The prestigious HNF-NICOLAI products have arrived in Hungary! The brand name suggests that Kalle Nicolai, the founder of NICOLAI bikes, is involved in the project. Actually HNF-NICOLAI consists of two brands, based on a close cooperation between the electric motor specialist HNF and the legend in bike technology, NICOLAI. The joint venture is aimed at providing the market with unrivalled expertise in Pedelec and E-Cargo bikes. In case you might be worried that that HNF-NICOLAI project brings the end to NICOLAI, there’s no need to despair: the custom hi-end production of non-motorized will carry on.
The managing directors of HNF-NICOLAI, Michael Hecken, Kalle NICOLAI and Benjamin Börries, have been involved with the project since 2008, creating many innovative e-bike concepts in over a decade. HNF has been the partner of such prominent brands Daimler (then called Grace Gmbh) and BMW. So the company is also well known within the motor vehicle industry. All the experience has been transferred to the world of electrically assisted premium bikes. One of the main aims of the venture is to create pedelecs which require minimal servicing while providing maximum ride experience. In order to achieve this, all models within the range are equipped with Gates belt drive paired with NuVinci or Rohloff hub-based gear shifting. The bikes are constructed from top quality materials coupled with legendary German precision – and of they are designed and produced in Germany. The level of engineering is simply astonishing. The production involves vast amount of CNC work, which we have come to expect from NICOLAI bikes. Following the German theme, the motor drive units are supplied by Bosch, predominantly featuring their high-end offerings, that is Performance CX and Performance Speed components.
The name Karlheinz NICOLAI may not be familiar to many, merely the NICOLAI bike brand. The founder is not the person who like to be in the spotlight despite being a defining figure in the industry for the last 20 years. While NICOLAI does not sound German, Kalle – as he likes to be called – was been born and raised in the culture where innovative engineering and technical precision is part of the national identity. The brand’s main focus is not innovation for its own sake, but the expertise it’s based on. The handmade aluminum welds on the NICOLAI bike frames are something to be witnessed, they are created with extreme precision and attention to detail. The NICOLAI bikes are 100% German made, designed and manufactured in one location, honoring the virtues traditional craftsmanship. The brand has possession of all the machinery the make the various parts and components, as well as to finish off the frames aesthetically. NICOLAI bikes are handmade at the highest possible level, developed and manufactured using a level of expertise not found elsewhere in the cycling industry.
In 2012 Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher received the first of the smart e-bikes developed in conjunction with Daimler. Three years later a full suspension MTB version called XF1 was launched in cooperation with the rival German car brand BMW. The latter model employed a patented rear suspension platform which has been carried over from BMW vehicles. Though the patent is owned by BMW, the full scale manufacturing is carried out in the HNF facilities.
What kind of e-bikes will this prominent joint venture deliver to the market? The range is surprisingly wide, from elegant and practical pedelecs which allow the cyclist to enjoy an efficient transportation alternative in suburban traffic and in congested city environment to serious extreme MTB rigs used for recreation. Also in the lineup is an e-cargo model which has several usage including commercial transport as well as in bike touring. The chassis can be modified according to need, making it one of the most versatile and innovative pedal vehicles around.
The hallmark CD1 e-cargo employs a patented leaning undercarriage allowing the rider to maneuver the trike like a conventional bicycle. Although this rather agile vehicle only weights 45 kg, it is rated to transport up to 280 kg cargo. And since the cassis can be changed at any point, it provides unparalleled practicality. For example, there is a possibility to attach a Thule Chariot Sport 2 child trailer module, a transport locker, a huge basket carrier as well as a MySortimo modular assortment system for industrial application. The CD1 is compatible will all of the above-mentioned accessories, hence a city-based business can effectively carry out all its transportation needs with the CD1 e-cargo alone. It suitable for delivery of goods to a venture specializing in repair. In many part of Europe this transportation strategy is no longer a utopia, but an actual working model, driven by cost-effectiveness as well as concerns for the environment. For some businesses, utilizing a clean transportation alternative functions as a unique marketing tool.
Moving along the model range, I was completely overwhelmed by the limited edition XF2 enduro model. The frame was designed entirely by NICOLAI, featuring frame integrated battery and a lot of fine CNC machining. This industrial masterpiece showcases all the qualities that made the NICOLAI brand famous all around the world, and an enduro rig is an ideal bike to amass a variety of technical accomplishments.
The XF2 caters for a special niche crowd, but in order to satisfy the demands of the local bike market, HNF-NICOLAI created a collection of city bikes called UD1, MD1, SD1 and the XD2 Urban. The motor for the top-of-the-line model is the renowned Bosch Performance Speed, which offers support up to 45 km/h, hence the XD2 has few rivals on the busy streets. The commuter can get the destination as quickly as possible, enjoying the prospect of a proper workout or arriving fresh for a business meeting. This form of transportation is both environmentally friendly and efficient.
In addition, the brand offers a service that foreshadows progress in the bike industry: an extensive level of customization. Just like on other markets, the local distributor (Fair Logistic Kft.) offers a configurator app on their website where the many aspects of the chosen bike can be customized.
The customer can select from different display units, gear mechanisms options, lighting systems and may also order extra accessories, such as bags, containers or an additional battery pack. There is no need to source these practical extras after the purchase, the new bike will include all options. Each and every accessory represent the cream of the crop. For example, the configurator includes a Cane Creek Thudbuster if the rider is after a great suspension seat post, an ABUS Bordo lock if security is a priority or bags from the legendary Ortlieb to keep everything dry even in the most adverse weather conditions. When it comes to saddles, the dedicated app offers choices from the renowned SQlab range or many of the diverse accessories from Topeak. These premium products are the best the market can offer, backed up by costumer feedback and industry opinion. It’s evident that HNF-NICOLAI leaves nothing to chance when it comes to customer satisfaction, and their bikes offer transportation solutions free of compromise.
For more information please visit the Hungarian distributor’s website. Soon we’ll be testing some of the models so stayed tuned!