Van Nicholas has given the Yukon Disc a very wide remit. It's a four season commuter! It's a tourer! It's everything in between! The reality of my experience is that it's probably a bit wasted at the commuting end of that spectrum, and not really specced for the touring end, but it does a very nice job of the in-between bit, and it's a lovely thing.
- Pros: Beautiful frame, neat integration, high spec, fast ride
- Cons: Not the most comfortable Ti bike I've tried, not ideal for loaded touring
The build: very neat and tidy, especially the dynamo gubbins
The Yukon Disc frame is a lovely thing indeed, with neat welds, an engraved head tube badge and a perfect brushed finish. With 72°/73° head tube/seat tube angles and an almost-horizontal top tube it's a very classically proportioned bike, and the 425mm chainstays give it a fairly compact wheelbase: 1,016mm on our large-sized test bike.
The stack-to-reach ratio for out test bike is 1.53, which is probably what you'd consider the softer end of endurance geometry or just upright enough to be considered touring; compare it to an outright tourer like the Ridgeback Voyage and that bike is more upright, with longer chainstays, a (much) longer wheelbase and a slightly shallower head angle. The Kona Sutra is slacker and more upright still.
Those two bikes, with their triple chainsets, steel forks and low-ride mounts, feel like they're designed from the ground up to carry some big loads. The Yukon Disc doesn't.
The integration of the cables and wires is very neat indeed. Everything's routed internally with all options considered, and although that's not unusual these days – even on touring and distance bikes – it is quite unusual to find provision being made for dynamo wiring too. Here it's all been thought through, and the result is extremely pleasing aesthetically. It's a nice bike to look at generally, and that's one of the reasons.
If you're routing cables and wires through a bottom bracket then you can't do that with a standard threaded BB, because there isn't room. Possibly for that reason Van Nicholas has gone with a PressFit BB shell instead, but I wish the designers had opted for a T47 threaded shell: you don't need the extra width of the shell for the frame design here, and the threaded cups are so much less prone to issues and easier to service. You're not likely to find either in the back of beyond in a hurry, though.
The ride: quick and fairly nimble, more audax than touring
I've ridden a fair few bikes calling themselves touring bikes over the years, and this is probably the one that feels least like a tourer out of the lot. I mean it has a pannier rack and mudguards and a dynamo and everything, so it certainly looks the part, but from a riding point of view it's much more like an audax bike than anything else.
The build I was riding here isn't especially heavy, at just over 11kg, and the unloaded feel on the road is more purposeful than most tourers. It feels pretty quick to be honest. Knocking out a 125km ride at 25km/h is something I'd expect to struggle to do on a more leisurely touring bike but it wasn't a problem here. I did mostly have a tailwind, but I was also hungover, so those things probably cancel each other out. My average ride speeds have been pretty similar to my Kinesis Tripster ATR: slower than the road bike, but not markedly so.
Van Nicholas describes the Yukon as 'a fast, complete bike for your daily commute, a wide-ranging tour, and everything in between'. That's a pretty wide remit. You could commute on this bike, and the titanium frame and durable build would perform well in all weathers. For a tour you'd need to do some work on the gearing.
Our test bike was running a 50/34 double up front and an 11-32 cassette which is a perfectly workable range for unloaded riding, but once you start to add any significant weight to the rear in the form of panniers full of stuff, that 34x32 bottom gear is going to feel pretty long on the steeper stuff.
If you were planning to use the bike more at the loaded touring end of the spectrum you'd probably want something like Shimano's new GRX groupset with a more compact chainset and a wider-range cassette. As of now that's not available on the Van Nicholas bike builder, but it'd be a good one for this bike.
In terms of comfort, the Yukon is a fairly taut frame and that adds to the lively feel of the ride, but it's not the most comfortable titanium bike I've tried. That's with the bike running on the 28mm Continental GP 4season tyres it came with; swapping to the wheelset from my Kinesis Tripster ATR – Hunt Superdura Dynamo with 30mm Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres – added a bit of extra cush to the overall ride, but it wasn't on a par with the bike that the wheels were borrowed from.
Tyre size is limited to 35mm without mudguards and 30mm with them, which is similar to, or a bit more generous than, other bikes it's competing directly with – the Enigma Etape (35mm max) and the Kinesis GTD (34mm max) – so if you want to get a bit more comfort then that option is open to you if you sacrifice the 'guards.
I found that the bike was a bit more comfortable at the front end than the rear, suggesting that the fork/bar combination is doing a better job of soaking up shocks than the frame/seatpost/saddle.
I did find that the fork had enough flex to induce a bit of mudguard rub against the tyre when climbing out of the saddle. It wasn't a major issue, and probably just the combination of mudguards and tyres wasn't quite ideal. It's certainly not an uncomfortable bike, and the two 100km+ rides I completed on it were done without any issues.
Groupset & kit: it's what I would have chosen
Build-wise I was treated to a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 transmission with hydraulic discs. Given free rein to spec the bike that's what I would have chosen for myself, so I was happy enough. The Di2 shifts were as crisp and reliable as ever, the brakes impeccable in all conditions.
Up front an SP dynamo hub provided the power to the Supernova lighting system. The front light is fixed via a bar bracket rather than a fork mount so it's taking up a bit of space there if you like to attach a lot of things to your cockpit, but it's a really excellent light with a nice beam shape and enough power for all-night cruising.
The tiny E3 rear light punches well above its miniscule proportions too. You need to be going fairly slowly for the dynamo to struggle to keep the lights supplied; even steep climbs well into a long night ride weren't a problem.
Overall: it's a very nice bike provided you're buying it for the right thing
I think that the Van Nicholas description of the Yukon Disc is rather a mixed message. It's called a tourer but it's not really a tourer: this is an audax bike, really, designed to go reasonably quickly in relative comfort for a long time.
The obvious competitors are bikes like Enigma's Evoke and Kinesis' GTD, both of which also trumpet their versatility but also are most at home somewhere near the faster end of the road riding spectrum. At €2,099 it's slightly cheaper than either of those options as a frameset (with fork), and the Van Nicholas bike builder on the website does give you a certain freedom to spec it how you want.
You could commute on this Yukon Disc, and you could also go touring on it, gear ratios notwithstanding. But it's really one to look at if you want a reliable, well-considered bike for covering a decent distance at a decent speed. That may be audaxes or sportives, or it may be the more leisurely end of the club run, or it may be a long commute a couple of times a week. It won't disappoint, and it's versatile enough to cope with other stuff as and when your riding schedule demands.
Well-considered, classically proportioned distance machine with a lively ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Nicholas Yukon Disc
Size tested: Large
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
From Van Nicholas:
Yukon Disc Ti frame
Shimano Ultegra Di2 hydraulic disc groupset
SP dynamo wheelset with Supernova E3 lighting
Continental GP4S tryes
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Van Nicholas says:
Find freedom on your commute, with the speed and looks of the Yukon Disc. With disc brakes, pannier and mudguard mounts, and integrated cable routing, the Yukon Disc is perfect for commuting, touring, and everything in between.
At Bikemotion Benelux 2019 Van Nicholas will unveil the completely re-worked Yukon: a super light
touring bike, ideally suited for fast commuter traffic. The Yukon Disc is their most complete
iteration yet, with disc brakes, pannier and mudguard mounts, and fully integrated cables. Want to
feel freedom whilst commuting? The Yukon Disc delivers.
The Yukon is a long-established member of the Van Nicholas Titanium bicycle family, and the fast,
slim racing bike frame forms the basis of the Yukon Disc. The innovative reimagining of the frame
focused on three tenets central to all Van Nicholas projects: aesthetics, ergonomics and
performance. Internal cable routing is the key feature developed with aesthetics in mind, with the
loss of external cable mounts resulting in sleeker lines and improved aerodynamic potential. Even
opting for a hub dynamo won't compromise the streamlined look, as the lighting cables run through
the fork and the frame. Ergonomically, the mounting points for carrier and mudguards ensure the
Yukon Disc is as safe and practical as it is adaptable. But it is in the realm of performance that the
Yukon Disc especially excels. Disc brakes for unrivalled stopping power, wet or dry; optional
electronic shifting system for the latest transmission technology; and thru axles for extra stiffness –
useful when accelerating away from the lights or taking corners on the edge. These characteristics
make the Yukon Disc a fast, complete bike for your daily commute, a wide-ranging tour, and
everything in between.
The Yukon Disc is available as a complete bike from the middle of May in sizes XS to XL with a total
price from €3,499. The frame, including front fork, is available for €2,099. Be one of the first to
admire the sleek looks of the Yukon Disc by visiting Van Nicholas in Hall 8 at Bikemotion Benelux,
Jaarbeurs, Utrecht, from 1 to 3 March.
Van Nicholas is a Dutch brand that specializes in the design and production of high-end Titanium
sports bikes. A close-knit team of professionals guarantees a special collection of bicycles (Race,
MTB and Tour) and accessories. Their mission is to create a lifelong, ultimate bike experience for
every individual customer, anywhere in the world. A continuous pursuit of perfection and the
perfect balance between form and function is what drives us. With the online MY Van Nicholas
Designer you can construct your dream bike at home, with real-time price and weight changes. A
Van Nicholas can satisfy every desire. Van Nicholas is part of Accell Nederland BV.
LIFETIME FRAME WARRANTY
ENGRAVED HEAD TUBE
3D FORGED DROPOUT
PRESS FIT BB
INTERNAL CABLE ROUTING
ROAD DISC BRAKES
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
It's custom spec so you can have whatever build you like, within reason. Our test bike was a pretty high spec.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Lovely: neat welds, great finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
3Al/2.5V Titanium frame, carbon fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's at the softer end of endurance geometry or just upright enough to be considered touring...
See https://www.vannicholas.com/touring-bikes/yukon-disc for full geometry
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
On the faster side of touring in terms of position.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfortable, but still quite a taut ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
There was enough flex in the fork to induce some rub on the front mudguard.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
All good, no issues under power.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
Some overlap with the mudguard but nothing unusual.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Probably neutral, but you'd call it fairly quick for a tourer.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike is easy to ride and more agile than its billing would suggest.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'd probably change the saddle, and spec slightly deeper bar tape.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, if it suited their riding.
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A bit cheaper as a frame/fork (€2,099) than either the Kinesis GTD (£2,200) or the Enigma Etape (£2,185) which are obvious competitors for your hard-earned.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I enjoyed riding the Yukon Disc: it's a well-considered modern distance machine. If you want to do a decent distance at a decent speed it's one to look at. It's not really a tourer though, so look elsewhere if you'll be loading up.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.