AM Nicolai Ion G15 GPI

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
So just not enough Gnar in Alice to justify running that sexy EXT coil?
The EXT Storia is amazing, and I've just ordered a new spring for it and hoping to re-install it soon. Problem was a little bit of weight gain the original springs had me a little undersprung. Also, with how active the suspension is, and how low slung the bike sits, I've found it plays really nicely with just a firm spring rate from both active geometry and suspension performance point of view. Slowly losing weight, but trying to be careful not to burn myself out. It's a tough mental balance at the moment.

Or more you're not having to make that compromise in order to keep the bike feeling supple. It's amazingly active rear thanks to the unsprung ratios, and driving low leverage rate anyway (145mm of travel of a 63mm stroke). I did run it for a while in the high mode for a good while and it really is noticeable with regards to the ground clearance on pedals, but found that low mode with a stiffer spring (26-27% sag) no tokens (Vivid doesn't take them I don't think) is really what meshed with me for the bike.
It's not a super dramatic change between the two settings, although the lower pedals just really gives that "inside the bike" feeling and that is where this bike plays to its strengths. So much stability, low center mass right between your ankles, firm spring to press against and really force the bike into corners. When it's doing what it likes it is so good, that even with all the issues I've had with the bike (and there have been some real heartbreaking and hairpulling moments) that the frustrations are not only forgotten, they're worth suffering through in order to experience it.

There is a really good reason that the shortlist for another bike was a G13 or an Evolink 131 (or Bushmaster). The relationship with the G15 has been far from perfect, but the high points have completely made me re-evaluate what a bike should feel like to the point that I don't want to ride anything else.

EDIT: Apologies for the mini essay.

You fitting these forks to your XTrail?
I would if I could!!! Fun fact, the forks are worth half of what I paid for the car.
 

beeb

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Any post Newcastle-relocation ride impressions on this beasty @Zaf ? Just read through the whole thread again and I'd be interested in hearing some thoughts on the bike now you're presumably in more winch-and-plummet type terrain...

Dreaming on how to spend my future dollars... ;)
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Feeling better with the car around town.
Been mainly riding Glenrock just because it's so close and don't need the car at all, although have started to find some of the steeper and faster stuff in there. Just bagged a 43/696 on a track that has Jack Moir as the KOM, I'd only ridden it once before (found it on Saturday), so pretty happy with that.

Pretty much does everything you'd expect of it, just eats trail. There is a ridiculous amount of traction on the bike, and it's dialed in at the moment, which makes hitting things blind a real joy.

Flying out to Townsville this weekend for a few days. Taking the G13 with me and will give that a good shakedown.
 

beeb

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Good to hear it's been seeing some East-coast action!

How do you find it on steep climbs, does it pedal-bob (I'm guessing slightly, but not enough to be upsetting...), or does having the weight so centralised keep things relatively calm?
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Good to hear it's been seeing some East-coast action!

How do you find it on steep climbs, does it pedal-bob (I'm guessing slightly, but not enough to be upsetting...), or does having the weight so centralised keep things relatively calm?
The EXT has been fitted to it again, and i just make use of the climb switch on it to help out; it needs all the help it can get going up the hill. That said, the climbs out here are usually pretty "settle into them" kind of deal. Find a gear and then sit and spin with the occasional out of the saddle effort.

With the climb switch it is really composed, without it, it's fine on seated pedalling, but out of the saddle it just really sinks into itself and sucks your soul away. Out of the saddle feels a little weird on the gearbox in general, because the chainring spins at a different rate to the crank it feels almost like it's spooling up, hard to describe. I find that the gearbox likes a higher cadence on the pedals, it doesn't feel quite as explosive as the chain/derailleur setup when you're in heavy gear and just give it some big leg action.

Which has taken some getting used to, because my big ham legs don't mind the odd stomp out of the saddle. One of the main things I really like about the G13 and going with the smaller range 10sp cluster, the bike makes you get out of the saddle and drop watt-bombs so you feel like you're getting a hussle on.
 

wkkie

Eats Squid
Still loving the gearbox @Zaf?

Has there been any noticeable change in drag since you first started running it? How many KMs have you clocked up on it so far?

How is it going between this and back to a regular transmission?

Do you have issues changing under power like many people mention, or is it a matter of technique?
 

beeb

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Still loving the gearbox @Zaf?

Has there been any noticeable change in drag since you first started running it? How many KMs have you clocked up on it so far?

How is it going between this and back to a regular transmission?

Do you have issues changing under power like many people mention, or is it a matter of technique?
Haha, I've been wondering exactly this over the last couple of weeks. I know what I want from geometry and love the idea of gearboxes, so could see something like a Zerode or Nicolai in my future - but the gearbox "ride feel" is still the great unknown.
 

hifiandmtb

Sphincter beanie
I was thinking the other day you are overdue for a new bike & that something must have happened to get in the way.
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Still loving the gearbox @Zaf?

Has there been any noticeable change in drag since you first started running it? How many KMs have you clocked up on it so far?

How is it going between this and back to a regular transmission?

Do you have issues changing under power like many people mention, or is it a matter of technique?
The main thing that smoothed off was the shifting action. It's quite a heavy pull to begin with, and then gets much easier to shift. The gearbox does run a little better now as well, but it ran pretty good out of the factory, so not as significant a note in operation under pedalling as it is shifting.

The G15 just clicked the 2k mark in distance traveled. It's been a little down, I had a big break off the bikes in Nov-Feb, and then it's been a slow build after that, and it was out of action for several weeks when the belt broke and replacements were sorted. My riding has picked up a bit though, and I'm getting back into shape, which has made me feel a whole lot better. The G15 doesn't play nicely with a lack of fitness, in fact, it actively punishes it.

The changing under power is kind of a non-issue for me. It got me once or twice early on in learning the new system, but you can shift to a heavier gear under power without issue, and as noted, you can switch to an easy one by just timing your deadzones with the shift well and not loading up the system; it really only needs a slight back-off to switch after it's worn in a little. I think the people who get caught out by it are those who shift under power on their derailleur/chain setups, it wasn't a huge adjustment for me. You can also use little workarounds, because the gears shift so quickly, you generally just dump gears when you get caught on a pinch climb, and can then shift into a heavier gear if you over corrected without issue.

I do notice going back to a conventional drivetrain having to actually soft-pedal my gear onto its cog; there have been a few times where I've clicked the shifter and expected it to just be in gear and stomped it a little, only to remember that's not how it works on this.


Haha, I've been wondering exactly this over the last couple of weeks. I know what I want from geometry and love the idea of gearboxes, so could see something like a Zerode or Nicolai in my future - but the gearbox "ride feel" is still the great unknown.
Do it! My only reservations have been more to do with the belt drive than the gearbox, and even those have been overcome with time and knowledge of the system.

I was thinking the other day you are overdue for a new bike & that something must have happened to get in the way.
I was saying to BB1 in PMs the other day, his G15 is the only bike I've seen that makes me "want another bike" and imagine building and buying stuff in my head. The Nicolai's have genuinely slaked the thirst for changing, it's probably the one aspect of my life that doesn't feel restless right now.

So there you go, it's a bike so good I'd think about buying it twice before trying something new.
 

beeb

Likes Bikes and Dirt
The belt drive is a large part of the gearbox appeal for me, are the belts really as silent as you'd expect? I love a quiet bike!
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
The belt drive is a large part of the gearbox appeal for me, are the belts really as silent as you'd expect? I love a quiet bike!
They're the the inverse of a chain drive. They're noisier on the pedal up, especially in the easier gear ratios, you can hear a whir of the gearbox going along, but on the descents the rubber belt makes absolutely no chainslap noise and all I can hear is the oil through dampers (the EXT has a really cool little high pitched "spritz" noise through operation as the LSC threshold blows off) and rubber on dirt.

The gearbox does play really nicely with the geometry as well, the bike naturally wants you to lean it over aggressively and trust it will see you through, and the weight down in between your ankles is instantly noticeable with that.

Just be aware, a belt even slightly out of adjustment makes a fucking godawful racket. Hard to describe, but you get a sort of crunching buzz when it's not on perfect line. One of those things learned through ownership and making sure you adjust the tug and tensions meticulously during setup to never have happen. Doubles the weight of the bike when you hear it, halves the weight of it when you don't.
 

wkkie

Eats Squid
How did chain drive compare to the belt running and noise wise? And cost wise if you don't mind?
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
How did chain drive compare to the belt running and noise wise? And cost wise if you don't mind?
Noisy.
The belt uses big 44t drive cogs, and the chainrings are much smaller (i think 32t, but dont quote me on that), so the chain cuts it very fine with the chainstay when installed. So close if you wrapped the stay with a tyre it would rub.
This causes a few chainslap issues noise wise. I did have a bit of a work around using a PTFE chain guide, but now that Kovaric has created STFU Bike things, id be inclined to juat do something like that if it ever goes back on the bike.

Also, it set me back about $500 for the pulley, long life chainrings, two chains and spare jockeys. A fresh belt is about $120-130.
 
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