Pinkbike’s Matt and Raj actually went down the rabbit hole on Nico’s EWS-E race bike. The ten-time world champion was clearly taking e-bike racing as seriously as he did downhill and enduro before; No details were left without a doubt, and next level thinking went over to every side. Right before practicing for the opening round of EWS-E in Tweed Valley, I spotted Niko’s bike in the pits and immediately noticed some interesting tweaks since that last article, so I got a few minutes of his time to talk about them.
So what’s going on with that battery cover?
It doesn’t have a lock… it just pushes. We save like half a kilo though.
So what is the battery capacity?
Is this enough?
It reaches 1000 or 1100 meters of altitude. Last year we had 1,300 square meters and it’s still doing fine. It depends, when you are a light rider and the bike is also light, it works. If you’re heavy, 500 Wh is eh….[shrugs]
Have you lost weight to do better in e-bike racing?
No, no, I tried but my weight is 67-68 kg… It’s normal. Before I weighed 68-69 kg. Of course 62 or 63kg would be really good for an ebike rider but I can’t. You should be able to carry your bike.
So you’re on Zeb this weekend and you’ve been on Lyrik before…
Exactly, but the new Zeb works really well. I am really happy with all the improvements. It’s a bit harsh for me and now I feel less harsh.
So Lyrik was more for cruelty than weight?
The Lyrik wasn’t for the weight that was the least physical to ride. It was not for 200 grams. In some sections, you can really feel the benefit of the larger fork as if it were a downhill bike terrain. But when the speed is slow with the stiffness sometimes difficult to ride, you will probably make more mistakes. But I have a feeling that with the Buttercups, the new pneumatic side, and less friction and hydraulics, fork stiffness isn’t an issue.
So I said it’s the slow speed stuff as I noticed the downside of the old Zeb (compared to Lyrik). It surprises me because I thought it would be the high frequency fast stuff where Zeb might feel a little rougher.
Lyrik when it’s a slow track, really tight and slow, maybe a little better because it’s more fluid when there’s no speed. Once you hold the speed, the Zeb is better because it’s more solid and stable, it makes you feel more awkward when you hold the speed. Lyrik’s flexion helps a little on the slow-radical stuff. Grip on the roots. You lose a little when it’s fast
Have you tried the new Lyrik?
It’s now only 160mm in diameter and I’ve been riding 170mm before. Now I have a 180 mm with a zip. I have to put a spacer below to get the right length for the fork, but the travel will start to be a bit limited.
I also noticed the brakes, what do you think there?
I had a better feeling with this combo. I need to try the new code again because I now have a 220mm rotor on the front. My new riding style icon is probably a bit “on/off” – not on/off but the connection point is really clear, really sharp. Here I’d probably have a little more elastic, (a little bit) more spongy and had a feeling I’d prefer this one. But now I have larger rotors with an organic pad and a metal one (before I went full metal with 200mm rotors) just to reduce the sharpness a bit.
Sometimes with full metal when it got hot on stage before and then got cold in the first two or three corners it’s not good. I think the organic material helps a bit with that and is less strong than metal so I need to try new brakes with this package.
Is 200mm in the rear to use the smaller wheel?
Yes, in depth, it’s not the power you’re looking for, it just doesn’t get hotter in the long run.
Well, the cassette?
It’s to save fifty grams. Fifty grams full to remove the last gear.
Shit I need to remove everything because SRAM won’t be happy! Because they see me, they hear it. I am dead.
I think they will let you get away with it!
Honestly, on a website, you usually don’t use the last one.
Unless the battery runs out
exactly. But normally the Eco doesn’t ride in the race and it’s 50g full so… Anyway, before I stopped the penultimate train for security reasons only.
And the wheels are 3Zero Moto front and rear, am I right that you weren’t sure if they were strong enough for motorcycles before in the back?
Now everything is fine. I improved the suspension a bit and didn’t have any problems. I don’t like talking like that because it’s a hurry and anything can happen but it works just fine.
And is it the same width (30mm) front and rear? Because you recently had a narrower nape before, is that right? Missing the narrow edge in the back?
No, this wheel spins a little more than usual. As for the perforation, it works well, because usually the wide edge is less suitable for perforation, but thicker on the sidewall so as not to be exposed to more perforations. Perhaps for an ebike, I’m happy with this wheel. Upward, it works well for stability with the wider edge. So globally, I have more benefits with a wider bezel in the foreground than in the background, but in the back, it works. The wide wall works well.
And for a regular bike, I seem to remember you preferred narrow rims in the back?
Yes, 25mm in the rear for rolling, for punching, for weight…I think it works. It works with 2.4 inch tires or something.
Can you tell me about the tires?
Up front, it’s a prototype, but at the back, it’s Wild Enduro front but rear.
Are they the new heavy?
In the front 1.25 kilograms and in the rear, I don’t know, 1.3 – something. Both are 2.4 inches.
Do you know how much you weigh?
It weighed 21kg but with the Zeb, AXS seatpost, Ochain and larger tires, it’s a little heavier, maybe 21.5kg. It’s the stock frame, I just remove the protection.
Do you notice a big difference with Ochain?
Not great, but a little softness in the suspension, but also at times. The chain effect causes the engine to start when you don’t want it to. Sometimes you ride big brake bumps and when you release the brakes and the engine starts, especially in Turbo mode, you really reduce that. It also makes less noise. Sometimes the freehub makes a noise on the Bosch engine. Overall, you have a feeling the bike does a little better.
Did you notice a big difference with the new shock?
The biggest difference is the hydraulic bottom. It works, and it brings something. And all the settings, you can really use it and it still works. It’s firmer or softer but it works. You don’t have the feeling that you need to ride fully open anymore – or fully open in the middle. Now you can really feel the difference in high and low speed.
And with the new shock, can the larger air?
I haven’t tried the smaller airbox yet, it’s something I want to try. It’s like the old DebonAir.
Have you ever used a MegNeg with your old air canister?
Yes, he was good in the bike park, progressive and sensitive. But on the roots and slippery things, I did not like it. There is not enough bike park like enduro.
It’s a compromise, depends on the bikes and what you’re looking for. More aggressive riding.
What can you tell me about your comment settings?
I didn’t finish it all because I didn’t do all the testing I wanted to do, but I’m between 160 and 170 psi in shock. In the fork zero tokens. I was trying one token before but it was hard to get all the travel and if I remove the token it was very weak. So I’d probably prefer a little air with no spacers, so 58, 60 psi, 62 was too much. Right now, I’m there.
And it bounced a bit on the fork and felt a bit slow to me, is that your preference?
I finished riding at home with the recoil tight just to try it out. Usually I’m quite open. More on the fast side, front and back.
Finding you want it slower on an electric bike for weight control?
no. Probably for the poet but not for the slope riding. When I put it slower, it’s for fast trails to have a bike more planted, and when it’s slow and slippery, I put it on the fast side just to make it lively and easy to ride when tight. When it’s fast and straight with big strokes, you’ll want it slower. I always tune in a few clicks here or there depending on the race, track and stage.