The Argon GEN is the latest update of the Argon GLF, the original purebred enduro hardtail from the house of NICOLAI. Again, the previous model has been revised and improved in multiple areas. In order to realize an even more capable, downhill-oriented Enduro design on a hardtail, NICOLAI has determined the long, slack Geolution geometry of its Enduro racing machine G1 in the loaded and compressed state. Essentially shaping the GEN to match a G1 under sag/rider weight, and set these values as its basis. The Argon GEN is a radical 27.5” Enduro hardtail with a slack 63° head angle and a long reach of 455mm (Size M). According to its clear Gravity orientation, it is designed for forks with 150 to 170mm travel. The Argon GEN is the perfect tool for hardtail fans to leave most Fullies in the dust – at bike parks or enduro trails – appropriate skills required!
However, to be fast on technical descents with a hardtail requires not only good skills, but also a different technique than on the Fully, which generously forgives mistakes. Riders must choose the cleanest lines by scanning the trail far ahead. Square edges must be avoided and braking points identified in advance. Bumps and rollers, on the other hand, can be pumped more efficiently than with a Fully to generate momentum. Roots are searched for to bounce off and clear their brethren behind. More physical effort and a more active riding style are mandatory. With its long and slack geometry, optimal load and pressure distribution between front and rear wheel and a wide range of movement, the Argon GEM offers a large safety margin and excellent control at high speeds and on challenging descents.
With the Argon GEN, however, the versatility of its Geolution geometry and with the help of a 74° steep seat angle that positions you in the center of the wheels, you can efficiently master challenging climbs without the front wheel rising. Thanks to the unsprung rear end, the direct drive and the lower weight, the Argon GEN climbs more effortlessly and in a more relaxed manner than a comparable full-suspension enduro.
Compared to the previous model, NICOLAI has redesigned the yokes of the Argon GEN and now also uses topology-optimized, hollow-milled components, so-called HMT yokes. These ensure a large tire clearance of 27.5 x 2.8”, but reduced in size compared to the previous model. Therefore, the Argon GEN is now equipped with a narrower 73mm bottom bracket, for a better Q-factor and an optimized chainline. The seat tube length has been shortened compared to the previous model to allow the use of dropper posts with greater stroke.
The rear of the Argon GEN is equipped with horizontally adjustable Slide dropouts, of which two types are available. When using a “one-by” derailleur, the Slide AFEs are designed for the Boost axle standard 148 x 12mm. The adjustment range of the dropouts can then be used to vary the chainstay lengths between 430 and 455mm. NICOLAI also offers dropouts for the use of a ROHLOFF hub, which can be ridden with either a chain or the GATES Carbon Drive belt.
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
Many NICOLAI models can be equipped with a Pinion GmbH gearbox on request. The transmission is low-maintenance and optimally integrated into the bicycle frame. The central centre of gravity and the lighter rear wheel bring noticeable advantages in handling, driving dynamics and rear-end performance. The transmission reacts to shift commands at lightning speed.
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.
Sliding dropouts on the rear of the frame allow our hardtails to use singlespeed hubs, ROHLOFF gear hubs, or hubs for PINION transmissions in conjunction with a chain or GATES Carbon Drive belt, eliminating the need for a chain or belt tensioner. The dropouts slide along horizontal grooves located on the inside of the rear milled parts. With the help of two adjustment screws the correct alignment of the rear wheel and an optimal chain or belt tension is set, then fixed on both sides by clamping bolts. Slide dropouts are available for the Boost standard with 148mm x 12mm, as well as for a 142mm x 12mm and a 135mm x 10mm axle size. The disc brake mount is integrated into the left AFE. This means that no readjustment of the brake caliper is necessary in the event of a wheel adjustment.
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.
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.
Geolution is a unique geometry concept that we developed in cooperation with Chris Porter from the English brand GEOMETRON. It is based on the idea that a longer wheelbase, a slacker steering angle and a steeper seat angle make the bike faster, smoother, easier to climb, and overall, safer to ride. Climbing characteristics are improved because the steep seat angle and long front end position the rider centrally preventing front wheel lift on steep climbs. The long wheelbase and a slack steering angle, on the other hand, allow for high downhill and cornering speeds and prevent an ‘over the bars’ feeling on steep downhills.
The upright seating position and the centralised center of gravity ensure optimum load distribution and balance between the front wheel and rear wheel. This increases rider control in dynamic riding situations and improves the bike’s overall handling.
Geolution models are ridden with the shortest possible stem. This allows the rider to adopt a balanced and sporty riding position despite the long reach, and provides optimum grip and precision at the front wheel.
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 GEN 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