The age old adage “it doesn’t get easier, you just go faster” is true even in the realms of electric powered mountain biking, apparently. Gone are the days of riders bandying about “I’m not old enough for an e-bike yet”, or “that’s cheating”. The e-MTB looks like it is here to stay, and I for one am trying to get with the program. The new G1 EBOXX E14 is Nicolai’s latest evolution of their e-MTB for enduro riding, with a solid gravity inclination & heaps of unique tech. We spotted the naked prototype of the previous ION G16 EBOXX E14 back at Sea Otter Girona last summer, and now we have all the details on this latest iteration. But first, let us allow a little e-shredding to do the talking…
Nicolai G1 EBOXX E14 adjustable 160mm enduro e-MTB
The Nicolai G1 EBOXX E14 is probably the most eye-catching, and maybe most interesting eMTB you’ve seen yet. The 7020-T6 aluminium frame sits on 160mm front & 160mm of rear wheel travel.
A traditional drivetrain gives way to a Gates Carbon Drive system with shifting though 14 internal hub gears mediated through the electronic-shift Rohloff E14 transmission. The electric assist itself, comes from a Bosch Performance Line CX gen4 motor with a 500Wh battery tucked away into the huge downtube. This is a burly looking bike, weighing in at a hefty claimed 27.2kg (60lb).
An unrefined version of this e-enduro bike was knocking around the circuit last summer with an older e-bike motor, but now it is much more refined and updated to the latest generation 4 Bosch CX powertrain.
Updates over that prototype we saw last year include a new CNC machined motor mount to go with the new Bosch CX, a revised chain tensioner for the larger drive ring, a new spring-loaded bash guard, and a more forward main pivot.
Up in the suspension linkage, it still includes Nicolai’s highly adjustable seat stay length (working together with the rear end’s Mutator), but also gets a new flip chip in the rear shock mount too, plus a new bolt-on seat stay bridge.
As with all current Nicolai models, the G1 EBOXX e-MTB was designed around the GeoMetron geometry and suspension concept. Key hallmarks of this concept are a long wheelbase, a slack steering angle & a steep seat angle, all of which come together to “make the bike faster, smoother, easier to climb and safer”.
Nicolai say the geometric relationship between wheels, steering angle, and weight distribution are the decisive factors for good handling, while the relationship between saddle, crank and rear wheel axle are the decisive factors for climbing. The GeoMetron concept works to integrate the rider into the bike through the long reach, the steep seat angle, and the long wheelbase, so that the centre of gravity lies optimally between the front & rear axles.
The Nicolai G1 EBOXX E14 is offered in 5 different frame sizes (S-XXL) serving rider heights from 1.55-2.05m tall. In order to preserve the GeoMetron concepts throughout the sizes, the EBOXX features a newly developed component on the rear swing arm, the Mutator. Available in 3 different lengths (33mm, 41mm & 47mm), the Mutator serves to increase the length of the swing arm in line with the increasing size of the front triangle. In this way, only by replacing a mutator can the length of the swingarm “grow with” the frame height according to the GeoMetron concept.
EBOXX Bosch CX with KIOX
As with previous Nicolai EMTBs, the G1 EBOXX E14 is driven by a Bosch CX motor. This 4th generation engine is smaller, lighter, stronger & apparently quieter running than previous generations – weighing just 2.9kg with a torque of 75Nm. New for 2020 is the KIOX on-board computer. The small, scratch-resistant color display is controlled by the drive system operating unit with improved ergonomic controls at the left-hand grip.
It provides data on ride speed, power, heart rate, and battery charge status. It has a magnetic holder for ease of removal and attachment.
The 500Wh battery is fully integrated into the down tube and can be charged on or off the bike.
EBOXX Gates Carbon Drive
The G1 EBOXX E14 is said to be the World’s first eMTB to be propelled by a Gates Carbon Drive system. The carbon reinforced belts are as stiff as a chain, have a longer life, run dry without lubrication, and are apparently virtually maintenance free. Nicolai decided this belt-drive system would be the best solution to avoid the problems that could arise from rapid wear on the rear derailleur through the high motor torque.
EBOXX Rohloff E-14 Transmission
The Gates Carbon Drive is hooked up to the new Rohloff E-14 transmission. With electronic shifting paired to the Bosch motor, one push on the button removes load from the system, and the Rohloff hub switches electrically. If you hold down the button the E-14 can shift through all 14 gears in a fast 3-second sequence. And when you come to a stop, the transmission automatically shifts down into its easy low gear for smooth takeoff.
For 2019, Nicolai have improved the ergonomics of the e-system controls. In addition to the new Bosch left shifter (a few images above), the position of the Rohloff electronic trigger & Magura wireless dropper remote have been modified for more ergonomic thumb operation.
Pricing & availability
This E-MTB is pricey, coming in at €9,199 (~$10,250). That said, it does get you quality components: FOX 36 Float 160mm fork, Fox Float X2 shock, a Hope Tech 35 W Pro 4 27.5″ wheelset and Magura MT7 brakes. The frame comes with a 5-year warranty and Nicolai stock spare parts for all their bikes for at least 10 years!