Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox bike

August 21st, 2015

By Andrew Dodd in Bikes,Tech

We visited Mojo Suspension in South Wales recently to get some forks tweaked, and spotted this crazy looking Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox bike hovering out the back.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

Chris Porter doesn’t do normal. This is his prototype trail bike – not a downhill bike.

Searching for the future

Like a surfer who seeks the perfect wave, Chris Porter is always striving to find suspension perfection – and in doing so he challenges every part of bicycle design, how it works and what the draw backs could be.

Despite all the innovation in the world of bikes, the primary things that have never really changed much are the chain and derailleur. And considering the terrain in which a mountain bike is ridden it’s pretty surprising that the rear derailleur is still as prominent as it is.

Chris believes that some kind of gear box is the future for a few reasons:

  • The transmission is in a sealed unit away from dirt and grime (oiling the gears only needs to be done once a year, rather than most rides)
  • Weight is removed from the unsprung mass thus improving suspension action
  • Weight is added to the sprung mass – further aiding suspension action
  • The weight of the gear box is low on the bike, aiding stability
  • The rear mech can finally be lost, along with the clutch system that Chris doesn’t like. Chris doesn’t like Clutch mechs as they add a small amount of friction to the suspension action which can affect the performance on smaller bumps.
  • You don’t need to be pedalling to change gear

At the moment, Chris has a custom Nicolai Geometron Beta , which is running the Pinion 1.12 (12 speed) gear box.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

The Pinion 1.12 gear box is full sealed, offers 12 gears and only needs to be oiled/maintained once a year – or every 10,000km of riding.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

Although the shifter works really well, the grip shift style action won’t be to everyones taste. We might see different options in the future.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

Instead of using the Pinion rear sprocket, Chris made his own set up from a Shimano cassette which has outer guides to ensure the chain doesn’t come off – kind of like the old MRP chain guides.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

With the cover off, you can see some of the precision internals which are kept out of harms way. As you can see by the casing, Chris has been putting the Pinion box through it’s paces.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

Ignore the chain clearance on the chainstay as the bike is work in progress. A lower jockey cage is used to tension the chain, and there is a 30tooth chain ring on here. One interesting point is the combination of the slight free movement in the system and the movement between the pawls of the rear hub engaging create a small amount of play where there is no tension on the pedals. Chris says this has a very similar feel to a bike running without a chain, and accordingly makes the rear suspension feel amazing.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

The Nicolai Geometron Beta from the non-drive side. The gear box position and set up looks very clean and tidy. The saddle angle is intended to be like this, in case you wondered – it’s optimised for the steep, long climbs that Chris spends a lot of time riding.

Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox – the numbers

In typical Porter style, the geometry is far from the norm – yet completely justifiable as the bike is mostly ridden up long, steep climbs and hammered down steep and technical trails.

  • Approx 62 degree head angle
  • Approx 77 degree seat angle
  • Approx 1350mm wheel base
  • Approx 40lbs as it is. Slightly over built in initial construction.
  • Fox 40 fork, set at 180mm – Chris prefers the stiffer feel over the 36. This particular set of forks have been custom built from the inside out, and weigh about the same as 2013/2014 Fox 34 TALAS forks!
  • Custom ‘Porter-Core’ ghetto tubeless system (essentially a road tubular tyre, installed inside the tyre in a similar fashion to the Schwalbe ProCore system)
Prototype Nicolai Geometron gearbox

Chris is running his own ‘Porter-Core’ set up, by using a road tubular tyre in a lesser known 650c size, and a dual valve set up for inflation.

Although we didn’t get the chance to ride the Nicolai Geometron Beta, Chris has invited us back soon for a day riding back to back against other bikes. We’ll keep you in the loop!


What do you think of Chris Porter’s Nicolai Geometron Beta?

Has he gone too far, or is his constant bike development the way to go?

Let us know in the comments below…





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