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Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 on test: In comparison to normal mountain bikes, E-Bikes offer a lot of potential for exploring both new ideas and new riding. Whether this relates to construction methods, frame materials or motor design and integration, Nicolai combines a number of novel ideas in the ION EBOXX G16 and shows what this German bike manufacturer is capable of. The brand has now also introduced the Geolution geometry concept to their E-Bikes. There’s an external battery that slots into the downtube internally, you can use different wheel-sizes, adjust the geometry and travel – the ION EBOXX G16 offers you a multitude of possibilities to adjust and fit it to your personal preferences and riding style.
- Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – In Brief
- Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – Product Profile
- Real-world Range
- Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – Hands On
- Nicola ION EBOXX G16 – On the trail
- Conclusion – Nicolai ION EBOXX G16
- About the Test
- Further Information About The Nicolai ION EBOXX G16
Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – In Brief
“Imagine riding all you favourite trails, back-to-back, non-stop” – Nicolai
It’s almost a year since Nicolai presented the radically new ION EBOXX G16. Nicolai’s Geolution concept, which pairs a longer top tube with a shorter stem, a low bottom bracket and a very slack head-angle, is already used across their non-powered mountain bike range, but is a novelty amongst E-Bikes.
In addition, the brand has broken with tradition using complex cast magnesium as well as hydroformed parts instead of their usual simple, straight tubes. Nicolai is using a technology called “Pacecast”, and similar techniques are widely used in the car industry. Amongst other things, using casts allows Nicolai to integrate the standard Bosch PowerPack battery in the downtube. With 160 mm travel and in contrast to a large fraction of relatively conservative brands, Nicolai is aiming the ION EBOXX G16 squarely at the Enduro and All Mountain market – the Bosch Performance CX Motor will help you get back up the hill, but the focus is really on descending.
- Aluminium frame with Pacecast technology
- Bosch Performance CX motor
- Internal (but interchangeable on the trail) Bosch PowerPack battery
- 27.5″+ tyres (max 3.0″)
- 160 mm travel
- 3 models (Baseline, Techline, Techline Fox)
- No frame-only options
- 5-year guarantee
- Geolution geometry: longer, lower, slacker
- 148 x 12 mm Boost rear
- Post mount 180 brake mounts
- Bottle cage mounts
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (tested), XXL
- Weight: 25 kg (manufacturer information)
Prices: Baseline: 5,399 € | Techline: 5,999 € |Techline Fox: 6,499 € | Bikemarkt: Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 kaufen
Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – Product Profile
Those who want to ride long distance can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite looking like the battery is fully integrated in the frame, appearances can be deceiving. The battery is accessible behind a lockable door on the bottom of the downtube. Easy to swap whilst out riding.
Things get interesting with the Horst Link suspension and configuration of the back end. The chainstays make use of Nicolai’s new “Mutator” system. These allow changes to be made to the chainstays for those who are interested in doing so. It simply requires setting them to a different length. Of course the head angle is affected by this adjustment, but this can be remedied by tuning the shock strut length. Aside from the chain stay length, head angle and bottom bracket height there is one more option: adjusting the shock length. Of course you will need to check if there is enough clearance for the rear tyre at full compression, but it’s possible to experiment with different shock lengths and strokes to influence the travel and suspension out back.
For those who use their smartphone for navigation you’ll be able to mount it on the top tube with the appropriate Topeak mount. A water bottle can be fitted on the top tube as well. For sizes L and XL this position moves to underneath the top tube. When the going gets rough a Universal Transmission CB1 chain guide keeps everything in place. This is attached to the Bosch mounting points and can be adjusted for different chain-ring sizes.
Components and Pricing
Motor & Akku
Motor: Bosch Performance CX
Power: 250 W max.
Display: Bosch Purion
29.1 km / 1191 metres ascent
1h 47 min
As is usual, we took the ION EBOXX G16 on a battery test-round. After 29.1 km and 1191 m vertical ascending with a rider weight of 98 kg (with rucksack) the battery was exhausted. With a rider weight of 75 kg we managed 35.5 km and 1392 m ascending. Please note that these values are to be taken only as a ballpark figure and in no ways reflect normalised lab testing. Riding this bike in the lowest power mode should also increase range significantly.
Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 – Hands On
The Longest. The Slackest. The Biggest.
Apart from the unique manufacturing used here, the ION EBOXX G16 draws attention simply by the fact that it is a huge bike. In every group you go riding with you get the same looks and comments “How long is that? How slack is that? What a huge bike!?” The answers are always the same. The longest. The slackest. The biggest. However, this geometry doesn’t just cater to E-Bike fans, the Geolution geometry handles uniquely and creates a very different E-Bike available on the market. In terms of components, Nicolai are relying almost exclusively on one manufacturer for the ION EBOXX G16. Suspension, drive train and brakes all come from SRAM. Only the wheelset and steering components come from Hope and Renthal.
Nicola ION EBOXX G16 – On the trail
Our testing took place whilst Bosch released updated firmware with the eMTB mode, which, making a direct comparison between old and new, showed quite clearly how much this mode helps for particular applications. Uphill sections; setting off from standstill or momentary stop on more technical trails became much easier to handle. The variable power input from the motor is able to change dynamically from 120 to 300 % assistance depending on rider input to the pedals. Without having to change modes on the display, it’s possible to get to the maximum 75 Nm assistance.
The balanced Geolution geometry works especially well for uphills. No slope is too steep.
You often end up using full power to blast up the hills with the Nicolai ION EBOXX G16. The long chainstays let you surmount even the steepest climbs, and reminds us of the legendary hillclimb at the Teufelsberg or the open categories in Belgium, where extra-long chainstays are supposed to help. The ION EBOXX G16 scores here with absolutely the longest. 474 mm to be exact (which can be shortened to 461 mm). Short chainstays are often hailed as the solution for all problems, but they do lead to the front end having a tendency to lift. With the balanced Geolution geometry this is not a problem at all and it just encourages you to ride steeper and steeper slopes.
It was during our testing at the Kronplatz that we found a never-ending supply of steep uphill trails that we had to try and conquer. When you start taking the ION EBOXX G16 on twisty trails with switchbacks you do start to reach the limits of the long wheelbase. Bunny hop plus direction change plus E-Bike is quite a challenge in of itself – but the Nicolai battleship needs a bit more on top of that. On less technical uphills the ION EBOXX G16 shines with a comfortable riding position.
It’s not playfulness that you’re looking for on this bike – it’s the pure rush of speed that is at the fore with the ION EBOXX G16
Turning the Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 downhill, it doesn’t just stay planted, it really starts to punch its way down the hill. With the Bosch motor you quickly reach the 25 km/h limit and you’re then confronted with 25 kg of E-Bike underneath you. This weight isn’t insignificant and a lot of rider-input is required when changing direction.
If an E-Bike was ever close to a motorbike, then it’s the Nicolai ION EBOXX G16. The combination of weigh and geometry creates a huge sense of security: every descent seems possible. Once you’re used to the weight of this machine you can ride like you’re on rails. We didn’t manage to get the E-Bike into any situations where we felt that we exceeded the limits of the geometry, despite having only 160 mm travel. The limits of this bike are extremely easy to judge and the central position means it oversteers predictably, so you can always keep your feet on the pedals.
This bike isn’t about being playful – pure speed is what stands at the forefront of the ION EBOXX G16. Those who have a need for speed will find a great companion in this bike.
E-Bikes don’t only allow you to discover trails that were never considered possible on the way up before. Trails with climbing that require a lot of power with a normal mountain bike, start to become “flowy” with the power of an E-Bike.
The Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 does this very calmly and capably. With the Geolution geometry most trail features can be dispatched with ease. None of this is particularly challenging for the eMTB so you quickly move on to find trails with more of everything to post record times both on the uphills and downhills.
We used a mix of wheel sizes during our testing, with a 29″ x 2.5″ Maxxis WideTrail tyre out front and a 27.5″ x 2.8″ WTB Trailbrazer at the back. On hard, dry ground the rear tyre was great. On looser and wetter terrain the grip out back was a little temperamental (read lacking). Having talked with Nicolai, we were told that a more knobbly tyre is likely to be fitted here in the future.
We would also like to see more robust brakes. We managed to reach the limits of the SRAM Guide brakes with a rider and bike combined weight of 120 kg. Codes as well as a 200 mm disc on the rear should be compulsory on this bike.
Conclusion – Nicolai ION EBOXX G16
The Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 is an E-Bike for the roughest terrain. Flow trails aren’t where this bike excels – it’s too much bike for these. With its unique geometry it is perfect for riders who want speed both on the uphills and downhills; those who seek out rough terrain and a long E-Bike. Clever details like the battery compartment and the variable geometry make this E-Bike especially interesting for riders that want to be able to experiment with wheel-sizes and geometries.
Negative points apart from the high weight are the small discs brakes (180 mm at the rear) and the tires installed on the test model. Nicolai has confirmed that the tires and the size of the brake discs have been improved in newer models.
- Handling at slower speeds
About the Test
During and after the Eurobike Media Days at Kronplatz in Italy we had the chance to test the Techline Nicola ION EBOXX G16 model on challenging, alpine Enduro trails. These varied between rough, rocks and typically alpine terrain as well as bikepark segments and natural root-fests.
We tested the Nicolai ION EBOXX G16 here
- Kronplatz, Italy: alpine Enduro trails with built and natural segments, stony and rooty trails.
Tester profile Jens Staudt
- Name: Jens Staudt
- Height: 190cm
- Weight (with riding gear): 92kg
- Inside leg: 91cm
- Arm length: 58cm
- Torso: 56cm
- Riding style: The fastest line possible, even if it’s rough
- What do I ride most: Singletrails, local jump spot, freeride, downhill
- Suspension preferences: Stiff with feedback from the trail, high compression damping, progressive
- Geometry preferences: Chainstays that aren’t too short (430mm), slacker head angle
What do you think of the Nicolai ION EBOXX G16? Have you ever ridden an eMTB with Geolution geometry?
Further Information About The Nicolai ION EBOXX G16
Text & Edit: Jens Staudt, Gregor Sinn | eMTB-News.de
Photography: Jens Staudt
Nicolai ION EBOXX G16
E-Bike + Rider
- 0 to 120 mm Travel (Hardtails and Full-Suspension)
- 100 to 150 mm Travel (Hardtails and Full-Suspension)
- 120 to 150 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- 150 to 180 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- more than 180 mm Travel (Full-Suspension)
- max. Drehmoment zwischen 30 und 60 Nm, Akkukapazität unter 500 Wh
- max. Drehmoment zwischen 60 und 90 Nm, Akkukapazität über 500 Wh
- max. Drehmoment über 90 Nm, Akkukapazität über 500 Wh
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