Van Nicholas Pioneer £3655

The ultimate all-purpose rig

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Van Nicholas has built its reputation on impeccably crafted titanium frames, combining distinctive and functional designs aimed at nearly all two-wheeled disciplines. With the Pioneer, it adds to that reputation by setting the standard for touring and expedition machines.

  • Frame & fork: Mostly titanium construction makes the Pioneer a nimble and trusty battle-hardened companion right out of the box
  • Handling: Low centre of gravity and long wheelbase provide stability, even when heavily laden
  • Equipment: Quality kit for long-distance comfort and reliability
  • Wheels: Robust Rigida rims and Schwalbe tyres add up to a tough package

The entire package is beautifully executed for unlimited mileage with low maintenance. A finely detailed 3AL/2.5V Ti frame is graced with a bespoke aluminium fork featuring a unique oversized Chris King Devolution headset. More reliability in the form of a Chris King front hub partnered with a Rohloff 14-speed unit guarantees thousands of trouble-free miles.

Chain adjustment is achieved via a Bushnell eccentric bottom bracket, avoiding the use of a less efficient tension pulley. The venerable Magura HS33 hydraulic brakes in silver are completely appropriate, and match the high-tech look of the bike, while offering truck-loads of stopping power; modulation was excellent thanks to the machined surfaces of the robust 26in Rigida rims. Finally, a combination of Ti bar, stem, seatpost and Brooks B17 seat rails guarantees long-distance comfort.

A trusty machine, when push comes to shove

Our mixed urban and country proving ground confirmed the Pioneer’s effectiveness time and time again. Highlights included a two-handed shove from the passenger of a passing boy-racer’s car, which had little effect on the tester’s ability to stay upright while holding their line, and the Schwalbe Big Apple tyres shrugging off the numerous broken beer bottles skilfully placed along a regular night-time bike path commute.

A low centre of gravity provided by thoughtful positioning of the Tubus racks endows the Pioneer with the self-righting ability of a weeble (those toys that “wobble but they won’t fall down”), especially when loaded with heavy panniers. With an extra long wheelbase of 110cm and 440mm chainstays there was no chance of toe overlap with the front mudguard or of heels clipping the rear panniers.

Investing in a Van Nicholas Pioneer will not only add adventure to your life, it could help you escape to a place where startled deer and prickly thorns are your only worries.

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