Discs are the per­fect part­ner for this ma­te­rial, creat­ing a durable all-weather bike for life

Cyclist - - Bike | Van Nicholas -

econ­omy, but for the chal­lenges of pro­duc­ing a ti­ta­nium bike. ‘The choice for 3AL/2.5V is down to good me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties and good weld­abil­ity,’ says Moor­man. ‘That’s why we are able to of­fer a life­time guar­an­tee.’

The bike is far techier than one might as­sume. For in­stance, it was de­signed with Fi­nite El­e­ment Anal­y­sis tech­niques in its con­struc­tion. This is pos­si­ble partly be­cause Van Ni­cholas is not ac­tu­ally an in­de­pen­dent brand – as the name and look might sug­gest – but part of the Ac­cell group, which also in­cludes Lapierre, Koga and Haibike. ‘That gives us more knowl­edge, ex­ten­sive test fa­cil­i­ties, qual­ity stan­dards and high as­sem­bly stan­dards,’ says Moor­man.

The frame has been con­structed to take elec­tronic and hy­draulic com­po­nents with in­ter­nal ca­ble rout­ing and a clever 3D-casted dropout.

‘We have taken ad­van­tage of that cast­ing tech­nique to put the more tech­ni­cal fea­tures in the dropout rather than the tub­ing,’ ex­plains Moor­man. ‘For ex­am­ple, the flat mount, ca­ble stop­per and Di2 junc­tion are all based in the dropout. This makes it pos­si­ble to of­fer 1x, 2x me­chan­i­cal and elec­tronic shift­ing in one mod­u­lar frame, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the look of the frame with un­used holes.’

Pre­cious metal

Un­usu­ally, my test of the Van Ni­cholas be­gan not on the road, but at my com­puter. Van Ni­cholas has a neat cus­tomi­sa­tion tool that means the cus­tomer can design the bike from top to bot­tom in terms of build kit and fin­ish. It’s a smooth and vis­ually im­pres­sive sys­tem that had me want­ing to up the spec at a fi­nan­cially per­ilous rate – and even of­fers cus­tom paint­ing op­tions.

In terms of the bike’s fi­nal look, I think the disc brakes do jar slightly with the tra­di­tional lines and ap­peal of ti­ta­nium. But I also ac­cept that discs are the per­fect part­ner for this ma­te­rial, creat­ing a durable all-weather bike for life.

When it comes to the ride feel of ti­ta­nium, I’m of­ten a lit­tle con­flicted. When done well, ti­ta­nium can of­fer a sturdy yet com­fort­able ride. But try­ing to in­tro­duce a stiff, racy qual­ity to the bike can some­times spoil the bal­ance.

Set­ting off on the Ske­iron, that was my fear. I had just come off the back of a long stint on the S-works Diverge, a gravel bike with 38mm tyres and front sus­pen­sion, so switch­ing to 25mm tyres was ini­tially a bit of a shock. The bike cer­tainly pinged over the rougher patches of the road

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