Recently I was talking to Evan Turpen of Contra bikes
who said something which got me thinking. He wants his steel enduro bike to last a long time, partly because he thinks the transformative changes in geometry we've seen over the last few years won't go much further. He hopes a bike with modern geometry today won't look too out of date in ten years time.
Based on the bikes I've ridden, I think we're at least approaching the right geometry numbers for most riders. But then, some people thought that ten or even twenty years ago.
Geometry changed a lot in the twenty-or-so years separating these two Enduros, yet I suspect there were people at the time who thought the geometry of the bike on the left was pretty close to perfection
Certainly, I don't think we can make bottom brackets much lower without huge compromises to ground clearance. Sure, crank arms could afford to get a bit shorter to minimise the pedal-strike problem, but I'm already scraping my inside pedal on some turns even when riding with my feet level.
What about slacker? Downhill bikes have been hovering around the 62-64 degree mark for decades now and I don't see them getting any slacker. Enduro bikes are already getting very close to that (64-degrees is now the norm) and thanks to bigger wheels and shorter offset, the problem of twitchy steering or "jackknifing" in tight turns is pretty much eliminated. Sure, a slacker head angle might have benefits in some situations, but it also has drawbacks including poorer fork performance on small bumps.
As for longer reach, I think there's room for improvement in terms of getting bikes to fit riders at the extremes of the height spectrum better, but whether a size medium will get significantly longer over the next decade seems unlikely to me.
One area where I think we could see change is in the chainstay length. For a while, manufacturers sought to make them as compact as possible for easy manuals and to keep the wheelbase number from looking too intimidating. Now though, brands and customers are becoming aware that a longer front-centre without a longer chainstay results in too little weight on the front tire in some situations.
Sure, some bikes have 10mm of chainstay length adjustment, but if you want to compensate for a front-centre that's grown by 100mm over the last few years, you'll need the rear-centre to grow by at least 50mm to maintain the same proportions and therefore weight distribution (rear-centres are typically around half of the front-centre length). So, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more bikes with chainstay lengths approaching 500mm in the biggest sizes. Of the bikes I've ridden, only Forbidden
are in that ballpark, and there are clear advantages as well as some downsides.
But the point of this article is to find out what you think. So, if you could change the geometry on your current bike, would you go slacker, longer and lower?