Pinkbike Awards: Product Innovation of the Year

Dec 12, 2018
by Paul Aston  

Product Innovation of the Year

Innovation of the Year is a critical category in the Pinkbike Awards, as it offers us a glimpse into the future and the technologies that could filter down into regular (and more affordable) products. But, it's a tough choice – is it really an innovation? Is it a twist on an existing product? Does it even work?

This year we chose three products. Specialized added a new safety feature to their helmets, Trust brought along a linkage fork that could gain traction, and Pole's Machine concept offers customized, made to order products that could be part of an engineering revolution that does away with off-the-shelf, mass-produced models that hope to fit all.

Why it's nominated:

Specialized's ANGI-equipped helmets were released just a few weeks ago, but the idea was strong enough to earn them a nomination for Innovation of the Year.

ANGI stands for Angular and G-force Indicator, and it's a tiny device that will be a standard feature on many of Specialized's helmets, and available as an upgrade on others. The small waterproof and dustproof unit contains a gyroscope and an accelerometer, which allows it to detect direct blows to the head, along with potentially dangerous rotational head movements that can occur without the helmet being hit. If an impact or excessive movement is detected, a countdown timer pops up on the rider's phone, and, if it isn't silenced within a pre-set amount of time, a text goes out to their emergency contacts alerting them that there was a potential crash.

The technology isn't entirely new, but the fact that a company as large as Specialized is putting their weight behind it and implementing it across such a wide range of helmets makes it noteworthy. It doesn't make crashing any less likely (that'd would really be innovative), but it is a tool that has the potential to help reduce the time it takes to locate an injured rider.

From the First Look:
bigquotesIf a mountain biker falls in the woods, do they make a sound? It depends, but if that mountain biker was wearing a helmet with Specialized's new ANGi technology, a crash would automatically notify their emergency contacts via text, and send out their GPS coordinates. Mike Kazimer

Why it's nominated:

Linkage forks have been done before, but have never succeeded commercially, usually because they look really, really, stupid. The Message fork could possibly become a success, partly down to its team of Dave Weagle, Jason Schiers, and Hap Seliga, who have a huge base of DW-link, Enve, and Competitive Cyclist fans.

What does the Trust fork offer that other linkage forks didn’t? It looks marginally less weird than most of them, is mostly carbon fiber, should have minimal service intervals (due to enclosed moving parts), a trailing linkage to customize axle-path and mechanical stability, and a self-proclaimed ‘unique and never done before’ damper. What is the main promise from Trust? Stability and confidence. Every other telescopic fork dives under braking, the Trust should naturally fight against this without adding excessive low-speed damping or spring rate. So you should be able to charge towards a corner, brake hard and late, but have a chassis that doesn't pitch forwards - this will give you better geometry for riding corners and steep sections, and more available fork travel to take on bumps.

Does it work? Well, it all sounds good on paper, and we have one on test at the time of writing, but you will have to wait until the new year to get the full review.

From the First Look :
bigquotesFunction trumps fashion, always, but also not actually always because we're all funny and looks do count for points. That said, this one is less kooky-looking than most that have come before it, and if it rides even half as well as Trust is saying it will, it should blow us all away. Mike Levy

Why it's nominated:

Pole caused a storm last year when PB published an interview where they royally badmouthed the carbon-fiber industry (which was well-fought back towards aluminum’s environmental issues by other brands in retaliation), dropped their carbon frame project and decided to make an aluminum frame machined from huge billets and bond it together.

The above is a never-ending rabbit-hole of back and forth debate, so what does the Machine offer? An innovative approach to alloy manufacturing. Whereas tubular alloy frames are made from 6000 series alloy, welded together, and post-weld head-treated, the Machine is CNC machined from 7075 T6 that's then glued and bolted together. The alloy's properties make it almost impossible to weld, and the machined bikes require no post-weld head treating or aligning. In theory, the frames should come out of the CNC machine and be perfectly straight and ready to ride. This method also allows the frames to be built to order - they can be continuously updated with each unit built, and are guaranteed to garner plenty of attention at the trailhead.

From the interview:
bigquotesPole's Machine is one of the most radical mountain bikes on the market, with super long and slack geometry, and a frame that's constructed from two pieces of machined 7075 aluminum that are bolted and glued together.  Mike Kazimer


  • 156 0
 gotta be the spikey shoes
  • 4 0
 PB totally trolled us by putting that article up right before this. Well done PB, well done indeed.
  • 67 2
 I was hoping for a new hub standard.
  • 8 1
  • 19 0
 Santa Cruz almost came out with a new brake hose standard.
  • 4 0
 @Boardlife69: most will not be onto this sadly
  • 39 8
 As someone who designs machined parts and then machines them for a living, the Pole is absolutely ridiculous. It's kind of cool, but ridiculous and not a very practical way to make a bike frame.
  • 6 1
Pole-guy will attempt to disavow you of these notions. However, exactly 'how' is proprietary and head-smacking.
Takes all kinds to make the world go around.
  • 63 0
 Still more practical than Orange holding 1 kilo of folded aluminum sheets together with 2 kilos of weld.
  • 10 2
 not only is it not practical it also ignores the fact that the grain structure on a CNC machined part cannot be aligned with the forces it is subjected to. Cold worked steel/aluminum sheets are best suited for that.
  • 6 2
 Got one, an XL Machine TR. SO STOKED. Other bike, a Transition Patrol. So much control, so much fun. Peddle up efficiently every time on every terrain and RIP down like a DH rig.
Notice the trend, all other brands(save Transition's SBGs and the Geometron) slowly running steeper seattube angles and slacker front ends and 2.6" to 3" tires. Pole is the goods, They started there. A fine product all the way around.
  • 5 2
 @edreyes: I wouldn't be surprised if POLE starts with a forged aluminum billet.

IMO it's a far superior frame vs welded aluminum. The material is much stronger and has no possibility of a weld being the cause of failure, which is likely by far the most common cause of aluminum frame failures. It has been with the few aluminum frames I've broken.
  • 8 0
 Pole made that announcement and pinkbike wrote the article in 2017, why is this a nomination for a 2018 innovation?
  • 22 9
 The Message all the way, how is a glued alloyframe all that innovative,robot glues frames in automotive they glue about everything. Possible benefit ? A straighter alloyframe. Thats nice but most innovative product of the year -no.
  • 7 3
 Yes, and Nicolai would like to talk to you about how eschewing carbon fibre is such a big deal. Also about how custom sizing is such a big deal this year. And also about how progressive geometry is important when it's the Finns but not ze Germans. Innovative? No. Annoyingly self promoting? Yes.
  • 10 1
 Other possible benefits: No stress concentrations in welds, (The only frame I've broken failed at a weld-even with heat treating, it's still the most common failure point). Also, 7075 has vastly superior mechanical properties to 6061 alloy, and since the bike isn't welded, they get to use a much stiffer metal. Finally, hydroforming aluminum tubing is not the most precise science, and so manufacturers need to use liberal safety margins to guarantee the minimum wall thickness. 'Machine'-ing two billets allows precise control over exactly how much material is used where.

Don't even get me started on forged billets over extruded aluminum tubes.
  • 2 0
 @nouseforaname: or Spanish, Mondraker have being doing the whole long-low-slack thing for a long time now.
  • 12 0
 I would have loved to buy the machine. too bad there is no machined bike with less travel. and now they launched the Stamina with even more travel. so I went for the evolink.
  • 7 0
 They're going to do a short travel bike next: "Stamina will serve also serve as a mule to a shorter travel trail bike which will be designed based on Stamina’s style. The forthcoming shorter travel trail bike’s design concept will be more around playfulness than speed."
  • 3 2
 I hope you don't have issues on the shock mount failing on the evolink. It has been an issue with guys here and Poles response is crash replacement and that's about a grand. It's a design issue so be warned.
  • 4 2
 @jaydawg69: Don't forget the huge amount of sideloading from the twisty rear linkage and the resulting shock failures.
  • 5 1
 Your stoked! The evolink is brilliant. IMHO the travel on the Pole's Evolink platform(including the Machine & Stamina) don't negatively effect any riding, they seem to lessen one's level of fatigue from trail input thru the suspension. Meaning you can ride smoother for longer. Thats why they added the Stamina, to lessen the fatigue caused by sustained bump inputs.
The evolink will treat you well.
Happy Holidays.
  • 3 0
 I've been riding an evo 140 for two years and it is brilliant. Runs flawlessly. I'm not sure what the guys above me are talking about but I've had zero issues. You won't regret it one bit and the guys and girls at Pole are super friendly and helpful.
  • 3 0
 @jaydawg69: Strange, haven't heard about that. I have the first gen evolink 176 and it is still running smoothly.
  • 9 1
 normally innovative ideas are a simple solution to complicated issue (make you feel as how didn't i think it before?). two of the beautiful complicated ideas hear are not exactly failing in the description.
  • 11 2
 I think that oneup dropper post is way more innovative than this option. Although Yohan's 'La Baguette,' is above anything else
  • 8 0
 I hate the idea of this helmet. To many things want to talk to my phone. If I had to, I'd pay at least 5% extra for a helmet that didn't have this feature.
  • 2 0
 Do we really need electronics in everything? So now I need a phone to be able to ride my bike?? Soon your suspension won't unlock until you do the special pre-ride calibration via phone app for your exact weight and weight distribution at that very second. Don't worry, only takes 5-10 minutes to calibrate (if you have a strong signal.) Also, don't worry about getting lost, because the steering won't unlock either unless you pre-program your route via gps. No straying allowed... Are you going faster than the recommended speed on this trail? Your phone can automatically apply the brakes for "safety".
Eventually, we won't even be able to take a piss without electronics in the toilet and some phone app for guidance...
  • 1 0
 @Climbtech: i couldn't agree More. I'm Out in the woods on my bike to get Away from phones, electronics, internet.
  • 5 0
 I've have about 150 miles on my Message fork. So far I've found that everything that Trust says about how the fork performs to be true. And a huge bonus is it's way more comfortable to ride than the best telescopic fork I've ridden.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. It’s absolutely unreal. You can place your front wheel anywhere and it just tracks, doesn’t matter how rough it is. I’m doing things with this fork that my 36 simply could not.
  • 6 2
 ANGI seems rad, but I gotta go with POLE on this one. Taking up the mantle from Cannondale as being a company to push the limits of aluminum further outward. It isn't just a little nudge, it's a big time move. Additive has a ways to go, but this will hold us over until then.
  • 14 7
 Pole bikes all the ducking way
  • 10 0
 *sent from my iphone*
  • 1 0
 @gserrato: that was mean- but funny
  • 6 0
 I want it to be the linkage fork, but we really wont know for a number of years.
  • 2 0
 Can't wait to see what PB make of this fork. If it stacks up then I want one. Better start saving..
  • 4 0
 Giving specialized credit for that tech... no. I'd give it to the crazy fork... because people have been trying to pull that off for years unsuccessfully.
  • 7 2
 Is there a bike review coming out on the machine, soonish?
  • 12 0
 Yep, there sure is.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: you are awesome.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Can't wait for this one! Smile
  • 2 0
 The moment I scrolled over the new dentist version of that AGE OLD leaf spring fork design (which hasn't even been reviewed yet??) I think I've affirmed I should just avoid the home page articles.
  • 4 0
 Why isn't Guillaume Bout's Penny Farthing on this list? That's the best innovation since sliced bread!
  • 5 1
 WHAT!? No torch that doubles up as a stun gun up in the running
  • 5 1
 When will we see a Pole Machine with a Trust Message for installed?
  • 2 1
 Seriously...that should be mind blowing. Though it would think the ideal would be a bike with the Pole geometry and a DW-link optimized to work in unison with the Message.
  • 4 4
 In Dave Weagle we trust!!! He deserves the award for creating the first viable alternative to the telescopic fork design, that not only looks lik it makes sense, but will also not make your friends go... are you also into animal porn just for the sake of being diferent?

But it won't win against the Pole. The best bicycle ever made, there will not be a newer version. This is it. The second coming of Chist. The last bike you will ever buy.
  • 3 0
 Bit of a total hypocracy. You entirely slagged off the Pole last November. And the fork is nothing new. Just new materials.
  • 6 2
 @Keit: Show me a MTB fork like that put into production, then fix your sarcasm detector.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: use, amp, ancilotti, ram bikes, just to name a few. You need to add a comment that you are making a joke!
  • 3 4
 @Keit: Yes I thought you will mention those contraptions... No, not really. From design point of view this thing here is superior in every respect. The point of flex is at the bottom, in the other designs at the top. Less stress on moving parts, more rigidity. It doesn't even look weird to me. Others... call me conservative but I am not into animal porn, power yoga or salty lacrice.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: blah blah blah. You wanna race of just troll?
  • 2 2
 @WAKIdesigns: and some more: Honda, BMW, Harley Davidson. Its nothing new.
  • 1 9
flag WAKIdesigns (Dec 12, 2018 at 12:38) (Below Threshold)
 @Keit: Sorry forgot to mention telescopic mtb fork. I won’t even consider racing you here in Gothenburg if you don’t show me a video of you riding. Quite frankly, you may start with a pic of you. At your age amd income it is hard to keep any other muscle mass than slow twitch muscles and it is hard to keep the fat away. Please a pic of you
  • 1 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Dec 12, 2018 at 12:45) (Below Threshold)
 @Keit: it is actually enough with a pic of you standing by the bike. I can tell athletic posture from a mile. If you haven’t got one sorry. At your age and income it is impossible for you to be any good without athletic body. Teenager with thighs of the size of my wrist can easily ride circles around me. Not a prick right before hitting andropause
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Do you ever put your money where your mouth is. Right so trailing link fork is something new is it?
  • 1 4
 @Keit: no not really, just been for a beer with a couple of studs and good looking girls and we had a lot of fun, I laughed at their jokes, they laughed at mine. Including jokes that would make your Polish wife blush. You know, attractive, mostly fit, successful people. By all standards. Including our Lana Del Rey look alike. Oh and two of them asked me if I can show them some stuff at the gym. I am fine thank you. Please continue your fkless stiff uper lip tone. Learn to ride maybe.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I look forward to meeting you.
  • 1 2
 @Keit: cry me a river
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: in a small world a vicious and feeble mind like yours is easily wielded.... You can insult me all you like, but not my wife. And what was you said yourself... That you are full of shit:
Oct 19, 2017 at 3:41
WAKIdesigns says:

I like you, we are very similar, however just like me you fall short with your assumptions as soon as you elaborate them further. Data shortage. I just wanted to prove to you that you cannot hurt me more than I can hurt myself. Race me? Uneducated? Trumpian? Coward? Honestly? Do people actually get intimidated when you speak to them this way or you just haven't tried it in real life? You talk like a 16 year old looking for a fight. Do you know how many "discussions" like that I have had? What the hell do you think you're doing here? Trying to outsmart a fool in his own game? You can try to get on your high horse all you want. Many many tried, I am just typing sht online, I don't give a flying f*ck what people like you think of me, I am just entertaining myself. Maybe because I got more friends than enemies by putting a stick into an anthill... journos, engineers from bike companies, sales reps, mechanics and racers on WCup race. and I will care about you?

You took a wrong turn man.

Oh and no hard feelings... honestly, you're just another pissed off dude. I can understand that. Make this a better day for yourself and ignore me.
  • 1 0
 Trust Performance has to take this win with The Messenge. The helmet is cool but how reliable is it? The less electronics the better!!! And why nominate Pole? This design is a couple years old now.
  • 4 1
 I'm disappointed that "Downcountry" specific bikes didn't get a nod
  • 3 2
 Pole-they've pushed the needle on geometry and continue to do so. I'm sure there will come a point that seat angles are too steep and front ends are too slack, but not yet.
  • 3 0
 That fucking helmet again!
  • 3 0
 Pole! For radical design and aluminium.
  • 2 0
 Doesnt GPS crash detection/message for help come in some garmins for a while now?
  • 6 3
 pole definitely
  • 4 1
 POLE !!! 3
  • 1 0
 Surely this as an alternate fork??
  • 1 0
 Had a go of that fork in Morzine in the summer, worked a treat but just felt so weird
  • 2 0
 I would love to see the Message in the slo-mo huck to flat videos.
  • 1 0
 Looking forward to the Specialized widget winning so we can have the headline:'

"Angi smokes pole!"
  • 2 0
 Wait. You nominated a product you have not even ridden?
  • 3 1
 How about an auto down vote waki app.
  • 1 0
 Where is the strap on comment?
  • 2 1
 can we see some nice hard tails bikes please pink bike
  • 1 0
 I want whatever the nominators are smoking..........
  • 2 0
 I vote enduro banana
  • 2 1
 Why is the Grip 2 damper not on this list?
  • 1 1
 want to push the limits of designing and manufacturing with alloy? use friction stir welding.
  • 1 0
 had to google that... it'd be intersting
  • 1 1
 How is the Pole standing up?
  • 1 0
 Poodle noodles anyone?
  • 1 0
 Salomon Shift
  • 1 0
 Great choices.
  • 1 0
 That Fork!
  • 3 6
 Apparently PinkBike is big on censorship, editing out my questioning of the Pole bike's flex. Didn't know that was a thing PinkBike did.
  • 4 0
 Nope, check below threshold
  • 4 0
 "Below threshold threads are hidden". You're welcome.
Below threshold threads are hidden

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