NICOLAI has created a lightweight and fast 29er full suspension thoroughbred with the Saturn 11. Its strengths play out in XC and marathon sports as well as extended mountain tours or hunting down home trails after work. The still young ‘Down Country’ category describes particularly light, nippy fullies with an XC focus, which, thanks to slacker geometry and a stiff chassis makes a great performer on fast trails and descents. However, CEO and founder, Kalle Nicolai, sees this less as a new trend than as a new name for something familiar: “At least since its 2016 revision, the Saturn is a bike that slots one hundred percent into the down country category. We have always communicated this, we just lacked this catchy hashtag in 2016.”
The Saturn 11 combines a sophisticated lightweight construction with a high-performance chassis, a resilient, stiff construction and contemporary geometry. A multi-butted tube set was chosen for the frame construction. All milled parts were elaborately optimized for load and weight. The eye-catcher and heart of the Saturn 11 is a voluminous CNC machined rocker link. This 180g filigree is a lightweight piece of jewelry designed using FEM optimization; it’s milled from a specially manufactured high-strength aluminum extrusion to minimize machine waste on its journey to its final form.
Large bearing supports with wide pivots and load-optimized milled parts ensure maximum rigidity at the rear triangle and generate direct loss-free forwards propulsion. The kinematics of the sensitive Horst-Link four-bar rear triangle has been specially designed for the progressive characteristics of small-volume, lightweight air shocks. The Saturn 11 smooths out rough trails with its sensitive and responsive rear suspension and allows an XC bike to reach unimagined downhill speeds. The progressive characteristic of the suspension linkage ensures that the Saturn 11 does not sag and always offers a direct riding feel. The kinematics of the rear triangle has clear anti-squat characteristics, so any bobbing movements are countered by chain tension, the bike climbs efficiently and accelerates without power loss despite the extremely responsive chassis. The installed FOX Factory DPS air damper is, as usual with NICOLAI, custom-shimmed, optimally adapted to the travel-stroke ratio and the desired characteristics of the chassis. Now with 106 mm, the suspension travel has increased slightly from the previous model and is now designed around a 120 mm front fork.
The geometry of the Saturn 11 is inspired by the NICOLAI Geolution concept, on which the manufacturer’s trail and enduro bikes in particular are based, and which can be simplified to the formula: long, slack, fast. The relatively long front frame offers 455 mm of reach for optimum sportiness and control (Size M). A 74.5° steep seat angle provides a central riding position and allows efficient pedaling while seated, even on steep climbs, as well as optimal load distribution between the front and rear wheels. The 67.6° slack steering angle guarantees smoothness and flow, as well as safety reserves for fast descents and challenging trails. With a 727mm standover height (size M), the Saturn 11 offers ample freedom of movement through technical sections. It combines efficiency, comfort, control and safety in all areas of its range of use. To sum up, this makes the Saturn 11 a light and agile trail bullet that optimally combines sportiness and fun.
Various details have been revised and improved with the 2023 Saturn 11 compared to the model produced since 2016. The most important and obvious change is a new rear triangle design. A newly designed yoke and a wider bearing support from the rocker link allows wider tire clearance: now significantly chunkier tires upto 29 x 2.4” can easily find space. This upgrade alone significantly increases the potential of the Saturn 11 on technical trails and alpine terrain. The Saturn 11 gains both traction and safety, as well as comfort and driving pleasure. The increased width at the yoke and rocker simultaneously increase stiffness and stability at the rear, making the handling even more precise, direct and accurate. Thanks to topology optimization and FEM-supported design, NICOLAI was able to strengthen and widen the rear of the frame without increasing the overall weight of the frame.
Another detail can also be found in the area of the re-designed rocker link. NICOLAI now specs metric damper dimensions for the new Saturn 11, inline with other current models. The previous model was designed for the now outdated imperial sized shocks.
The lower shock mount has also been changed. The classic Saturn torsion bar, a tie-rod mounted parallel to the damper previously strengthened the Saturn 11 frame and supported against hard suspension bottom-out events, has been completely omitted. The milled parts of the new mount now transfer the forces directly towards the bottom bracket and thereby brace the seat tube with the down tube. At the same time, the new, lower shock mount increases the stiffness in the bottom bracket area. Again, the added reinforcement of the frame comes without extra weight gain.
With the Saturn 11 GPI, NICOLAI also offers models with PINION manual transmission and GATES Carbon Drive. The transmission is available in two versions: The P1.12 version has a total gear ratio of 600% and 12 gears. The P1.18 offers 18 gears at 636%. The Saturn 11 GPI combines the best features of the basic model with the technical advantages of the PINION gearbox and Carbon Drive: an indestructible, virtually maintenance-free drivetrain sealed within a robust housing, with a gear ratio range that far exceeds that of modern derailleur and hub gears. This system reduces unsprung mass at the rear wheel to allow even better rear suspension function and a durable Carbon Drive drive belt that requires no maintenance or lubrication.
The system weight of a Saturn 11 GPI with PINION 12-speed transmission is about 1.2 kg more than the base model with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed derailleur. However, this weight disadvantage is offset by significant advantages and strengths. The Saturn 11 GPI is a bike for all those bikers who, on the one hand, are looking for a fast, light and powerful full suspension, but who equally attach great importance to minimal maintenance and long service intervals. Those who need a reliable machine for adventure tours or multi-day expeditions, and those who want a bike that works reliably in bad weather despite the worst mud and rain.
Like all NICOLAI models, the Saturn 11 is available in a wide variety of color, decor and finish options. The large “Extra Love” palette of anodized colors allows individual milled parts of the frame such as the rocker link, bearing caps and CNC-milled cable retainers to be color-matched so that they harmonize, for example, with the anodized tone of a HOPE brake or a TUNE stem.
The Saturn 11 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 comprehensive information on this. A bottle cage mount on the down tube is available on the Saturn 11 in every frame size.
As usual with NICOLAI, the Saturn 11 is available as a frameset with shock or as a complete bike. Customers can use the online configurator on the NICOLAI homepage to put together their dream bike or frame individually, choosing from a wide range of options and equipment. For this purpose, NICOLAI only offers high-quality components from the brands FOX, INTEND, HOPE, MAGURA, TUNE, CONTINENTAL, SRAM and LEVELNINE that have been tested for the model. On the way to your personalized custom bike, the NICOLAI Sales Team is available to discuss with all interested parties and offer comprehensive advice.
The Saturn 11 is available as a frame kit starting at 2799,00€. Complete bikes start at 5999,00€. The frame kit including shock weighs 2.95 kg in size M. The weights for complete bikes depend on the equipment in each case. The specific bike featured on this site in size M weighs 11.10 kg.
The Saturn 11 GPI is also offered as a frame kit or as a complete bike. The frame kit including PINION gearbox with crankset, GATES Carbon Drive and shock weighs 6.35 kg in size M and is available starting at 4549,00€. Complete bikes start from 7150,00€. The weights depending on the respective equipment. The specific bike featured on this site in size M weighs 13.20 kg. With correspondingly lighter components, complete bikes are possible from 12.00 Kg.
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.
2.95 KG (size M) including shock