The Nicolai NC-1 – A Surprisingly Normal Cargo Bike

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When we saw this land in our inbox we were excited. A cargo bike, from Nicolai? Surely there would be special folding bits that would turn it from cargo carrier to a people carrier to a portable hog roast stand to a log slicer? Optional extras would include off road tyres and EXT suspension. Moving parts would chop things or make for tight cornering. And then we clicked, and it was all…a bit normal.

It’s a low loader style cargo bike with belt drive, Bosch CX motor and Enviolo hub gear. It’s not the first time designer Kalle Nicolai has turned his hand to a cargo bike – he’s developed a prototype for the German postal service – but it’s the first time Nicolai will have had a cargo bike in its line up. Hopefully that’s a positive sign that cargo bikes are now seen as an economically viable proposition rather than just a special interest niche.

You do get the industrial look you’d expect from a Nicolai, and you do get a bike made in Europe, hewn from blocks of metal by CNC machines. But, it does look quite normal for a cargo bike. The vertical steerer tube and steep head angle looks like it might take a bit of getting use to, but that does leave a bunch of carrying space. And look! It might not come with a special saw horse attachment, but it is suggested you use it to carry logs:

It might all look rather normal, but it does have a hidden trick. The front and rear frames are joined and bolted together behind the cargo area via CNC-milled connections. In this way, the otherwise bulky cargo bike can be disassembled into two parts in a few steps and stowed in a van, when, for example, moving house or going on holiday. Assuming you’re not using it to move house, of course. Compared to many other cargo bikes, it’s also pretty light, at 45kg.

Another hidden trick is an optional extra: the Enviolo hub gear has an automatic option. Here, you set the preferred cadence via a control unit on the handlebars, and the respective gear ratio is then regulated automatically. Pretty neat.

If this takes your fancy, it’s €7,499 for the base model, with an optional €299 surcharge if you opt for the automatic gear shift. It’s due to be available in January 2022. Head here for details on how to order.

Want to know more? Here’s the official blurb, with some fun factory photos, because who doesn’t like ‘how it’s made’ shots:

The NICOLAI NC-1 Cargo follows the same matter-of-fact technical design that distinguishes the manufacturer’s mountain bikes and makes them so unmistakable. It follows function, does without fashion, and thus achieves a timeless, industrial aesthetic. Decorative elements are in vain, except for the impressive, wide and evenly scaled weld seams. If you have a soft spot for craftsmanship and manufacturing quality, the NC-1 Cargo is a feast for your eyes. Elaborate milled parts, precision workmanship and innovative, detailed technical solutions provide an insight into the demanding manufacturing process of the frame and convey confidence in its construction.

The geometry and frame design of the NC-1 allow for safe, comfortable and easy handling in all riding situations. The battery position under the load platform ensures a particularly low centre of gravity and thus excellent balance and handling. The steering geometry, i.e. steering angle, fork offset and caster, are designed so that the NC-1 runs smoothly and balanced even at very low speeds and is stable and secure on the road at high speeds. This riding stability is supported by an exceptionally torsionally stiff frame, which is essential especially for riding with heavy loads. Drawn aluminium rectangular tubes with large cross-sections are reinforced at neuralgic points by topology-optimised milled parts. A precise steering linkage with high-quality bearings ensures absolutely play-free steering. The steering ratio corresponds to that of a direct steering system, so that intuitive riding is possible on the NC-1 right from the start without a familiarisation phase. Two pairs of steering bump stops both on the headset and in the steering linkage prevent the steering from over rotating and offer additional safety. At the same time, however, they allow a maximum steering angle for a small turning circle and easy manoeuvring. The rear frame of the NC-1 allows an easy access point via a low welded-in top tube, thus benefiting at the same time from the additional stability and rigidity that a top tube construction offers over a pure low-entry design.

The loading platform of the NICOLAI NC-1 Cargo is 70 x 50cm and lined with a waterproof coated, birch plywood loading plate. It is equipped with four parallel AIRLINE fastening rails in longitudinal direction. A wide range of accessories are available from NICOLAI for the AIRLINE system, with which every conceivable transport task can be solved: children’s cabins, dog baskets, transport boxes, lashing strap systems – you name it.

Not sure about the tomato soup in the Nicolai canteen.

The NC-1 Cargo has a stable double kickstand with a wide footprint. It rests folded safely beneath the load area under spring tension, then can be conveniently unfolded via a foot pedal and can be locked in place with a cylinder lock. Since the NC-1 will not roll when it is jacked up on the stand, locking it provides effective theft protection. At the same time, the lock prevents the batteries from being pulled out. Additional digital anti-theft and tracking options are offered by the BOSCH drive technology of the NC-1 with the BOSCH Connect Module.


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