German framemaker Nicolai, founded in 1995 by Kalle Nicolai, is based in a converted 19th-century farmhouse in the tiny town of Lubbrechtsen in the north of the country. Over the years, Nicolai has also sponsored many successful mountain bike teams and riders, and the Gates Nicolai team currently operates in the enduro, 4X, downhill and supercross BMX disciplines.
Kalle built his first enduro motorbike frame in 1985, and ten years later Mongoose-labelled Nicolais won the US NORBA downhill racing series and took a World Cup victory. Kalle’s frames were also being used by companies such as Cube, Hercules and Alutech. In 1996, Nicolai Inc. began manufacturing high tech aluminum Nicolai-branded frames for the first time.
Since those early days, star Nicolai team riders have included Frank Schneider, Roger Rinderknecht, and Joris Bigoni, who won the 2007 Junior European DH championships. Swiss rider Rinderknecht was runner-up in the 2011 4X World Cup series with two podium places – a victory at Fort William and a second place at Mont Sainte-Anne.
Nicolai’s bespoke aluminium alloy frames are still individually made to order, with each frame taking four to six week to build as parts are cut, machined, welded and aligned into shape by a small team of highly-skilled workers. There is a vast array of custom build options and paint jobs for customers to choose from.