Bicycles

Nucleon 16 is the first bike to use revolutionary Supre Drive tech

Nucleon 16 is the first bike to use revolutionary Supre Drive tech
A close look at the Nucleon 16's Supre Drive drivetrain
A close look at the Nucleon 16's Supre Drive drivetrain
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Pricing for the Nucleon 16 starts at €7,499 (about US$7,559)
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Pricing for the Nucleon 16 starts at €7,499 (about US$7,559)
A close look at the Nucleon 16's Supre Drive drivetrain
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A close look at the Nucleon 16's Supre Drive drivetrain
Besides being lighter than a gearbox, Supre Drive is claimed to produce less drag while the rider is pedalling
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Besides being lighter than a gearbox, Supre Drive is claimed to produce less drag while the rider is pedalling
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Last November we first heard about the radical Supre Drive mountain bike drivetrain, invented by Canadian mechanical engineer Cedric Eveleigh. Now, just eight months later, it's found its way onto Nicolai Bicycles' commercially available Nucleon 16 high-pivot enduro bike.

Developed by Eveleigh's company Lal Bikes, Supre Drive addresses one of the main shortcomings of traditional derailleurs: they frequently get bent or jammed with trail debris, due to the fact that they hang down close to the ground and are only supported at the top. While it still incorporates a derailleur, Cedric's system essentially moves the device up, and divides its functions between two locations.

To recap our previous coverage, the Supre Drive's single-pulley derailleur body is mounted on a system-specific rear swingarm (it can also be used on hardtail bikes), where it sits to one side of the cassette – not beneath it. There, it performs its usual task of moving the chain back and forth between the sprockets. It's rigidly mounted at two points, however, plus it's protected against side impacts by the overlying swingarm assembly. This means the bike can be laid down on its drive side without any risk of bending the derailleur.

Of course, along with moving the chain sideways, conventional rear derailleurs also keep it tensioned. In the case of Supre Drive, that function is performed by a separate hydraulic-damped tensioner arm which pivots around the bottom bracket axis.

And while the prototype version of the system was reportedly 100 to 200 grams heavier than a regular Shimano XT drivetrain, it was considerably lighter than internal gearbox-based drivetrains, which are another alternative to rear derailleurs.

Pricing for the Nucleon 16 starts at €7,499 (about US$7,559)
Pricing for the Nucleon 16 starts at €7,499 (about US$7,559)

On German bicycle manufacturer Nicolai Bicycles' Nucleon 16 – which is the first production bike to utilize the technology – the system has been refined. "The version of the Supre Drive that was announced in the reveal in November 2021 had an 11-speed drivetrain, and this latest version has a full 12-speed 10-51t Shimano cassette (and chain and shifter)," Eveleigh told us. "I had to modify the design of the derailleur and other things to make this work."

One of the Nucleon 16's other unusual features is its ability to be set up either as a full 29er or as a "mullet bike," with a 29-inch wheel in front and a 27.5-inch wheel in the rear. The latter configuration – which is not unique to Nicolai – is claimed to result in optimal rolling speed and obstacle roll-over at the front, along with sharper handling and less rotating weight in the back.

The weight of the size-medium preproduction bike shown in this article – with a 7020-T6 aluminum frame – is a claimed 16.6 kg (36.6 lb) without pedals. That figure could change for the production model.

Besides being lighter than a gearbox, Supre Drive is claimed to produce less drag while the rider is pedalling
Besides being lighter than a gearbox, Supre Drive is claimed to produce less drag while the rider is pedalling

Should you be interested, the Nicolai Nucleon 16 is now available for a December delivery in five frame sizes. Buyers can choose between components from companies such as Fox, Hope, Magura, Continental, Schwalbe, Shimano and LevelNine. Prices for complete bikes start at €7,499 (about US$7,559).

Source: Nicolai Bicycles via Pinkbike

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5 comments
5 comments
Trylon
Looks very complicated. I don't even want to think about the chain wear rate with the incredibly circuitous path. There are easier, simpler ways to avoid damage to a derailleur, such as the old Suntour S1 rear derailleur, mounted under the chainstay rather than on the dropout.
Grunchy
No, seriously, looks feather-light!
(what I'm saying is: where the H is the banana seat & sissy bar. Guys, come on.)
WONKY KLERKY
Ye Obvious1:
Upper central sprocket + gen' gear associated and chain v close to passing lower leg on peddle stroke - side of calf at risk of catching
(NB. Remember this set-up intended for off-road usage - see 3 below).
+
Ye Obvious2:
Q: How does this compare in efficiency with gearbox with modern belt drive or totally enclosed shaft drive set-up ?
Consider:
a) Single box to rear wheel (as/is usual).
b) Double boxes - To rear wheel (as/usual) + To bottom bracket (as/the now venerable 'Mountain Drive' box).
+
Ye Obvious3:
Now, after all the considerations of the above done when in nice clean lab' type setting,
just wot will be outcomes when all, including the prob' scratched/scrapped calves of 1, covered in trail poo?
noteugene
I'll never forget my purple bike with banana seat, sissy bars & dad buying it for $75. $7,500 for this? I liked mine better.
Jay Gatto
Complicated! One thing, it does look compact enough, has less 'thrash' than trad sets, if it were encased in an oil 'splash' bath (low oil volume), I'd be interested.