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Van Nicholas Skeiron

This article is originally from Road CC

Named after the Greek god of the northwest wind, the Skeiron is the brand new road bike from titanium specialist Van Nicholas and it absolutely flies; riding it feels like you’re being pushed along by that same wind. If you want a high performance, disc brake-equipped road bike with a frame that’ll probably last a lifetime then the Skeiron really needs to be on your wishlist. It’s competitively priced too; high, but competitive.

Van Nicholas Skeiron.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron.jpg

A bike built around a good titanium alloy frame is almost always an absolute joy to ride and that is completely true of this new Van Nicholas, even if it is one of the stiffest options out there. In their search for all-out performance the designers may have sacrificed a bit of that velvety smooth feeling you expect from titanium, but what you are left with is a bike that absolutely devours the miles beneath you in relative comfort.

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The balance of speed, handling and comfort is a masterstroke as you never feel like you are compromising one to achieve the other.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - down tube.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – down tube.jpg

The average speed of my rides was impressive on the Skeiron compared with the other bikes I’ve been knocking about on, including the Simplon Pavo Granfondo Disc, for example, and that one was no slouch. The really amazing thing about the Van Nicholas, though, is that you never really feel like you are in that much of a hurry on it.

A 52-mile relatively flattish out and back saw me return home with an average speed of 22mph, a speed I haven’t achieved even on some of the full peloton-ready race bikes I’ve tested. It wasn’t a one-off either, the Skeiron just kept delivering those kind of results.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - riding 3.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – riding 3.jpg

There is nothing overly aero about the way the Van Nicholas is styled – other than the neat integration of the fork and head tube – so apart from awesome power transfer, the bulk of Skeiron’s speed comes from the fact that you are so damn comfortable thanks to the geometry and how Van Nicholas has used the material.

The geometry of the frame sits somewhere in the middle of what you’d expect to see for a race bike and an endurance based machine. With a 563mm top tube and 170mm head tube, this large model meant I was able to get into an aero enough tuck to cut through the wind without any contorting of my body parts and I could sit in this position for hour upon hour. It provides you with a very effective and efficient style of riding.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - seat tube junction.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – seat tube junction.jpg

The 72.5-degree head angle paired to a 43mm fork rake means the handling is nicely balanced, allowing for rapid progress through the bends. The Skeiron never feels twitchy, but there’s enough quickness in the steering to be able to give the bar a flick to change your line should you need to.

The geometry certainly worked for me. I always felt like I was sat in exactly the right position, my bodyweight always right where I wanted it. I could lean the Skeiron into the bends bang on point and bank it over from one side to the other with absolute ease. Even on the roughest of road surfaces, the Van Nicholas never felt flustered or panicky, it was so composed.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - rear disc brake.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – rear disc brake.jpg

Performance is what the Skeiron is all about, and it definitely delivers. At the front you get a tapered head tube and fork steerer which increases front end stiffness for tighter steering.

Being a disc brake-only frameset, the fork has been beefed up from the dropouts to resist the forces from the hydraulic disc brake. The 12mm thru-axle helps keep the wheel pointed where you want it to go.

Front end braking feels very positive on the Skeiron and gives you the confidence to go in deep to the corners at a much higher speed than is probably sensible.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - head tube.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – head tube.jpg

A large press-fit bottom bracket shell and oversized down tube keeps the bottom half of the frame in check, and while this is no sprinter’s machine, acceleration is very impressive indeed. I could barely detect any flex at all when really going for it to latch on to the back of traffic or trying to beat the lights.

This benefits climbing too, as even on the toughest slopes the Van Nicholas had no trouble with flex. Our test model came with a compact 50/34 chainset and 11-32t cassette which also helped a fair bit too, plus an all-up weight of 8.8kg means it is no bloater.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - frok detail.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – frok detail.jpg

All of the finishing kit is Van Nicholas’ own brand and it’s good quality stuff that is easy to set up and live with. I wouldn’t say I was that big a fan of the saddle, finding it a little firm, but the Skeiron’s comfort levels made it bearable for me; if it was my bike, the seat is the one and only thing I’d change.

Frame and fork

The 3Al/2.5V (3% aluminium/2.5% vanadium) titanium alloy used for the frame has its own natural ‘give’ to it, which is what provides that renowned ride feel. A little bit of a softer edge to it than a carbon or aluminium alloy frame, without the feeling of losing any performance, is one attribute of achieving a good comfort balance.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - drop out.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – drop out.jpg

Van Nicholas has also gone for slender seatstays to promote flex and, as there is no rim brake, it has omitted the brake bridge. With the two seatstays no longer being braced to each other there can be more movement; it’s very minimal but it all adds up.

Our bike also came with an upgraded titanium seatpost, which again has a tiny bit of natural flex.

Van Nicholas offers a lifetime frame warranty on the Skeiron – a pretty good show that it’s confident in its handiwork.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - drivetrain.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – drivetrain.jpg

The neat welds and attention to detail certainly give an indication of a quality frame, especially for one that costs €2,099 (£1,875) including the the full-carbon fork and headset.

There is full internal routing for cables, wires and hoses, with a cool entry port on the head tube. The only criticism I’d make is that as neat as the cabling looked with our Euro brake setup (front brake on the left), the cable bend for the rear mech may be a little tight with a UK setup if you were to go for a mechanical option.

Both the fork and frame use flat mounts for the disc brake callipers, which gives a neat and clean look even for those who aren’t massive fans of disc brakes.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - down tube detail.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – down tube detail.jpg

Disc brakes are the only option, as the Skeiron won’t be offered in a rim brake version. You do get a decent range of build choices, though, starting with a Shimano 105 hydro/mechanical setup at €3,599 (£3,215). This rises to €3,899 (£3,483) for a bike fitted with SRAM Force (with a single or double chainset) or Shimano Ultegra mechanical.

Ultegra Di2 builds start at €4,799 (£4,288), but – as with each of the models – you can choose some upgrades – as ours has. On our Ultegra Di2 test model the Shimano wheels have been swapped out for carbon fibre FFWDs and the Schwalbe Durano tyres changed to the same company’s excellent Ones in a 28mm width, the widest tyres you can fit to the Skeiron. Including the titanium seatpost mentioned earlier, this build costs €6,876 (£6,142).

Van Nicholas Skeiron - bottom bracket.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – bottom bracket.jpg

You can go higher in standard builds with a Shimano Dura-Ace Mechanical setup for €5,199 (£4,644), SRAM Red model for €5,299 (£4734), or Dura-Ace Di2 at €6,499 (£5,806).

The component choice on the test model was excellent. The Ultegra Di2 shifting really complements the riding style of the Skeiron, and being easily able to change gear at the same time as braking really lets you set the bike up to exit high speed corners, ready for the next one.

Shimano’s hydraulic brakes are a joy to use as well. I like the way they are very responsive even if you only apply a small amount of pressure to the lever, whereas with SRAM I find you need to give them a bit of a harder squeeze to get them going.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - bars.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – bars.jpg

Looking at all of this in terms of value means that even though the Van Nicholas looks a little pricey, when placed against the competition things are pretty good.

Taking a look at frameset prices (a lot of titanium bikes come as frameset options only): the Kinesis GF_Ti, a massive favourite of ours at road.cc, costs £1,799.99, or another excellent model, the Pretorius Outeniqua Disc that we tested a few years back but is still available, costs £2,390. The Pretorius is a very similar proposition to the Skeiron, a performance bike with disc brake capability.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - fork.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – fork.jpg

Even if you look away from titanium and think about carbon fibre, the aforementioned Simplon Pavo, another very quick mile-muncher, comes in at £4,699 in an Ultegra Di2 build with alloy wheels; the Skeiron, as I said, is £4,288 in that standard guise, exchange rate permitting.

All of which means the Van Nicholas has pretty much got all of the bases covered for everybody who wants a very fast, comfortable, good looking bike with impeccable manners. In fact I’d say its only pitfall is that it can’t be raced at the moment because of the discs.

Van Nicholas Skeiron - riding 4.jpg

Van Nicholas Skeiron – riding 4.jpg

Verdict

A titanium masterpiece; a racer for the non-racer

road.cc test report

Make and model: Van Nicholas Skeiron

Size tested: Large

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: Skeiron 3Al/2.5V titanium alloy

Frame color: Hand Brushed Finish

Front fork: VNT SLR Carbon

Groups & brakes

Group: Shimano Ultegra R8050 Di2

Drive train: Compact 50-34T

Brakes: Hydraulic Disc (group level)

Wheels & Tyres

Wheel set: FFWD F3D FCC with DT 240 Disc hubs

Wheel skewers: –

Tyres: Schwalbe One

Handlebar & Stem

Handlebar: VNT Alloy 6061 Compact

Handlebar tape: Van Nicholas Natural Cork

Color: Black

Stem: VNT Alloy 6061

Headset: FSA

Spacers: VNT Alloy

Headset cap: –

Seat post & Saddle

Seat post: Van Nicholas Titanium 15mm setback

Seat post collar: VNT Alloy 6066

Saddle: VNT Leather

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it’s aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Van Nicholas says: “Our most technically-advanced road bike to date. Concealed cables, flat-mount disc brakes and electronic groupset option keep this aero-optimised racer at the vanguard of race bike design, and you at the front of the pack.”

I think the Skeiron has an excellent balance of performance and comfort.

Overall rating for frame and fork

9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The finish is excellent with very neat welding.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

3Al/2.5V titanium alloy tubing which has been butted and shaped using hydroforming techniques. The bottom bracket shell, rear dropouts and head tube are all 3D cast too.

The fork is full carbon fibre with internal cable routing and a tapered steerer.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The Skeiron has tube lengths and angles that means its geometry sits somewhere between a race bike and an endurance model. An ideal compromise to get the best of both worlds.

The full geometry table can be found here – https://www.vannicholas.com/road-bikes/skeiron

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

This large model has a stack of 573mm and reach of 387mm.

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The ride quality is brilliant. A little stiffer than most titanium bikes but still holds on to that natural comfort from the material.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes, no detectable flex anywhere.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Power transfer was impressive even at full effort.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

Yes, by a very small amount.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral heading towards lively.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The Skeiron feels very balanced from front to back and the steering is very easy to control. The handling is quick enough to excite without being hard work. Ideal for a bike like this where you can tap out a high pace for a long time.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike’s comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I’d change the saddle as I didn’t really get on with the shape and it was quite firm.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike’s stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The FFWD wheels are very stiff indeed.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike’s efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Rapid shifts from the Ultegra Di2 shifters mean you are always in the right gear.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:

9/10

Rate the bike for acceleration:

8/10

Rate the bike for sprinting:

8/10

Rate the bike for high speed stability:

9/10

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:

9/10

Rate the bike for low speed stability:

8/10

Rate the bike for flat cornering:

9/10

Rate the bike for cornering on descents:

9/10

Rate the bike for climbing:

8/10

Rate the drivetrain for performance:

9/10

Rate the drivetrain for durability:

8/10

Rate the drivetrain for weight:

8/10

Rate the drivetrain for value:

7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn’t like? Any components which didn’t work well together?

The Shimano Ultegra setup and associated hydraulic braking system is a real joy to use. The Di2 shifting never misses a gear, making for trouble free riding.

Rate the wheels for performance:

8/10

Rate the wheels for durability:

8/10

Rate the wheels for weight:

8/10

Rate the wheels for comfort:

7/10

Rate the wheels for value:

7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?

The FFWD F3D FCC DT240 carbon fibre wheels are very good, with a low revolving weight and excellent stiffness. The DT Swiss 240 hubs spin beautifully too with rapid pawl engagement on the rear.

Rate the tyres for performance:

10/10

Rate the tyres for durability:

9/10

Rate the tyres for weight:

9/10

Rate the tyres for comfort:

9/10

Rate the tyres for value:

7/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?

Schwalbe One tyres are just awesome, with great grip, puncture proofing and they roll so well on whatever surface.

Rate the controls for performance:

8/10

Rate the controls for durability:

8/10

Rate the controls for weight:

7/10

Rate the controls for comfort:

8/10

Rate the controls for value:

7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Decent quality own brand kit from Van Nicholas with the option to upgrade at the checkout.

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:

9/10

Rate the bike overall for value:

8/10

Use this box to explain your score

The Van Nicholas Skeiron is a beautiful machine that has really nailed the balance of performance vs comfort without sacrifice. The pricing looks to be competitive too.

Overall rating: 9/10

Age: 38  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month’s test bike  My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien

I’ve been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

Continue reading this article originally posted on Road CC >>>

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