The Lal Bikes Supre Drive has found its first home aboard the all new Nicolai Nucleon 16. Cedric Eveleigh’s invention of the split derailleur was, to me, the most exciting new concept the mountain bike world has seen in 2021 Last November, Cedric unveiled his drivetrain alternative on a prototype high-pivot frame of his own design. Indeed, the Supre Drive was, and apparently still is, only compatible with full-suspension mountain bikes that run a high main-pivot design.
This is because the drivetrain’s chain-tensioning function is performed by a tensioner arm that pivots concentrically to the bottom bracket, with a jockey wheel taking up the space that on more common suspension rigs such as Horst-Link, would normally be reserved for the main pivot.
What are the benefits? Well, with the chain tensioner function supported at chainring level, just look at what’s left of the rear derailleur – it’s tiny! With no cage hanging below the b-knuckle, the unit that actually moves the chain through the cassette is up, out of way of wayward rocks and much less vulnerable as a result. We covered the Supre Drive in more detail in November. Now, let’s take a look at the very first production bike to enjoy; Nicolai Nucleon 16.
Nicolai Nucleon 16 with Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The Nucleon 16 is a 29er high-pivot enduro bike with a mule option in the 160-180mm travel class that uses a new type of shifting technology: the Supre Drivetrain from Canadian development company LAL BIKES by Cedric Eveleigh. Our earlier Nucleon models, such as the Nucleon DH or Nucleon Evo, also used alternate shifting concepts and combined them with a high-pivot suspension design. These bikes used a modified ROHLOFF 14-speed gearbox with the axle positioned at the swingarm pivot point well above the bottom bracket. A primary drive to the gearbox and a secondary drive from the gearbox to the rear wheel were required. The suspension and shifting performance, sturdiness and durability of the early Nucleon bikes were excellent. However, the gearbox, including crankcase and additional design-related components, caused a weight disadvantage. And even precise, high-quality ROHLOFF drivetrains have never quite matched the efficiency of a derailleur system when shifted under load.
Anyone who has followed our brand over the past 25 years has probably come to a certain conclusion over time: you can recognize a Nicolai at first glance. Machine aesthetics. Form follows function. Brutal design. – Formed in this way, one probably rubs one’s eyes at first sight of the new Nucleon 16: extruded tubing sections, a headtube gusset with ports for internally routed cables, an integrated bash guard and a sleek headtube brace saddle with integrated clamp. Design also seems to have played a role alongside engineering in the bulky rear section with its wide phases and dynamic lines. Kalle Nicolai provides the following explanation: “Life is change. Regardless of our traditions, with the Nucleon 16 we’ve built a whole new bike for a wide audience.
The Nucleon 16 is designed as a 29er, but can also be ridden as a mule with a 29er wheel up front and a 27.5er wheel in the rear. The geometry is based on our Geolution Trail concept: a relatively long reach, 490 mm in size M, combined with a steep seat angle of 78.3° provides a sporty, central riding position and optimal load distribution between the front wheel and the rear wheel. The length of the chainstay increases with the different frame sizes and thus ensures a good balance. The 64° steering angle is slightly more moderate than on the extremely flat racing enduros of the NICOLAI G series. This allows for more agile handling without significantly compromising running stability and high-speed behavior. The Nucleon is fun, fast and agile. Whips and scrubs are among them. The extremely low top tube offers ample clearance with a standover height of 668mm and encourages an action-packed riding style. Whether enduro, all-rounder or freerider is ultimately up to the riders. With the Nucleon 16, in any case, all fans of gravity and speed will have an exceptionally powerful base.
With the Supre Drive, NICOLAI can now for the first time fully utilize the performance benefits of high-pivot suspension in a long-travel enduro bike, with a 1×12 setup and a total gear ratio of 510%. To better understand what’s ingenious about it, we must first look at the two key technologies in detail as well as their particularities and characteristics.
The Nucleon 16 is available in a wide variety of colors, decals and finish options. And a wide “Extra Love” palette of anodized colors even allows frame-mounted milled parts, such as the rocker link, shock mount or bearing caps, to be customized to match a brake’s anodized finish. HOPE, for example.
The Nucleon 16 is available in five frame sizes from S to XXL, covering a wide range of small linear increments. Riders between 1.64m and 2.10m will find a perfectly adjusted frame. The detailed tables in the technical sheets in the appendix provide a lot of detailed information on this subject.
As usual with NICOLAI, the Nucleon 16 is available as a frame kit with shock and in this case with the complete Supre Drive or as a complete bike. Using the online configurator on the NICOLAI homepage, customers can customize the desired bike or frame and choose from a wide range of options and equipment. For this purpose, NICOLAI exclusively offers high-quality components of the brands EXT, FOX, INTEND, HOPE, MAGURA, TUNE, CONTINENTAL, SCHWALBE, SHIMANO and LEVELNINE which have been tested for the model in question. On the way to your personal custom bike, our sales team is available to all interested cyclists. – With an open mind and sound advice.
The bike can be ordered now. The first production models will then be delivered from December 2022. The price of the frame without Supre Drive and without shock absorber is 3099€. Complete bikes are available from 7499€.
My apologies for the brevity of this post. I’m about to fly to Frankfurt for the Eurobike Show where we’ll meet up with Cedric and the Nicolai Bicycles team to find out more.