DSC00958 deniz merdano cooper pistons and pivots nissan frontier
Pistons & Pivots

Pistons & Pivots - Cooper's Titan Swapped Nissan Frontier and Bike Fleet

Photos Deniz Merdano
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2016 Nissan Frontier

You may have heard the name Cooper Quinn if you are a regular on nsmb.com. He has been around these pages long enough to see many bike standards come and go. He has raced DH in No Fear jerseys on bikes with wheelbases under 1000mm and has had his driver's licence long enough to have called a tow truck once or twice to rescue him. Like many of us on the crew here, he is a true petrolhead but is also sensible when it comes to putting daily kilometres on his rigs. Cooper hasn't driven his vehicle to the office for a few years now, opting for a cascade of cargo, gravel, touring, and of course mountain bikes instead.

When I first met Cooper, he was rolling around in a 2008 Audi S4 Avant with a rowdy V8. He would leave the shuttle scene with a strip of black tire marks and the sweet symphony of that amazing German engine. That car met its demise in Washington State when a drunk deer wandered into it's path. Cooper switched the road machine for bigger wheels for more remote adventures.

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This stance looked so familiar


keep on truckin' - Crumb

I asked Cooper to write a bit about himself for introduction's sake. It's valuable to know the writers on this site as we are humans and not AI bots. Well, at least most of us are.

Cooper take it away...

Deniz asked me to write an introduction to myself and my bike and car history. Which sounded a little bit to me like him trying to get me to do his job, if I’m being honest. But here we are, so let's give it a shot. I’m Cooper. I moved from Wyoming to Vancouver in 2004, ostensibly to go to Simon Fraser University, but realistically this was based on where I could ski and ride my bike; I’d visited a couple of years prior to ski in the Whistler Cup, and driven through SFU on the way home the summer of 2003 after a trip to the bike park. I'm an occasional contributor here at NSMB. What you may not know is that I'm a geologist by trade and training; I work in the carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal industry; rocks, geology, bikes, camping… it's all just ways to see more of the Earth, really.

DSC00929 deniz merdano cooper pistons and pivots nissan frontier

This Frontier has a bit more flex than stock

My car history is full of Nissan. I come by this honestly, having grown up in the back of a couple of different Pathfinders (I learned to drive in one!) and then in 1998 while I was in Middle School, the Frontier launched, and I distinctly remember going on the Nissan website and building a yellow, crew cab, short bed Nissan Frontier. Two years later, my dad would swap the family Pathfinder for an Xterra, and another half a dozen years later I would acquire a 2002 black crew cab, long-bed Frontier. I'm also happy to say that it was not the original yellow I had desired when I was younger. This truck got a modest torsion bar lift and some slightly bigger tires and never let me down.

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It also blends in with the nature thanks to its instabanger digital camo

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The 33" tires tuck in quite nicely

Once I got a little older (and spent a little more time in the city) I fell into Audi. Audi wagons specifically. I'd always been a 'long roof' fan, having dreamed of owning a WRX through high school, and I acquired a red 2006 B7 S4 Avant. While it sounded fantastic and looked great with an RS4 replica bumper, sadly it was equipped with a Tiptragic automatic transmission and salvage/rebuild title. It was just never right. Fortunately, a couple of years later I was able to acquire the dark blue one that you see above; crucially equipped with all three pedals, the same 344 horsepower V8, from the final production year - 2008. Until recently it was the highest horsepower, manual, AWD wagon available in North America. This car, like my bicycles, was treated like a tool, not a jewel and we snarled our way around heaps of curvy roads in Western North America, as well as logging heaps of Interstate miles in places like “Montana,” with loose morals around speed limits.

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a rig built to go places to see things in needs E Load range tires

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No front swaybar allows for increase in articulation

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Hefty Fabs front bumper to hit things with and a worn winch that has seen some elements.

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When you are exploring in the BC back country, you are bound to use this lever once or twice...a trip

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well worn in

During the reign of the blue Audi, my partner acquired a 2004 Nissan Xterra. This is the vehicle that led us to today's truck.

I've covered some of my bike history in previous articles but I grew up as a downhiller so pedaling was foreign to me. That's changed now; my cycling tastes are broad, and sadly I no longer own a downhill bike. However, 2024 was the year I strapped on a pair of 214 downhill race skis again; it may be the year I also pick up a downhill bike. In the meantime, I've got a menagerie of bikes to fill most niches. Clearly, the truck isn't very good for getting around the confines of the city, so as a one-car family, we live the car-lite lifestyle and rarely use the truck during the week. Commuting, daycare runs, visits to North Shore Bike Park, groceries, and haircuts all happen via bicycle.

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Titan swapping a Frontier and an Xterra means a couple of things

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Longer travel front independent suspension can allow for more articulation and bigger tires for better offroadability and durability

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Rear springs also have to be swapped to heavier duty ones for better balance overall

Throwing a small child into the mix has complicated matters but once he was old enough to safely be in a trailer, we were back to bicycles. And while trying to steward our environment and manage our impact this is not an altogether altruistic endeavour. In a city often snarled with what the local Facebook groups will tell you is world-ending traffic, we cruise on through, knowing we’re saving money on top of it all.

I would imagine basically everyone reading this owns a bicycle. I would challenge you to start by trying to take one trip a week by bicycle that you would ordinarily drive. Make it an easy quick one, and then come back and tell me it wasn't better than driving.

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Side access windows are handy

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there is a theme here

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Cooper's mountain bikes usually travel inside the topper.

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Hefty Fabs rear bumper needs a bit of a TLC. C'mon Cooper

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The Pavement Princess as Cooper calls has truck has not been babied

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it's cool whenever you spot these stickers on bikes.

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In my truck this is where the candy sits, in Cooper's it's swtiches.

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The whole gang...well almost. The amount of coordinating it took for Cooper and I to get all the bikes and truck here was...tricky.

The Truck Build

2016 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4, Crew Cab, long bed Titan Swap

Front Suspension

2.5" Radflo, 14" 700lb springsM205 front diff

Titan LCA

Dirt King UCA

Dirt King outer tie rods

Titan inner tie rods

Titan axles

Nisstec stainless brakelines

Rear Suspension

Custom Alcan Leaf pack, +800lbs, +4" over stock

Calmini adjustable shackles

Bilstein 5165 w/ remote reservoir

Nisstec stainless brakelines


Hefty Fabworks Aluminum front bumper

Hefty Fabworks Steel dual swingout rear

Hefty Fabworks Aluminum skids

Balmer Fab custom bolt-on sliders

A/T Overland Habitat Camper

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Cooper, his wife and his child have lots of options while getting around on bikes

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Kona Electric Ute and Custom Landyachtz Gravel bike to pull the little Quinn

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Cooper recently took this bike to California for a week, read about it here in the next few days

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hand me down from a towing expert

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There is lots of Maxxis to be found on Cooper's rides

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Short wheelbase of the Evil DJ bike makes it easy to haul it on the bike

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long vehicle sign is needed for these things

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Super clean way to attach the bike to the speed rail is spring nuts

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This is one plush trailer ride with over 200mms of wheel travel

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Something lurking on the back of the truck

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Cooper's We Are One Arrival

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Cooper can smile, he just won't, often...

Deniz Merdano



Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician


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+10 Jotegir Perry Schebel Cooper Quinn turboshart Pete Roggeman araz taprider Spencer Nelson Tim Coleman Vincent Edwards

Glad I'm not the only one who still seeks manual transmissions. I am sad they are so hard to find these days.


+3 Lacy Kemp Cooper Quinn Andy Eunson

we're on the cusp of rocking chair reminiscing: "back in my day, we had THREE pedals, and had to manually select gear ratios...". i do love rowing gears, tho; we had to special order our (pedestrian family hauler) from japan with a manual trans. much to the chagrin of our teenager currently learning to drive. seems like an arcane skill at this point (our next car will be ev).



I have a manual Taco. A while back I went to pick it up from a service at the dealership. It took a very long time for them to bring my truck out. Found out it was because it took a while to find someone who could drive stick! I know it's a vanishing skill, but I would think it would be a requirement to work at a service center.


+1 araz

That is very illustrative. And the euros are laughing.


+1 Briain

I see a lot of parallels with mountain bikes here - the newest ones are objectively better with their sophisticated transmissions, electric motors and crazy suspension tech but at the same time the ones that you learn and operate more manually are still a shit tonne of fun. 

Porsche Taycan vs BMW 2002 and WAO Arrival vs Stooge. Same same.



I have been looking for a 2001 or 2002 Canadian spec manual Pathfinder (that still has good compression and no blowby) for years now without success.

I probably shouldn't have such a narrow window.



Searching for the blue Audi - and to some degree the Frontier- was similar. It was a very long exercise looking for a very specific option sheet.



Even 6 speed automatics feels like they're going away, to be replacement CVTs. If it comes to that, I just might stop driving altogether.



Living in the city on the days that I drove to work the manual transmission got to be a pain in the ass quite literally. Driving to Whistler every weekend saw my sciatic nerve get testy by Squamish. Shooting pain down the back of my leg. Got rid of the manual and got relief. My physio says it was the shifting. 

Many new vehicles now have 9 and 10 speed auto. Seems crazy. I’m sort of looking for a new vehicle now as my 7 year old Ridgeline has had too many issues. Two rear view camera replacements, fuel injectors replaced, hood latch replaced, torque converter being replaced now as well as the ignition button. All on warranty, extended warranty or recall. the differential pump was replaced for around $2000 a few years back. Not warranty. The symptom was a loss of all wheel drive, in November. In Whistler. It took five trips to North Van over about three months to get it addressed.  That was at about 50,000km. By the time I drive the vehicle home on Tuesday it will likely tick over 80,000km. Not impressed. Anyway I’m ranting. 

When I was working I would ride my bike to and from work as much as possible. I could afford the gas and parking  and a decent car but riding was more fun and I’d get exercise every time. More freedom too to pop into a shop and not have to park and pay somewhere. I kept a bunch of office clothes at the office, has shirts cleaned and pressed downtown, had a membership at a gym which had a bike lockup and towel service. 

When I was a geologist we had the best 4x4s. Rented ones. Brought them back muddy and maybe dented with worn tires, cracked windshields etc. one guy I worked with always thought the winch needed to be on the back. "Why haul yourself further into trouble?"


+2 Cooper Quinn BarryW

I don't know why am I surprised that a hardcore mileage logger owns an off-road vehicle. Seems like it should make sense and yet, I thought for sure it would be electric...


+2 Jotegir Bryce Borlick

I'd love an e-F150 but Holy hell the prices are eyewatering.



Have you seen Alpha trucks? Kinda interesting


+2 Cooper Quinn Spencer Nelson

As a owner of a 2022 Frontier, a landyachtz, a RM element, and a lover of wagons, this was a joy to read. I find sometimes the balance of loving vehicles and knowing how much they contribute to city pollution, congestion, space hogging can be tricky to reconcile. I don't know the answer, but I think adding a electric cargo bike and more trips by bikes makes so much sense, for the majority of people.


+1 Bryce Borlick

Yeah considering the distances and volumes of stuff involved in 80% of most people's trips... bikes make a LOT of sense.

And they'd make even more sense if you could get around town easily without risking death...

Also, sounds like you need a 170 Arrival!


+1 Lowcard BarryW Dogl0rd

*Cooper and me

(You wouldn't say 'I on a trip...')

Pedantic-ly yours

Seriously though, excellent article and photos.


+1 BarryW

Yup. I do a fair bit of tech writing, and find the folks at ProWriting Aid very helpful: The phrases John and I and John and me are both grammatically correct—you just need to be careful when you use each of them. You can use John and I to start a sentence, and when the speaker (I) is the subject of the sentence. On the other hand, John and me comes at the end of a sentence, and is used when the speaker (I) is the object of a sentence.

On topic: S4 Avant with a stick -- pure lust.


+2 Jotegir Kos

While I appreciate that our readers can, and should, hold us to the highest standards of integrity, I'm also not sure if we *need* to get that deep in the weeds on grammar, hahaha. But point taken, we can always do gooder.

And yeah, I really miss that car. it was one of roughly 1200 B7 S4As that were originally Canadian (the red car was a US import). I saw it the other day parked at MEC! My car! It was tempting to offer the guy cash on the spot for it, but sadly that engine is a bit of a ticking time bomb for a $15k engine out service to replace the timing chain tensioners sandwiched against the firewall... I get my fast car kicks at Dirtfish every couple of years these days.



What are your thoughts on the B7 RS4 avant now that it's old enough to import to Canada? No timing chain issues and 80 more ponies...


+1 Spencer Nelson

If I were looking for an avant to import, that'd probably be it, I suppose? I have a huge soft spot for the looks (and the Lambo-derived V10 in the C6 RS6A), but it doesn't come with the appropriate number of pedals...



Nail. On head. That timing chain kept it at second place on my purchase list. And, honestly, probably too much power for my behavior tendencies at that age!


+1 shenzhe

"Cooper can smile, he just won't, often..."

Save them until you really mean it as far as I am concerned........


+1 BarryW

I tried fun once, I promise.


+2 Cooper Quinn BarryW

Try to tell them that when you show them the climbing stats from your trip.


+1 Cr4w

Thoughts and opinions on the A/T Overland Habitat Camper?  I am getting to the point where I am tired of towing a camper for weekend bike trips and the idea of something like this is very appealing. It could also allow me to downsize from an F-150 to something like a Taco or a Frontier.  Full disclosure I am similar to you in that I walk to work and my truck is our adventure rig.



Could we get some photos of the tent opened up?


+1 Cr4w

The Habitat is great. It's a bit big/heavy but... I'd choose it again over an Atlas style pop-up? One of the keys for me was the ability to use the truck like a regular truck with a canopy when not camping, which you certainly aren't doing with a slide in. 

The nice part of a trailer is... leaving it at camp and coming back to camp, instead of having to pack everything down if you're making a day trip.


+1 Pete Roggeman Spencer Nelson tashi

When I read Titan Swapped I was thinking VK56 and wondering why there were no photos under the hood, and then I remembered that for Xterras and Frontiers it means suspension swap. Still a very cool setup!

Those original frontiers were pretty sweet, I don't blame you. I recall that yellow too, if I saw one with the supercharged VG in either the yellow or red near me, I'd have a hard time staying away. Especially because I am slowly, casually looking for a summer truck to be the counterpart of the then-designated-winter Pathfinder. 

Nice to see someone who likes Nissans for Nissans, warts and all, and not solely because they couldn't afford the Toyota equivalent (no Toyota tax is a plus, though...).

EDIT: Just because you said you grew up in these, here's my pathfinder on the North coast of Newfoundland at 20 years old (it, not me):

22,0000 kilometers in 80 days and it hardly skipped a beat.


+1 Bryce Borlick

The VK swap would improve gas mileage, but its not something I'm likely to put that much time/effort/energy into. There's tons of info on it and it's pretty plug and play, though.


+1 Cooper Quinn

Yes.... gas milage... that's at least what I would tell my wife. She knows better, though. She would see through that excuse in a second.


+1 Jotegir

I spent the whole article wondering the same thing: where are the pics of that big V8 squeezed under the hood? Learn something new every day...


+1 Cooper Quinn

Subtitle: Haulin' Gear and Ass.


+1 DylanZ91

Nice tasteful build. Very happy to not see clean traction boards and a rotopax permanently attached to the side :)


+1 Cooper Quinn

Remember when I use my work forklift to get your canopy mounted? I was shocked at the weight of it


+1 BarryW

Pepperidge Farm remembers.


+1 Cooper Quinn

Nice, a Frontier is on my casual 'maybe someday' list. Am I right to assume the Titan suspension is much more affordable than equivalent upgrades to a Tacoma? Are the parts hard to find?


+2 Deniz Merdano cheapondirt

As far as "mid travel" kits go it can be done massively cheaper than on a Tacoma, yeah. And there's a lot of flexibility in terms of what you need to spend, what you want to get used vs new, etc. 

Eg, all the stock Titan parts on my build came from a wrecking yard.


+1 Cooper Quinn

When I saw the headline I was thinking he'd swapped the Titan V8 in there! Suspension swap is much more sane and practical, but I am admittedly a little disappointed, lol.



Boo no pictures of it in full glamping mode, errr I mean camping mode.



That's on me. I will add some this evening



Thought hard about Titan swapping my Frontier for a while now... this is definitely tempting me!



Great article and love the Frontier. I bought mine new in 2012 and it hasn’t missed a beat for nearly 130,000 miles so far.


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