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Shimano Di2-specific road bike from the Dutch titanium specialists

The Aquilo is the latest addition to the lineup from Dutch titanium specialists Van Nicholas. It’s a lightweight road bike that’s made specifically for Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting.

We’ve had some beautiful bikes on test at Road.cc lately and the Aquilo is another stunner. It just looks very, very cool without really trying too hard… and that might be its secret.

It’s made from custom-drawn 3AL/2.5V seamless optiformed titanium tubing. Huh? That means it’s 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium and the remaining 94.5% is titanium. This is the grade that’s most commonly used in bike manufacturing. It has an impressive fatigue life and is hugely resistant to corrosion so, if our experience is anything to go by, it’ll probably last an age.

The Aquilo has a few really neat-looking frame features. Check out the head tube badge. That logo is etched in there, “So your grandchildren will know the frame you pass down to them is a Van Nicholas.” Good line, that.

There’s another logo etched into the brake bridge.

And the dropouts are 3D sculpted. The water bottle bosses are welded in place too rather than pop-riveted. Okay, these details aren’t likely to be deal clinchers but we like a frame with cool little features. It makes us think the manufacturer has probably spent some time getting the more important stuff right too. Van Nicholas clearly think they have because they offer a lifetime warranty on their frames.

We have a 56cm bike in on test and that comes with a 55cm top tube, 17cm head tube and 73/73.5° frame angles. That’s a road race geometry rather than a more relaxed setup designed specifically for sportives – although that’s more a question of taste than anything else.

Van Nicholas use size-specific frame tubing – meaning that they use larger diameter tubing on larger sized frame in order to keep the ride characteristics the same whether you’re on a 50cm bike or a 60cm bike. Incidentally, if you need a size outside of that range, Van Nicholas can make you a custom Aquilo. It’ll cost more, naturally, but it’s an option.

As we said up top, the Aquilo is Di2 specific with the battery living below and behind the press-fit bottom bracket. The cables run internally, of course, nipping inside at the top of the down tube, the one for the rear mech emerging towards the end of the chainstay.

The fork is Van Nicolas’s own SL Integrated option with carbon blades and a carbon steerer and it spins on a 1 1/8in headset top and bottom – which is something of a rarity among performance bikes these days when tapered head tubes/steerers have become the norm.

The usual deal with Van Nicholas is that you can pick the bike spec yourself from a wide range of options. It’s really simple; you just go to the website and choose compatible parts from drop-down menus, the price adjusting automatically as you go. Once you’re happy, you press the button and make your order. Easy peasy.

You do get that with the Aquilo although there are fewer options on offer than usual. The shifters and derailleurs, for example, have to be Ultegra Di2 – the frame isn’t compatible with mechanical shifting. The brake callipers have to be Ultegra too and the same goes for the compact (50/34T) chainset although you get to choose the length of the cranks.

You can also choose the length of the Van Nicholas stem, the width of the Van Nicholas classic bend, shallow drop bars, whether to go for a titanium or an alloy seatpost and a bunch of other details too.

The wheels are Fast Forward F6R-C clinchers which come with 58mm-deep rims and alloy braking surfaces. They certainly look the part and we’ll be interested to see how they perform

What else can we tell you that’s useful? You’ll already know, of course, that Aquilo is the name that the Romans gave to the personification of the north wind. Obviously, we didn’t have to find that off the interweb or anything like that.

Perhaps more usefully, we can tell you that the Aquilo costs €3,999 – which is about £3,200 at the moment – plus shipping. The weight? Ah, well, you’ll have to wait for the weight because we shipped it off to our man Stu before putting it on the scales. According to Van Nicholas it’ll be about 8.23kg (18.1lb), but we trust nuffink except the Road.cc Scales of Justice.

Anyway, that’s about yer lot for now. If Stu has had the Aquilo for a while already so there will be a full review on Road.cc shortly. Standby.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

22 comments

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 4 years ago
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Titanium you say? Di2 you say? Yes please.

That is a cracking looker of a bike. Shame it has a compact on it though. I would have thought that a frame with a racing geometry (as opposed to a sportive one) would have a 53/39 on it?

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

“So your grandchildren will know the frame you pass down to them is a Van Nicholas.”

Would you ride your grandad's bike?

Oh, and it does seem a bit weird about the gearing, maybe its a ploy by groupset manufacturers to make us spin faster, wear out the chain more quickly and BUY MORE STUFF!

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Mat Brett [626 posts] 4 years ago
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Raleigh][quote wrote:

Would you ride your grandad's bike?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, Raleigh, and say that there's just the slightest of chances they don't mean it literally.

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yenrod [106 posts] 4 years ago
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Lynskey's are a good make & do good sizes also !!

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Mat Brett][quote=Raleigh wrote:
Quote:

Would you ride your grandad's bike?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, Raleigh, and say that there's just the slightest of chances they don't mean it literally.

Arghhh.

I literally always get confused between Literal speech and figurative.

I literally need some kind of detector.
 1

Avatar
6654henry [56 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Raleigh wrote:
Quote:

“So your grandchildren will know the frame you pass down to them is a Van Nicholas.”

Would you ride your grandad's bike?

Oh, and it does seem a bit weird about the gearing, maybe its a ploy by groupset manufacturers to make us spin faster, wear out the chain more quickly and BUY MORE STUFF!

Looking at the front derailleur - its a clamp on so you can move it up and down the seat tube as you like so surely you could run a double chainset without any fuss? Also size difference between the outer ring of a double of 54t and a compact of 50t is not a lot?

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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That would have to be on the shortlist at that price, I thought it was going to be more like £4-4.5k, after the exchange rate. Great looker.  8

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 4 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

That would have to be on the shortlist at that price, I thought it was going to be more like £4-4.5k, after the exchange rate. Great looker.  8

That was my thinking also. As I read down the page it was a surprise to see the price. Its around £1200 for the groupset and the wheels must retail for at least £800, so all in all a bit of a bargain - relatively speaking - and if that price is right for the whole bike?

What can I sell on ebay....? How much is a kidney worth these days?

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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6654henry wrote:
Quote:

Looking at the front derailleur - its a clamp on so you can move it up and down the seat tube as you like so surely you could run a double chainset without any fuss? Also size difference between the outer ring of a double of 54t and a compact of 50t is not a lot?

Here's the gear tables. For your 54t double, a normal 52t double , and a compact.

So there's 0.8m between the largest normal gear on a compact and the largest normal gear on a 52.

(All in metre)

.....54 . 52 .50
11 10.3 9.9 9.5

12 9.4 9.1 8.7

13 8.7 8.4 8.1

14 8.1 7.8 7.5

15 7.5 7.3 7.0

17 6.7 6.4 6.2

19 6.0 5.7 5.5

21 5.4 5.2 5.0

25 4.5 4.4 4.2

28 4.0 3.9 3.7

Sooooo.

I was right, everyone else was wrong.  19 19

Avatar
Mat Brett [626 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Raleigh][quote=Mat Brett wrote:
Raleigh wrote:
Quote:

Would you ride your grandad's bike?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, Raleigh, and say that there's just the slightest of chances they don't mean it literally.

Arghhh.

I literally always get confused between Literal speech and figurative.

I literally need some kind of detector.
 1

If you're struggling with the distinction between 'literally' and 'figuratively', a dictionary might help.

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Literally, my toungue was firmly within my cheek when I wrote that.

As a member of the higher echelon of English Language appreciators, I am resolutely aware of the difference etween the two words.

Just to mop up that mess

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dicktate [11 posts] 4 years ago
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Being at serious danger of going back to the point of the article, it looks very nice. We have a number of local manufacturers (or should that be assemblers as most Ti frames are made in China?). Particularly local to me are Spin and Qoros.

Anyone had any long term experience of either of these?

And if I'm to drop £4k on a bike, how do they compare to, say, a Cannondale SuperSix Evo (SRAM Red rather than Di2)

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6654henry [56 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm confused.  7

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captain_slog [346 posts] 4 years ago
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It's very simple. This is Van Morrison's bike. He's Mat's grandad. It's called Aquilo because that's what the frame weighs. (I haven't trusted road.cc's Latin since that stuff about Trek's Domane meaning king's crown.)

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Mat Brett [626 posts] 4 years ago
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captain_slog wrote:

It's very simple. This is Van Morrison's bike. He's Mat's grandad. It's called Aquilo because that's what the frame weighs. (I haven't trusted road.cc's Latin since that stuff about Trek's Domane meaning king's crown.)

Haha! I love the internet.

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minnellium [87 posts] 4 years ago
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In once had a mate called Nicholas who had a van. Small world.

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bernieaidy [24 posts] 4 years ago
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Think I have lost the plot here.
Someone's grandad has just bought titanium at £3,200 per kg from a guy called Nicholas in a van on eBay.
Let's do the math
The bike weighs 8.23 at £3,200 per,that makes the bike worth what 26 big ones.
Holy Moly!

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paulfrank [94 posts] 4 years ago
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Van I am, Van I am
I do not like titaniam

Would you try on a bike

Would I try it, heck as like!

Well I would if I had the money  20

A bit of poetry for those higher echelon English appreciators, who can't spell! Back to Dr Seuss for you, and yes I know I spelt titanium wrong, but it does make it rhyme.

I think we may have all gone a bit gaga here.

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Nick T [950 posts] 4 years ago
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Van Nicholas, the Patek Phillipe of bicycle frames. You never actually own a Van Nicholas, you merely look after it for future generations.

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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WE NEED A LIKE BUTTON

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm confused.com

So nick van bike is the mate of dick van dyke, and he's literally selling £3,200-worth of Patek Philippe watches (just the strap?!) to Lady Gaga's figurative grandad so he can look after it for the generation game?

I didn't say the bus wrapped in bacon had anti lock cheese...

Did someone mention a bike?

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

WE NEED A LIKE BUTTON