Van Nicholas – and its predecessor company Airborne – has probably done more to popularise titanium bikes in the UK than any other outfit. The Dutch-based company makes nothing but titanium bikes, from high-end racers with super-light kit to full-on expedition bikes, including belt-driven tourers, hub-geared bikes, mountain bikes and even mixte frames in its extensive titanium catalogue.
Its Yukon Disc falls somewhere between the extremes of heavyweight tourer and lightweight racer, Van Nicholas describing it as “perfect for commuting, touring and everything in between”.
And while the type of tourer I first traversed Australia on would have weighed nearer 15kg than 10kg, this very 21st-century take is a willowy 9.67kg and that’s with Van Nich’s neat own-brand mudguards. This puts it very much into sportive, mile-munching and training territory as well as touring.
The impeccably behaved Shimano Ultegra setup. David Caudery / Immediate Media
As with all Van Nicholas bikes, the Yukon has numerous build options. In the Yukon Disc’s case this starts at €3,499 for Shimano 105. I went up a notch, plumping for a full Shimano Ultegra hydraulic groupset, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and their companion 25mm Yksion tyres.
This being 2019, the Yukon Disc can accommodate 28 to 30mm tyres with mudguards and 35mm without – an ideal width for loaded touring and all-road riding. There are fittings for ‘guards and racks, of course.
The geometry isn’t sit-up-and-beg upright but it does have slightly slack frame angles, my 54cm/medium-size model having a 543mm top tube and a pretty laid-back 71.5-degree head angle.
The long, 1,005mm wheelbase also emphasises the Yukon’s endurance aspirations. In spite of that, there’s a great feeling of efficiency from the Yukon and it works excellently as a fast, comfortable, long-distance commuter and I breezed pleasingly and pacily along bike paths, which isn’t surprising given that Mavic’s Ksyriums are essentially a set of lightweight racing wheels.
Acceleration was excellent and if anything, the Yukon is on the stiff side for a tourer, but Van Nicholas has gone with a PressFit bottom bracket, which won’t appeal to the traditionalists. I also found that the Cambium saddle on the Yukon felt firm, which is possibly down to the use of a titanium rather than carbon seatpost. But other seatpost, saddle and tyre combinations are possible if you’d like to soften the ride a little.
It’s also worth noting that I was running my Yukon Disc with narrow 25mm tyres, fitted with inner tubes. You could easily up the comfort by fitting wider tyres, going tubeless – the Ksyriums are tubeless-ready – or doing both of these things.
Slightly slack frame angles mean comfort for longer. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Van Nicholas has gone fully modern with the Yukon Disc and fitted 12mm thru-axles to the frame and the carbon fork. With both gear cables and hydraulic discs routed internally the looks are kept very clean – and the performance from the Shimano Ultegra setup is all you’d expect, impeccably well-behaved braking and smooth, accurate shifting.
The 34×34 bottom gear meant even steeper hills were tackled in the saddle, while the 50×11 top allowed me to power down the descents, assured by the quality of the disc braking, whatever the conditions.
This really is a machine for big days out. I reckon that slightly wider tyres would get much more comfort from the bike. As it stands, Van Nicholas’s Yukon Disc straddles the light- to middle-weight touring/audax/commuting and sportive spectrum pretty well. It’s not super-light – though nine kilos or so is far from heavy – but the slightly relaxed geometry means you stay comfortable hour after hour.
And not only does the frame have a liftetime warranty, Van Nicholas is aware of the issues of buying a bike online, so it offers a 14-day money-back guarantee on the complete bike. The price shown may also be subject to exchange-rate fluctuations.
There’s a great feeling of efficiency from the Yukon. Russell Burton
Van Nicholas Yukon Disc geometry
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 71 degrees
Seat tube: 50.5cm
Top tube: 53.5cm
Head tube: 16cm
Fork offset: 4.55cm
Bottom bracket height: 26.8cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.3cm