The Lal Bikes Supre Drive has found its first home aboard the all-new Nicolai Nucleon 16. Cedric Eveleigh’s split-derailleur invention was, for me, the most exciting new concept the mountain bike world saw in 2021. Last November, Cedric unveiled his alternative drivetrain on a prototype high-pivot frame of his own design. Indeed, the Supre Drive was, and seemingly still is, only compatible with full suspension mountain bikes that run a high main pivot design.
That’s because the chain tensioning function of the drivetrain is executed by a tensioner arm that pivots concentric to the bottom bracket, with a jockey wheel that occupies the space that, on more common suspension platforms such as Horst-Link, would normally be reserved for the main pivot.
What are the benefits? Well, with the chain tensioner function taken care of at the chainring, just look at what’s left of the rear derailleur – it’s tiny! With no cage hanging down beneath the b-knuckle, the unit that actually shifts the chain through the cassette is raised up, out of the way of wayward rocks, and much less vulnerable as a result. We covered the Supre Drive in more detail back in November. Now, let’s take a look at the very first production bike to take advantage of it; the Nicolai Nucleon 16.
Nicolai Nucleon 16 with Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The Nucleon 16 is a high-pivot 29er enduro bike with a mullet option in the 160 to 180 mm travel category that uses a new type of shifting technology: the Supre Drivetrain from Cedric Eveleigh’s Canada-based development company LAL BIKES. Our earlier Nucleon models, such as the Nucleon DH or the Nucleon Evo, also utilized alternative shifting concepts and combined them with a high-pivot suspension design. These bikes used a modified 14-speed ROHLOFF gearbox with the axle positioned at the level of 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. Suspension and shifting performance, robustness and durability of the early Nucleon bikes were excellent. However, the gearbox, including the housing and design-related additional components, caused a weight disadvantage. And even the precise, high-quality ROHLOFF transmissions 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. – So shaped one probably rubs one’s eyes at first sight of the new Nucleon 16: Extruded tube cross-sections, a head tube gusset with ports for internally routed cables, an integrated bash guard and a stylish seat tube brace with an integrated clamp. Design also seems to have played a role alongside engineering in the voluminous rear end 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 have constructed a completely new bike for a wide audience.”
The Nucleon 16 is designed as a 29er, but can also be ridden as a mullet with a 29er wheel in front and a 27.5er in the rear. The geometry is based on our Geolution Trail concept: a relatively long reach, 490 mm in size M, combined with a 78.3 ° steep seat angle provides a sporty, central riding position and an optimal load distribution between front and rear wheel. The chainstay length grows with the different frame sizes and thus ensures a good balance. The head angle of 64 ° is slightly more moderate than on the extremely flat race enduros of the NICOLAI G series. This allows for more agile handling without significantly compromising running stability and high-speed behavior. The Nucleon wants to be fun, fast and agile. Whips and scrubs are part of that. The extremely low top tube provides plenty of clearance with a standover height of 668 mm and encourages an all-action riding style. Whether enduro, all-rounder or freerider depends finally on the riders. With the Nucleon 16 in any case all gravity and speed fans will have a exceptionally potent base.
With the Supre Drive, NICOLAI can now for the first time optimally use the performance advantages of a high-pivot suspension in a long-travel enduro bike, with 1×12 setup and 510% total gear ratio. To better understand what is so ingenious about this, it is first necessary to take a look at the two key technologies in detail as well as their specific details and features.
The Nucleon 16 is available in a wide variety of color, decals and finish options. And a large “Extra Love” palette of anodized colors allows even to customize mounted milled parts of the frame, such as rocker link, shock mount or bearing caps, to be color-matched with the anodized finish of a HOPE brake, for example.
The Nucleon 16 is available in five frame sizes from S to XXL, covering a wide range in linear, small increments. Riders between 1.64 m and 2.10 m will find a perfectly fitting frame. The extensive Tech Sheet tables in the appendix provide plenty of detailed information on this.
As usual with NICOLAI, the Nucleon 16 is available as a frameset 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 their desired bike or frame and choose from a wide range of options and equipment. For this purpose, NICOLAI offers exclusively high-quality components from the brands EXT, FOX, INTEND, HOPE, MAGURA, TUNE, CONTINENTAL, SCHWALBE, SHIMANO and LEVELNINE that have been tested for the particular model. On the way to your personal custom bike, our Sales Team is available to all interested riders. – With an open mind and in-depth advice.
The bike can be ordered from now on. The first series models will then be delivered from December 2022. The price for the frame without Supre Drive and without shock is € 3099. Complete bikes are available from € 7499.
My sincere apologies for the brevity of this post. I’m about to hop on a flight to Frankfurt for the Eurobike Show where we’ll catch up with Cedric and the Nicolai Bicycles team to learn more.