Bicycle review: Nakita Spider 5.5 (2014)

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A new off-road contender is hungry for some international fame. We’ve said international because Nakita is already the second largest bicycle manufacturer in Austria, its story beggining somewhere back in 1987, in the city of Graz. It looks as the brand bets on mountain bikes these days, having several interesting offers, of which one particularly sparked our curiosity. Spider 5.5 relies on a mix of entry- and mid-level components, with a touch of high-end every here and there, but is this enough for conquering the terrain the bike was designed for?

Frame/On the trail

We wouldn’t exactly call the Spider 5.5 an agile bike, but it meets the minimum requirements for mountain biking, and it’s even suited to ride some XCM races, given they’re not very demanding. Overall, the position offered is comfortable, slightly tilted forward, a consequence of the 100mm stem, but which still allows good control, mainly thanks to the 640mm-wide handlebar.

Steep climbs turn out to be the nemesis of this 26er, the front wheel having a hard time sticking to the ground, but at least the 73.5 degrees of the seat tube work a bit against this flaw. Meanwhile, you can count on Nakita’s stability, and on its handling, which is enhanced by the 70.5-degree head tube.

Spider 5.5’s frame perfectly fits within a non-premium manufacturer’s standards regarding this component. However, the tidy welds, the reinforcement between the down- and head tube, and also the CNC-machined dropouts are all signs of this bike’s intention to climb up the ranks of the mountain bike segment. A neat detail can be found when looking at the rear triangle of the frame, namely the rear brake mount, which sits on the chainstay in order to prevent the frame from flexing too much when braking.

Visually, Spider 5.5 is simple, but you can find various elegant details, like the elliptic top tube, if you look at it closely. As far as lab results show, this “Born in the Austrian Alps” candidate manufactured out of 6061 alloy scores rather well for its segment, having a stiffness of 92 Nm/degree, while the STW ratio is of 44.2 Nm/degree/kg.

Specifications

We hardly ever saw such a constrasting specifications chart as we did on the Nakita Spider 5.5, the bike’s component list starting with the perfectly unreliable Hayes Dyno brakes, and finishing with one of the best rear derailleurs ever to have been created, the Shimano XT.

So, what’s up with the Dyno brakes? They are simply ineffective, failing to stop the bike in on-the-edge situations, and if we also add the fading and lack of adjustments, these are an example of what not to use when really mountainbiking.

The manufacturer made up for the poor choice in term of brakes starting with the suspension fork, using a Rock Shox XC28. Its 100mm travel together with the relatively soft coils are ideal for persons with a weight of 70 kilograms, but this doesn’t mean it’s suited for rough trails.

By far, the drivetrain represents Spider’s strongest point, including a 3×10 drivetrain, made out of Shimano XT derailleurs, Deore 2-way-release shifters, and a Shimano non-series, Hollowtech I, crankset, which allows replacement of the chainrings.

Rounding up the specifications chart are the wheels, which fully equipped weigh together 4.62 kilograms, a reasonable amount taking into account the segment. Weight isn’t their only plus, a pair of double wall rims ensuring this pair is harder to wreck, while the Michelin Country Dry tires offer excellent rolling speed. We can’t say the same thing about the cornering grip, and keep in mind they aren’t at all a high-mileage type of tires.

Conclusion

In terms of performance, Nakita Spider 5.5 would need (far) better brakes and maybe even a fork upgrade in order to be able to tackle real mountain trails. Also, the tires wear out really fast, so you should do something about this too. But even as it is, with all its contrasts, this model can be a good choice for outdoor lovers that spend several hours riding.

Purpose: XC
Uphill: 6/10
Downhill:
6/10

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