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Downhill Bikes

A matter of fit. Nicolai G19.

Jack Reading's Nicolai DH much smaller than 'Geometron' series

Far from being the juggernaut that many think it to be, Jack Reading’s Nicolai G19 downhill bike turns out to be pretty average on numbers.

Average that is relative to the more well-known Nicolai of late, the Mojo GeoMetron. Classified as a size ‘large’ this bike is everything it should be in geometry terms for a rider that stands at roughly six foot tall, and winner of the last round of the British Downhill Series.

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But far from average it seems when compared to most production downhill bikes. Now many six foot downhill riders will be riding size ‘extra large’ these days due to the cramped sizing currently on offer for size ‘large’ bikes on the market. Take a look at the numbers of this production bike that Reading rides and you’ll see a sizeable difference to the reach compared to those of the top three largest production downhill bikes (see below) in the same size, namely the Canyon Sender, Giant Glory and GT Fury. But it’s not quite that straightforward.

Whilst it’s true that Reading runs the stock large with numbers listed below, during our meeting and on many occasions through the season he has had a -8 headset offset fitted in order to get his bars closer him and therefore lessening the reach. We’re guessing this would bring the reach back to numbers in the late 460’s – still longer than most large bikes but closer than many people imagine. In fact the numbers then make it similar to an XL Summum and shorter than a Canyon Sender. Added to this is that he now runs a shorter 30mm stem which means his connection with the front wheel is altered significantly.

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And whilst many think of Jack’s bike as being the super long super slack bike associated with recent Nicolai’s, relative to the GeoMetron bikes from Mojo it’s actually quite a lot shorter in the reach. In fact its massively smaller (reach) than the the longest GeoMetron and significantly smaller (arguably a whole bike size shorter) than even the smallest bike from the suspension specialist Mojo who sponsor the team.

 

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In fact this bike is similar in reach sizing to some trail and enduro bikes being offered by many brands, where more often than not the reach is longer than on downhill bikes, the reasons for which there does not seem to be a consistent answer. For example a Whyte G160 in medium has a longer reach than Jack’s bike, so too a Mondraker Dune, both 160mm bikes. What does this tell you? That enduro bikes need more rider space? Maybe that enduro bike geometry is more progressive than downhill? Or that downhill is stuck in its ways?

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It’s not all about the reach. You’ll see that Reading’s bike is in fact longer (wb) stock with almost as much up front (front centre) as the longest GeoMetron, this is mostly a result of the slacker head angle. But this is matched with a longer chainstay to attain a good balance on the bike. So even though reach is important it must be matched by chainstay numbers to balance a bike out. When compared to one of the longest production DH bikes, the XL Canyon Sender, which has adjustable chainstays, the XL G19 is over 50mm longer in wheelbase.

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How does this compare to other bikes on the circuit? Reach on the G19 is exactly the same as an XL Summum but wheelbase 30mm longer so you could argue it’s just a size interpretation except that you can go one more size on the Nicolai and they offer a more up to date bikes for riders over 6′.

And it also has to be recognised that reach is a very isolated number and many bikes are nowadays customised especially up front in the bar stem/headset area. For example Greg Minnaar’s XXL Santa Cruz V10 measures on average about 920mm from bottom bracket to bar end, Reading’s is a shade over 910mm even with the -8mm offset fitted. Clearly everything revolves around stem length, height, bar height, sweep and fork insert length. On the Specialized Demo which I raced recently a +7mm offset was fitted to get pretty much identical numbers on bar end to bb – 912mm. In other words the frame and fork are just the start to achieving the perfect geometry.

 

DETAIL

Travel wise, Reading is running 193mm travel although he says Chris would love him to run less, as well as lengthen his bike, but there’s probably a whole new encyclopedia to that story.

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Jack’s bottom bracket is in a great position, and at 338mm one that we’ve become pretty used to on the custom Specialized Demo. In standard production trim only the Norco, Demo, GamBler and Glory comes close, but remember they come with with slightly more travel.

The component build is thorough on this bike.

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Hope components are key to the build including brakes, wheel and crankset.

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Pacenti rims, Schwalbe tyres.

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Suspension is taken care of by Mojo with a stock Fox X2 damper but custom fork build.

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So is it a GeoMetron?

No its not. However, the Nicolai G19 certainly is the biggest production downhill bike available, but more than this we believe it to be a correct size large bike. But what it also reveals is continued inconsistency within the bike industry regarding sizing.

It’s much, much smaller in reach than the 155mm/175mm GeoMetron but at the same time is much longer in wheelbase, so care needs to be taken when you’re throwing words and numbers around. The big question out of this is whether downhill bikes need to have different reach figures to enduro bikes – or any bikes for that matter.

Chris Porter from Mojo takes this view. “On flatter descents you can keep your head behind the front wheel slightly and still have a long reach. On steeper descents in order to keep yourself tucked in behind the bar and feel ‘behind’ the front wheel, you need a shorter reach or the front wheel needs to go further away.”

Clearly that’s an argument that will linger on. However, even within that story it’s very important to recognise that the frame alone is only a starting point, as such things as the bar, stem, bottom bracket, fork length and the nature/progression of the suspension all influence the riding position and weighting.

At six foot Jack is not a giant and yet there’s probably only one or two other production downhill bikes that would fit him – the Canyon Sender and Mondraker Summum, both in XL being a few options.

Overall though the Nicolai G19 is a beautifully built aluminium bike which is strong, up to date and accurate.

 

 

 

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