Nicolai is fond of the Pinion gearbox system, and applied it to their Argon CX platform. To this, they added a Gates Carbon Drive system instead of a chain, for a complete low-maintenance package. They say that while it’s very capable for long miles and light trail riding, it’s equally aimed at commuters or those wanting an all-season worry-free bike.

All images courtesy Nicolai.

Nicolai Argon CX Pinion belt-drive cyclocross & commuter bike

Nicolai might be better known for their MTB and fat tire offerings – and they’re clearly fans of the Pinion gearbox system for its maintenance-free operation. They decided to apply the Pinion system to their existing Argon CX bike, for the ultimate urban commuter drop bar bike.

You have the option to configure the bike as you please, with both 12 and 18-speed Pinion gearboxes available. Either gearbox comes standard with a Gates Carbon Drive rather than a chain, for a virtually hassle-free drivetrain.

Shifting happens by way of a handlebar-mounted grip shifter. Cables run externally for quick replacement, when the time comes.

The aluminum frame comes with a tapered head tube, and a dynamo front hub and light.

The frame has some interesting design elements, including large sections called HWT. According to Nicolai,

“HWT stands for Hollow Weld Technology. Big and voluminous parts like the yokes of chainstays and seatstays or parts of the bottom bracket are normally very heavy. That’s why we manufacture them in two phases, machine the inside and weld them together. The result is hollow parts. This process is extremely difficult and takes a great deal of time; needless to say it’s also cost intensive. But the result justifies the hassle: the parts are very lightweight, incredibly stiff and extraordinarily durable.”

The rear dropouts use a unique design called RADO, or Rear Aligning DropOut. This sliding system is said to adjust camber and toe, taking strain off the frame and allowing for precise belt tension. Only 700c tire compatibility is mentioned, though we have to imagine that the frame and dropouts would allow for moderate-size 650b wheels and tires.

Five stock sizes are available, along with an option for a “Trailormade” custom frame. Custom colors are also available.

The Nicolai Argon CX Pinion is made in Germany, and covered by a five year warranty. The frameset including Pinion and Gates systems is available for €3.349, with the complete bike starting at €5.499.


  1. Pynchonite on

    Very cool. Not a huge fan of the grip shift, but everything else about it is pretty sweet. If Pinion could create a system that would allow me to shift from the hoods or drops, this would definitely be a good reason to part with a kidney.

    • Matthias on

      Cinq sells both thumb and brake-lever shifters for the pinion, unfortunately they only work with the C-line that tops out at 12 gears and you will indeed have to say goodbye to that kidney.

      That being said, that frame is butt-ugly. I’m not usually the type to bicker about aesthetics – I wrap old inner tubes around my frame where I think it needs protection and use mudguards fastened with zip-ties – but this is too much. It looks like it was stuck together with play-do and painted over. For that price tag it had better be Ti.

      • Joe Maki on

        The frame price includes the drivetrain. Pinion gear boxes are not inexpensive. It’s about $4750 USD. Cyclemonkey is the US distributor.

        • Matthias on

          I know, Joe, but my entire bike with a P1.18 was significantly cheaper than their bare frameset+gearbox. About the same when I count the upgrade to Pinion hubs and Gates belt. I’m seriously considering a titanium Pinion build now and it’s gonna stay well below their price for the complete Al bike.

  2. Mircea Andrei Ghinea on

    isn’t this a type error?
    73 seat angle for size S-M, and 74 seat angle for size L-XL?
    usually, if different seat angles, the smaller value goes for the larger sizes.

  3. Dinger on

    Camber & toe? These are attributes of 4 wheel vehicle alignment, relative to a pair of opposing wheels. A single wheel with any condition related to these terms is simply crooked.


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