When it comes to modern mountain bike geometry, it seems like certain companies have entered into an informal race to see who can create the longest and slackest bike possible. Mondraker deserve credit for being at the forefront of this trend, as does Kona, but Nicolai have pushed the envelope even further over the last two years with their GeoMetron geometry.
Originally developed in conjunction with Chris Porter of Mojo Suspension, Nicolai have now applied those extra-long numbers to an entire line of bikes, one that includes everything from a World Cup proven downhill rig to a 27.5+ compatible hardtail. The radical geometry isn't going to be for everyone, but it is refreshing to see a company truly trying to find the limits of bike design rather than cautiously slackening the head angles of their bikes by a half-degree every season.
The Ion-G19 is quite possible the longest and slackest downhill bike in existence, with a reach of 495mm for the XL, and a head angle of 61.5-degrees in the low setting. Toss in 452mm of chainstays and you get a bike with a 1347mm wheelbase; in other words, it's slightly shorter than an eighteen-wheeler. The idea is that the extra length creates more stability, especially at the higher speeds that go hand in hand with downhill racing. The aluminum frame is handmade in Germany, and uses a Horst Link suspension layout for its 193mm of rear travel. If you're looking to have the longest bike on the block, the frame only (without a shock) goes for 2499 €.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from a cushy DH bike is Nicolai's new Argon-GLF hardtail. It too pushes the geometry boundaries, with a 63-degree head angle (when run with a 160mm fork), and a reach of 495mm for an XL. Adjustable dropouts allow the chainstay length to be set between 430 - 455mm, and for the use of up to a 27.5 x 2.8” tire. It's even possible to run the bike with a belt drive thanks to a split in the driveside seatstay. Although Nicolai does employ some extra machining underneath the seatstay yoke to trim off unnecessary material, with a claimed weight of 2650 grams (5.84 lb), the Argon clearly isn't aimed at the weight weenies out there. MSRP for the frame alone is 1449 €.