Long, low, and… foldable?
With their new Evolink full-suspension platform, Pole Bicycles have staked a claim on the slackest 29er trailbike crown. How slack? How about a 64.5° head angle at 140mm travel? It’s unclear whether this is a weighted or static angle, but even so… Longer-travel models drop to 27.5in wheels, with 63.5° at 150mm and a nearly unheard-of 62.0° at 176mm. Even the XC race frame sports a 66.0° head tube. We haven’t fact-checked the slackest claim, but no matter how it’s sliced, that’s a lot of bike out in front of the rider.
Hailing from Finland (got you there, didn’t they?), the company’s Evolink platform is said to have been designed specifically with air shocks (and their progressive spring rates) in mind, with leverage increasing as the bike gets into its travel and reducing the liklihood of (ahem) harsh bottoming. The system may be unique among dual short link designs (VPP, DW-Link, Maestro) in that the lower link rotates around the bottom bracket shell. There appears to be a decent amount of anti-squat in the design – 31mm of chain growth should make the bikes reasonably snappy on the climbs. In action, it looks something like this:
With wheelbases ranging from 1,224mm (XS) to 1,314mm (L), the 140mm 29er version certainly is long – 109mm longer than the same-travel Forward Geometry Mondraker Factor (large). The reach on the large model is approaching Nicolai and Mojo’s Longest GeoMetron bike, in fact, with the same wheelbase. Why have Pole gone down this route?
Long geometry means the chainstays are longer, head angles are slacker, reaches are longer and the seat tube angles are steeper. These features make bikes faster, safer and easier. Pole’s bikes are tested only with stopwatches. Test riding has taught three obvious things: longer, slacker and lower bikes are faster.
Nothing said about tight singletrack or switchbacks, then – but it’s hard not to believe that it would take some riding style adjustment to get the most out of such a big, slack bike.
Beyond the geometry, the Evolink range is full of the sorts of details we love to see. Internal cable routing with the option for external cables, threaded bottom brackets, ISCG chain guides, dual water bottle mounts, and the option for either 12x142mm or 12x148mm (Boost) rear hubs. Fed up with paying airline surcharges, cramming bikes into little apartments, and having bikes stolen from roof racks, Pole has designed their Evolink bikes to fold with the removal of the front wheel and a single bolt.
So there you have it. Pole bikes are sold directly via polebicycles.com and pricing doesn’t seem outrageous: the 140mm 29er with a 31lb SRAM X1 / RockShox Yari / RaceFace Turbine dropper build is priced at €4,100 – about £2,990 in old money. Colour us extremely intrigued. At least one ST staffer is desperate for a go.
More details here: polebicycles.com
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