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Nicolai Helius AC

In every bloke there is a blog

So Mark T has two bikes, a Nicolai Helius AM and a Specialized Enduro Elite. I’ve been on a Mark for a while to do a comparison, so without further ado:

In every bloke there is a blog

In every bloke there is a blog. Thinking a “blog” was something I occasionally do in the woods, I was a bit perplexed when Chris urged me to write a blog !!

Chris wanted me to blog about back-to-back testing of my bikes. So, here goes..

In the beginning I “accidentally” bought a bike at Christmas leaving me with two plush travel bikes (I do live in Surrey). With Mrs T not quite understanding the “n+1” rule of bikes , there is pressure to sell one. But which one?

Which is the best? Which is the fastest? Which do I keep? Which is posted on ebay?

The thing is though one bike is a 27.5 and the other 29er which is a fervent discussion point for most mountain bikers and the TFITers are no different.

So long overdue, I get the opportunity to play on both bikes. Heading for the Devils Punch Bowl to for a couple of favourite blasts, I parked at the top with the route being an 8 mile round trip, down to the west of DPB along “FATBOY”, back to the top and then head east, heading down the “DEVILS COW” and then “FLAT OUT FUN” to the stream at the bottom. A good route with some fast runs but also a fair amount of uphill at 700m. Strava was at the ready to be the acid test ruling out any subjective “it felt faster” syndrome.

So the bikes. My 12 year triggers broom bike which has morphed into a Nicolai AM frame now carrying 27.5 inch wheels (instead of intended 26 inch), with 150mmm Pike up front and somewhere between 130 and 160mm at the back – it’s adjustable don’t you know! Head angle and BB height I don’t know yet and independently tested by David D who reported “it’s a cracking bike”.

The “accidentally” bought bike, (should have been a new frame but the bastard in the shop gave me a 50% discount..) is a Specialiazed Enduro Elite, now with a Reverb dropper post, Monarch plus shock, carbon fat bars and known XT brakes This caries 160mm Pike upfront and 155mmm travel at the back with 29er wheeels, described by better better blogs than this (controversial Mark…) as a “bit of a beast”. Head angle 67 degree, BB 351mm.

Both have similar tyres, a bit meaty upfront and faster rolling at the back.

The Nicolai was up first, sit on it, this feels aggressive, wide bars and wheel well out in front. “FATBOY” here we come , damn highest gear not working for the straight speedy bits….back to the top and down to the wooded section.. whey hey , damn Labrador in the way, up the “BABY ZEDS”, back to the top, swap pedals and out with the 29er.

Oh this is comfy , wheel less in front but comfy, “FATBOY” all gears working to get some speed. “FATBOY” done I head back to the top, headed down east , wooded section, bump over dead Labrador, “BABY ZEDS” again and back to the top.

Even the National Trust café has WiFi so out with the Strava upload, think of witty name for route, whirl whirl of 0’s and 1’s , which bike do I sell which do I keep which is the fastest?

“FATBOY” PR on the Nicolai 1.40 , 29er 1.40. – Oh I have to keep both now ..but how… why… the two runs felt totally different?

And here in lies the rub between the 29er and the 27.5.

Flat out speed was there with the 29er , but when it got to the corners the 27.5 went exactly where I thought it should. It pre-empted me, taking the line I expected it too. This was where the time difference was made . It was slower on the flat bit because I ran out of gears on the straight bit, but woosh through the corners – joyous. The 29er was so fast down the straight into the first corner out wide, messed up the second regain a bit by third but rider now all of a fuddle for the fourth.

Around the whole 8 mile route, the 29er sprinted out PR’s back to the top and to down the wooded section but “Labrador free”, and PR’d the Zed’s ..all routes done on the Nicolai many times before.

Total time was 50.20 vs 52.31. I then headed for the golden valley and bagged some more PR’s because this is what 29ers do. The 29er is also a confident jumper, “BACK OF THE CHAIR” and “MARE HILL” gap jumps accomplished, steep uphill gradients eaten up.

However, it’s the Nicolai that’s going to Morzine.

It’s about the corners you see, it’s about the flow. It seems that the geometry and BB height enable the flow, slack and low, out way travel and weight.

Luckily I have growing boys and they need bikes too so the 29er Surrey trail slayer stays in the stable too, no on eBay.

To sort out the corners on the 29er then this article on Dirt Mountain Bike is going to be handy and I’ m going to fit some offset bushes.

I must now measure the Nicolai head angle and BB to test the subjective.

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Helius by committee

So Mark T is working on his Christmas list already – that would be a “Nicolai Helius AC” flavoured Christmas list by the looks of things then.

Nice bit of bike porn there Mark AND very sporting of you to put the colour selection out to committee!

Has to be Ruby Red Mark…

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