Van Nicholas Astraeus - first hydroformed Ti bike + fixed Yukon
Van Nicholas Astraeus - first hydroformed Ti bike
Carbon may be the cutting edge these days, but interesting things are happening in titanium too. The Van Nicholas Astraeus is the world's first production bike made from hydro-formed 3AL/2.5V titanium and is a very easy on the eye piece of kit indeed. Stiff too, reckons Van Nicholas's top man, Jan Willem Sintnicolaas – who has a study from Delft University of Technology to back up his claims. Hydroforming has been used for years in the production of aluminium bikes, and allows tubes to be formed into a variety of shapes that you wouldn't be able to make using other methods – so you can build in strength where you need it and drop weight where you don't. Oh, and it looks nice too…
With its hand-polished finish the Astraeus is certainly a very striking machine. Up until now to make a non-round tube profile in titanium you had to weld flat sheets of Ti together (the Van Nicholas Argon is a good example) which isn't the most cost effective production method and still restricts the amount of shapes you can have. But, says Sintnicolaas, the Astraeus isn't just about fluid good looks designed to appeal to those who might be tempted by carbon fibre, or even cost-effective production methods. The Astraeus is first and foremost a racer's machine with an emphasis on super-direct power transfer. To that end a wide, flat chainstay bridge has been used which the makers claim ups stiffness by a whopping 25 per cent. That's not the only stiffening touch either, wider dropouts make for a firmly planted stance at the back end so the Astraeus should be a sprinter's dream. We're going to try and get one, so we can find out. Other news from Van Nicholas was that they will be offering a fixed version of their popular Yukon bike, expect to see it as a special order option on their site in the next 4-6 weeks and lead times for those ordering will initially be, yes, you guessed it 4-6 weeks.