ARGON GAM PINION
The Argon GAM Pinion combines the performance of the basic model with the advantages of integrated manual transmission. The PINION transmission convinces with unique shifting performance: In an instant, individual or multiple gears can be changed simultaneously, moving or not, which brings significant advantages especially on technically demanding trails. The handling and balance of the Argon GAM Pinion also benefits noticeably from the low, central center of gravity. The drivetrain is no longer exposed to environmental influences or potential damage. It operates safely, continually lubricated and protected within a sealed housing, meaning maintenance and care are minimal. In combination with a GATES Carbon Drive belt, dirt and moisture can do the moving parts virtually no harm. A 12-speed and an 18-speed PINION gearbox are available for the Argon GAM.
The Argon GAM is a completely new development which replaces the long-serving Argon AM. With the GAM, NICOLAI presents, for the first time, a hardtail that has all the genes of a modern trail bike. It is a strong climber, snappy, efficient, a ruler of downhills and a projectile along single trail. The key to this characteristic is the Geolution Trailconcept, formed from the basis of the exclusive Geolution design of the radically long and slack NICOLAI Race Enduros. When Geolution premiered a few years ago, the manufacturer already caused a stir and set the trends in geometry evolution.
For the Argon GAM, NICOLAI has essentially transferred the geometry of its successful full-suspension trail bike, the Saturn 14, to a hardtail. The Argon GAM is ready for every type of single trail in its territory, whether riding from home, trail center or Alpencross. The 76.5° steep seat angle places the pilot centrally, achieves optimal weight distribution between the front and rear wheel and can easily master hard climbs while seated. The central riding position provides more comfort and optimum traction when climbing without the front wheel lifting. Along fast single trails, the GAM becomes a rocket. Smooth and true to the track it allows radical corner carving and high speed flow. As the downhills steepen, the genes of the great NICOLAI enduros come into play. With its long reach (475 mm size M) and a slack 65° steering angle, the Argon GAM can handle any gradient. Because of its strong downhill potential, NICOLAI has designed a tough and durable frame that receives bike park clearance and is ridden with 140 to 160mm front forks. The Argon GAM is proportionally equipped in all frame sizes with extra short seat tubes to allow modern dropper posts with the longest possible stroke.
To achieve maximum stiffness and durability and low weight, NICOLAI uses butted tubes as well as topology-optimized milled parts, such as the elaborately manufactured, hollow-milled yokes for GAM seat and chainstays. Frames with hollow-milled components are etched at NICOLAI with the label ‘HMT,’ for Hollow Milled Technology.
The Argon GAM is designed as a pure 29er and frame sizes M to XXL have been designed exclusively around this wheel size: a hybrid or 27.5” option is not available for this reason. Exclusively, the Small size frame is designed in terms of the ergonomic requirements for shorter riders and for safer handling as a 27.5” bike.
The Argon GAM is offered in its base configuration with Boost standard dropouts (148 x 12mm thru-axle) and is configured exclusively for use with “one-by” derailleurs with a single front chainring. A Rohloff option with parallel sliding dropouts is not available on this model. However, fans of enclosed gears are still catered for by NICOLAI, offering a PINION transmission model.
We weld all of our frames by hand using the TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) method. Our specially trained welders have many years of experience, our lead welder has worked in-house for over 20 years. For each model and frame size we build a precise welding structure called the frame jig. In this jig, the CNC-cut tube sets are precisely assembled and fixed in place with all turned and milled parts of the frame to be welded. The frame components are first tacked together with individual spot welds at precise points in a defined sequence, and then, to minimize distortion and stresses, welded in several passes.
Our distinctive, uniformly flat-scaled welds are created by welding at a very slow speed. This causes deep fusion of the material and large-area for dissipation of loads and forces applied to the frame on the trail.
Hollow Milled Technology is a design and manufacturing process that maximizes material and weight savings without weakening the structure in high-stress areas. E.g. the large volume components of the seat and chainstay yokes of our new Argon Generation. For this purpose, the stress zones in the material are determined by computer simulation during the design phase. Highly stressed areas can be strengthened while material can be saved in areas subject to low stress. This method is called topology optimization. The use of state-of-the-art 5-axis milling machines allows us to manufacture highly complex, hollow-milled frame components from a single block and to create an optimized design with the highest attention to detail. As a result, the new Argon Yokes are not only lightweight and durable, they also look damn good.
When designing turned and milled parts, we use FEM software (Finite Element Method), which can be used to simulate the loads that will occur in later use in order to determine the optimum shape (topology) of these components. Critical areas of the design become visible in this way and can be strengthened by adding material, whereas material can be saved at less stressed areas. In this way, we can manufacture highly complex parts and assemblies for our frames that combine maximum durability with minimum weight.
Even though many riders now rely on hydration or hip packs, few want to do without the option of a bottle cage within the front triangle. For a clean look, we offer our customised magnetic FIDLOCK mount together with a NICOLAI 0.6L Twist bottle. The FIDLOCK mount allows intuitive release and engagement of the water bottle in both directions even while riding, plus it’s secured in the frame even on the wildest rides and hardest hits. For further mounting options, for example to attach small toolboxes, pumps or bags, the NICOLAI frame clamps from our accessories line are ideal.
Bottle cage mounting locations depend on the model and frame size, as we ensure ideal handling and function for each case. For the bottle cage threads in the frame, we use blind aluminum rivet nuts. Contrary to expectations, if a thread should ever tear out or be overtightened, it can be replaced with little effort.
Now also available individually in the Shop
The innovative shifting from the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, PINION, sets the bar for bicycle drivetrains. The resourceful Swabians have been close NICOLAI development partners since 2012. Centrally integrated into the frame, the PINION gearshift ensures a low, central center of gravity and outstanding riding dynamics. All sensitive parts of the gearshift work away protected from moisture, dirt and damage, and are constantly lubricated within a sealed housing. Service and maintenance requirements are minimal. Lightning-fast, precise gear changes and jumps through gears are among the strengths of the PINION transmission, as are its smooth and quiet operation, the wide gear ratio range and an identical gradation of all gears.
NICOLAI offers a choice between the 18-speed P1.18 and the 12-speed P1.12 for all models with the PINION option. The PINION P1.18 has a total gear ratio of 636% with a gradation of 11.5% and weighs 2700g. The P1.12 offers 600% with a 17.7% gradation and weighs 2350g.
In all NICOLAI models with a gearbox or hub gear, NICOLAI relies on the GATES Carbon Drive. This carbon fiber reinforced drive belt transmits the power efficiently, quietly and chainslap-free to the rear wheel without stretching. The Centre Track guides along the belt ribs prevent losing the belt in rough terrain. Unlike a chain, the Gates Carbon Drive requires neither lubrication nor special care. Dirt and mud can simply be washed off with water. The service life of a Carbon Drive can exceed that of a conventional derailleur many times over. Since the one-piece GATES Carbon Drive belt cannot be opened and closed like a chain can be split, an opening mechanism is required at the rear of the frame to allow installation and removal. In NICOLAI hardtail frames, the seat stay has an opening into which a form-fitting milled block is inserted and bolted. For optimal function, the GATES Carbon Drive requires a defined preload. Tensioning is done on the hardtails via two adjustment bolts on the horizontally sliding dropouts. To set the correct belt tension, GATES offers an app and various tools, which can also be purchased directly from NICOLAI.
We manufacture all NICOLAI frames from 7020-T6 aircraft aluminum and are convinced that this alloy is the superior material for mountain bike construction. Compared to the 6061-T6 (AlMg1SiCu) alloy normally used in bicycle construction, 7020-T6 (AlZn4.5Mg1) has about 30% higher tensile strength and about 20% higher elastic limit. Where carbon frames can spontaneously fail in the event of an overload, NICOLAI bikes are calculated and designed to deform in a safely defined area of the frame in the event of an overload, significantly reducing the risk of serious crashes and injuries. A NICOLAI aluminum frame is designed to withstand many years even under severe competition conditions.
Sustainability is a major concern for us, and our goal is a complete circular economy for our products. All milling and cutting scraps from our aluminum manufacturing process, as well as discarded frames (prototypes, test mules etc), are 100% recycled back to the starting material, which can then be used to create new, high-quality bikes again. The widespread use of 6061-T6 aluminum in frame construction is partly due to ease of processing at lower tooling costs, and the ease of straightening after welding with less technical effort.
Most NICOLAI models are offered in 5 or even in 6 frame sizes, from XS to XXL. This provides customers between 1.55m and 2.10m with their perfect fit, a range that few other brands provide. A sizing chart for body and frame sizes can be found in our detailed Tech Sheets for each model. Building a perfectly fitting frame means much more than just extending it for each size. We take various factors into account here with regard to body proportions and rider weights, for example adapting tube cross-sections and thicknesses, modified geometry and particularly low standover heights for smaller sizes, or frame reinforcements that take into account higher weight and greater strength of XXL frame riders. Saddle position, stem height and shape, handlebar width and height serve to fine-tune geometry – albeit within a relatively limited range.
Our RADO dropouts guarantee perfect alignment between the front and rear wheels of the bike. Finalising the toe and camber of the rear wheel and fixing the RADO in an exact position means that every NICOLAI is always one hundred percent straight. Despite precise preparatory work, construction methods and the utmost care, any aluminum frame is subject to a certain amount of heat distortion during the welding process. Of course, after welding, each frame is straightened, precisely measured and the final alignment ensured. Instead of forcing the frame into alignment, the RADO can be precisely fixed in place with guided grooves and the choice of 5 different camber heights.
After locating the correct toe position along the guided grooves, the frame is drilled and the RADO is pinned by a dowel. The chosen RADO for each frame has the correct camber dimension milled into the RADO. This means that the original alignment is retained when the dropout needs replacing.
Thanks to our own powder coating facility, local anodisers, and our in-house production line, every NICOLAI frame can be customized to meet your individual needs. We process over 50 powder coat colors applied in high-gloss or semi-gloss finish, as well as fades and our classic ‘camo’ options. Customers can even choose a separate color for each welded frame component.
Our frames can also be anodized with a glass-peened and durable black, bronze or titanium finish. For turned or milled components such as rocker linkages, bearing covers, or cable guides, we offer an extended ‘Extra Love’ range of anodized colors that allow color matching with your favorite branded components. We also offer an uncoated aluminum finish as “factory raw”. To finish, add your choice of decal style, location, size and color to guarantee a unique, personalized and truly custom bike.
Click here for the color samples
With our regular frame sizes, we cover a very wide range of body sizes and can offer the vast majority of bikers a perfectly fitting bike. However, there are also people who cannot find their optimal geometry within the range of standard sizes and adjustment options because, for example, they are particularly short, have exceptionally long legs or have a medical restriction. Our complete in-house production means we can offer frames specifically to measure and anything up to custom electric-assist tandems, for example.
Creating custom Tailor Made frames involves a significant amount of extra work and is therefore subject to an additional charge. Unlike production frames, whose components are manufactured in small batches according to set machine programs, a made-to-measure frame requires a lot of manual work and individual customization. The requirements, design and optimization of a custom frame are discussed and determined via close consultation with an experienced NICOLAI engineer.
The roots of the Geolution concept lie in enduro racing, and even if trends in frame geometries are slowly approaching a similar concept, Geolution can still be seen as a radical design in which performance is top priority. But not all of our customers also put the emphasis here or strive for the top steps at enduro races. They are more interested in a well-rounded bike that can climb well, master any trail and has strong downhill potential. Our Geolution Trail geometry appeals to exactly this clientele by taking the basic characteristics of the Geolution concept, such as the slack head angle and long reach, and transferring them to a more moderate, less race-oriented geometry. The seating position is more upright, the bike is more agile and responsive, but the Geolution DNA remains.
A NICOLAI bike is instantly recognizable even if it is not branded. Its characteristic flat-scaled welds and machined aesthetics of the milled parts are unique. Nothing is sanded down or concealed. The industrial design language is not a goal in itself. It reflects the product’s development process, makes our design logic transparent and displays its properties and functions. This not only creates trust in the product, in its quality and durability, but also ensures a memorable brand within a constantly growing community. Handmade methods are not chosen for style and CNC machining is not used for mass production. We use each manufacturing technique in a specific manner so that the end result is always the best possible: a product into which we have poured all our resources, skills and passion and of which we are proud.
All NICOLAI frame models come with a 5-year warranty against breakage and material failure, even when used in extreme conditions like racing or jumping. The prerequisites are that the respective models are used within the scope of their designated purpose and have only been equipped with approved components. In addition, we guarantee supply of spare parts for all models for at least 10 years. Since we manufacture all frame components ourselves on our own machines, it is even possible to reproduce sold-out spare parts beyond the 10-year period in certain cases.
We offer the Argon GAM Pinion as a custom build, where you can choose from various equipment and detail options via an online configurator and assemble the bike individually according to your own wishes and requirements.
NICOLAI frame kits and complete bikes are offered in Germany through our direct sales channel. We offer off the shelf models, or completely customized dream builds with a wide choice of components via our online configurator. Personal discussions and direct contact with customers are our top priority. Abroad, selected partners are available for sales. With our large test bike fleet, we regularly visit bike parks and trail centers around central Europe. Here, potential NICOLAI riders can extensively test our bikes after prior registration and receive individual advice. At the NICOLAI factory we have set up a showroom where all current models are on display. Here, you can also make appointments for personal consultations, test rides, buy bikes directly or pick up pre-ordered bikes.
We have developed a refined and reusable bike box for our mail-order shipping. In this box, the new NICOLAI bike arrives fixed to, and protected by a wooden frame, guaranteeing safe delivery and is ready for use after a few simple steps. The same box is reused when the bike is returned to us for repair or service. All shipping protection inside the bike box such as pads, lashing straps, brackets and screw connections are also reusable, plus it can be flat packed for home storage.
The following boxing and unboxing videos show what we thought about shipping and how much engineering can go into a box alone:
The NICOLAI Bikebox is also available individually in the Shop
ARGON GAM Pinion