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Nakita Engine C SL

Nakita Engine C SL

28.01.15 22:18 2.809Text: Ralf Hauser (translated by NoNene, proofread by Josh Hayes)Photos: NoSane, NR22, Chiara Stifter"Designed in the Austrian Alps" is displayed on the head tube of Nakita's Engine C, catching the local rider's attention. We investigated what you can expect from this lightweight all-rounder with 160mm of travel.28.01.15 22:18 2.809

Nakita Engine C SL

28.01.15 22:18 2.809 Ralf Hauser (translated by NoNene, proofread by Josh Hayes) NoSane, NR22, Chiara Stifter Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbar"Designed in the Austrian Alps" is displayed on the head tube of Nakita's Engine C, catching the local rider's attention. We investigated what you can expect from this lightweight all-rounder with 160mm of travel.28.01.15 22:18 2808

Nakita may not be the most popular bicycle brand, but thanks to their combination of specific design and high quality products this Austrian bicycle company is becoming a serious player in the bike market - even in the upper echelons. Regarding our test bike: while the word "enduro" is mentioned in the categorization and is also written in small letters on the Engine's top tube, details given by the manufacturer soon make us realize that the developers must have had a different kind of customer in mind than hardcore enduro-racers.

Andreas Rouschal, Nakita's CEO, clarifies: "Before developing this bike, we have been thinking long and hard about which type of customer we want to approach with the Engine C. We knew that end-consumers in the 'gravity scene' are not yet aware of us. In other words, we wanted to approach ambitious touring riders who equally enjoy going uphill and downhill, who can and want to go on long tours using a lightweight bicycle with a large amount of travel but will put on protectors when going downhill."

Thus, the Engice C is more of an all-mountain with an extra spring range than an enduro. For 2016, Nakita is already testing the prototype of an actual enduro version made of carbon, featuring a race-ready and more aggressive, downhill-oriented geometry with more of a slack head angle and a low bottom bracket. Let's get excited....

 "We wanted to approach ambitious touring riders who equally enjoy going uphill and downhill." 

Andreas Rouschal, CEO Nakita

The "all mountain plus" category emphasizes a sporty suspension set-up to grant the best pedaling efficiency, but won't make you feel like you're riding a stubborn donkey on rough terrain.
Nakita's full suspension line-up includes both 27,5" and 29" wheel sizes. The latter is reserved for the cross-country sector while the 27,5" version goes with the five configurations of the aforementioned Engine.
In order to perform our test as soon as possible, we had to be content with testing a 2014 model. In the recent 2015 version, the orange highlights were replaced with a classic stealth look.

Frame

Naturally, the carbon monocoque UD frame is the centerpiece of this vehicle, which in terms of build quality, needn't hide from its international competitors. High-strength high modulus carbon fiber was used in its construction. The abbreviation "UD" stands for unidirectional: carbon fibers that are primarily aligned in the same direction and can be specifically arranged depending on their strain to attain a maximum of stiffness at the lowest possible weight. Even the dropouts, which embed a 142x12 mm E-Thru pivot with a quick release, were made out of carbon.

The front derailleur mount and derailleur hanger were constructed in a direct mount system to grant precise gear shifting and allow for a larger tire clearance. The disc mounts are designed for 160mm rotors (the Engine C SL uses a 180mm rotor with an adapter for proper fit).
The tapered head tube (1 1/8" to 1,5") features an integrated headset, which is state of the art, as well as the Press Fit bottom bracket.
A protector is placed on the lower half of the down tube to fend off stone chips and other road debris that could potentially cause damage. Last but not least, the bike’s appearance remains clean and tidy, thanks to internal cable routing.

The 160mm rear suspension has a single pivot with rocker linkage design. The pivot point of the rear swing arm is located in front of the bottom bracket, below the upper edge of the 32t chainring. The frame is available in three sizes (41, 46 and 51cm).

Geometry

One of the Engine's most noticeable features can be found in this chapter. With a relatively steep head angle (68°) and high bottom bracket (373mm), its field of use seems to be uphill rather than downhill. The bike is of the agile sort; the chainstay length (438mm - a good standard for 27,5" wheeled bicycles) and the relatively short wheelbase (1,133 mm) confirm this nimble orientation.
According to our calculations, a top tube length of 559mm (size S) combined with all the other attributes will result in a reach of approximately 375mm. With this, the Engine relies on tried and tested cockpit geometry data. If you're striving for an alternative in geometry with extended reach, you should consider a larger frame size, as long as the seat post can be sufficiently inserted into the seat tube in compliance with your body height.


Size41 4651
Head tube angle686868
Seat tube angle72,572,572,5
Horizontal top tube559584610
Wheel base113311581183
Chain stay438438438
Head tube115120130
Components

Nakita has scored a big hit regarding the choice of parts: they're all highly functional, lightweight and superior; perfect companions in rough terrain as well as on extended tours.
Sram's X01 11 speed takes care of the shifting, coupled with a Race Face Turbine crankset of the newest generation. Thanks to the smart cinch system interface, the Race Face Turbine is compatible with all current single, double and triple chainring combinations. In our case it was equipped with a 32t spiderless chainring. This configuration enables the use of chainrings with 26 to 36 teeth.
Also made by Race Face: the Next 35 carbon handlebar (760mm width) and the Turbine 35 stem. As the name suggests, these two are based on a 35mm diameter to grant stiffness, or - in case of the handlebar - the same level of stiffness and reliability as similar Race Face bars, but with a lower weight (only 180 grams).

The Engine's wheels are provided by no other than Austria's wheel specialist, Pancho Wheels, and are mounted on Stan's No Tubes ZTR Flow EX rims and DT Swiss 240 hubs. Nakita didn't skimp on the grips either and deployed pre-shaped Ergon GA1 Evo handlebar grips.
RockShox Pike RCT Dual Position with 160mm (respectively 130mm) spring range handles the Engine's suspension in the front. For the rear suspension you'll find the new Monarch Plus RC3 D shock with DebonAir and Rapid Recovery technologies. Both are equipped with a 3-position compression adjuster. Tuning by air via Solo Air system lets you adjust both the positive and the negative air spring chambers simultaneously.

While our test bicycle was equipped with Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires, the standard model will feature brand new Nobby Nics with TrailStar Compound. With this change, the total weight (already low at 12.48 kg) is being reduced by an approximate further 200 grams. In terms of cost effectiveness, this bicycle is definitely superb: for a total price of € 4.299 you'll receive a package for which other manufacturers would likely ask a lot more.

Tech Specs

FrameCarbon Monocoque UDCranksetRace Face Turbine, 32t
Sizes41-46-51Bottom bracketRace Face Press Fit
Rear shockRockShox Monarch Plus RC3ShiftersSram X01 1x11
ForkRockShox Pike RCT3Rear derailleurSram X01, X-Horizon, Type 2
StemRace Face Turbine 35, 50 mmChain guidee*thirteen XCX ST
HandlebarRace Face Next 35, 760 mmCassetteSram XG-1195, 10-42
HeadsetFSAChainSram PC-XX1
SeatpostRockShox Reverb StealthWheelsStan's ZTR Flow EX/DT Swiss
SaddleFizik Gobi XM CustomTiresSchwalbe Nobby Nic, 27,5", 2,35"
BrakesShimano XT, 180 mmWeight12,48 kg (w/o pedals)
Retail price€ 4.299,-

Up

Riders who like to climb are principally not too keen on too much travel. The Nakita Engine C, however, is able to silence this kind of criticism.
Clearly, one of the first things the rider will notice is the low weight, thanks to which even longer climbs are transformed into moments of joy. The cockpit's length is based on tried and tested standards. As a result, the rider sits in an almost neutral position, and can proceed towards the summit with efficiency and without backache. According to the geometry chart, the seat tube angle is quite slack at 72,5°, but this is hardly noticeable on the mountain or trail. This is likely due to the RockShox Reverb post, which enables us to mount the seat a lot further in the front. Thus, giving us a much steeper seat tube angle that most riders probably prefer.
Fear of grounding when hurdling obstacles is uncalled for. Even with the deflected fork, the high bottom bracket creates enough ground clearance. Pedal kickbacks are basically not noticeable thanks to the positions of the pivot point and the individual chainring.

Rear Stay

Pedaling efficiency is ranked foremost; there's little to no bobbing movement on the rear stay. The occasional glance to the rocker link confirms this conclusion – one would notice only a little when going over bumps, even when the suspension's compression lever remains in the "open" position. If you feel like seriously pedaling, you can explore the functions "pedal" (there's already no noticeable bobbing on the rear stay) and "lock" (for fans of the hardtail-feeling).
Generally, the Engine C is attuned to be very taut. This is probably thanks to the position of the suspension's main pivot point as well as the resulting progressive damping characteristics. Although the Monarch Plus' damper is responding very sensitively, this characteristic isn't really being passed on to the rider - much to the tour rider's delight.

Slight sag differences can result in large differences concerning the properties of suspension, so it may take a while to find your favorite setup. Riders with racer's blood in their veins will feel comfy with a sag of 25% or below.
The 32t chainring goes well with the Engine's character. When crossing the Alps or during the odd nasty rise, some of you might still feel your legs starting to burn. Since it's possible to switch to sizes as low as 26t, everyone is free to decide what other gear ratio they might want to invest in.

Suspension Fork

Within a short time, the RockShox Pike has advanced to be of one of the most popular suspension forks. Quite rightly, considering its sensitive response and the rather unique tuning system.
It's vital for going uphill that our version is equipped with the Dual Position system. It decreases the travel from 160mm to 130mm, and lowers the fork's design height by 30mm. This process - triggered by a lever on the left side of the fork - only takes a moment. In the lower position, even steep faces can be mastered with just a little skill.
If the fork deflects too much as you're pedaling, it takes no more than a swift grasp to the dial on the right side of the fork's crown to increase compression damping. Admittedly, this feature was left untouched except for one time, since we prefer an active chassis to a rigid one when going uphill.

Down

First, a pleasant downhill detail: the internal cable routing operates without a sound, which still isn't to be taken for granted.
However, as we've mentioned before, the Engine's strength isn't necessarily found in downhill abilities. The head tube angle is too steep, which might cause nervousness at higher speed, and when faced with steep or blocked passages, doesn't inspire confidence the way a "real" enduro would.
One can feel the high bottom bracket in every turn - unfortunately not in a positive way. While the increased distance to the ground does mean a plus when rolling over obstacles, it also means that traction and handling are decreased in turns due to the higher center of gravity. The higher your speed, the more the bike needs to be pushed into the turn using physical strength.

We still managed to get down without much trouble - and we're not talking about a comfy downhill on a gravel road. Our test bike mastered the most radical trails of the enduro-trailparadies in Ischgl and Nauders (AUT). Roots, rocks and rocky passages that are similar to the ones found in Lake Garda, drops, mud and sludge of all kinds have been conquered by our Nakita's wheels. Also, up to a certain speed, it actually did a great job.
The 27,5" wheel size grants a certain amount of additional grip, and the chassis didn't let us down during big and high jumps. Only at competition speed does the bike suspension reach its limits.

Rear Stay

To soften our ride, we set up our sag to 30% - too much for a common downhill bike, but thanks to the Engine C's rear suspension design and the damper's Rapid Recovery system we didn't notice any breakdowns.
With less sag or more sag: the travel on the rear stay was generally of good use, even if the taut suspension characteristic was our constant companion. The Engine C isn't exactly a palanquin. However, we appreciated its talents when faced with higher drops and strong impacts, and the chassis always gave us a feeling of being in control.
Lightweight riders might argue that the rebound damping feels slow, even when its valve is fully open. This is hardly noticeable on the trail though, which we suppose is thanks to the Monarch's damping technology.

Suspension Fork

The Pike's suspension behavior is not easily put into words. Perhaps it takes a while to get used to the fact that the Pike doesn't feel to be operating as actively as some of its competitors. This doesn't affect the suspension's performance, though.
It's fascinating how nothing seems to be able to baffle the fork. No matter how hard the impacts: the rider always remains in control of the bike. High speed or high drops are insofar just as unproblematic as a bad line choice on a single trail.

Equipment

There's little sense in mentioning the tires' grip considering the 2015 standard model will be equipped with new Nobby Nics. Even if we didn't have any opportunity to test these, we're absolutely convinced that their usually brilliant all-round features are no less than the best choice for the Engine C's intended field of use. Less rolling friction and lighter weight (than the Hans Dampf tires) and high traction thanks to the re-mastered, more aggressive side knobs grant the bike even more versatility.

The XT brakes are powerful and can be precisely controlled. The small chain guide on the upside of the chainring does its work beyond reproach. All promotional promises aside: in spite of the Narrow-Wide chain links and the Type-2 derailleur, there remains danger of losing your chain in rough terrain without such a chain guide. So you don't need to fear for your chain when riding an Engine C SL.

Conclusion

Nakita Engine C SL
Model year:2015
Test duration:approx. 50 hours
+lightweight
+excellent uphill properties
+good all-rounder
+great cost effectiveness
osteep head angle
-bottom bracket too high
BB rating:All-mountain bike with lots of travel and an extraordinary uphill performance.
The Nakita Engine C SL is not an enduro competition bike - and it doesn't try to be one. With a relatively steep head tube angle and the high bottom bracket, it is still a brave competitor in the all-mountain plus category - if you can warm up to this term. Let's just speak of an all-round bike that is suitable for tours, with an ample travel (160mm), and we all know what it's about.

The weight is motivating, the equipment is superb, and the cost effectiveness is simply impressive. For all those who are looking for a potent climbing device with comfort reserves, the Nakita could represent an interesting option.