REVIEW: The Dutch producer Van Nicholas announces another stunning titanium bike, the Boreas. Although built for comfort and endurability, the stiffness of the Boreas gives recognizable acceleration and speed. A great choice for the seasoned rider, and even for the eager sportive participant.
Van Nicholas Boreas
Fork: Carbon fibre
Parts: Shimano (Optional)
Sizes: 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 60 & 62
Price: Frame € 1799, complete bike from € 2836
The signature of the Van Nicholas bikes is the titanium frame. The silver grey material distinguishes the models from most other bike producers, and gives them an edge of exclusivity. It is impossible not to be attracted to the smooth silver grey surface, with its organic, handbrushed, timeless look.
However, there is a reason why none of the world tour teams have chosen titanium. The main argument against the material is the extra grams it adds, as compared to carbon fibre. For the professional riders, titanium is for now out of the question. For the less ambitious rider, on the other hand, the pros certainly outnumber the cons. The Boreas proves that titanium can be an alternative for many.
According to Van Nicholas general manager Ralph Moorman, stiffness was at the centre of attention in the development of the bike. He even claims the Boreas is the stiffest bike they have ever made. At the same time, the titanium frame absorbs road vibrations in a great manner, and creates a balanced relation between stiffness and comfort.
Trying to achieve optimal stiffness, Van Nicholas chose a tapered top tube, and a horizontally ovalized down tube. The top tube is placed rather high, placing the rider in a slight upright position. The down tube is aerodynamic and absorbing. The same goes for the head tube, which is circular, adorned with the classical Van Nicholas logo.
A striking feature with the Boreas is the tire width. The frame (and fork) allows for tires as thick as 28 mm (most race bikes are 23 – 25 mm). Extra space has thus been carved out to make room for wider tires, which is most commonly aimed at increasing comfort. This affirms the general feeling that the bike is built for long fatiguing rides.
Another observation is that the gear/brake cables are external, where most carbon fibre bikes have placed them inside the frame. Anyhow, the external arrangement substantiates the classical look Van Nicholas tries to create, and can’t possibly harm the aerodynamics substantially.
As one of the few parts made by another material than titanium, the custom-built carbon fibre fork also does an impeccable job. The use of carbon decreases the weight, and supports the rider’s sense of connection with the road. The black colour gives the entire impression of the bike momentum, and creates coherence with the black logo on the down tube, as well as the headset, stem and handlebars.
Our test of the Boreas was done at the Van Nicholas/Koga/FFWD press camp at Mallorca March 2016. We gave it a go over a 100 kilometres, including both up and down the famous Sa Calobra climb (9 km a 7,5 %). For our ride, the bike was equipped with Shimano Ultegra (50/34), and FFWD F4R clinchers.
On the flats, the Boreas felt very comfortable. The bike gives you an ideal upright, relaxed position for a calm pace, while at the same time responding well when put to a test. A patchy road concerns you less when riding this bike, as it smoothly absorbs most of the eventual vibrations.
The Boreas turned out to be great going upwards as well, after finding a suitable pace. Quite often I found myself in the drop handlebars while climbing. The comfort really came through towards the top, ensuring an ache-free lumbar region. The extra grams added by the titanium did not feel like much of an inconvenience.
The stiffness of the bike, along with its great absorption of road vibrations, made descending very enjoyable. It balanced nicely through the twists and turns, and gave a satisfying feeling of control. It didn’t take much time before I trusted the bike completely.
The Van Nicholas Boreas is without a doubt an amazing road bike. It responds well in all types of terrain, and is comfortable throughout the entire ride. I was really suffering through the last kilometres of the test ride, which gave me a sought after opportunity to really get to know the Boreas. Even in the toughest of times, the bike felt very good. It compensates the extra weight and height with great comfort and endurability, which makes it terrific for long days in the saddle. Additionally, the classic look has to be mentioned. Trying to set aside the fact that colour and style are subjective measurements, this bike looks magnificent.
A complete Boreas bike could be purchased for € 2836, which seems fair, although a bit to much for many buyers. If you are just getting into cycling, the Boreas would probably not be the right choice for you. On the other hand, the titanium increases the lifetime of the bike considerably, which in a long-term perspective makes it a more sustainable investment. It certainly is a great pick for the more seasoned rider. The Boreas could last for decades, without decaying, underlined by the lifetime warranty issued by Van Nicholas.