11
    "Its All Good"
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    Mmmm, great stuff, look forward to hearing more as ride time progresses.... It should for sure be far snappier for want of a better word than the FR....

    Looks very good indeed...
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  12. #12
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    Got a bit more time in on the AM today and i'm very impressed. Still waiting on some parts so not in it's final spec yet(not that it'll ever have a 'final' spec!). Fitment of the CCDB is delayed as I specced it for the FR and the rear bush size is different. Currently fitted with a DHX C. Also, not quite sure which fork I'll be going with so I've fitted a newly serviced set of 2005 Talas RC2's.

    All up weight is currently 33.odd lb. I suspect with an air shock, lighter wheels and brakes then sub 32lb should be easily doable but any lighter and I think you'd be doing it an injustice. It's so much more bike than most AM type bikes I've ridden. Probably more how I excpected the 08 FR to be to be honest.

    The biggest revelation so far has nothing to do with the frame. The temporary 2005 talas fork is just stunning! I've ridden pretty much every 36 fork from the last few years and have never been a fan of the Talas. this one was a trade in that I sent of to Mojo for a service. No idea what all they did bt it's the best talas and probably the best 36 fork i've ridden. Will be trying some 09's next week as a comparison.

    Comparing the AM to my previous 08 FR is the obvious thing to do but theres a few subtle differences in spec that make this hard to quantify. The FR was a large, 50mm stem, Roco TST and 160mm Van RC2. The AM is a medium, 70mm stem, DHX-C and 150mm Talas.

    I loved the FR but have to admit that I was over biked most(if not all) of the time. It pedalled great so still worked as an all rounder but the AM has a few more tricks up it's sleeve that suit me and my riding better.

    There's 2 minor issues with the FR when compared with the AM when looking at them from a trail bike perspective. The FR was hugely stable, to the point that it required a fair bit of muscle to turn quickly. This may be the frame size but the AM is much quicker to turn and changes line far easier. Also the action on the rear shock appears different to the AM. The FR needs a lighter spring and more sag than the AM to feel the same level of plushness. This may be down to the different shocks but more than likely it's the intended uses. The FR is a big hit bike and needs to be more supportive in it's stroke to prevent blowing through the travel and bottoming out. The AM can get away with being that bit softer feeling.

    I'll post more once I've got more miles in but so far I reckon it's exactly the type of bike i need for 90% of my riding.

  13. #13
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    Hi Dipper, interesting! thanks for the report. Sounds like Mojo have put in the new damping
    for you in the Fox 36. I've been intending to do the same with my 05 Fox 36's( which are
    currently fitted to an Evil HT) and this is encouraging news that they are a big improvement.
    Regarding weight I would have thought you should be able to get the weight to below 32lb
    even with the CCDB, after all Whafes 08 FR weighs 33lb, I believe, with CCDB?

  14. #14
    steep fast and loose :)
    Reputation: The_Lecht_Rocks's Avatar
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    i must admit, in a dog-fight yesterday between the 6 pack and the helius AM, the difference was my seat angle is slacker than the helius' and hence it climbed less well.
    climbing in this part of the world (north scotland) is a necessary evil, hence the interest in the AM from my perspective.
    however, running the DHX C versus my pack's shod CCDB demonstrated the difference between shocks. the ccdb is simply brilliantly damped and can control the mid stroke blow through of the 6 Pack perfectly. the DHX C however lacks the CCDB's finnesse, suffering from over sped rebound and a more distanced trail feel. but the stiffness of the AM frame and it's speed of turn in combined with it's ability to power out of the berms is simply stunning. i look forward to it being fitted with a matching wheelset (rear ran a 2.25" nob nic - unfair choice for the bike), the new 2009 TALAS R and the CCDB with the correct spring rate for me ! then we really will have a comparitive test, whereby i expect the AM will smoke the 6 Pack in every circumstance ! it's simply so well built, and so structurally sound, that I reckon Nicolai have taken the 160mm (+ ?) trail bike into new territory.

  15. #15
    steep fast and loose :)
    Reputation: The_Lecht_Rocks's Avatar
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    fwiw, both bikes are similarly specified, (other than wheelset , Van 36 on 6 Pack, TALAS 36 on AM and shock choice) and both weigh in around the 33.2lb mark.

  16. #16
    "Its All Good"
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    ryates - yes I could get my FR down slightly in weight by whipping the tubes out and going tubeless, but the amount of travel that the bike does, no tubes can be a bit of a mess...

    I am really enjoying hearing these very good thoughts and comparisons re the Helius AM... The 08 Helius FR is a freak of nature bike wise, it is sure sounding that the Helius AM is a freak of nature as well.... All great stuff... Nicolai, you guys rock... Its all about the attention to detail and true functional art.....
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  17. #17
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    I'm saving my pennies - thanks for the test ride report!

  18. #18
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    How nice!
    I'm still waiting for my 09 Magura Wotan, which will arrive on Nov. or Oct.
    And my Industry Nine wheelset is coming in EIGHT WEEKS!
    I really want to ride on my AM asap.

  19. #19
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    Looks very purposeful so far...nice brakes too.

  20. #20
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    Looks good and great to see all this feed back.
    My 2008 FR is about the same weight as Whafe's at 33lbs using a DHX4 Coil shock as said above it could be made lighter but at the lost of all road usage its not worth it. Its a big bike for big fun and games and that's what it gets.
    Nicolai Bikes in the South of England head to..
    http://www.head-for-the-hills.co.uk

  21. #21
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    33lbs seems to be about the lowest sensible weight for the current FR frame, agreed. Before 08 the FR frame was about a pound lighter, so 32lb is achievable with the old anodised frame. So the current AM should come in under these weights even with a strong build. I reckon that the target weight for the AM could be 31lb without using weak stuff.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
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    called Mojo today to see what magic they'd worked with the Talas RC2. turns out they fitted the new 09 bladder as part of the service. If you have a talas fork my advice would be to get it in for a service whether it needs it or not. As stated earlier, I've never been a fan of the talas but these reworked 05's rock. Not sure if you'd get the same benefits on floats and vans but it's worth asking mojo.

  23. #23
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
    Reputation: crisillo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dipper
    called Mojo today to see what magic they'd worked with the Talas RC2. turns out they fitted the new 09 bladder as part of the service. If you have a talas fork my advice would be to get it in for a service whether it needs it or not. As stated earlier, I've never been a fan of the talas but these reworked 05's rock. Not sure if you'd get the same benefits on floats and vans but it's worth asking mojo.

    that sounds cool..I am happy with my 07 talas 36R, but I could send them to the UK for an 09 upgrade

  24. #24
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    The Lecht Rocks - does this mean you will be chopping in the 6-Pack for an AM?? I'm assuming you are on a med 6-Pack - if so, how do you find the med AM as I think the top-tube is quite a bit shorter?

  25. #25
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    My custom painted 05/06 Talas 36's where nice for the 1st 3 months then started getting pack down ! Make the bike feel very odd on the longer faster down hill section. These for where 1st used Jan 2008. They have been back to Mojo and not much was found but when they came back they where better for about 3 weeks but the day I fell off they had started to feel funny again. Now been out after a long time away from the bike and they are defo no good so long chat with the ever helpful Mojo and they are off to be turned in to 08/09 Floats as I never use the Talas so not point in keeping it.
    Not sure if I should have them upgrade me to run the RC2 setup ?
    So from what im reading happy days are ahead and I wish I had done them during the 5 weeks the bike was not being used !!
    Nicolai Bikes in the South of England head to..
    http://www.head-for-the-hills.co.uk

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