Imagine you’ve just sold a hugely respected bike brand that you built over a decade of your own hard work, passion and knowledge. What would you do next? For the founder of Van Nicholas, the answer was to move to Mallorca and enjoy lots of riding and family time. We can relate.
But Dutch titanium specialist Jan-Willem Sintnicolaas tells BikeRadar that over the past four years, he slowly regained his desire to design bikes. This time though, he says, it's more personal. Hence why he chose to call the company J.Guillem – what the Mallorcans call him.
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Jan-Willem Sintnicolaas, founder of J.Guillem Bikes
So this time round, he's marking each of the five models in his new range with the grid coordinates of the place in Mallorca where they are named after. The places he's been enjoying riding, and plotting his next venture.
"Having the opportunity to blend 17 years experience of working with titanium and a clean slate enabled us to think about things differently," says Sintnicolaas. "Especially, how refining a number of small details can have a significant impact on ride quality, handling, comfort and even price."
The internal cable routing is compatible with both mechanical and Di2 shifting
He and his team also gave lots of thought to how far stretch their designs in new ways without compromising stiffness. For example, how to site holes in the tubing for internal cable routing, to reduce wind drag. The answer was to create a unique system in the J.Guillem head tubes that is compatible with both mechanical and electronic shifting.
So let's look at the new J.Guillem range shall we? It's made up of just three road bikes and two hardtail mountain bikes. In terms of spec, you'll only get Shimano Ultegra or XT as a complete build, though framesets are also available. As a small family-run business, they say this allows them the time to focus on quality. The rest of spec is made up with some very nice own-brand kit.
"This commitment to quality over quantity also means we have shorter lead times, we can manage the company more easily, and have more time for friends, family and fun," adds Sintnicolaas.
J.Guillem road bike range
The Formentor is J.Guillem's aero race bike
Topping the road bike range is the J.Guillem Formentor, aimed purely at racers. Designed to create an ideal blend of rigidity, stability, comfort and power, it uses aero-optimised, hydro-formed Ti tubing and aggressive racing geometry. A complete build with Shimano Ultegra costs €4,499, or you can buy the frame only for €2,499.
The J.Guillem Orient will accept tyres up to 30mm
Next up is the J.Guillem Orient, dubbed an "all-conditions" road bike. Described as Sintnicolaas's perfect pragmatist, it's made from light, strong tubing designed to bring out the endurance qualities of titanium. It also features drop outs for mudguards and disc brakes, and will accept tyres up to 30mm. A complete build costs €3,99, or the frame alone costs €1,699.
The J.Guillem Major suits an aggressive riding style
Completing the road bike range is the J.Guillem Major, designed for the club rider and racer. It suits an aggressive riding style, with plenty of stiffness for sprinting thanks to the oversized down tube, seat tube and chain stays. A complete build costs €3,345, or the frame alone costs €1,499.
J.Guillem mountain bike range
The J.Guillem Tomir is a hardtail XC 29er
On the mountain bike side, there's the J.Guillem Tomir, a cross-country 29er designed to deliver explosive acceleration, nimble climbing and precise handling. The complete build (€3,499) comes with a rigid carbon MTB fork and Shimano XT drivetrain, or you can buy the frame alone for €1,798. It can also be specced with a RockShox SID RL fork for an extra €390.
No fuss is the name of the game with the J.Guillem Atalaya
Rounding out the range is J.Guillem Atalaya, designed for riders who want the stiffness and precision of the Tomir, but less hassle. Thus, the complete build (€4,599) comes with a Rohloff hub gear for reliability and low maintenance, and a rigid carbon MTB fork. The frame alone costs €1,899. Again, it can be specced with a RockShox SID RL fork for an extra €390.
The roads of Mallorca were the inspiration for the J.Guillem range
So are there any plans to build a gravel/adventure bike, or fat bike? "I can think of many bikes that would be interesting to make," says Sintnicolaas. "But we really want to try to stay small and not carry more then five models because of the reasons mentioned earlier. Right now, if we decided to design a new bike then one of the existing models will have to go."
What is certain however is that he’ll continue to build with titanium. "Anybody can source a titanium frame and put a label on it and create a WordPress website. But building a true brand, like building bikes properly, is no small feat."
Indeed, he thinks that there will always be a market for this material. "Titanium will always do well – it's the perfect material for bike frames. And fast jets, and deep sea watch cases. We love what we do, we believe in titanium totally and we like to think that shows."
Form an orderly queue…