the other ION29er
only a couple rides in so not much to report other than maybe suspension setup woes! currently running an older rp23 and a new rs pike. theyre totally mismatched which is spoiling things a bit. rockshox recommended pressures are way out. over the 2 rides ive dropped as much as 20psi out the fork with possibly more to go. the HV can on the rear is too wallowy even with 25% sag so i tried a medium volume reducer and am now on the big reducer(to be tried today). With the front running overly tall and stiff and the rear wallowing the frame hasnt had a chance.
frame is stunning with some really nice details(ill post pics later). off for a pedal
Like like like ☺ I would say that but it's true!
yes you would! however im sure we've both had enough new bikes to be able to see past the new bike syndrome!
for me it certainly wasnt love at first ride. i could tell there was a good frame in there but the initial setup just wasnt working. i know plenty folk who would dismiss a bike after 1 test ride which is a shame. it always takes a bit of time to get it how you like it.
on the first ride i set the shock sag(older HV can rp23) and set the fork to the recommended pressure for my weight then hit the trails without a shock pump! If i was a customer demoing a bike that would probably have been it scratched off the list! the fork was ridiculously firm(despite sag being about right), while the rear wallowed all over the place. because of this i couldnt get any weight on the front and it weaved round corners.
ride 2 was a fairly long hill ride with an 8 mile climb followed by a 4mile long very fast, loose and rocky descent. prior to the start i dropped 10psi out the fork and added a medium spacer to the shock. Things were better but 4 miles into the climb i was getting cheesed off with the rearward bias. it still felt overly soft at the rear and tall at the front. i stopped and flipped the trail key(i say 'flipped' but in reality its a proper faff!). this lifted the rear into a far better climbing position and the next 4 miles was far more tolerable. the descent again showed up the wallowy nature of the shock in that i kept checking to see if i had a rear puncture
ride 3 and ive now fitted a big volume reducer to the shock and added 5psi air, dropped another 10psi out the fork and returned the trail key to 'low'. climbing was better than ride 2 but the shock is very active even when set to propedal 3 and bobs a bit much. theres still a slight rearward bias to the climbing position. coming down was a revelation! damn me it's fast. i now have grip and weight over the front and it flicks from side to side like a low bb 26er. its now starting to feel like how i imagined it would
theres still plenty to be done. the rear shock needs binning as its just not man enough. unlike the helius range which can manage with pretty much any shock, the suspension curve on this ion based 29er is crying out for a shock with more control as its very active. im borrowing a ccdb air tonight off sdr08. without having to resort to the trail key i think i sort the climbing with a decent shock, 170mm cranks(to lift the pedaling position) and by taking a spacer or 2 out from under the stem.
having ridden 4 full suss 29ers from nicolai now this is by far the best on the downs and while currently not as sharp on the ups im confident thats sortable.
more pics when i get a chance
stunning details. and to think you can buy all this for just a few hundred quid more than an ******!(extremely basic and welded by monkeys uk frame builder)
Wow thats stunning...Very nice
Seeing as there are only 2 of these frames in existence this may not be of interest to many although if you are considering an ion26 in 26" or 650b or even a ccdb air or pike it may have relevance
ive knocked up nearly 25hours riding time on the ion and its only the last couple of rides that ive felt that ive nailed the setup! i dont think ive ever had to work so hard at setting up suspension before but im glad i did.
I knew from the first ride that there was a great chassis hidden in the poorly set up suspension which is probably why i was happy to invest so much time getting it right.
It is without a doubt the nicest handling nicolai ive ever ridden(and ive ridden quite a lot). most of that appears to be down to the lowish bb height(although HA and shortish chainstays certainly help). Its the lowest bb ive had and this is the first time ive been able to try exactly the same frame with 2 different bb heights thanks to the trail key which alters the bb height by 7mm. in the high position it rides well but not too dissimilar to my last custom AC29er. it takes a bit of effort and upper body work to get it round corners quickly. in the low setting however its a flying machine! the only bikes ive ridden that have had a comparable feel when flicking through successive turns are the ion18 and a labyrinth agile but neither of those have the all round capabilities that this ion29er has. the ion18 is a brute and the agile while being very good always felt like the st was too slack and i was sitting over the rear too much
Its everything a good 29er should be. fast, stable, fun and agile. ive ridden all nicolais 29er full suss offerings and while they all manage some of the above only the ion manages them all.
Now, ive sold a lot of nicolais and therefore a lot of suspension units and i think its fair to say that a high percentage of customers dont bother doing much with them. you know who you are! Its also fair to say that some of these customers are faster than me and seem to be able to ride round set up issues without giving it much thought. being of a more average ability i need the suspension to work for me.
Without going into 20odd hours of farting about heres the gist of it-
New Pike 150 solo air.
This comes with rebound and ls compression adjustment, 3 volume reducers and obviously the air spring. First couple of rides ive no idea what was going on. i set it to recommended settings but it was way too stiff despite the sag being right. i dropped air out and it felt better but then got progressively softer to the point i thought it was losing air but it wasnt. im not sure of the internal setup as you get heehaw info from RS so maybe it was the negative air spring balancing or maybe just the fork bedding in.
Im now at the point im running a wee bit softer than rs's settings and getting bang on 30% sag. it felt great on some stuff but harsh on others. i experimented with less air, more spacers(it comes fitted with one and 2 spare in the box), rebound etc but in the end it was removing all the spacers that sorted it. so for my 97kg geared up im at 80psi, 30% sag, no volume reducers ,rebound 10 clicks out, 4 clicks in on lsc(although im still experimenting this). theres a real fine line with the rebound. theres too fast, too slow and just right within 3 clicks! its difficult to judge in the car park test but makes a bid difference on the trail.
ive tried 3 shocks on the frame. an old rp23 high volume and a newer ctd RP23. Suffice to say, the ctd was better and overall worked pretty well. in fact it worked much better than my first few runs with the ccdbA to the point i was considering saving the coin and extra 200grams and ditching the CC. thanks to sdr08 for the loan of his ccdbA by the way (considering all the whining you'd think i was borrowing his wife!) as i was too tight to buy one first and also the new climb assist model isnt out till sept.
after a few uninspiring rides and ineffectual tweaking it became clear that what this frame needs is the XV(extra volume) can so i ordered one up(£40 and comes with a few volume reducing spacers). XV can and many hours later i can now say that this shock is awesome! im not entirely finished playing with it but ive got a very good base setting. XV can, 1 large reducer and 1 small, 137psi giving 30% sag. LSC and LSR at 16clicks in, HSC 1.25 turns and HSR .5 turns. it still bobs a bit climbing but dont want to increase ls damping anymore than that. Climb assist on the new shock will help here anyway. tractions great up and down. will try reducing the spacers to see if i can add anymore hs damping but really its damn good as is and gives a good balance with the feel of the front end.
I have to say thanks to Phil as he takes most of the credit in the design of this frame. Although i have to give myself some credit as well as i put in a lot of hours nodding and smiling at Phils looong phone calls, even longer emails and texts and poring over spreadsheets on geo and weights ! a good team effort i reckon!
Good write up, and we're welcome! I love this bike.
I really like it in both high snd low modes. It is more trail/all rounder bike in the high setting, pedals over roots and rocks and around corners without even thinking about BB height, climbs like a goat. I describe it as sjust as agile but in a more 'steery' way whereas in low it's 'Flicky' if that makes any sense to anyone. In low it is just a fantastic fun flying machine, side to side transitions are a joy to execute just because and the the grip.....oh the grip is sooooo good..
I haven't suffered with pedal strike in low despite the 333mm BB height. I'm running 170mm cranks, which I do anyway and am obviously conscious it's lower, but I find it easy to adjust my riding style to not pedal around all the corners and give rocks and roots during climbing a little more thought. It climbs just as well as in High but you know you are a bit lower.
I am going through the same pain with suspension setup (we have the same fork/shock but I think my lighter overall weight has made life a little easier and maybe I am know when it's good but am a bit more indifferent to it being spot on before I enjoy it.
I second Dippers position on the fork. I am not there yet ive just gone up from 65psi to to 75psi with no spacers but 7 clicks LSC, given I'm over 20kg lighter I expected to be alot lower on pressure at the front compared to Dipper but I struggled a bit with using more travel than I would like on big compressions. Removing the token air volume reducer has improved the ride so much I don't want to put it back in so I'm trying a touch more pressure first.
At the back I have had an easier time with damping, but struggling with getting full travel and harshness at end stroke despite being almost backed off on HSC.
The XV can has totally sorted the travel. I was running 2 small spacers but have just modded a big spacer to effectively give me 4 spacers. I was using just a little too much travel at the back. I was balanced with the fork but both were using everything in compressions which shouldn't have been the case on the terrain I was on. I was able to wind on the HSC to control it but it suddenly went harsh again making me realise I needed less volume.
Its very noticeable the in case in grip over what was already good grip as the suspension performance has been improved.
So I'll be trying that setup tomorrow. It was great and fast, it then went to really great and really fast, I know there is a completely awesome in there once I have it dialed...
To anyone considering an all round/AM 29er, this thing is the mutts nuts.
Really beautiful build quality, i am saving up. BUT don't you dare slag off my Alpine 160!
You can't make a racehorse out of a donkey, but you can make a fast donkey.
are you A Man Called Neil perchance?
I must arrange to borrow this machine soon.
hang on till i get my 40mm derby carbon rims built up
The Carbon rims transform the big wheelers, oh yes.
I had a weekend at Antur Stiniog DH centrejust gone. Really enjoyed it, managed about 15 runs in the end on all but the double black (damp & slippy made me think..). Suffice to say even the blue grade is rough and pretty steep compared to most trail centre blacks.
The Ion performed flawlessly, it just plain worked in an environment that you could argue a 150mm bike is out of its comfort zone. It was interesting to see how much an effect the big wheels had there. it was very noticeable how quickly and safely stepdowns were able to be dealt with, particularly when approached blind, the concern over just jumping not knowing whats the other side and indeed even after checking out the terrain not all could be jumped due to the landing being a rock garden.
Whilst the big wheels don't compensate for suspension action in those situations in terms of soaking up the drop, the fact the bike changes in attitude so little in comparison does allow you to keep your momentum and speed with some safety margin.
The carbon wheels (I run Enves) just enhance the frame stiffness and provided really accurate front end placement, I could just pick the line and stick to it, very impressive.
I also cased a double with my front end, bottoming out the forks with a bang and burping the tyre, but the wheel was undamaged and still true.
I did have to add some some progression to the air chamber of the pike (Token spacer) and up the pressure in the CCDA air as everything was getting used and I didn't have my spare "inch" of confidence but even on some big square edge hits I always felt the rear was tracking well.
Great bike. Try it Pimpmessiah..Maybe we will have managed to get hold of a 160mm air spring for the Pikes by then too :-)
Great info as usual Pilot. I'll get my legover soon hopefully.
Originally Posted by the_pilot
Cool - rode Antur recently on the DH bike, such a fun venue. Would love to have had the Ion for a few runs of the blues and reds, it would really suit that terrain - though I agree, there are plenty of jumps where you're lading fast and hard into rocks, I straightened a few dings on my rims after it. Suspect I'd have backed off a little if I was on the Ion.
Double black there is good fun too, they've coated the bits that used to be insanely slick and greasy in the wet with a grippy paint, so you can hammer down without fear of losing the front tyre.
Didn't know they'd made the double black a bit gripper, might have been worth a look over the black, cloud descended in and the condensation just stuck to the rocks, I'd be lying if I said a few front end moments didn't make me nervous despite being more armoured than normal, we had two casualties On the last red run, one body, one bike...destroyed front brake always makes life more difficult!
My bro in law was on a 120/140mm Norco Shinobi and he coped admirably even with the black, be bottomed out a fair bit at the rear but I was impressed how much speed he was able to carry...one day he'd like a Nicolai :-)