German mountain bike manufacturers Nicolai say evolution is the buzzword for their 2013 range.
New frames include the Ion 16, Helius TB and Helius AC 650b, while the 26in-wheeled and 29er Helius AC frames and Argon AM have all been tweaked. On all models, a zero stack ZS44/ZS56 head tube becomes standard and you can choose cable guides for a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper seatpost.
Most models are now longer in the top tube, too, and the prices of many frames have come down from what they were in 2012.
Nicolai’s downhill, 160mm travel ION 16 (£1,950) is where they’ve prototyped new technologies such as the tapered, zero stack head tube, plus cable routing for the RockShox Reverb Stealth. The new head tube gives a lower front end and is said to maximise traction on the front wheel, while the cable routing gives a clean look.
Bearing locations have all been redesigned, and Nicolai have added additional sealing to protect against corrosion and reduce maintenance needs. The rear end gets 142×12 dropouts and a 160mm post mount. Finally, the ET-K (Eccentric Trail Key) allows you to alter the frame’s geometry.
The Argon FR has become the AM (£1,165), with new geometry and a 12mm rear axle but the same Gates Carbon Belt Drive compatibility. It has a warranty for forks up to 150mm.
Another of the new 2013 models, the Helius TB (£1,765) is a lighter, shorter travel (120-130mm fork with 130mm of rear travel) frame that’s said to have the stiffness and build quality of Nicolai’s longer travel frames.
26in-wheeled Helius AC
Revised for 2013 with new geometry, the Helius AC (£1,765) can now run with forks from 140-160mm, while a newly designed shock rocker gives either 140mm or 150mm of rear travel.
Helius AC 29er
Nicolai say their customers wanted more frames with longer travel for next year, and that’s exactly what they’ve provided with the Helius AC 29er (£1,765). Now as downhill oriented as possible, it’s supposedly a bike that “still climbs like a mountain goat but is even faster downhill than before”.
Helius AC 650b
As the final new frame for the coming year, the Helius AC (£1,765) now comes in a 650b (27.5in) wheel option.