2017 Pinkbike Awards: Innovation of the Year Winner

Dec 13, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
PB Awards





Why it's the winner:

Darrell Voss' Naild R3ACT rear suspension, the Specialized WU dropper post, and BMC's Trailsync system, are all innovations that sprang forth from highly evolved products. Each, in its own way, breaks free from the stagnation of creativity that is so often the byproduct of incremental improvement. The WU dropper suggests that lowering the saddle is only half the solution, and that adjusting its angle completes the descending equation. With one click, BMC's Trailsync system configures the Speedfox's saddle height and rear suspension for the task at hand, and also challenges status quo by integrating the mandatory dropper post into the frame design. Naild R3ACT, however, takes that concept further.

Naild R3ACT rear suspension earns the win because it deconstructs the entire process that brought modern suspension to where it is today, and aptly demonstrates that there is, in fact, a simpler solution to keeping the wheels on the ground without wasting the rider's energy. Designer Darrell Voss suggests that fixating upon the notion that the perfect dual-suspension chassis should pedal like a rigid, unsuspended bike has led frame and suspension designers to engineer a succession of band-aid fixes. Arguably, today's suspension designs perform quite well, but they are complicated, expensive, and have reached the road's end for significant improvement. Naild R3ACT launches a new dialogue, that if suspension designers stopped worshiping false gods and took a different approach, supple suspension and efficient pedaling could co-exist in other forms as well.



From the First Ride:
bigquotesAt a moment when the sport is choking on carbon caviar, Voss and Polygon offer a simpler alternative: How about we skip the science class and ride one bike that can do just about anything we'll ever need a mountain bike for? The Square One EX 9 is not perfect, but it's darn close, and it's a first try. R3ACT suspension, and the bicycles that are built around it, are only going to improve, which is bound to light a fire under the butts of some of Polygon's very conspicuous competitors. Just when we thought that trail bikes couldn't get much better, Voss and company leave the industry with no other option. RC



107 Comments

  • + 146
 So basically, the Ugly Duckling wins because we're pretty sure it's a swan.
  • + 15
 After a thousand hours of carbon surgery, maybe.
  • + 66
 Not going to lie this thing rides unlike anything I have ever been on. I don't care what it looks like as long as it rides like it does.
  • + 7
 Maybe its looks like a duck but sure it rides like a swan
  • + 10
 #lookslikeaswan
  • - 1
 @thedriftisreal: thats all that matters
  • + 0
 It already started to grown on me. Much like the Rocky Element 29er when it first came out.
  • + 4
 I don't understand the hate for this bike. I think it looks great.
  • + 79
 I'm just happy that the half baked Specialized WU post didn't win.
  • + 6
 TRUTH
  • + 48
 @pdxkid: Careful there, you might be opening yourself to a lawsuit
  • + 2
 Couldn't agree more, even if it looks "so Moto". I also wonder how much that thing weights.
  • + 38
 Ellsworth will be gutted they missed out again
  • - 12
flag panzer103 (Dec 13, 2017 at 17:43) (Below Threshold)
 Ellsworth bikes kickass... your opinion of Tony is whatever but the bikes are awesome!
  • + 29
 But wait, the competition is expensive and complicated?

What the hell is this then?
  • + 6
 Exactly what I was thinking!
  • + 19
 ...the sentence reads "Arguably, today's suspension designs perform quite well, but they are complicated, expensive, and have reached the road's end for significant improvement." That last bit is why we have an innovation award.
  • + 18
 Check Mik Hannah's Instagram, there is a vid of him riding up a set of steps, you can see the genius of the design at work.
  • + 48
 i'm too lazy, please post link
  • + 17
 remember this is Mik Hannah, the dude has some serious pedal pistons
  • + 18
 @preach: thank you for the link, finally one thing mik hannah does that i can do too...
also what is the genius? i failed to see anything extraordinary
  • + 2
 Yoann Barelli has also done steps with a Giant Reign when Eagle came out and that bike is not the best for pedaling. Tho I'm still astonished by their power.
  • + 2
 A 29er and a climb switch will do the same job!
  • + 14
 @drivereight: Danny Macaskill can get up stairs on a 24” fully rigid bike. Your argument is invalid
  • + 0
 @drivereight: But the Canyon isn't a 29er. The Marin is.
  • + 2
 Plus also too--here's the guy who designed the damn thing:
photobucket.com/gallery/user/yoeddy1/media/bWVkaWFJZDoxNzU3MTE=/?ref

@tripleringsaintdead, @toeclipsaintdead
  • + 3
 @preach: The slowmo totally f*ckin' kills the video.
  • + 4
 @OceanPhil: Ya eh! Big Bunny,still my hero!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Danny Macaskill can get up stairs on a 2x4". Your argument is invalid
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: i would need to look into your data first
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: nicely played sir Big Grin
  • + 1
 @OceanPhil: not sure what your point is...
Note that he is wearing climbing shoes in that image, at least 15 years ahead of 5.10
  • + 10
 The Mountain Bike community is small, in comparison to so many other industries. We should be celebrating innovation whether good or bad. These weren't developed overnight or in a bar on a night out drinking. Carefully engineered over years and put out on the public forum in the hope that this one will be successful.

Thank you to the brave ones, sleepless nights and countless disappointments so that maybe this time this one will work. When I look back to my very first bike when I was 3 and a half years old to the bikes that we can ride now, I am thankful for the innovators who never gave up even though there was sure to be many failures along the way.

So happy for the winner! I can personally only vouch for one of the innovated products as its the only one I've tried; Darrell Voss' Naild R3act suspension - The Polygon XQUARONE. The first time I heard that we were going to have a new bike and it would be a bit different I was thinking " oh dear ". I don't much like change, when it comes to parts on my bike or frames I'm not much up for changing things, I like to keep my old gloves, helmet, knee pads etc. So something as out there as the new Polygon was going to be a shock for sure.

Sure enough, I got to try the bike for myself, hesitantly'! I took the Morzine lift as far as it could go then continued on the bike riding up up and up. Anyone who really knows me knows that I hate riding uphills, yeah I ride up hills for training but I don't ride up hills for fun. I found that this was an easy way to get up the hill, I finally understood why people enjoyed riding up hills; the wind in your hair, sweat dripping down your face, legs burning, such a good sensation. Finally I have found a bike that minimized the struggle I felt riding up the hill, the platform stays the same whether you are on flat ground or hit an up hill, and the best thing was when you hit the single track with rocks and roots it wasn't such an intense struggle to giddy up over the obstacles, the rear end of the bike kind of moments over the terrain to create a smoother riding experience over the technical, single track, up hill riding.

I guess the most importan part for me in trail riding is the down part, never have I ever been on a bike I've enjoyed riding down that gets me up the hill in, at least, half a good mood. I guess I never understood climbing for hours up a hill to ride the same bike down.

When I was told my Xquareone had 8in of travel in the rear end I said “you can get stuffed" I ain't riding that up the hill. However, after riding it up ^^ and still having energy left in the tank, I had nothing left to do but test this bad boy on the downs. Man was I shocked, tbh at first I thought I had a flat tire, I literally pulled my bike over and felt for a flat ( very common I've since found out ) and nope, I still had full air pressure. I continued and realized I wasn't used to having this kind of traction in the rear, and it literally felt like my tire was sticking to the ground like I had a flat. I committed to jumps and drops and huge turns, like never before, I had the most amazing time that I've ever had on a trail bike. No wonder, with the suspension of a downhill bike its like being on one.

Out of the box I was shocked at the look of the bike, "oh dear" is exactly what I thought. Have you ever judged a book by its cover? A person by there looks? Then later realize that you have forgotten what they look like because the book was such an adventurous read? Or the person has a personality that shines like the sun!

The Xquareone has an adventurous personality and shines like the sun, I can't see what the bike used to look like I can only see how it makes me feel.

Tracey Hannah
  • + 3
 Nice to hear from someone who's actually ridden it, and who can wring more out of a bike than any of us. Keep crushing it Tracey.
  • + 0
 @nonk: considering she's sponsored by them she's hardly likely to say its crap, is she?
  • + 9
 I would really, really, like that science class though! Why does a telescoping pivot point so outperform a rotating pivot point? What is it that makes this better than other dual link systems? While I can't claim to understand it fully, at least the Canfield Brothers explain the principles of their suspension system.
  • + 8
 It doesn't. It still has a virtual pivot location that moves along an arc just like any other virtual pivot bike. It's bound by all the same suspension theory. It's just a bike with high anti-squat that's fairly consistent through the stroke.
  • + 6
 It's worse in points like weight friction and maintenance. It's just for marketing that its different from other designs so they can tell you that it's better.
  • + 13
 O but that thing is still so damn ugly
  • + 1
 But they naild it ????
  • + 8
 So basically the flawed suspension design that won? Not only does it look ugly as hell, but the amount of flex in the rear “triangle” if you can even call it that is beyond stupid and anyone can notice it. It even went as far as the shock link was touching the frame. Other issues like massive pedal kickback because they wanted it to climb so well, so apparently it recents good as well. This design is only good for one thing which is climbing. The amount of flex and pedal kickback it has in the decents it is a nightmare. I wouldn’t even call it close to being a winner.
  • + 12
 Tantrum has done it better...
  • + 9
 Seems simpler in principle and in design. Alas, no marketing.
  • + 6
 One man show, one day I think people will know about him. @scvkurt03:
  • + 3
 [roles eyes]
Taking nothing away from Tantrum, or Brian, they are not the same thing.
  • + 1
 How so? They both seem to be aiming for the same result. @Hyakian:
  • + 2
 @Hyakian: The Polygon and Marin are more or less the exact same thing. Missing Link goes about the exact same goal in a different implementation. Having thrown a leg over a Tantrum, I know it works. Not knocking the NAILD thing, I'm sure it's fine, but on bikes I value simplicity wherever possible, given the same goals.
  • + 1
 TANTRUM!!!!
  • + 2
 @rad3144: His production bikes are bound to get in the hands of the media in the near future... I'd imagine that day is coming soon.
  • + 2
 Yeah I read that FTR I don’t own one or have one on order, I’ve followed the development of his system, he’s very open about his design and happy to explain it, which I like. I personally think his design is a better implementation of the “no pedal bob, rides like a hardtail thing” he will have his day, I feel like this product and others with the same idea don’t seem fully fleshed out as well as Brian’s. Thanks for the reply! @brianpark:
  • + 1
 What’s great at the end of the day is this drives development towards better shit for all. @brianpark:
  • + 11
 Congrats Naild!!!! Well deserved.
  • + 4
 The most important part of how efficiently a modern bike climbs is the weight of the tires+rims and the rolling resistance of the tread. I don't care how much chain growth you put in your suspension, pedaling super heavy DH tires will never be fast or efficient.
  • + 5
 Wisdom right there. And don't forget about pedaling around a long travel fork.

A hardtail with a 170mm fork and burly tires is still a bitch to pedal.

120-130mm out back is already super efficient and effective for aggressive trail and AM riding with trail tires and a 150mm fork. There is very little I can't handle on my 150/130 bike with a good damper. Beyond what it can handle is true DH turf - then I bring out the real DH rig.

Its only when you realize you can let go of a long travel bike, filled with bandaids to mask its sucky pedaling, can you then come back to reality and run a modest travel rig.

The length people will go just so they can be "over-biked".
  • + 1
 @MikerJ: I'd like to see you saying that after a day on Cypress
  • + 4
 This really happened. The worst reviewed suspension design of 2017 won an innovation award:

youtu.be/yxJWjt3RTlM

Thinking about it, I can't really argue. Being able to rotate the rear wheel with your hand and locking the suspension when cornering downhill... it IS innovative. ????‍♂️ Maybe next year someone will win for a bike that explodes when you pedal it.
  • + 3
 Thanks for posting. That lateral flex is insane (very noticeable in this video) and I can only assume it will destroy rear shocks!
  • + 2
 we already have bike that explode - mopeds I mean E-Bikes
  • + 4
 This looks a lot better than the Marin . But after seeing a marin review and a vid of the back end flex in the corners i think ill wait for them to be better looking and better executed.
  • + 3
 Isn't it odd they posted the first ride report instead of the review verdict?

"This Polygon has to be one of the most charismatic and contradictory bikes of the last decade, and how it performs matches that description as well. It's a hard bike to pin down given that it pedals with the efficiency of a decent trail bike but possesses downhill rig descending capabilities. In theory, this should make it the mythical 'one bike' that so many cliches are usually attached to, but I don't believe that to be the case with the EX9. Everything has to compromise in one way or another, and the big Polygon's concession is that it's just too much of a blunt smashing tool for me to fall in love with it. But if you're the kind of rider who either has to or wants to pedal to the summit, yet also wants what is essentially a sharp handling downhill bike in disguise, the EX9 might be just the ticket."

— Mike Levy
  • + 3
 Well deserved! The Polygon XQuare One is a dream to ride. We've ridden it all over the country and this bike never ran out of traction or travel and we can climb almost anything without any penalty over our trail bikes. We can't wait to continue to have these on our demo trucks in 2018!
  • + 3
 I'd really like to see this thing on some shorter travel bikes. Just for shear morbid curiosity. Like 120-130mm travel bikes. I've heard this and the Marin Wolf Ridge are truly incredible bikes.
  • + 1
 I don't think it would make such a difference with some 120-130mm bikes that are already super efficient. But I would also like to try a 27.5'' bike like this with a little less travel than 180mm. Somewhere like 150/160. I know 160mm is only 20 less but 180....thats a f*cking freeride bike! lol
  • + 1
 But the point of this system is that once pedal efficiency isn't compromised by travel anymore, there's no real reason to ride less travel
  • + 0
 @ismasan: that’s all marketing gobbledygook. the geometry still needs to be designed for a long travel bike so it IS NOT the same as a shorter travel bike with added travel.
  • + 0
 @bogey the comment I replied to was wondering about less travel, no mention to geo. Sure the bike won't handle like an XC with its geo geo and weight, but the travel could be now out of the equation.
Everyone who tried it agree the claims are true, tho.
  • + 1
 @bogey: Cesar Rojo's podcast interview on Vital is very intersting, he talks on his approach to XC geo in it too.
  • + 4
 @ismasan: there are a bunch of negative reviews kicking around too. Not everyone was stoked on the bike but obviously Pinkbike was.

Geo is wrong for a shorter travel bike and there’s no way around it. The BB is too high and weight shifts cause the suspension to compress a bunch on both ends compared to a shorter travel bike. It isn’t the same and never will be the same no matter how well a bike pedals.
  • + 1
 @bogey: Also, weight. There's not denying that, e.g. a 160mm fork will weight much more than a 100mm one.
  • + 1
 @Timo82: The Marin Wolf Ridge I believe is 160.
  • + 1
 @dbarnes6891: Yeah but I said a 27.5'' bike! Wink 150/160 27.5'' is more like a 140/150mm maxxxx, 29er.


I talked about travel but a 180mm bike is realllyyyyy long! I would like a 150/160mm as it would be a little bit shorter, more playful (doesn't automatically means that but you know what I mean..), etc. Not only a travel thing.
  • + 3
 Transition sbg should have got a mention at least. This other stuff I have no interest in.
  • + 0
 I don't get it, what is the point of a dropper post that tilts the seat when the entire point of a dropper post is to get the seat out of the way because you're not sitting on it????
  • + 1
 There's a video of it somewhere, the tilting gets the bulk of the saddle further out of the way compared to just dropping it. Also lets you run a more nose-down saddle angle for seated climbing.
  • + 1
 Pedals like a short travel bike is nice and all, but does it descend like one? Short travel bikes are fun to go down on.
  • + 2
 Ughhh... it never gets that good of reviews.
  • + 2
 No room for water bottle.
  • + 3
 BRING ON THE HATERS!!!!!
  • + 42
 Your mother smells of elder berries
  • + 24
 I fart in your general direction
  • + 1
 @metaam: You guys got your tickets to the the player haters ball?
  • + 12
 Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!
  • + 5
 Cherchez la vache!
  • + 4
 *fetchez... f-cked that one up...
  • + 1
 What can be said about that bike that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan?
  • + 1
 @DrPete: "the competition has deployed no predator drones"
  • + 1
 That thing still makes no sense to me. How does it "lock out" when you are climbing?
  • + 0
 I think it might be exact control of the reaction forces and control of rider mass. hence the POLYGON space looking design.
  • + 2
 Looks like a retro Super V
  • + 2
 I was thinking the same thing
  • + 2
 Meh.
  • + 0
 I have the Marin Wolf Ridge..it's AMAZING!! Great job Polygon/Darrell Voss/Matt V & Matt Cipes!!!
  • + 1
 No love for the wolf ridge?
  • + 1
 Innovate or die !!!1!111!!!$
  • + 1
 In spite of mostly being a 29er zealot, I'd ride that bike.
  • + 0
 I love acronyms, naild react2playradgnar
  • + 1
 That rear flex though :0
  • + 1
 No pump?
  • - 3
 This is not innovation! A talking bike, that’s innovation! WTF! Design leaf springs for rear bike suspension, that’s innovation!
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