Bike Check: Nirve StaticText and Photos by Jared Souney
Most of you probably saw the ad for Nirve.com in the December/January 2000 issue of Ride and passed it off as another cookie company, but you won’t find any cookies at Nirve¿at least not yet. What you will find are complete lines of BMX, skateboard, and snowboard equipment, all custom designed and shipped straight to consumers without ever seeing the inside of a bike shop.
For BMX, freestyle, and dirt jumping, Nirve has developed a full line of complete bikes which are shipped directly to the buyer 99% assembled. The bikes are built up with custom designed components from Nirve’s new product line called Voxom. Contrary to what you might think, Nirve didn’t just appear out of nowhere¿at least in BMX. Nirve founder Bill Deurhing spent 13 years working at GT Bicycles, and its BMX/freestyle team is managed by former GT Pro racer Gary Ellis. Mike Laird has already signed on to ride for Nirve in 2000, and was riding one of its bikes at the Invert contest this month. The basic idea behind Nirve is this: By eliminating the middle-man (in this case distributors and retail bike/skate shops) you eliminate the resulting mark-up, and you, the consumer, save money. I don’t know anyone who would argue against saving money, but the challenge is getting people to buy bicycles online, and convincing the consumer that Nirve products are as good, if not superior to existing brands. The Nirve Web site showcases its entire line of action sports products along with several games and other distractions for people who should be out riding their bikes anyway. The way most online sales work now is that the products available online are also available in stores. If you see something you like in a store, or already know what you want to buy, you can buy it online. Nirve products are internet only, meaning you won’t find them at your local bike shop. The only way to see a Nirve bike or component is to log on to Nirve.com. There you can view the products and descriptions online. Put simply, Nirve is going to have a lot of convincing to do. The only real way to test ride a Nirve bike is to buy one for yourself, so they are going to be relying on reputation, and they are going to need one fast.
I’ve been looking forward to testing a Nirve ever since I heard about the company’s new concept. I was completely skeptical even after we received the bike from Nirve. The bike and components looked well built, but would they hold up? The Nirve Static sells online for $429. That’s a damn good price for a bike with tubular three-piece cranks (sealed BB), sealed hubs (14mm rear), four pegs, Alex rims, and U-brakes on the front and rear, but the question on my mind was whether or not it was actually any good. Even little details like a custom sized, braided Oryg cable are addressed on the bike. I’ll admit I was impressed looking at the bike. One thing I didn’t like was that the bike came to us with a laid back seat post, which made the bike feel too long. The same day we got the bike we received a fax from Nirve saying that the post was just a sample, and the bike will actually ship to customers with a straight post, so my first criticism was quickly put to rest. But I still felt that a bike that sells for $429 must be targeted at beginners, and wouldn’t hold up to any real shredding. A bike with this many details, at this kind of value must have skimped somewhere, I thought to myself. One detail I found interesting on the Static was the way its grooved dropout/washer assemblies take the place of chain tensioners. Theoretically it should simplify the rear-end of the bike, and help to keep the chain tight. I just hoped it actually worked. Let’s just say I was very anxious to test ts bike.
Doomsday: The Test
After Dave Young and Jimmy Buchans rode the bike, they both agreed that for $429, this bike was a great value, and could be ridden right out of the box. One problem they found was that the stem kept slipping, but we all agreed that it might have been a result of the paint on the handlebars, and could probably be remedied with a file or some sandpaper. Nevertheless, it was a nuisance. The headset on the bike loosened up frequently, indicating to us that the headtube might have stretched out a bit. None of us were into the flashy colors of the Static we tested, but after looking at Nirve’s Web site, I found that the bike is also available in a color they call “mocha” which I like better. Another thing we found to be a bit wacky was the “N” head tube badge, but fortunately it fell off when Dave did a wheelie. Dave stuck it on Jimmy’s bike and we went on with the test.
Neither Dave nor Jimmy liked the way that the rear dropouts curved down. “This weld at the chainstay really looks like it would break,” said Jimmy. It didn’t break during the test, but both riders noted that it was a crucial stress point, and a dangerous place to put a weld. Upon further investigation we were informed that a small tube is connected to the dropouts and is welded inside of the chainstays. This should ensure the strength of the weld area. They also felt that the dropout design got in the way for grind tricks, and that might facilitate any damage in that area. The grooved dropouts did keep the wheel in place, which impressed all of us. For $429 you aren’t going to get much more bike than you will from Nirve. There were a few problems with the Static, but very few bikes will ever make it out of a Jimmy Buchans/Dave Young riding session unscathed. This bike is perfect for someone who is getting into riding, and it even managed to hold up pretty well against some serious abuse from two of the best street riders out there. When you consider the other bikes available in the Static’s price range, this might just be your best bet on the whole. sidebar
Destruction Diary 12:30 pm Arrive at In-N-Out Burger to meet Jimmy Buchans. 1:10 pm Jimmy Buchans arrives with an added bonus¿Dave Young.1:30 pm Arrive at a handrail which Jimmy sessions (5-0 grinds, double-peg grinds, etc.). Dave Young looks at girls. The bike holds up, aside from the bars slipping several times when they probably shouldn’t have.2:30 pm Jimmy jumps a small rail gap two times. The bars move again, a pedal spindle bends, and the wheel develops a flat spot.3:00 pm Jimmy finds a huge double-kink rail he wants to do on his own bike. A crowd forms and Jared gets antsy. 4:00 pm After trying to wait out the crowd, more people show up and Jimmy does the rail. Jared’s flash doesn’t fire. Jimmy slides out on some really rough asphalt and gets worked. Jared feels like a jerk.4:10 pm Dave finds a gap to a really high flat rail he wants to do, and asks if he can borrow the Nirve. Jared sees two possible scenarios: Dave will die. Dave won’t die. Either way it would make a good photo.4:20 pm Dave does the flat rail three times and doesn’t die. The bars move every time, and the back wheel gets worked a bit more. 4:40 pm Dave tries to icepick a dumpster off of a loading dock, and ends up doing nothing more than riding off the three foot loading dock. Jared and Jimmy make fun of him until he actually pulls the icepick. Guess what? That’s right, the bars moved again.5:30 pm The three vegetarians make their way back to In-N-Out Burger to discuss the days events.
Price: $429Colors: Blue and white, MochaTop tube length: 20″Chainstay length: 14.625″ (center to center)Top tube O.D.: 1.625″Down tube O.D.: 1.625″Head tube angle: 73°Seat tube angle: 68°Misc.: The Static frame and fork are 100% 4130 chromoly and features chromoly four-piece handlebars, chrome-plated Alex rims, Dia-Compe Tank headset, welded on Oryg tabs, and a grind shield on the rear hub. Contact: www.Nirve.com or Nirve Sports, 18401 Bandilier Circle, Fountain Valley, CA 92708.=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif size=1 color=”#666666″>Jimmy Buchans 50/50 slides a rail.