Nikolai Has Backed Things Up With New NICOLAI SATURN 16 : Review

The new NICOLAI SATURN 16 is intended to reduce the gap between the SATURN 14 trail bike and the G1 enduro racer.  It is available in three different wheel sizes and, like all NICOLAI bikes, allows for countless customization options.  Is the new SATURN 16 the most beautiful and exclusive piece of engineering, or is it just the heat on the trail?


Nikolai Saturn 160/160 mm (f / r) |  M |  Size 34.039 pounds $ 8,420.72 |  Production Website

NICOLAI has long established themselves as a brand for true bike enthusiasts, offering a wide range of unique-looking alloy bikes with machine parts and a remarkable industrial look – and of course, all made in Germany!  Smaller manufacturers have been building mountain bikes and suspension links and smaller parts, such as cable holders, since 1995 at their headquarters in Lower Saxony. 

All the manufacturing steps from prototype development to frame welding and final bike assembly are carried out in the home.  Nikolai.  This is also the case with the new SATURN 16, available in three wheel sizes as the 27.5 โ€ณ, MX or 29 โ€ณ version.  Depending on the configuration of the wheel, NICOLAI can produce 150mm or 160mm travel on the front and rear. 

The retail price is $ 3,125.04 per frame with no shock, and the test costs the entire bike $ 8,428.35.  In typical NICOLAI style, SATURN 16’s spec can be customised to the smallest detail.

  Nikolai Saturn 16 in detail

When you see the new NICOLAI SATURN 16 for the first time, you struggle to contain your passion: just wow!  The frame just evokes a love for detail and clearly distinguishes itself from most modern carbon and hydroformed alloy frames. 

Sand the weld seams and hide them under a thick colored coat? 

Not in NICOLAI, where welding is an art!  SATURN combines 16 paradoxes: it is charming but sublime and combines elegance with raw industrial looks.  All machine parts, such as frame reinforcements, lower bracket area and rocker link, are beautifully refined and look incredibly good. 

The typical framed silhouette is an attractive set of straight lines, with the main frame round tubing standing in sharp contrast with the square-edged swingarm.  On our test bike, the frame colour matches the decals in the EXT suspension.

NICOLAI’s online configurator allows for countless customization options, each of which is one of 16.  We’ve worked out that there are at least 6,473,291 possible combinations;) Yes, this sounds crazy, but thanks to all the different wheel sizes, geometries, frame colours and component options you can select and mix using the configurator.

SATURN’s geometry can be adjusted using NICOLAI’s mutators, a proprietary proprietary system of screw-in elements that allow you to change the seat and chainstay length of your bike.  Eloxal-junkies can find their solution with a large selection of anodized Hope components.

You can change the geometry of SATURN by replacing mutators in SeatStay and ChainStay.

The suspension kinetics of the NICOLAI SATURN 16 accept both wind and coil shocks.  While many manufacturers already offer their bikes with both shock options, not all of them manage to adjust the suspension dynamics to the different characteristics of the shocks.  Needless to say this can affect and compromise the bike’s overall performance – but it’s definitely not the case with Nikolai!  To play it safe, the Germans use two different shock mounts to change the progression and thus ensure the best performance with both types of shock.

Sustainability is the greatest corporate challenge of the 21st century, and NICOLAI’s manufacturing philosophy is already reflected in our “Sustainability Megatrend” story released as part of this year’s Design and Innovation Award. 

The SATURN 16’s frame is designed for maximum durability, durability, and reassembly, including a reinforced head tube, replaceable ISCG mount and aluminium inserts and double-sealed ball bearings.  To ensure that you can hit your line in all confidence, all frames are fitted with Form-Fit Sliding, an adjustable dropout for track and camber adjustment.


Unfortunately, NICOLAI UDH does not rely on Mc hanger, which makes it difficult to find a replacement in the event of damage.  The chainstay guard is very thin and only secured by zip-ties.  Although not the most elegant solution, it works well and matches the bike’s industrial look while ensuring a quiet ride on the trail.

Brake lines and shifting cable (if applicable) are mounted externally and neatly to the frame, ensuring a clean look and quiet ride.  The two clamps serve as a bottle cage mount.  In the good old-fashioned steampunk style, the Saturn 16 does not have a DownTube Protector. 

However, NICOLAI promises that their bikes do not need protection, as the frame is entirely made of a robust 7020 alloy, which has high tensile strength and exhibits fatigue strength greater than 6000-series alloys.  The 7020 alloy, on the other hand, is more expensive and more difficult to process, which is why manufacturers prefer to use low-grade aluminium.  

Nikolai Saturn 16 – Specifications and Models

Depending on the size of the wheel, the new NICOLAI SATURN 16 rear suspension produces a different amount of travel, with the 29  version offering 150 mm and 27.5 เฒฎเฒคเณเฒคเณ and MX models 160 mm.  All three versions can be used with a 150mm or 160mm fork. 

As mentioned earlier, Saturn’s spec can be customised to the smallest detail.  In NICOLAI’s configurator, you will find components from specialised and rare brands that perfectly match the bike’s character and intended use. 

For suspensions, you can choose between EXT, FOX, Formula, Marzocchi and Intend.  MAGURA and HOPE supply brakes but take care of Continental, Schwalbe and Wolfpack tires.  In addition, you can choose a different colour for the frame, seatstays, chainstays and decals and unleash your creative creature with a myriad of colour options from the Hope Components


Specialty of our NICOLAI SATURN 16 test bike

The price of our NICOLAI SATURN 16 test bike in M โ€‹โ€‹size is $ 8,428.35, reversing the scales at 34.039 pounds and relying on the MX wheel setup with a 29 “front wheel and a smaller 27.5” rear wheel.  The Italian suspension manufacturer supplies the EXT ERA V2 fork and the STORIA LOK V3 coil shock, which controls 160 mm travel.  Shock mounts rely on ball bearings instead of bushings, preventing the STORIA LOK V3 from bending laterally.

  Shifting is taken care of by the wireless SRAM GX AXS drivetrain, which NICOLAI combines with a smaller 50t cassette rather than the typical 52t model of the drivetrain. In mixture with the smaller 27,5 โ€ณ rear wheel of the MX model, the smallest cassette receives you to the pinnacle of every mount.

The Hope Tech 3 V4 brakes perform 203mm rotor at the front and a smaller 180mm disc at the rear.  With lightweight riders, the brakes ensure powerful and reliable crash even in long, steep descents – the only drawback is the annoying squeak!  Heavy riders must drive large 203mm rotors front and rear.

Our SATURN 16 Hope Fortus rolls on 30 SC wheels, which is a lighter version of Hope’s super-robust Fortus 30 DH wheel.  Like all Hope components, the wheels are available in a variety of colours and can be colour-matched to the rest of the bike. 

With its open tread pattern, the 2.4 โ€ณ Continental The Baron tires with the Protection Apex Casing and the Blackchilly Rubber Composite have slightly lower rolling resistance than other enduro tires, such as Maxxis’ proven DHF / DHR II tire-combo.  They make excellent grip on loose wooden lanes but break easily in hardpack corners.

The cockpit features 780mm RENTHAL fatbar alloy handlebars and a 40mm hoop AM / freeride trunk but the 185mm bike hook Divine Dropper Post ensures plenty of freedom of motion.

Nikolai Saturn 16, Specifications

Fork EXT ERA V2 160 mm

Rear Shock EXT Storia LOK V3 one hundred sixty mm

Seatpost Bike Lock Divine 185mm

Brakes Hope Tech 3 V4 203/180 mm

Drivetrain SRAM GX AXS 1×12

Stem Hope AM / Freeride 40 mm

Handlebar Renthal Fatbar 780mm

Wheelset Hope Fortus 30 SC 29 “/ 27.5”

Tires Continental der Baron Blackchili Protection Apex 2.4 “

Technical information


Specific features, Online Configurator

Geometry of Nikolai Saturn 16,

Most bike geo tables have about 4 to 6 columns for frame sizes.  Of course, this is the case with SATURN, the adjustable seating and chainstays make large 288 geometry variants.  But don’t worry, every NICOLAI comes with clear recommendations and guidelines, which are also suitable for experienced geo nerds.  This means that each bike is shipped in standard configuration, unless you choose otherwise. 

But even in this standard setting, SATURN’s chainstays grow with frame size – great!  Saturn is available in a total of 6 sizes, offering the perfect choice for riders from S to XXXL, 164 cm and 210 cm.  All frame sizes are available in all three wheel configurations.

Long, Length, Nikolai: Even the smallest S size is up to 465 mm, while the XXXL has 570 mm!  In the table you can see the geometry of our MX test bike in M โ€‹โ€‹size.  The only difference is that our test bike has 447 mm chainstays, which is exactly what you get with a 29er bike.

Helmet Troy Lee Designs A2 |  Glasses 100% Speedcraft |  Jersey Troy Lee Designs Sprint Ultra |  Shorts Troy Lee Designs Flowline |  Neapad Troy Lee Designs Stage |  Shoes Five Ten Freerider Pro PrimeBlue |  The socks stand

Nikolai Saturn is on the road.

First of all, NICOLAI SATURN 16 is not totally okay with Get Go and takes some practice – and even if we don’t wander around with mutators to change the geometry settings during this test.

Only the EXT suspension requires a sufficient amount of tinkering for the basic setup.  Moreover, with the EXT recommended settings, our suspension was very tight and we only used half of the travel available on the fork.  To save time, we recommend using a little less air than EXT recommends and in our case, use the recommended setting for riders 5kg lighter than us.

On flat ground, the riding position is compact despite the generous range.  The steep 78 ยฐ seat tube angle puts you on the bike rather than incorporating it into the bike, ensuring a sporty and slightly front pedalling position – definitely a more comfortable bike for longer rides! 

As soon as the trail was pointed uphill, the seat was pleasantly comfortable and the front wheel was always planted, no matter how steep the slope.  When pedalling, the rear suspension of the Saturn will not be a wall, which will override the climbing switch.

 On the slopes, the SATURN 16 feels nice and spacious and yet the riding position does not stretch much.  The handling is straightforward and the weight is evenly distributed between the front and rear wheels, making it easy to negotiate corners even in tight switchbacks.  Overall, Saturn is a very quiet trail companion.

The rear suspension offers excellent short-bump sensitivity and good progression, ensuring good mid-stroke support and large reserves.  At the same time, it provides a crazy amount of feedback from the ground up, which is surprising considering we are running a coil shock. 

As a result, the SATURN 16 is anything but smooth: the rear suspension doesn’t swallow as many hits as you’d expect, making it difficult to control the bike in fast rock gardens and nasty root carpets.  After contacting NICOLAI, they informed us that our test bike came with a pre-production shock.  On a production bike, the shock tune should have more rebound and less compression, which solves the problem. 

In steep descents, the SATURN 16 produces excellent traction and builds immense confidence.  However, it is very difficult to pop off the wall tiles and pull out the manuals.  Even with minimal compression damping in pre-production shocks, the bike provides tons of feedback from the ground, requiring an active and careful riding style.  Once you figure out its role, NICOLAI rewards your efforts with tons of speed and shed-load fun. 

However, with our Geo setting, passive riders who want the bike to work for themselves, will soon pass on Saturn.  The good news: thanks to the countless geometry settings and suspension options, you can adapt your SATURN character to suit your needs and riding style.

The NICOLAI SATURN 16 is by no means a plug and play bike and requires experienced riders with the skills, time and patience to explore its endless possibilities.  Like most boutiques of the German boutique brand, the SATURN 16 is a special steed, 100% Made-in-Germany frame, special suspension, countless geo options, and strenuous attention to detail behind several spec configurations. Letโ€™s be true to all bike personalists!. 

The SATURN 16 is alive with active riding style and is a reliable riding companion especially on steep trails.  However, SATURN’s active suspension provides plenty of feedback from the ground, giving it a nervous feel in fast rock gardens and unsightly original carpets.  In fact, NICOLAI promises to improve the shock tune for the production bike.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Online configurator and geometry transformations allow for countless customization options

CNC-Porn!  Look and feel

Large sizes for tall riders

Suspension with more support and feedback

Cons: Rear suspension does not swallow big hits (test bike has pre-production shock and NICOLAI’s production bike shock should be low compression)

The manual weight pedalling position is not suitable for long rides

For more information on the new NICOLAI SATURN 16, please visit NICOLAI’s website.

Is this really the dream vehicle of the individualists?

Sources NICOLAI’s

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