PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
2020 POLE STAMINA 140 EN
The Fastest Trail Bike*
Words by Mike Levy, Photography by Trevor Lyden
The Pole Stamina 140 EN was always going to be the most interesting bike at the Field Test. There are no bolts or welds on the frame—instead, two halves are machined from 7075 T6 aluminum before being glued together. Yes, glued together. It's a downsized version of their Stamina 180 that's intended for trail bike duty.
The EN model reviewed here goes for $6,940 USD as pictured, one step down from the Gucci LE spec, and Pole also offers a few different frame/shock configurations as well. Our test rig gets a 150mm Pike Ultimate, but you can go up to 160mm up front, while a four-way adjustable Cane Creek DBair IL shock looks after the 140mm of rear-wheel travel.
Stamina 140 EN Details
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: Machined, glued 7075 T6 aluminum
Head angle: 64-degrees
Chainstay length: 450mm
Reach: 470mm (med)
Sizes: Sm, med (tested), lrg, xl
Weight: 30.6 lbs / 13.9 kg (as pictured)
Price: $6,940 USD
More info: www.polebicycles.com
While the Norco, Orbea, and Intense are all large-sized test bikes with reach numbers between 474mm and 480mm, Pole has a slightly different sizing chart; our medium has a 470mm reach, which they say is ideal for someone between 5' 7" (170cm) and 5' 11" (180cm) tall. In other words, the sizing is a little unconventional, so pay attention if you're ordering from their website.
The Stamina 140's numbers might not seem as wacky as they would have a few years ago, but Pole is still pushing the limits with the 78.6-degree seat angle. For comparison's sake, that's 4.6-degrees steeper than what you'll see on the Intense Primer. The Stamina gets longish 450mm chainstays and a 64-degree head angle, all of which should
add up to a very capable machine on the descents.
The wild-looking front triangle is mated to an equally wild, dual-link rear-end that's also machined out of aluminum before being glued together. The upper and lower links rotate in the same direction, each on massive aluminum axles, with the bottom one turning concentrically around the threaded bottom bracket shell. You can take it all apart with a set of hex keys, a bottom bracket tool, and a rubber mallet, while all of the frame components are available directly from Pole. Climbing
The Stamina's focus is on the way back down, of course, but with 140mm of travel, it doesn't get a free pass on the shuttle truck. Thankfully, it's a reasonably efficient-feeling bike that, while a bit cumbersome when it's really tight and slow, doesn't lose much to the Optic, Occam, or Primer on the climbs. At first, the steep seat angle feels like it's rolling your hips forward strangely, but soon I was used to it - and see the benefits - to the point that a more traditional number just won't cut it for me. It helps to hide much of the Stamina's length, but the long rear-center is always going to be a pain in the ass through cramped switchbacks.
Like most trail bikes these days, the Stamina delivers plenty of climbing traction that helps its cause, but you'll want to stay seated to find the most grip. Actually, that's by far the best way to get the silver Pole to the top of anything; keep your butt planted and straight-line your way through roots that lesser machines need to be steered around.
Shoutout to the big Pole's three (3!) water bottle locations; there are two inside of the roomy front triangle, and then a giardia-catcher location under the downtube for when you're free-randonneuring. The catch is that you'll probably have to use the supplied FidLock system to squeeze in two large bottles, as we couldn't quite fit both standard bottles in at the same time. Descending
If this thing is a trail bike, maybe I should look into getting a trophy truck as a daily driver? I should do that anyway. Not surprisingly, the Stamina 140 is the most competent descender of the bunch, with both Kazimer and I noting how calm and composed it was during our test laps. When it was wet and sketchy, it felt a little less sketchy on the Pole than the others, even if the bike might have been sliding around just as much. The difference? The Stamina's 450mm ass, for starters, and the 64-degree head angle that works together to provide a central, safe-feeling riding position between the axles that's perfect for going too fast.
Timed testing proved the Stamina was the fastest bike for me (and second fastest for Kazimer), but it manages to do this weird trick where it feels calm. Naturally, you should then speed up a bit, which is exactly where the Pole likes to live. On your personal limits, your own edge, I don't think you'll find a trail bike that'll let you get away with so much.
Ah, the corners. Being so long and slack, it must suck in the corners, right? Yes and no. At speed, and especially if it's rough or traction is dangerously low, it's noticeably easier to carry more speed on the Stamina 140 than the other bikes in this category, but it's a different story when the trail tightens up. The impressive stability is nice, but there's no getting around the fact that the Pole ain't small. I suspect that a relatively timid rider would find the length a burden if their trails aren't quick enough often enough to take advantage of the Stamina's poise when it's rowdy.
The handling, while damn impressive, won't be for everyone, and neither will the Stamina's rear suspension. This is a very deep feeling bike, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it'd fool many riders into thinking it has another 20mm of travel. Bottom-out? Sure, the O-ring says it happened, but I don't remember where or when. It's reasonably supple at the other end of the stroke, too, but no amount of knob-fiddling could bring much life to the shock; planted rather than playful, no doubt about it, but that might change if a different shock was used.
Bottom line: The Stamina 140 is a bike that stands out for both its appearance and how it rides. Talking in trail bike terms, there might not be anything else as capable when the terrain or speed is serious. Interestingly, Pole did this cool trick because it's still a blast when the ride is tame, only being stifled at near-trackstand speeds where I'd probably fall over regardless.
See the vertical supports with the big crimps in them? We were accidentally sent a lighter weight, prototype swingarm with thinner supports that buckled during our huck-to-flat filming.
Incredibly fast, and pushes the boundaries of what we expect from a trail bike+
It ain't carbon +
Unique appearance and manufacturing
Not as easy to throw around, and struggles in tighter terrain-
It ain't carbon (and the stock one is 98g heavier than ours)-
Oh shit, it broke...
Pole grows as a company all the time and soon, there will be someone else doing the press releases and forum talk. You will get something that does not show my personality any longer. There are a lot more people involved in the company already and I am handing over my responsibilities to others. When we started the company, I was doing pretty much everything that was about bike engineering, website UX design, marketing, communication or negotiation with suppliers. I have never been the CEO because I don't want to be handling the everyday stuff. My passion is in company strategy, engineering, and product development. We have finally found a very capable growth hacker who will take over soon the marketing activities and communication that I have been responsible for since the start. I will be available on our Facebook forum for our customers in the future for technical advice.
I would like to ask what people would like to know about Pole? For us, it's not very easy to realize what we are not telling outside that people would like to know.
@brianpark @mikekazimer @mikelevy
Do you keep your test parts in the same box as the customer’s frames? Or was it intentionally sent out assembled wrong to save a real customer from yet another delay?
I’m sure lots of potential customers have the same question; sure a prototype failed, who cares right? But what’s going to prevent prototypes from reaching the customer if you can’t even tell “similar” frames apart for the most publicized review ever, even if (or especially if) Pinkbike is “just trying to get clicks to pay the bills” like you say they are
As-is it makes you look really bad and people will not have full context. You can be open/transparent and not leave old out-of-context outdated dirty laundry up, especially on a page you own.
I get the sense your new "capable growth hacker" really has their work cut our for them working for you.
It's not too late, there's still hope
I have definitely gotten much more air than that on my current XC bike(which has raced several enduros on the north shore).
I understand its hard to run your own business, and doing it all right - your bikes are cool and clearly are liked by people that ride them and PB - even Levy said it...'it broke, oh man it was my favorite one'.
I think your press release was well done with the exception of the PB criticism - HOWEVER, it was the right move because you were hedging in case they really shit on the bike. Perhaps just drop that piece of it man and people who read it out of context won't get a bad view of it.
I do PR/Comms for a living...hit me up if you want some (free) counsel.
The bikes are clearly durable - @petert rode the thing 100+ days in whistler bike park and proved that.
You just show your full one at any opportunity to do so.
"It is not a scandal if the engine breaks in the F1 race, but in DH or Enduro, the racers hide the broken stuff. It looks like the biggest taboo in the industry is a failure in the product and looks like Pinkbike has learned that this is a good cash cow for them to make stories."
Probably because Ferrari isn't providing my bikes. It's a consumer product. We are mere mortals spending whatever meager disposable income we have to ride bicycles in the woods. The peace of mind of knowing your bike has your back when you're doing something stupid is a huge part of what we pay for.
That said, it looks like a rad bike and I'd be perfectly fine riding one. I trust that you guys know what you're doing and there is nothing scandalous here. Just wanted to point out that false equivalencies are mostly... false.
Remember that YT at rampage this year? What happened to that? Oh it was quickly rushed aside so that no one could see it, and no press release was done by YT.
So I respect Pole's commitment to respond, Pinkbike comments can also be a ruthless place. But I applaud their commitment too engineering and helping their riders achieve their best such as Leigh Johnson.
I would try a version of asymmetrical swingarm where the brace would be only on non-drive side of swingarm and almost connecting the pivots of swingarm. And properly sized.
Can you imagine the shame should Pinkbike do the huck to flat test from higher and the bended brace would actually shaved and razzored the rear tire? Because it can be seen on the picture, it started to happen.
Both (PB and Enduro magazine) consider the bike planted rather than lively. Which is still great for whoever is after such a bike. But both magazines used different rear shocks and PB mentions that there was no way tune that (rather tuneable Cane Creek) into something more poppy. Would you agree on that or could the bike be tuned to be more playful. To me that seems to be one reason why someone would choose a trailbike. Could the underdimensioned rear triangle possibly have sucked some life out of it and would the proper (stronger and possibly stiffer) triangle have performed better in that respect?
Even after all this social media and forum storm i get no response from your support.
Please continue the conversation with our customer service.
I have experience working with analysis engineers since I started my industrial design agency. I have personally a stress analysis software in use and I use it almost every day. Nevertheless we still do machine and trail testing because it is closer to reality. This setup is like susnpenders and a belt ????
What I mean is that nobody actually has the "correct" stress values that are going through the frame. What is relevant and what is enough are the questions that you need to study before we know what values we load the bike. For example it is far more easier to calculate a vehicle stress loads than a bicycle.
I can imagine perfectly well what happens if a part fails on a bike. I have dislocated my hip after a grip failed on a cased landing. I've done this work long enough that I know what works or not. Nevertheless we need to experiment other stuff as well to be creative. We are terrible sorry about the event and we make sure this never happens again. We all are accountable on our carelessness, overseas or not.
I believe it's not the paintjob issue.
Another problem is that currently I'm in Moscow, Russia, and the bike is located 1300km away from me in Sochi resort city (maybe you remember it as the host of 2014 Olympics). And I was not planning to go there this winter just to be able to disassemble the bike and send you the frame. Summer biking season with lift access starts there in May.
Just to clarify: I would not bring this matter into public if the warranty process was not stuck at some point. I'm not that type of guy who likes to fan the flame just for the sake of it. Not to mention that I absolutely loved two seasons aboard my Evolink, the first bike that showed me the importance of stretching, multiplane core strength and overall physicality. It's the insufferable delay in your support responses that frustrates me.
After reading your answer to @ORAORA I know for sure I was right for thinking that.
Expect the free markets to do their job after this, good riddance Pole
As mountain bikers, we owe a lot to Pole for helping push the envelope of design beyond what the mass producers would be willing to try without years and years of evolution. I truly believe that their bikes have sped up geometry changes in the industry and that the more conservative companies are longer and slacker with steeper SA than if it wasn’t for Pole pushing the extremes of design. I was highly tempted to order a Pole over my Ripmo when I bought because of this innovation.
That said, I think Pole is at risk of becoming a footnote in the history of mountain biking if they maintain their current track record of customer service. As a consumer, why would I pay so much for a mail order bike with no shop support when there seems to be so little company support and having to pay in full upfront for a bike that I may or may not get in a year’s time? At most I’d be willing to pay a nominal $100 deposit to wait in line and then pay in full when the bike ships, if I hear that the CS has completely changed. Otherwise, you start to look like a Ponzi scheme. I understand delays on manufacturing when your sales outpace production estimates (although, you should still have an fairly accurate ship date when you click order, which is not what it sounds like currently). We, mountain bikers, are a tribal bunch. When we hear about someone in our tribe getting screwed, we tend to stand together and avoid supporting that brand. There will always be a few sour grapes within this industry, but when the frustrated customers seem to be en masse, it’s hard to not look hard at the company causing problems.
My suggestion to Pole: take a hard look at your current practices, evaluate what you can change quickly, make a full statement about what changes are to take place with honest apologies and no perceivable bitterness, and hopefully save your brand from potential disaster. This industry is full of innovative companies that never lasted and were quickly forgotten, please don’t become one of them.
I'm going to stop answering here because this is not our customer service portal. We don't have any problem to replace the part.
- Just another armchair engineer.
I don't see why they quit the swingarm style of Machine in favor of this nice but weak fins.
Our philosophy is to make reliable products and not just do half-assed fixes. We can change the thickness of the shark fin with 30 mins of CNC programming. The weight of the change is insignificant and does not correlate to the speed of the bike. The stiffer triangle performs better. Enduro magazine had one of the prototypes, and we told them when we gave the bike to them that the rubbing will be solved by moving the fin forward and in the future by changing the construction. Making the fin thinner would have not even solved the rubbing problem, and it just creates another issue that is significantly less fatigue strength.
You see, that it would be so much easier not to have this conversation by using the 30 minutes of just changing the programming.
You really need to get a medical diagnosis for this. Its costing you a shitload of money and a ton of unnecessary grief.
You have the full right to remain silent. Whatever you say WILL be used against you. Even if you say “2+2=4”
That said, maybe there isn't even that much forging in Europe anymore. You have Middleburn. But then, after that?
You are wrong pretty much on everything. Calm down, have some hot cocoa, and go ride some trails.
And that was before watching the test. In hindsight, what Pole did there was even more ridiculous.
Pole was very accusatory towards Pinkbike though, and I think that was unwarranted. They missed the boat on the chainstays, and I don't think they should expect PB to have retested and refilmed. That's real work and comes at a cost. Clearly PB had enough information from the riding before breakage, and Poles response, to form a good review.
I get why Pole was panicking, but they should have remained a little more chill. Going on the offensive wasn't right. I think just issuing a factual statement and an apology, would have been the best route to rise above the failure.
Way to stay classy Pinkbike. Good review.
You can tell they absolutely loved this bike. Well... Pole Stamina is officially a Douche Canoe, and Stamina with Enve rims is a Douche Cruiser. Don’t let it crack you up
Its really sad how leo reacts sometimes. I can def. understand why someone would not buy a pole after reading some of this.
The other bike failure was more serious, with our tester going down hard on a full production bike. Context matters and we need to be both fair and transparent, so we're going to hold off on telling you more about the other failure until it's fully ready to be published.
I apologize for that .I somehow ended up with a bike I cant wait to ride, all the time
Shit Enve even replaced a rear wheel I tore 27 spokes out of when I put my derailer through it. Again, no questions asked.
When did you buy it? You know that level of satisfaction from the bike is counter proportional to the time spent on it. You are yet to peak.
You get back as much as youve put down- especially the consumers have lot of rights thanks to the EU.
Im smelling some legal affairs in the near future if they do it to the wrong person.
I ordered the bikes believing in the geometry on good faith that their delivery times were at least in the ballpark. I did not set out to gamble on international exchange rates.
After a whole summer of frustration, I am going to lose composure here for a min. Hey Pole and especially Leo.. suck a bag of d!cks!!
Has nothing to do with Pole. Has to do with economics. This is always going to be the case when you buy and refund in a foreign currency - there will be foreign exchange gain or loss.
The point of the story. USA customers. Paying in full upfront has more risks than may appear.
And mind you the delays were not the straw that broke the back. It was that Leo was bragging about the frame updates on social underway with implementation dates that would make the frames I ordered already one generation back.
Yeah, I wouldn't be happy if they came out with improvments before my frame was even shipped, and they were not available to me. That sounds pretty low brow.
You have this weird obsession/hatred with forward geo but ive never heard you say you went on a demo day?
Hahaha!! This is so true!
From a customer service side of things, I've had good service. It's definitely not super fast - but all my concerns have been addressed to my satisfaction. Case in point - they recalled my original Machine frame and I've got a new Stamina on the way.
This in no way invalidates what other folks have experienced... if I was in a situation where I had to sell my old bike waiting for a new one, I would be seriously choked.
From a PR side of things, the Pole press release started good - but when fingers are getting pointed at PB, it went too far. Should've just stopped with admitting they made a bad mistake. Having a "preproduction" part break is almost a cliche. Someone seriously dropped the ball there. As a business owner, I could see Leo trying to head things off at the pass, but PB's right: the test was over and everyone's got to get on with their lives.
Leo strikes me as super passionate and very opinionated. When you stand on a soapbox, you're gonna get slings and arrows. Having said that, his qualities have led to some very innovative bikes and helped shift bike geometry forward more quickly.
Most bike companies go through sour times when they scale up. Evil, Yeti, etc have all been through this and bounced back. I'm sure Pole will do the same. Personally, I can separate the personalities from the product and am stoked for my Stamina to arrive. From what history says, Enzo Ferrari was a tyrant but I'd still be stoked to drive one of his cars
As far as I know, with Paypal, it is possible to refund in the dollar, but the customer has to pay the product with Paypal so that we can refund via Paypal. Also, we need to have the cash in the account when someone wants a refund. To use a Paypal refund, the customer needs to purchase the product with a dollar via Paypal; otherwise, it would be the same as previously. As the company president, I have no record of court cases on refunds.
We have developed new features along the way, and there is always an option for pre-purchasers to wait for the upgrade if they want. Our production method allows us to make changes during production because there is no stock on CNC bikes. For example, we have offered people to wait for the new swingarms. Even though the offer, many customers have wanted to get the frame as soon as possible. If someone claims that he couldn't be upgraded to a newer rev, that's not true. We gladly skip a spot, so we get time to produce someone else's bike, and it's a win-win.
On presales, we have given a discount for the pre purchasers. During production, we take the full amount. Unfortunately, we have had growth pains, and we have hired new staff. Also, we have doubled our CNC capacity, but the ramp-up has taken more time than we thought. Soon we will move to a new factory, and we can finally stop working between boxes. I'm currently working from home because I don't have a desk.
The new swingarm does not have the sharkfin support, but it has a UDH hanger and also, the STFUBike silencer. The sharkfin support is gone because we wanted less chain slap. Sharkfin's idea is to give more flex in the system, which is one of the key performance factors in the bike. The bike is more forgiving in harsh stuff, as @mikekazimer mentioned. Unfortunately, on a short travel bike, it's harder to control the fatigue life. On Stamina 180, the sharkfin has been very successful by Leigh Johnson 12th overall in EWS. The new swingarm will be stiffer.
Our warranty service should be very swift. It is our company policy to put warranty cases always ahead of everything else. We don't argue with the breakages, but we want to know how it happened so that we can learn from it.
We test our bikes with third party test centers, and also, we ride the bikes ourselves. Added to that, we have a professional race team with Leigh Johnson and Joseph Nation. The Dh legend Matti Lehikoinen is the Team Manager. Also, we do some unconventional tests where we test the bonding or corrosion resistance.
What comes to the 1mm added thickness, the thickness is measured in the thinnest part of the sharkfin. The support strength is calculated with computer simulation and tested with a machine and on the trail. In any case, the sharkfin design will not continue in future production. We are changing the design mainly due to the UDH and STFUBike.
Matti Lehikoinen is still cool tho. Always was and always will be. We all good Fam.. To you Leo Coconut... we are no longer brews..
You CHOSE not to.
Own your decision.
Like you the thing that drove me to that decision was that I didn't feel I would get a bike that had it's design fully resolved. I could have waited into next year for the frame with the new rear triangle but the whole experience with them wasn't feeling very positive.
You, on the other hand, designed a product and began selling it, then decided on the fly to make changes to that design, and sold both to consumers. Aside from the obvious issues for new customers being left high and dry getting less features in return for being an early adopter and disincentivizing early purchase, this creates problems down the road on the secondary market when someone tries to buy or sell a Pole... selling a 2019 Pole; ok is it the udh version or no... is it the redesigned swingarm or no, e.t.c.
Design your bike and, if you believe in your product then stick to the product you designed and save the "upgrades" for the next design.
Mid cycle changes just says you rushed to production to start taking people's money before you'd fully fleshed out your design.
Pole: BUT WHAT ABOUT HILLARY'S EMAILS??
Sad @Mikelevy and PB did not include #Revved in testing.
I have had transactions where I lost a few bucks, but I have also had transactions where I made a few bucks.
It's usually a risk you carry as a buyer. You win some, you lose some. That the global economy for you.
You have to live with it or buy a Trek.
By the way, when they informed about DHU and STFU they said that if requested they will update the preorder.
Where is your problem?
Well the prototype part I can understand. But XC ? How the hell would an XC swingarm have the exact same geometry as the one on your trail bike ?
Er uh... That's not production.. that's called development.
And, you still exist in self imposed ignorance.
"Hey guys we are sending a Stamina over to the most popular MTB website in the world for a bike shootout/review, you think I should send out this completely untested prototype piece in place of the tried and true design? Sounds like a great plan, box it up!"
Very likely scenario.
"We have a press bike we sent for testing, have someone pack it and ship it", amongst the hectic workday of trying to fulfill the pretty substantial order queue of Staminas.
Note how there was not even a squeak of failure anywhere about the Machine or Evolink.
If it was a prototype for an actual XC bike they were developing, wouldn't the dimensions have to be different considering and XC bike would have a different travel, geometry, etc? No way the pivots would line up exactly the same would they?
And if it was designed for this bike, what would be the purpose? For a bike who's "focus is on the way back down" why would they care to design an XC version to save a few grams?
if a prototype part escapes and leads to a failure, expect a prompt visit from a regulator and a very high likelihood of being shut down with 6-18 months of remediation activities required before you can continue doing business.
Also the post on Pole's website doesn't make an awful lot of sense, they mention 3 different swingarms, prototype, pre-production and production. They knew the item was too weak as they have already broken 1, yet they left it lying round somewhere that it could easily be mixed up with the correct item?? Really???
As we say in England. Pull the other one, it has bells on it.
i like Pole, hopefully this episode wont linger too long.
This excuse sounds somehow implausible.
Other than that it is bit of a strange test. Since when Pinkbike compares bike speeds? It is a VERY hard thing to do. How can be a bike that is "reasonably efficient-feeling ... while a bit cumbersome" be incredibly fast? Any uphill? How many times was the "loop" (?) done? And really: 6% faster over 90" means close to 6": what was the pilot doing on the other bikes? Sleeping?
Maybe Pole made a running change after figuring out they'd under built the swing arm, and there's some ass-covering in the mix. No one can reasonably verify whether their swing arm is +/- 1mm thick, so who knows?
The Ironic thing, is that they could have put the Machine against all the bikes, and it would have been just as fast as the Stamina on the ups and downs, without the breakage.
On the other hand, you buy a Pole now, and by the time all the others have figured out the geometry (with specialized enduro being the first one to step up), your 5-6 year old Pole will be right in line with the geometry at that time. Much cheaper to buy one bike than 3.
For the average recreational mountainbiker, these bikes are objectively the best ones you can get for the money. You are getting a downhill bike that pedals up to the top with traction that other bikes don't have.
I do hope the ‘non proto’ isn’t just the same but with a 1mm additional thickness assuming it’s just a flat section?
It does stink to me though, either incompetence sending the proto by mistake, arrogance sending a proto to fudge weight / ride characteristics or PB found a design flaw and they rushed to construct a story - none are good.
And all this only to mount 2 waterbottles in the mainframe.
i better leave my armchair now...
I hope you don't mind, but I'm stealing this.
"Our timed lap for the trail bikes was around 1:30 long and.. "
I assumed that we are talking about an 1:30 h section of up and down (wich I would call a lap and a reasonalbe distance to judge a trail bike).
Are you telling me that you tested the "speed" of trail bikes on a 1:30 minutes downhill? And then this measurement is used to make the headline of the review?
I am sorry to say this, but if PB is not interested in bikes that go UP AND DOWN a mountain you shouldn´t review them.
The Mikes are Pole-smitten. You say the longest bike for its size of all the bikes on test, including 'enduro,' is the most stable and least maneuverable at speed? No kidding.
My takeaway is that Deemax are the fastest wheels on test.
Also, @TheR we did multiple timed laps for consistency. No argument from us that timed testing has its limitations—we didn't do it last year, but it's always fun to see if your thoughts bear out on the clock.
I do worry about it most in the trail bikes, though. Given that it's just the descent for these theoretically "all around" bikes, it seems like it's mostly measuring which companies choose basically mini-enduro geometry (e.g. Pole) vs. more all around/play around geo (e.g. Orbea).
So in conclusion I demand you do a retest with an uphill section, to the descent which ends in a tight slope style course and a whip off. :-)
And really: why? Why are pinkbike suddenly doing "speed tests" among bikes?
Measuring downhill bikes and enduros this way is certainly valid but for trail bikes this seems odd to me.
We'll have a video come out in the next few days that will explain all our test loops. We wanted it out earlier, but were waiting for some 3D work to come back so people can see the routes more effectively.
I am just irritated that you say "time testing is flawed, do not overrate" but still use it as the headline of the article.
Even so I'm not sure i'd be ok with having a part that would fail at just 3x the huck to flat shown.
"Everyone in the industry knows that it is hard to create actual content, but sometimes you get lucky, and you can do scandalous stories"
I couldn't help but start to wonder if this was going to be a Sick! situation. When they told me in October that my frame was going to be done October 28, I pulled the plug. The average email took over 2 weeks for a response - and when they did respond it was evasive at best and dishonest at worst. It sounds like these are good bikes (if they don't break, lol) but I wanted to post my experience as a big ol Caveat Emptor - worst customer service!
In stark contrast, I emailed Geometron a few weeks ago. We had several conversations over phone and email and 6 days after payment, I had a G1 frame set and fork delivered to me (duty free!)
I can only imagine the downtime you'd experience if you had a warranty a frame. You know, in case they ship you a pre-production component
Look at Forbidden Bikes - they launched last year without stock of XL bikes, and they didn't sell them either. Same with Banshee and their initial run of the titians. I reached out to them and the XLs were spoken for. Meanwhile Pole was using preorder money to...? fly around the world and learn how to write toolpaths apparently.
Customer service definitely ain't Poles strongest aspect
The one note with the Stamina pre-order was that they took full payment. Any other bike company that I've pre-ordered a frame from takes a deposit, with the balance due when the frame is about to be shipped. Even a custom builder works on that premise.
With Evolinks they needed to swap factory as the previous one went under.
Needless to say that even after finding the new factory they pushed delivery dates forward couple of times.
I stand by my statement, Pole has the worst customer service i have ever encountered.
Yes, Pole has very bad reputation also in Finland with their delivery times and it was very bad that they didn't keep customers in the loop.
But if you look for the Pole's video for investors in 2015. They're going for 200 000 Euros for usage capital, which explains why they really can't have many cancellations with their preorders without creating more problems. But todays culture with Kickstarter, it is understandable to have problems when preordering stuff to make it done to reality. You'rent preordering something that you can have it with first customers, you're preordering so they can make the product to reality.
Here is a reminder of what a huck to flat test should look like.
Haven't seen him to flat like that since the North Van guys showed up at the the West Van skate bowl
Still nothing a Walmart bike couldn't handle...
Well is a Transition. Build by the guys who brung back the forgotten art of Huck to Flat.
My Alu Sentinel is massive. I think the T.I.T.S is the only hollow part on it. I reckon it will last a while.
I wish Pole paid me, Id shill for them day in day out without a second thought lol.
I just call out bullshit when I see it. A lot of this is sensational comments from people that don't understand what its like to run a business.
Your talking to someone who owns a business manufacturing very high end backpacks. So your comment about about bullshit comments from people who don't understand how to run a business is just you spreading bullshit because your ideas don't align with mine.
If you look at the very latest version they have completely removed the fins and added a machined brace between the 2 links
Just tell me the frame weight damn't, and the size weighed, and in an ideal world separate the shock weight as well. I know we're not supposed to care about weight but even or especially on my enduro rig, I do care, at least insofar as is it heavier or lighter than what I run now ?
What concerns me about Pole is that not only is there an engineer working outside his AOE but he isn't working with other engineers to have his work checked and verified. His arrogance has led to a failure that could have cost someone their life.
Many industrial designers specialise in design for manufacture, which involves a good amount of materials science and mechanical engineering principles. I even went to school with guys that co-majored in ME. Again, ID in no way qualifies you as an engineer, but the art school parallel is unfair.
Needless to say, I wont be buying a POLE anytime soon.
…well, it’s already loaded, so I guess I might as well read it.
I'm just going to leave this here.
Hold our beer, we will handle this...
Sure, its possible that pinkbike does get prototypes, especially with the importance that day one reviews have with respect to marketing. But is every product a prototype? At this point the manufacturer responses are disingenuous. They imply one of two things to consumers - either their bikes do not break in the wild because only their prototypes break (a lie) or that the ones that do break in the wild are also protypes that slipped out. Oops! How sloppy!
Neither are true. Just own up. Shit breaks. We aren't NASA, we don't pay 50 grand per bike to ensure 100% non failure rate. Just show us and yourself a little more respect in the future.
I’m still waiting for the new rear triangle to replace the cracked one on my Evolink 158. It’s been more than two weeks since you’ve been informed of the issue and your initial response.
I believe it’s taking too much time to simply send a replacement part, or maybe even the frame, since the lack of proper heat treatment could be true for the front triangle as well.
Before going any further, I do feel that Pole as a company are only trying to make their own path in a very competitive industry. The thing holding them back appears to be down to the personality of one man. Having met Leo, I can understand why. Those above have already expressed some concerns regarding certain aspects of Leo's persona and it would not be appropriate to add to those here as the issue should be about the fact that one of Pole's bicycles failed whilst being tested by the biggest mountain bike website around.
A few years ago I was given the opportunity to ride / race for Pole Bicycles. My focus was domestic UK races and to provide feedback on their flagship bike at the time, The EVOLINK 140. I was provided with a free EVOLINK 140 frame and I was promoted on their website in return for positive social media exposure and race results.
Unfortunately, my race season was tainted was failure after failure of the EVOLINK I was provided with. Through my riding, racing and testing of the EVOLINK, a number of issues were identified. The first being the constant snapping of rear axles. At the time, Pole supplied a SRAM Maxle on all EVOLINK frames with a lever. I snapped 3 of these in a short period of time. I am not an engineer so I cannot comment on why the failures were happening but when feeding back to Leo, he could not accept there was clearly an issue with the design of the frame and the axles Pole were using.
You will notice that EVOLINK's are now supplied with "bolt head" type axles. This was done shortly after the third failure I suffered whilst practising for the EWS in Whistler in 2017. I suffered significant injuries when a newly supplied axle snapped when I landed a jump.
A separate issue was the bending of the rear triangle of my EVOLINK. This resulted in too tight clearance on the brake caliper / disc . Getting a replacement was easy, being a supported rider at the time, but it was very difficult to convenience Leo that the frame had bent. It took an age to sort a replacement.
I also went through bearings at an alarming rate, but again, replacements were forthcoming being a supported Pole rider.
The above issues and feedback was proved over a number of months and Leo's response was, "your bike must have been one of the faulty batch". Can you believe that? Why would you send someone who you know is going to be representing your company a "faulty" frame. That is madness. The issues I had with my Pole resulted in a very difficult season and just finishing a race at times was hard to do.
This "one of the faulty"batch comment has all the hall marks of "we sent a prototype rear end to PinkBike by mistake" excuse.
After all the issues I had, Pole cancelled my contract. Instead of acknowledging the problems and working together to solve issues, Leo was unable to take criticism of his design, which was obviously flawed. Leo eventually stopped answering emails and had one of the Pole management, Lauri speak to me via Skype to tell me that they would be cancelling my contract to ride for them.
I was blocked by Leo on social media and kicked off the Pole owners FB group, all because I kept breaking the EVOLINK 140. How's that for company support and service?
I have thought long and hard about whether or not to comment. I don't wish to do Pole down, I just think people should be fully informed before making a decision to purchase a bike from them.
I first became aware of the PB story through a notification on Facebook telling me that the Pole riders group had been changed from public to private.
Now, this is a group which I haven't looked at for over a year since getting rid of my Evolink. I'm not sure why I got the notification but decided to take a look. There at the top was Leo's bollocks about the PB test fail. I then went to PB for a look but of course the story wasn't there yet. Turns out it was a pre-emptive rant.
Hiding and editing social media content seems like a pretty Sick! thing to do...
When my Evolink was giving trouble, I heard all the crap about the factory move, staffing issues, growing so fast, etc. I'm convinced that they are just compulsive liars.
I could never get anyone to answer emails unless I made a big fuss on social media first, then they acted all hurt that I should do that when really they just wanted to help.
While they were busy not answering, or dealing with, my issues, they were also very busy marketing new bikes on social media and racing enduros.
Lauri was on FB every day flogging new prepaid bikes for more mugs to wait months for, while I waited a month for a reply to my query.
Might have salvaged something from what looks like fun & fast bike - as it stands you would literally have to get 4 to buy one
Someone had to take it.
Pole: DEFENSIVE, EXCUSES, BLAME/BASH PINKBIKE, BLAME EVERYTHIIINNNNNGGGGG (except themselves)
What fascinates me how, in the last few years alu bikes got fatter than alu bikes in 2008-2012 period. My Nomad 1 was 3kg without shock and was strong as bloody hell. The last series of 26" Reigns was 2.5kg w/o shock!!! These days quite a few frames go near or just beyond 4kg. AND THEY STILL BREAK! Ekhem mehem khme memmencal! khem khem...
So although it is maybe not "elegant" engineering just increasing the thickness does win quite a lot of capacity.
Just for fun I assumed some dimensions of the brace (length and width) and got the 2 mm thick one buckling at around 235 kg of force and the 3.5 mm thick one then up at around 1.25 tonnes of force. Conclusion: not surprising the 2 mm thick one buckled. The 3.5 mm thick one might be alright...
The thing with all the chat about rig tests and FEA and so on is that if the basics aren't right it doesn't matter. It took me about 3 minutes to arrive at those buckling loads and anybody with an ounce of engineering intuition should have seen the potential problem with lightening that brace.
And it maybe doesn't take an engineer to estimate that a skinny section will fail due to buckling in compression. But it does take a bit of engineering to be confident that a slightly heavier section won't fail... if anything that was the point I was trying to make. 3.5 mm might still be skinny but it will take a lot more load than the 2 mm section and as I intimated I'd personally still be a little tentative about the 3.5 mm plate. So I guess we agree on that as well...
Also a comment. I am an engineer (that could be a bad or good thing.....) and I agree 100 percent with the FEA stuff.
1) measure is best
2) calculate is good
3) FEA if not done right could be pure fantasy.
A lot of people jump straight to FEA these days.
Still chuckle when people say "member" though...
I have had it with WRONG FEA or any model.
Shit. This is probably the first-ever comment that I actually have to give a kudos to you.
The only unfortunate thing is your preemptive strike... you kind of inoculated a hazardous plant with nutrition making it grow 10-fold. I wish you all the best. The 180 Stamina seems extremely attractive to me. You’ll survive this shit storm, I bet most of your clients don’t give a sht about Pinkbike comments.
Oh - for sarcasm detector for some... For reals... Did you do timed climbs with 140 vs 180 since both share extremelöy similar setups incl. tyres and wheels ? quite interested...
Here's both ways ????
I don't think we have done timed runs uphill. I ride most of the time 180 on local trails. At the moment it's like this: Check out my activity on Strava: strava.app.link/sKovVqLJK1
I think they are both very similar as all the kinematic values are pretty much the same until that 140 travel. 140 is lighter but 180 has steeper seat tube angle so rider can get better hamstring activation.
You and Mikes inspired me to make 76static SA on my 29 HT... i just wanted it to have 440 reach, the ETT will be crap. And bye bye short stays with increase in reach... I’ll try to balance it out...
But buckling beams are obviously also sensitive to their length whereas compressive failure isn't. So with the dimensions I assumed it just says that buckling is the first failure mode in compression, not axial yeild. Although I've assumed dimensions, so have uncertainty in my estimates, the axial capacity is so much bigger than the buckling capacity I'd be pretty sure buckling is the killer here. If the sharkfin was much shorter then it could be axial yeild.
This simple analysis ignores the effect of any bending moments in the system which changes things... (compressive buckling with eccentic loads and hence bending moment does actually again reduce to a yeild stress problem by modifying the Euler bucking load equation. It gets a big complex...)
Apologies if I am teaching you to suck eggs.
If the draw backs are less agile on slower and tighter trails (which should be a major intention of a trail bike in my opinion), than why have something that's exclusively held back by its amount of travel?
Qualify this: I am in product design, but software so not the same. If you were to ask me if I have ever seen a software product released to the public that had a few known issues/bugs, I would be change the subject quickly and not answer.
However, if you call it a beta ( closed or open ) that acknowledges the state of the bike. I do wish any company that offers a bike to a magazine or other media would mandate the product be referenced as a "beta" (prototype/pre-production) whatever you want to call it. Part of that mandate is to include that in the narrative so they know that normal testing procedures, materials , ratios... etc are not finalized yet and that this review/feedback will be valuable as an input.
At this point I wouldn't go near a Pole, as much as I really like the progressive geo, the industrial design considerations and manufacturing ( no issues with it what so ever ) but I would be working on PR video(s) to get out asap that show industry standard fatigue testing and a costco size spew of numbers to back it up. I would also like to see every bike add material (or shape) of the aluminum support beam. That huck to flat was not impressive (I just mean the size of it), and I don't know what cycles this rear end had on it (add jokes here) but still, very bad look. The sus didn't look to be set too soft or anything else.
Very well done video. Covered the failure but focused on the review/bike. Considering the blast the came before I am impressed with Pinkbike and how they handled it. Levy looked sketchy on some of those rock descents -thats a compliment !!
(I just wish Pole's response was written in a more professional tone)
Kudos to Pinkbike!
Pole messed up by sending a wrong part on a test (!) bike and is now ticked because due to their own failure it bombed. Instead of owning up and asking what went wrong on their end, they choose to go on the attack and try to stick it to PB. That is lame and dumb-ass stupid at the same time.
Lot‘s of people now probably conclude that Leo should stick into a dark hole... and deservedly so.
It is not enough to be an good engineer to run a company - even if you think otherwise.
It almost reads like the same paragraph is talking about two different bikes.
Also ironically you have a mondraker... how do you even ride this thing if you believe that Nicolai is so great? There’s quite a lot of unnecessary (from engineering perspective) styling on Mondraker.
I actually think Pinkbike has been too lenient on Pole in this review - I feel the video was a little too accepting of the claim that 1mm of extra material there has totally fixed the problem.
Shit will buff out
How can be a material that easy to recycle be a con?? Sure, steel has an even lower environmental impact but come on guys.. it's really not a con.
I have a suggestion. I have a prototype redacted> sitting on my desk right now. My employer has a very good reputation with our customers for quality and innovation. It is worth a lot of money to us.
My prototype is clearly marked with our internal convention that says "this is a prototype board and it has been on an engineers desk. DO NOT EVER SEND IT TO A PAYING CUSTOMER!"
Those damned engineers do things intentionally to try and break stuff. They call it "testing" or some such.
So when you carve your frames or swing arms how about you carve "PROTO" instead of "POLE". That way, none of your fancy but fragile prototype parts will go out the door...
And I am still considering one of your fat bike frames.
Looks like they got some fixin’ to do.
I kinda wonder how the bike would ride with shorter chainstays, 450mm is a lot longer than I typically ride. Not that I’d buy one, but I’d love to try one.
Don’t really see the point, if I had a bike this long and slack, I’d want at least 160mm travel.
Strava told me that I went 42.3 mph for a moment on an offroad descent this weekend (definitely not my usual speeds). I shutter to think of a major failure at those speeds in a pile of endless rocks. At certain speeds, this is life and death business!
Anyways, I'm sure this bike has lots of Stamina, if it doesn't break that is...LOL
After all, we know "Nothing Revs Like a Rental" ;-)
At this kind of money for a bike...….No matter how fast it is...….I want it to be reliable....Sorry but I'm not voting for the Pole.
Guess you’ll be buying a bike today?
Sure, the response could have been worded better, but read any number of Leo's blogs and he's the same in all of those; bullish, arrogant, self confident but underlyingly passionate, honest and forthright.
I bought an Evolink a couple of months back and as a bike its bloody fantastic; genuinely can't see any merits in going back to more conservative geometry. Yes they are a new company, a small company and yes, s&*t happens (ENVE is a great example of this!). I genuinely hope this won't linger for long as letting it put you off trying or buying a Pole would be a shame; they are genuinely amazing bikes. As an owner I can also say that, so far, their customer service has been outstanding.
That said, while you'll see familiar faces in the Field Test and other Pinkbike reviews, there are other riders involved behind the scenes that help with long term testing.
Why did it take so long for PB to release this review after Pole's statement? Has this thing been edited after Pole's article to be the nice guys?
Why was the video and review not provided to Pole before publishing it, so they would not have to freak out in fear of a click bait review?
For me it looks a bit suspicious…
Famously, Lotus used to have a motto to the effect "add lightness". Build it to last the race, fix it after. In this case, repeated weeks in bike parks caused failure in one part, so, add strength until it doesn't and then "add lightness" again. It's all a development process.
My experience has been mostly positive. Yeah it took a while to arrive, but I was advised that when I paid.
Unfortunately, my bike failed its QA inspection due to the tiniest of dings on the frame. I was offered a different colour as the one I wanted was the last one... Or the cosmetically damaged one and some free huck norris inserts and some pole merch.
I elected to change colour being a perfectionist so they threw in a free spare mech hanger for my understanding.
I've got to say, I love the bike. Rides superbly both up and down, and I'd be surprised if I was much slower DH on the Pole than I am on my insurgent.
My only negative experience was it arrived set up Euro which I must admit pissed me off given it was a sale to the UK.
Everyone f*cks up at some point... Cut pole some slack and judge them how they move forward from this. If only because as a community we should be supportive of folks trying to properly innovate in a sea of stupid hub and bb changes. Pole et al, have been a god send for us taller riders.
Still the fastest though. Does that validate Leo’s geometry theory. If someone made a carbon version of this bike that didn’t break it sounds like it would be the hands down winner.
Don’t want to give Leo anymore credit because he gives himself enough already, but he is on to something.
Didn't Chris Porter started that before?
I'm sure someone more well versed in bike history can confirm this
Leo is the Steve Jobs of bikes. Taking other peoples work and claiming is as his own.
I don't care who was first on what, but here's how it went down. What I know is that I created Pole from scratch. When I started DH in 2009, I immediately started thinking about why the trail bikes are so steep on the head angle, and your ass is hanging behind the BB. DH bikes were so much easier to ride on the flat as well. This video (link below) is filmed in the summer of 2013 outside our first office. The frame is my first trial of a DH bike turned in to a trail bike. It's a K9 DH001-S that I installed -2 degree headset cups and put a FOX 140mm travel fork and a dropper post. Immediately I found it very good but the only problem was that the top tube was just too short. I never had even heard about Chris Porter back then. After this test, I ordered a custom frame from BTR to race next summer.
2014 we had produced our first batch of the BB-concentric bikes that were reviewed by Paul Aston here at Pinkbike. www.pinkbike.com/news/pole-rinne-yla-review-2015.html I saw this article where Chris is on his Mondraker: www.mbr.co.uk/news/bike_news/stretched-limo-chris-porters-custom-nicolai-ion-323169
I thought that it's cool that someone thinks alike, and I contacted Chris December 2014 if he would like to spar with me with about bike kinematics. After all, he was talking about "the industry." We changed a few emails, but Chris never really shared his ideas. At the same time, I was already designing our EVOLINK series, and I was more confident to push the limits. I did not like the idea of 29" at the time, but Paul Aston convinced me to try them, and I thought, why not. Trying something new is always a good choice.
When I was testing the 29" already and convinced the 29" benefits the most out of the new geometry. I saw that Chris came up with the Geometron at the Eurobike. Then I realized why he was not keen on sharing ideas. enduro-mtb.com/en/first-look-mojo-suspension-nicolai-geometron
After the Eurobike 2015, I was racing the 29" EVOLINK enduro-mtb.com/en/first-look-pole-evolink-140-29-in-finale-ligure
That bike had already gone through some iterations in Finland, and I had raced it previously for a while. After I got back home after raced the Finale Ligure EWS 2015, I got the prototype EVOLINK 140, which has been there ever since nearly unchanged. Chris was very clear that he didn't like the 29," but I found them much better. It looks like the rest of the industry agreed if you look at the Field Test.
I never thought that I would find a bike company back then, but as an entrepreneur, I thought that why wouldn't I sell some. I uploaded the video later to Youtube so I could share it with a blog post I wrote. Pole has its uniqueness in suspension and frame construction. I started from a clean desk and wanted to create a DH bike that could be ridden on a trail. I think that the 29" EVOLINK 140 did precisely that. I know that we have sold many of them to the industry and looks like the industry-standard geometry is settling close. Also, the wheel size is settling to the 29" so I think it's fair to call the EVOLINK a benchmark.
If he hadn't this would be a low-drama situation right now...
Please consult with EVIL on the name for your next bike and call it "the Shining".
Wrong assembly not wrong production.
1. Who was involved?
2. What did they know when they know it?
3. Were there any leaks involved in this process?
4. Was Russia involved?
5. Did someone sleep with someone?
6. Did anyone at Pole change anyone their sworn statements?
7. Can we "recall" the vote for fastest bike?
8. Did Pole win the popular review but not the reader review?
9. Did Pinkbike release their tax returns?
10. Can we impeach this review?
Something funny going on here. Am I the only one?
Open your eyes, let’s begin
Yes, it’s really me, it’s Maui: breathe it in
I know it’s a lot: the hair, the bod
When you’re staring at a Demi-God
What can I say except you’re Welcome
For the tides, the sun, the sky
Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay
I’m just an ordinary demi-guy
Leo is a legend!
Norco: 3; Orbea: 1; Pole: 2; Intense: 0