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 :-)
I've got this bike at the moment
Have you been for a spin yet?
Originally Posted by the_pilot
I've only had it out in my local forest which is very muddy at this time of year and is mostly short-sharp techy riding. The bike took everything in its stride and by the end of the first singletrack we were getting on very well. Climbs were cleaned, doonhalls were ragged and even a few jumps were tweaked (sorry Dipper, the bike made me do it).
So far I'm loving it, but I really want to take it to a few other places to see how it handles them... but I doubt I will find it wanting. I'm wondering why 650b is the future when 29ers are this good?
Well it's the short sharp tetchy riding which would have 'allegedly' decided the main aspect of whether you would get on with it or not, so that's good.
27.5, depends on what you're after I think. One thing I will say, and have often is that a 29 needs a good wheelset, single biggest performance difference in my opinion.
There are some complaints about the ultimate stiffness. For us mortals, I think carbon rims solve that issue, if it was one.
A 150mm (157mm) rear axle/Hub would provide a significantly less dished and thus stronger wheel at the back. Unfortunately no one has adopted Jeff's position on front wheels, he commissioned a 135mm wide front hub from Paul to create a dishless front wheel even with a disk brake, this would be a good move from a supplier in my opinion.
Practically, And given Curtis Keene, Cedric Gracia, Tobias Woggen and Brian Lopes are ragging 29ers on the Enduro World Series without any wheel worries, I suspect its a none issue.
I look forward to some other reports :-)
Done anything more on it Messiah? I can't. Ride at the moment so I am having to ride vicariously by reading about other peoples rides :-)
I've managed three decent rides with the ION 15 but unfortunately I haven't managed to get it up into the big mountains (due to weather and other stuff).
Here is a picture of it in my local forest which is mostly short-sharp-techy-riding
I have to give it back on Thursday so short of a miracle (or taking a day off work which is the same thing at this time of year) I'm unlikely to get more than another (nightride!) local forest scoot with it
I had been hoping to give it a real try in the mountains as what I was expecting from what I have read about 29ers is that it would struggle with the techy features in my local forest; but thatís enough about preconceptions/misconceptions/assumptions.
I can report back that the ION 15 is an absolutely lovely bike to ride in my local forest and is one of the best bikes I have ever ridden. I found myself not thinking at all about the wheel size and just riding around the forest throwing the bike into the terrain in much the same way I usually do. There feels to be no bad habits or quirks which I needed to fathom, and hence from the first section of singletrack we were getting it-on together like old friends.
Dipper has the bike set up in very much the same way I do and we are of similar enough build that I didnít have to faff with anything other than seat position. Equipment wise itís very similar to my beloved Helius AM so I think it is comparing apples to apples on AM/Enduro type bikes.
The ďfabledĒ 29er improved terrain roll-over does seem to be in evidence as this bike loves to roll through the terrain; and I would say it takes less effort than my 26er to attain speed over rough stuff, and it likes to keep that speed. Due to the mud at this time of year I wasnít challenging any Strava KOMís but the ION feels fast, and the grip on techy climbs is great, both of which at this time of year are refreshing. Compared with my Helius I found the big puddles and mud bogs have a reduced slowing effect on the bike and we were able to maintain momentum through things where I would be expecting to lose speed. Some of this is probably due to the wide tyres on the wide carbon rims but Iím sure most of it is due to the 29er wheel size. On the really techy doonhall chutes and rock gardens I love to ride (and in which I was expecting to have troubles) there was nothing eventful to report; the bike and rider struggle through in much the same way as we have to do with any other well sorted bike (i.e. with a grin on my face). Jumps and drops caused me a few issues until I relaxed and just let the bike get on with it; I was trying to pull the back end up and this tends to pull the bike to one side. I was probably doing this as I was expecting the bike to be long and unwieldy but itís not; I was making the issue happen. As with any good bike the best results are to trust the bike and let it flow, you donít have to fight it (unless you want toÖ which can also be fun).
It doesnít feel like cheating and I doubt I was going any faster (or slower) than I would on my own bike, but I did feel like I was having to put in less effort to get the bike to do what it was doing and that was a great feeling. Little manuals were fine as were hops for puddle jumping; and when required and conditions allowed I was able to get a good rhythm for pumping for speed over the terrain (Iíve found some bikes/suspension just donít seem to allow this).
Great bikes are great bikes. What has put me off even trying 29ers until now is forks. Iíve tried to use 32mm stanchioned forks a few times over the past few years and for where and the way I ride I hate them Ė noodly b***rds of things that have me struggling to keep the bike in a straight line through the porridge, wet roots and rocks which I have/love to ride. The 29er Pike fork on Dippers ION is a great fork and fixes this issue; it goes where you point it and there is no ďsawing-actionĒ required at the front of the bike to keep it going there. Damping wise the Pike feels good although I did bottom it out a few times on some bigger hits where the fork feels to blow though the travel; it might need a different volume spacer or some other fiddling (I ride a little harder than DipperÖ and Iím used to my Marzocchi 55 fork with an Avalanche damper which is amazing). The CCDB-Air shock feels like a very good match for the Pike fork, again no unpleasant traits but not lively as is the CCDB way. There is some pedal bob when honking out of the saddle with the bike (as you would expect, I didnít try the switch thing as I always forget to switch them back), and I would prefer if the fork and shock were a little more supple but thatís my personal preference and I wasnít willing to fiddle with Dippers set up as it was damn good as it was.
The wide carbon rims and big tyres on the ION feel great. There was no perceivable flex to the wheels and the whole bike feels very solid and yet surprisingly light and, dare I say even, nimble.
My Helius has always felt a little short and riding Dippers longer Ion has once again shown me that I do want/need more length in my life (reason/excuse for a new bike made). More width also felt good with the 780mm wide carbon more (I normally run 745mm).
On the wheel size debate I had already come to the conclusion that the next bike I buy will have larger wheels; but that was just due to the marketing pressure of the 650b/27.5/AM/Enduro revolution (and its apparent lack of downsides). Having ridden the Nicolai Ion 15 29er I am now utterly convinced that big wheels bring benefits to the party; hence the next bike I buy will certainly have larger wheels, and probably larger than I thought I was going to buy.
So I guess the big question is would I buy a Nicolai ION 15 after this test rideÖ HELL YEAH BABY!
Messiah, you just made an old man (me)
Very very happy. Can't wipe the smile off my face 😃
On forks, the Fox 34 is a touch heavier than the Pike and as standard not great with CTD. However Mr Avalanche does a kit for it to replace all the damping. When they crop up, and some 2013 models are going much cheaper than usual Fox prices due to the Pike effect making it an option I you wanted to go Avy.
However Rich has no volume spacers in his Pike to aid plushness, you can add 3 volume spacers to go from progressive to really progressive.
The ideal would be for Avy to offer an option for the Pike
The only area I've struggled with is balancing high frequency plushness with bottoming resistance. I need to do a bit more messing with it really. Soon now I can ride again.
I'm happy to have been able to ride such a great bike
I'm sure there is room to tweak the Pike, and there is a monster thread here on MTBR about settings for it. Dipper did mention he wants to fit a spacer or two so that might be all it needs.
Mr Avalanche did mention on Facebook that he is going to do kits for the Pike fork so that is an option if I don't get on with the standard Charger damper. I've heard the Pike is stiffer than a 34 so I would go for a Pike anyway, and happy that an Avy option will be available.
I noticed the production Ion 15 has a 215x63 shock wheras Dippers and yours are 200x57. Probably makes little odds but interesting none the less.
Good to know for the pike. It is stiffer than the 34.
Ours has a 216x63 the same as production. This was key to rear suspension performance.
The only difference between production and ours is production has a steeper HA/SA by 0.5deg. And 7mm shorter chainstay.
I sent some info to Rich about that but basically some tweaks to the welded yoke and CNC main pivot connection to chainstay allow this bit still keep (most) of the tyre clearance. There is a recommended maximum of 60mm wide.
The HD comes up 60.5mm.
Anything 2.35 will or smaller will fit fine and an Ardent 2.4 also fine in production bike. so High Roller II 2.35 is good to go etc. I can't imagine going bigger than the HD (Im not so keen on it either now) but the summary is although a knots shorter the production bike can handle a big tyre still.
One thing to note. If you use a 160mm Pike with the Production bike you get the same angles (HA/SA) as in our bike which in my view are spot on. So if you go for it I would fit the 160mm and turn it up to 11