Is Polygon's Square One EX9 the Elusive 'One Bike'? - Review

Jun 19, 2017
by Mike Levy  



Polygon's 180mm-travel Square One EX9 doesn't resemble anything else out there, and it features the novel looking R3ACT suspension layout that is claimed to allow the bike to defy expectations of how a long-travel machine should perform, especially in terms of pedaling efficiency. ''The Square One EX Series is a departure from the old way of classifying bikes and creates a new paradigm where travel no longer determines discipline,'' Polygon says on their website, which is a pretty bold claim, even in our little cycling world where every brand says that their creation is the latest and greatest.

So, can an all-mountain sled with 180mm of travel really feel like an efficient trail bike? And even if it can, does that make it the "one bike" that other testers have said it could be? Let's find out.

EX9 Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Rear wheel travel: 180mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• R3ACT suspension design
• Carbon frame
• Fox Factory 36 Float fork, 180mm
• Fox Factory Float X2 shock
• Weight: 32lb 5oz
• MSRP: $8,499 USD
• Frame/shock MSRP: $3,499 USD
www.polygonbikes.com

Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
  The angular shape of the tubing makes the EX9 look as if it belongs in a Ridley Scott sci-fi movie.


With a carbon fiber front triangle and swingarm, carbon wheels from e*thirteen, an XX1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, and Fox's high-end suspension, the 27.5'' wheeled EX9 model tested below sits at the top of the two-bike range and goes for $8,499 USD. A bare Square One EX9 frame and Fox Factory Float X2 shock sells for $3,499 USD, should you want to assemble your own to have it come in under our test bike's 32lb 5oz (with the 2.5'' Magic Mary tires that it showed up with) weight.


Frame Details

Where to start? There's a lot to talk about with the EX9, that's for sure, but it also has a marmite thing going for it - people seem to either love or hate the bike's polarizing appearance. I think it looks like an e-bike without a motor (aka the best kind of e-bike), but there are some angles, especially the three-quarter view from behind, that make it look simply awesome. Then I take a gander from a different angle and it seems as if it may as well belong in a Ridley Scott sci-fi movie, and I don't mean that as a compliment. One thing's for sure: it's unique, which is a good thing in my books.


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
All lines run inside the frame, with internal guides making maintenance easy.



The frame is carbon fiber front to back, and I suspect that it's probably easier to build the EX9's complicated shapes, especially down by the bottom bracket, out of carbon rather than aluminum. The frame tubes sport a boxy shape, while the dropped top tube provides more than enough clearance for even the stubbiest of riders. The elevated swingarm (who remembers the Trek VRX?) is utterly massive in places to supply ample rigidity, bulging inward towards the wheel where clearance allows and also being home to internally routed shift and brake lines.

A dual-action, Boost-sized 12mm thru-axle ties the back of the bike together, and a bolt-on fender gives the EX9 a very moto-esque appearance. Another guard on the underside of the down tube wards off pointy things that are looking to cause damage.


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
The massive swingarm and bolt-on fender might have some riders looking for the engine.



A set of ISCG tabs around the PressFit bottom bracket shell means that you can run anything from no guide to full-guide, and the KS dropper post's cable is routed internally from the bike's head tube. One thing that I can't get past is the lack of a water bottle mount. Sure, there isn't room inside the front triangle, but what about one on the underside of the down tube? No luck, unfortunately, which is a shame given that the EX9 is such an impressive pedaling beast. So, if you're considering this bike, also consider that you'll need to wear a pack of some sort during the majority of your riding.


Polygon Square One EX9 geometry


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
The EX9's 180mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by Darrell Voss' novel R3ACT suspension design.


Suspension Design

The EX9 has 180mm of rear wheel travel, a number that's typically the domain of heavy hitting freeride bikes rather than a machine designed to be pedaled around in an efficient manner. But that's exactly what the big Polygon is made for, regardless of its generous and extremely forgiving suspension. The idea is that travel shouldn't define the ride: "I don't believe that suspension travel should necessarily be part of that equation," says Darrell Voss, the brain behind the EX9's unusual looking rear-end. "Let's face it. Most riders are out there to have fun, and they can only afford one bike. If it pedals efficiently, what is the downside to having more travel?"

But that's the trick, isn't it; to make a bike with 180mm of gushy, ground-hugging travel pedal without making the rider feel as if he's skipped leg day for his entire life. And that's exactly what Voss believes that he's come up with.


Pinkbike-Polygon-3-2017
Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
The nearly hidden stanchion is completely empty, but there is an air bleed button in case any pressure gets built up inside of it.



The EX9's massive carbon fiber swingarm is attached to the front triangle by way of three elements: the aluminum clevis that drives the bike's custom tuned Float X2 shock, a short link at the head of the swingarm and, most interestingly, a sliding element that's nearly entirely hidden from view. This sliding element acts as a short link but is also more dynamic than a link could ever be, extending in length as the bike goes through its travel.

The swingarm slides in and out on this hard anodized stanchion, and while it may look like a pint-sized shock, it's actually completely empty. Its job is to counter unwanted suspension movement, and also to provide an anti-squat vector that, unlike the present dual-link suspension designs, stays relatively consistent through the bike's gearing and travel. In order to do this, Voss has positioned and angled it precisely to balance suspension action and pedaling forces, but the system should still feel active under even the smallest of impacts at the rear wheel.


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All of the above requires a proprietary Fox Float X2 shock with extremely low amounts of damping - no, you can't go and put any other shock on the EX9 and expect the bike to work as intended. Voss also found that the design is so efficient that there's no need for a low-speed compression pedal assist switch as many all-mountain and enduro sleds make use of, despite the Polygon's 180mm of travel. Setup is also said to relatively simple: "Sure, R3ACT's kinematics are complicated to describe," says Voss. "But, the rider should never have to think of that. Set the Square One's sag at 25-percent, get the low-speed rebound close and go ride. There is nothing else to do."

So that's exactly what I did, and below you can read the results.


Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2018
Price $8499
Travel 180
Rear Shock Fox Factory Float X2
Fork Fox Factory 36 Float, 180mm
Headset FSA Orbit
Cassette SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed
Crankarms SRAM XX1
Bottom Bracket SRAM
Rear Derailleur SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed
Chain SRAM
Shifter Pods SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed
Handlebar Race Face NEXT
Stem Race Face Turbine
Brakes SRAM Guide Ultimate
Wheelset e13 TRS Race Carbon
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary, 2.5''
Seat Entity Assault
Seatpost KS





Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms







Setting up the Polygon

The EX9's unusual suspension system requires an equally unusual approach to setup, but it's one that I suspect a lot of riders will be happy about. First, set the Float X2's spring rate to twenty-five percent sag, a number that's a touch lower than a lot of modern all-mountain rigs. Next, fiddle with the rebound but let it return quicker than you think is correct. Oh, and pretend those two compression dials on the X2 don't exist - you pretty much don't need them. So while the design may look complicated, setup is anything but. My settings were as follows: 165 PSI, high-speed rebound 23 clicks out, low-speed rebound 19 clicks out, high-speed compression 23 clicks out, and low-speed compression 19 clicks out. In other words, nearly wide open all around.

I generally prefer slower, more controlled low- and high-speed rebound settings, especially on a bike with a boatload of travel like the Polygon. But what I like and what Voss says to do are two different things. I trusted Voss on this one - you know, because he designed the damn thing - and, after balancing the 180mm-travel 36 to match the rear-end, headed out for what was an eye-opening first ride. And second ride. And also third ride. Actually, all of my time on the EX9 was eye-opening.

As it turns out, the interesting looking bike delivers equally interesting performance that's unlike anything else out there.



Climbing

I'd heard from other testers that the EX9 does pedal as well as Voss and Polygon claim, but having a bike actually live up to the hype attached to it isn't possible, right?

Well, it almost never is, except for this one time. The Square One's pedaling efficiency shouldn't be possible for a 150mm-travel bike, let alone one that sports 180mm of extremely active, supple suspension. Yet that's exactly what's happening with the big Polygon. Despite all its travel, the green machine actually does move forward very much like a short-stroke trail bike, albeit a chunky trail bike. You need to try it to believe it.

The Float X2 shock is remarkably and unbelievably still under pedaling loads - remember that there's no pedal-assist crutch, either - with it barely moving into its stroke under even the hardest burst or my efforts to turn the cranks over in squares rather than circles. Sure, the rear-end will feel open when you start throwing your body weight around, but the Polygon will blow your mind if you pedal like a sane person. I feel like I might be over-selling the efficiency but, in nearly twenty-five years or riding, I can't recall a bike that's surprised me as much as this thing; it's that impressive.


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
  Forget your assumptions about suspension travel and pedaling efficiency - the two can be separated, it seems. The 180mm-travel EX9 pedals like an efficient trail bike.


All of the above is all well and good, but no amount of pedaling competence is going to change the fact that the Polygon is an all-mountain bike that weighs close to some feather-weight downhill sleds. Get trucking up a gravel access road and the bike will move forward with astounding brilliance, but the trail bike efficiency isn't matched by trail bike acceleration or handling manners when it comes to a set of tight switchbacks or a tangled mess of a climb. It isn't a handful, mind you, and maybe it's just because the green machine is such a good pedaling bike that my expectations were a bit high when it came to tricky singletrack climbs, but it's not a breeze to get the Polygon up chunky, slow-speed pitches, even compared to longer and more relaxed bikes like the Rocky Mountain Slayer or Ibis HD4. The EX9 isn't too slack or too long (it's actually steeper and shorter than many other all-mountain bikes) but I often had the feeling that the bike had a massive presence on the trail, much like you're trying to thread a loaded dump truck through tiny side streets.

The rear-end is also somehow extremely active despite the said efficiency, and it'll take in the smallest of impacts without hanging up, so there is a massive amount of traction on hand should you need it, but the bike still feels a bit unwieldy when handling skill counts for more than horsepower. I also felt like my weight was always biased too far rearward, which was amplified as the grades got steeper. If the Square One were in my garage, I'd ditch the stock KS dropper with its set-back for a post with a zero offset head, regardless of the effective seat tube angle being 73.5-degrees.

bigquotesI feel like I might be over-selling the efficiency but, in nearly twenty-five years of riding, I can't recall a bike that's surprised me as much as the Polygon; it's that impressive.

Okay, of course it's not going to be a technical climbing savant - that's not what the Square One was made to do - but I suspect that some riders considering the Polygon aren't going to give a rat's ass about this fact. For them, it's about just getting to the top, and there's no denying that the EX9 is more efficient than most trail bikes could ever hope to be. But it's not a trail bike, it's an 180mm-travel all-mountain sled that's made to go through anything and everything, and it also happens to be inconceivably efficient.



Descending

It took a handful of rides for me not to be constantly surprised by the Polygon's pedaling abilities, but it took even longer for me to wrap my head around what the bike does at speed. And, depending on what you want from your all-mountain bike, the EX9 could be either the best option on the market or far from it. Let me explain...

Traction is a funny thing; most of us don't really notice it until it disappears, and when it does it happens in a near instant. But what if it doesn't disappear? Well, that's what it's like to ride the EX9, and it's a surreal feeling at first. My test bike came shod with Schwalbe's beefy Magic Mary tires, rubber that I'm both intimately familiar with and have a healthy dislike for (there are too many wet roots and woodwork here for me to be a fan) but, on the heavy hitting Polygon, they felt like some of the grippiest tires I've ever used. And cornering, my God can this thing get around a bend. It actually doesn't feel particularly low or anything, but with traction that only seems to get better as the ground gets rougher, the Polygon feels riveted to the deck. It just never seems to get flustered, and where any other mid-travel bike is getting knocked around, the Polygon stays stuck and can hold a line through a corner regardless of roots, rocks, or off-camber anything.

Speed comes so easy on the EX9 that its 66-degree head angle often feels a bit nervous for my liking; I'd wager that this bike is well suited to a more relaxed front end, even if it did come at the cost of killing what little low-speed perkiness the Polygon possesses. The suspension and geometry feel a bit contrasting, with the former constantly yelling in your ear to let go of the brakes while the latter is asking you to pay attention. Weirdly, and completely contradictory, it's not a lively, perky bike, despite the front end sometimes feeling a touch pointy.


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
  I've never ridden a bike that's felt so surefooted through any type of corner as the EX9.


Interestingly, it actually rides a lot like the Fox shock's rebound settings are much slower than they actually are, and I can see why Voss recommends minimal damping all around. This isn't a playful thing, and running more rebound damping will basically kill what little friskiness the EX9 has to begin with.

The bike's stability is mindblowing, sure, but I fear that it has come at the expense of a ride that feels anything but dynamic. The EX9 nearly refused to be dislodged from whatever line I placed it on, for better or worse, but certainly for the better if you're all about going as fast as possible down a war zone of a trail. I dare say that the Polygon has more composure and poise than some downhill bikes, with it simply taking in and brushing off whatever happens to be going on under its wheels. This is particularly true when on the binders. In fact, braking traction is one of the most obvious differences between the Polygon and other bikes; the suspension stays active and the bike slows down as if you've dropped a literal anchor into the dirt when squeezing the Guide brake levers.

Jumping is... interesting. With the recommended rebound settings being relatively quick, and the front end set to match the rear, I was surprised by the Polygon's comparative unwillingness to leave the ground. Yes, the bike can jump, and it feels as stable in the air as it does on the ground, but I never found it as easy, or eager, to make the most out of natural take-offs as other more conventional machines. I've also never pointed a Honda Goldwing off a jump before, but I suspect that it feels similar to doing the same with the EX9.

bigquotesI suspect that going for a joyride in the Killdozer would be fun for awhile, but smashing through buildings must surely get old after you've gone through a dozen or so; the same applies to the Polygon.

The flipside of what can feel like near limitless traction and the ability to plow through silly things like boulders, small cars, and also brick walls, is that the Polygon doesn't articulate to the rider what's happening between the ground and its tires. Yes, the bike's composure in hectic terrain is out of this world, but I couldn't help but always think of it as a blunt smashing tool, a sledgehammer on wheels, rather than a laser guided missile like some of today's best all-mountain bikes are. For comparison's sake, I had been swapping between the Polygon and Ibis' new Mojo HD4, a 153mm-travel bike with a slightly slacker static head angle (remember, it has nearly 30mm less travel) and an 18mm longer wheelbase than the green monster. The difference between these two bikes, as well as something like the new Slayer or Slash, and the Polygon is so pronounced that they hardly feel like they've been made to do the same thing, yet that's exactly the case.


Polygon Square One Photo by Laurence Crossman-Emms
  The EX9's 66-degree head angle can feel steep at times, but I suspect this is only because the bike's suspension is so capable and there's so much traction available.


While the Slayer and HD4, or many other bikes of the same ilk, can be ridden like a monster truck if one wishes or be made to dance and play, the Polygon is far less inclined to do the latter. This is a bike that causes rocks to jump out of the way and roots to shrivel back into the ground like frightened worms, but don't mistake that for lack of character like I did during my first few times on the Square One. It's the opposite, actually, as this bike has the most personality of anything I've ever ridden. It's just that its personality isn't one that gelled with me. To get right to the point, I can honestly say that I had less fun on the Polygon than I have on other machines. I suspect that going for a joyride in the Killdozer would be fun for awhile, but smashing through buildings must surely get old after you've gone through a dozen or so; the same applies to the Polygon.

If you're familiar with my feedback on bikes, you'll likely already know that I value a lively, playful rig over one that rewards all-out speed, and that doesn't make me a great candidate for the Polygon - I'd need to totally change my riding style in order to get the most out of the bike. Actually, the Polygon and its R3ACT suspension are so different, in both good and less good ways, that I believe most potential EX9 owners would need to do the same. If there were ever a bike that rewarded a balls out, straight line, heels down approach to a trail, it's the big Polygon. And despite the bike's incredible pedaling efficiency, I don't believe that it's the right machine for copious amounts of relatively tame terrain - this isn't the "one bike" that some have said it can be - but then I could also say the same of almost any long-travel all-mountain sled, couldn't I?




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThis 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









About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 36 • Height: 5'10” • Inseam: 33" • Weight: 160lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None • Instagram: killed_by_death
Mike Levy spent most of the 90s and early 2000s racing downhill bikes and building ill-considered jumps in the woods of British Columbia before realizing that bikes could also be pedaled for hours on end to get to some pretty cool places. These days he spends most of his time doing exactly that, preferring to ride test bikes way out in the local hills rather than any bike park. Over ten years as a professional mechanic before making the move to Pinkbike means that his enthusiasm for two wheels extends beyond simply riding on them, and his appreciation for all things technical is an attribute that meshes nicely with his role of Technical Editor at Pinkbike.



413 Comments

  • + 339
 Would you rather have the most amazing ,mind blowing sex, ever,forever with the ugliest girl of all time,or pretty good sex with a Supermodel of your choice?
  • - 112
flag chillrider199 (Jun 19, 2017 at 8:11) (Below Threshold)
 Um... what?
  • + 138
 @chillrider199: C'mon bro, its not that difficult. Its called an a-n-a-l-o-g-y.
  • + 102
 Supermodel, for the times you just get to look at her.
  • + 13
 @scary1: Doesn't your analogy require the bike to have reviewed well to make sense?
  • + 25
 Three way
  • + 12
 supermodel, you can wife swap for whatever with one of them Wink
  • + 8
 Supermodel
  • + 21
 Rather do a goat.
  • + 103
 "Polygon's 180mm-travel Square One EX9 doesn't resemble anything else out there"

Wait a sec, isnt the Marin Wolfridge Pro essentially identical to the Polygon?
m.pinkbike.com/news/marin-wolf-ridge-first-ride.html
  • + 16
 @rockin-itis: both companies have same owner.
  • + 23
 @scary1: anal O.G. ??
  • + 4
 wait, wheres the ever, forever part on the supermodel? or its just one time only.
  • + 185
 mediocre sex with an ugly girl would be good enough for me
  • + 2
 @vespertilianus: " Supermodel of YOUR choice". So,yeah.No.
  • - 2
 @dontcoast: sure, if you like poop on your bike
  • + 30
 @Danpyo:2-3 times a week in the beginning, then it tapers off to nothing over 20 years.....I may have said too much
  • + 90
 show me a beautiful woman and I'll show you some guy sick of her shit.
  • + 16
 Only them who had mind blowing sex knows the answer to that question.
  • + 11
 @vespertilianus: But it didn't review badly though did it. The main negative was down to the reviewers personal preferences. So even that might be different to the next guy.
  • + 2
 @rockin-itis: that´s just so they can be cheaper for users as they are virtually the same... oh but wait...
  • + 13
 God created light switches and paper bags for a reason.
  • + 2
 @rockin-itis: First thing i thought when I saw the thumbnail.
  • + 24
 Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is right to the bone!
  • + 6
 @nyhc00: best pinkbike comment of all time.
  • + 2
 Not going to lie, I pedaled this and I was so damn impressed. Just give it a face lift, that's all she needs.
  • + 0
 @scary1: did you mean anal orgie? Ok I'm out
  • + 1
 Do I get to tell or not?
  • + 1
 @mgolder: Fair point, and I really should have said mind blowing. But, you're right still totally rider subjective in the end.
  • + 11
 So is it a polygon or a square?
  • + 9
 @richierocket: Octogon
  • + 4
 @rockin-itis: hey the video of the suspension action is of the Marin as well. Look at the top tube/seat tube junction gusset.
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: I dont think Greg will like that much.
  • + 1
 depends if your mates would find out?
  • + 6
 Ugly every time. No matter what, and I mean it, there will come a day with Miss center of the universe Super Model, where you will say; " I am tired of your SH&T!!!!

You will walk out leaving everything behind except your bikes, rack and that cool portable barbeque grill she bought me.
  • + 2
 @rockin-itis: Marin and Polygon are owned by th same parent company
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: so you're from the middle east.
  • + 2
 A Supermodel, good sex is still better than no sex!
  • + 1
 Supermodel all the way, she's a Trek Slash and it's GOOD
  • + 1
 @scary1 Take a bow sir. Take a bow.
  • + 1
 Threesome bruh
  • + 2
 @scotttherider: I thought the same. The bottom link on the Polygon is WAY shorter oddly. My brain can't quite work out how the swingers slides up that stanchion when that link is SO short. Strange...
  • + 3
 @rockin-itis: Came here for this....I can leave now to go find the eye-bleach.
  • + 1
 @dirtchurner: This clearly from someone who hasn't just been to their first rodeo - Amen brother!
  • + 1
 @almacigatrailrider: I would,but Pinkbikers are so fickle,id probably get downvoted for it
  • + 2
 @therealtylerdurden: Oh dude - you went there? The heat's gettin to you.
  • + 1
 It has to perform. It has to let me beat on it. It has to be able to handle it. If it meets these requirements looks are a by-product.
  • + 1
 @dirtchurner: show me a beautiful supermodel I'll show you someone tired of spending time with them.
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: I hope not! I'm skerred!
  • + 1
 @rockin-itis: The Polygon is a 27.5" with 180mm of travel, while the Marin is a 29er with 160mm.
  • + 97
 After reading this review, I still don't know what to think of it.
  • + 5
 I would dearly love for someone to sketch the instant center location, calculate AS, and calculate PKB for this thing.

Reading Levy's description (it rebounds slowly? ...Huh) just makes me curious what they actually did.
  • + 6
 After reading this review's comments, I still don't know what to think of it either.
  • - 5
flag bat-fastard (Jun 19, 2017 at 8:56) (Below Threshold)
 @WaterBear: right up its not fecking rocket science even though they make it out to be.. could just be the shock tune making it rebound slowly.. is this now the 4th time advertising this design and still no kinematics? makes me believe theres nothing really new under the bad looks.
  • + 3
 I kind of do. A bit lost in the narrative the review finally admits that "despite its efficiency in gravel access roads" (?) the bike does not even climb as well as a Rocky mountain Slayer or IBIS HD4 where it matters: on a trail. And the HD4 is the enduro specific IBIS, take a HD3, Mojo 3 or Ripley and the Polygon would disappear in the rear mirror.

The culprit? The horrid weight (33 pounds with puny looking pedals! are they nuts?) and the 180 mm fork for sure, but I wonder if the overly active suspension might kill the bike on a uphill. Sure there is a solid platform, but if all it takes is to "move your body around" or hit something to activate the suspension ... there goes your efficiency out of the window ...
  • + 19
 Its sad; I've always laughed at the pinkbike comments saying, 'how much did you get paid to write a positive review'. I'm not saying any palms were greased, but I flat out don't believe the hype. Every single rear suspension bike out there has to balance chain growth, rear axle path, lateral stiffness, and damping. Using a slider or short/long linkages does not change this.

Nowadays, how well a bike pedals is much, much more the tire & wheel choice + geometry. Most every frame design pedals well, and using the climb switch (I think Cane Creeks is the best) will stop pretty much all unwanted suspension movement.

Finally, that crap about no damping is laughable. Energy is compressed in a spring, and returned. That is physics. The energy needs to go somewhere- either it will heat up oil that is being moved through small orifices, or it will be transferred back into the mass that compressed the spring.
  • + 1
 What I understand is it's polygons take on whatever the new nomad is meant to be
  • + 22
 For a 8k single crown build with no coil shock that is really heavy.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: Well said. Physics. Next they'll be telling us energy is created (the bike pedals itself!!) No wait, they're one step ahead of me. He pointed out more than once that the bike does not have a motor...?
  • + 4
 @hamncheez: The energy could be (in theory) spining your rear wheel!
  • + 2
 @IluvRIDING: That would be awesome, especially as I'm breaking into a corner!
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: Now that would be an innovation! Let me know when they figure that one out
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: The energy could be released (again in theory) by the rider on demand!
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: changing to a very different leverage ratio to everyone else would require a change in shock tune like that
  • + 1
 @richard01: Do we know what is the leverage ratio? It would have to be below 2:1 to need a custom damping tune
  • + 7
 @hamncheez: Amen. There are designs out there that can achieve really good AS numbers without growing the chain much, hence experiencing little PKB. Those designs typically use some kind of 4 bar set up or dual link. Perhaps this bike does have really high AS numbers, which would explain its pedalling prowess, and perhaps it doesn't have very high PKB either - but this would absolutely not be the first bike on the market to achieve both those things.

In my mind, adding mechanical complexity to achieve similar or identical design goals is a step backwards. At the end of the day, you have axle path, chain growth, AS, PKB, and AR (anti-rise, for braking) to balance (and I guess leverage rate). There are optimal solutions for most of these problems already (although you likely can't optimize all of those parameters at once).

What is this new design supposed to achieve that we can't already? Does it optimize more things at once than we used to be able to? If so, why don't they just come out and say that?
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: sorry no, might draw it up in cad next week and work it out. I think the shifting pivot point won't help but it would be interesting to see where it moves compared to a vpp.
  • + 1
 @richard01: actually isn't it a vpp too?
  • + 3
 @WaterBear: looking at the video of compressing it, the rear mech moves forwards about 3". Has got a lot of chain growth which suggests a lot of pedal kick back too. Also look a crank and chainring rotating as compressed too.
  • + 1
 @emptybox: yes, my mistake. I meant something like a typical santa Cruz vpp
  • + 11
 @hamncheez:

hamnswiss -> did you read the review? I didn't read it as a glowing review at all.... at least not overall. For me and almost every rider I know it's more travel than they need, which means it's less fun and less fast over the wide range of terrain we have here in northern utah.

If Levy says it climbs well, then that's fine. Of all the 180mm bikes out there, one of them has to climb better than the rest. I think most riders fall into his camp of wanting a better all-rounder with better trail feel, not a bulldozer. Anyway, unfortunately with this bike being so niche and very expensive, it's unlikely that most riders will ever get to throw a leg over one.

You're right on the climb switch thing, but (and this may not have a point) there are many designs that still pedal poorly and rely on the rear shock to firm things up when desired, so "most every frame design pedals well" is not the case. Most designs can be tuned to pedal well, but usually at the expense of something on the opposite end.

Finally, keep in mind that this design is unlike anything else on the market, what with that stanchion slider thingy down by the bb. What the hell does it do? That's what ML tried to answer. Other outlets will likely confirm his findings. No skids greased as to me he clearly stated that this bike is not the holy grail, though it does sound like it has a place amongst the gnar-bros and masochists that climb up to ride full on dh tracks down. Hmm.... maybe it's an enduro-bro bike.

Anyway, I liked the review and thought it was fine. If this bike ever makes it to a demo in Utah then we'll go ride.
  • + 1
 @bat-fastard: I'll watch it again and look for that rear mech movement. I could definitely see some PBK in action, as you can see the cranks rotating CCW when it's compressed.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: yeah, the "minimal damping approach" bugs me. The bike sounds wallowy on anything but the straight on, high speed downs. Probably that is what is giving it the feel the reviewer didn't care for.

LSC does a lot more than fight squat. I run a bike with a very high anti-squat numbers, but still run a fair amount of LSC. Dancing through techy climbs and slow speed out of the saddle navigating is easier with more LSC.
  • + 4
 @MikerJ: It's not wallowy, although I thought it might be as well before I spent a bunch of time on the bike. It actually feels like it rides relatively high in its travel.
  • + 0
 @WasatchEnduro: that stanchion glider thing down the bb is what take out the pedal bobbing
  • + 2
 @bat-fastard:
As someone who rode the new Marin, I have to admit that is different from everything I have tried. It pedals Incredibly well and I haven't felt any bobing (even on steepest climbs). I haven't noticed any pedal kick back.
It might look wired, and it is a little bit heavy, but it felt f*cking awesome and it works much better than over bicycles I tried.
Please forgive me, my English still has problems Frown
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: Your points are well taken (although suggesting that every frame design pedals well is not true) and in particular you are absolutely right to see a shock absorber climb switch as achieving a similar end result - elimination of unwanted suspension movement - to what is apparently achieved by the R3ACT suspension. The thing about the climb switch is you can turn it off when it isn't needed with the flip of a switch whereas whatever is happening with the R3ACT linkage layout influences suspension behaviour continuously and can't be turned off.

Mike Levy observes this himself when he states, "Interestingly, it actually rides a lot like the Fox shock's rebound settings are much slower than they actually are, and I can see why Voss recommends minimal damping all around. This isn't a playful thing, and running more rebound damping will basically kill what little friskiness the EX9 has to begin with." Even more interesting is why this happens. It is, after all. extremely odd that on this bike the shock conveys a notably more heavily damped characteristic than would normally be experienced for a shock set up with similar damper settings on another bike. And it is hard not to draw the obvious inference. There is more friction in this suspension linkage than is typical. Stiction in the telescopic link is what is reducing suspension responsiveness and raising the level of breaking force in the linkage which results in the described XC feel.

Stiction can only reduce traction by detracting from suspension responsiveness. There are a few situations in which reducing suspension responsiveness does make sense if ultimate performance (i.e. in lap times or race speed) is required and traction is not jeopardised by stiffening up the suspension. But you want to be able to remove this kind of traction and responsiveness robbing stiction, whatever its value as a form of pedalling platform, whenever it isn't needed. The problem is you can't remove the stiction from the R3ACT linkage as it is currently implemented. Which is why a good shock with a climb switch, which can be flipped off, is better.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Of course there is no mysterious key that explains what makes a bike "ride high in its travel" other than designing the bike to do just that. Some things are givens, of course - the level of anti-squat and the degree of leverage rate escalation around SAG must be sufficient to keep the bike riding high without squatting but you still have to deliberately design the bike so that those factors are there in the right proportions at modest levels of SAG.

The telescopic link, insofar as it plays a part in the kinematic design of the Polygon bike, must be a factor in the determination of planned SAG/ride height but I doubt that the telescopic mechanism, per se, has anything to do with the characteristic ride height of the bike. It may impart a bit more stickiness/rigidity/inertness to the way the bike rides at SAG but that is entirely a matter of ride quality, it has nothing to do with ride height or how ride height is maintained.
  • + 3
 I tried to build a bike like this before and tires and geometry were the 2 biggest compromises. Whats good for dh sucks for xc and vice versa. Suspension wasnt that much of an issue.
  • + 0
 @stillunimpressed: That is an interesting hypothesis for why it rebounds slowly. A good insight.
  • + 2
 @stillunimpressed:
I rode the wolf Ridge (almost same suspension linkage) and I think that there is one problem with your statements (if I understood you properly). The Marin has tons of grip, the wheel does't leave the ground and the suspension is super responsive.
  • + 1
 @MikerJ: "the "minimal damping approach" bugs me"
Why, because it's not required at the shock?
This doesn't mean that the "system" doesn't provide damping, it means that the system doesn’t lean heavily on the shock to provide that function to work correctly.
  • + 2
 @WaterBear: A good hypothesis? His post is simply an educated guess (apparently supported by some well established biases) lacking any further knowledge to explain how something works. What would be interesting to me is to see a follow up post from @stillunimpressed after he's actually seen it first hand and ridden it for a suitable length of time that he can comment from a place of experience. Talk is cheap...
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: I called my suggestion an inference which is precisely an educated guess based on available evidence. So, yes, I am betting that what I have said is the right explanation for suspension behaviour that Mike Levy reported here (based on his own careful observations as a mountain bike rider and journalist) and so far I've seen nothing better to explain these things.
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: A hypothesis is just a guess, it doesn't even have to be educated. I don't understand why the word 'hypothesis' offends you.

It's just a possible explanation for why the rebound seems a bit slow, assuming we trust Levy's word. Nothing more.
  • + 1
 @stillunimpressed: Fair enough, however its all pure conjecture until you ride it, so maybe make room for that qualification in your posts, and follow up after you have?

I get that some "bold claims" have been made surrounding the R3ACT platform, and I don't blame anyone with a sensitive BS meter for being a little skeptical. A lot of brands/companies have misused the word "disruptive" for designs and products that at best fall short of the mark and represent incremental change. I suspect that to not be the case in this instance and am looking forward to riding either model (Polygon or Marin) to experience it first hand.

Further, if you weed through the normal BS in these comments and get to anecdotal accounts from people that have actually ridden the platform, (from my perspective) it suggests that there "might" be something worth considering here.

The bikes have a polarizing appearance and one can reasonably argue that the "one bike to rule them all" claim is bold, and potentially overreaching. However consider this, its also getting people to notice and to start talking about it...
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: It doesn't offend me, what I find interesting is that people are pretty invested in their guesses...
  • + 2
 @Hyakian: Well, there are some ill-fitting pieces of this puzzle that cry out for an account that can render the evidence, that seems to want to pull in different directions, as somehow consistent. I am entirely confident that the truth will out whether I ever go near one of these bikes or not.

Also, I would agree with you that the inference I offered to account for the inconsistencies in the evidence was a conjecture in the dictionary meaning of that term viz. a opinion formed on the basis of incomplete information. But please do not suggest I went about this in a half-baked way - I offered a serious conjecture not some flighty pure conjecture. I certainly haven't being trying to force anything on the evidence. It is several of Mike Levy's observations that struck me as so unusual and interesting and prompted my comments, not anything I dreamt up.

Now, maybe what I have said won't stand but I think there are good reasons to suppose that it will hold up and in any case I am far happier with the opinion that stiction explains some part of the unusual behaviour we are seeing from this suspension linkage than I am with my efforts, a bit further down this page, at taking a few steps towards offering a valid kinematic account of the R3ACT suspension linkage. But, despite the inadequacy of my remarks on the kinematics of the EX9 I haven't changed my mind about the need for a sound kinematic analysis of the bike or altered my view about how such an analysis will shed light on rider perceptions of the way the bike rides. At the end of the day, a rider's experience of a mountain bike and a more technical account of it must agree in all essentials, if the discipline of suspension bike design and engineering is to make any progress and offer riders better riding experiences. Lucky for us these two different views of a bike do indeed agree.
  • + 0
 @Hyakian: o...ok. So you down voted me because you think someone else is invested in their educated guess?
  • + 1
 @rotemCa: Could you describe a bit more fully in what context you experienced the "tons of grip" and in particular when the "wheel doesn't leave the ground". Were you coasting/speeding over rough terrain while riding down hill without putting in pedal strokes or were you pedalling over rough ground on flat land or while climbing? I am trying to get my head around when this bike seems at its best and when it is less good.

I would be interested in your observations about the behaviour of the bike under brakes as well and whether you experienced anything like the comparative slowness of compression and/or rebound that has been reported by Mike Levy. And, if you did notice something similar, what were the riding situations in which this happened?
  • + 2
 @stillunimpressed: 3 thins before I start:
1. I rode the bicycle several times, but for short periods, it is kind of first ride impressions. (and enthusiasm)
2. It will be interesting to hear what @mikelevy thinks about my thoughts
3. I assume that the Polygon' and Marin's systems are almost identical (although these bikes are way different)
I don't think that there are specific situations when I felt I have "tons of grip", but (for example) it is hard to drift with it, the breaking doesn't interrupts and the rear wheel continues to track the ground (you feel very confident in corners).
The shock goes through its travel very quickly, but I didn't notice that during riding, same thing for the rebound, it is fast, but it isn't really noticeable (maybe thats what Mike Levy meant when he said slowness?)
Another thing- I felt that the bike maintains its speed over rock gardens amazingly
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: The center of the arc made by the wheel's path is a little above the pivot that links the swingarm to the small linkage next to the slider. It could be described a somewhat high and forward virtual pivot position. Which sure gives better pedalling than the below chainline pivots that so many brands are favouring for the sake of less chaingrowth.
  • + 1
 @rotemCa: Thank you for that response. My current thinking is that the light shock tune is the design factor that is primarily responsible for the effective wheel tracking and grip that has been noted by riders. I am less impressed by the sliding linkage mechanism which I suspect surreptitiously introduces a degree of resistance or frictional damping into the operation of the rear suspension which takes the edge off what would otherwise be (based on the shock tune) a frenetically active rear suspension. The toning down is probably necessary but achieving that by use of a mechanism that exhibits varying degrees of stiction depending on whether the rider is pedalling hard or how violently the rear wheel is being deflected by ground shocks is to effectively hand control of a primary suspension function to an entirely uncontrolled mechanism. Damping force, in order to be close to the levels it needs to be must be a planned/regulated suspension response not something that is subject to accidental determination.

Let a structurally stiff squarish version of the sliding link ride on needle bearings (removing the stiction) and move the damping back into the shock, where it can be regulated based on internal build and adjusters and I can see nothing much that remains controversial about this suspension system.
  • + 68
 " I've also never pointed a Honda Goldwing off a jump before."

I feel for this review to be complete this needs to happen.

Also, suspension videos are damn nice to watch.
  • + 55
 I'll get on it. Stay tuned.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: heck yes!
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: so between the HD4 and the Slayer which was more playful and which did you prefer?
  • + 14
 @imho4ep: Hhmm, I'd say that HD4 but damn, the Slayer pedals SO well that it feels peppy and fun. The Slayer is another bike that has a metric shit ton of character.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: yeah and its a beautiful looking bike too, thanks!
  • + 0
 What are they using to press the bikes down so far? Are the reviewers just expelling all shock air for video purposes?
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: a bike that went pretty unoticed was the intense uzzi, would love you guys review one of those. It´s not as trail friendly as these bikes... but definetly worth standing it up to them?? Or no carbon, no interest ; ) Nice review, the bike sure looks like it shreds.
  • + 1
 Years ago...like a lot of years ago, Dirtbike magazine did that for an April Fools joke.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: They're not very flickable, so if you initiate a whip, good luck collecting it before you land. Have the stereo system in the fairing cranking Al Green, though.
  • + 1
 @kurtz433: Yep, probably.
  • + 1
 I also really like the suspension animation videos. The only problem with this video is that it is not the same bike. The link lengths are all different. What is the point of the video if it does not show the bike being reviewed?
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!
  • + 3
 Have to keep pressing play though. We need suspension gifs!
  • + 1
 @jasonmiles: Similar system, different application. That video shows how the design works, which is the goal, better than my little video. That's why I used it.
  • + 52
 "I think it looks like an e-bike without a motor (aka the best kind of e-bike)"

- @mikelevy , the people's champ.
  • + 45
 "Sure, R3ACT's kinematics are complicated to describe,"

Well, let's stop handwaving take the time to describe them. Don't underestimate your audience.
  • + 2
 Complicated to describe seems to be reporter's issue not audience.
  • + 23
 " Let's face it. Most riders are out there to have fun, and they can only afford one bike" yeah maybe. But I can't afford one bike where the frame is already more than 3000. And for 8000 you can buy one pretty nice park bike wich decents better and a nice trail bike for enduro rides
  • + 2
 I've got a park bike with RS suss and a Trail bike with DVO, both bikes having Spank wheels, good brakes, and some decent parts between them (a Bike Yoke dropper post on the T bike, nice handlebars, etc). Total budget: ~$6000.
  • + 24
 I want lots of bikes. Doesn't even matter how versatile a bike is, I want more of them. It's a sickness i know.
  • + 8
 2 really good $5000 bikes are better than one top the line $10,000 bike.
  • + 3
 @solarplex: $5000 will buy you 90%+ of everything you could want from a bike. That next $5000 you invest in the $10k bike earns you at most 10% more. IMO, anyway.
  • + 24
 bentuknya itu loh ....
  • + 9
 yeah
  • + 11
 I'll upvote that.
  • + 13
 ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
  • + 2
 Damn right!
  • + 1
 @cakra has said what we were all thinking. Props!
  • + 2
 @Ozziefish: thank you Wink
  • + 15
 Levy doesn't normally find Magic Mary grippy?
I'm not a pro but it's the grippiest tire I've ever ridden.
  • + 19
 It's great on dirt but the tall lugs make for minimal contact on roots or hard surfaces, especially in the wet. Like any tire, it has it's strengths and weaknesses, and it's not great everywhere. I just prefer a more all around tire.
  • + 4
 Agreed. However, it's much better in the wet than dry n dusty.
  • - 1
 @mikelevy: tall lugs are not good for wet trails? Magic Mary are used by pros in many diferent wet races... so I dont know nothing about tires. I know that any tire with tall lugs are not good on roots and hard surfaces
  • + 18
 @mudmandhbrazil: *wet roots and hard packed surface, I mean. Wasn't clear, sorry. I know that a lot of pros love them, and that's fine, but that doesn't make them great for me.
  • + 5
 @mudmandhbrazil:

He was referring to wet roots and hard surfaces (aka rockfaces and woodwork).
  • + 7
 I'm guessing Mike Levy and I live on different planets because the Magic Mary grips wet roots and woodwork better than any other tire I have tried (including Maxxis DHF and DHRII, Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic and Rocket Ron).

I would not run a Magic Mary in the back due to the relatively high rolling resistance and they are not good on loose over hard (dry) conditions, but it was a revelation to me when I first put one on the front of my bike part way through a North Shore winter: I couldn't believe the traction I suddenly had!

There have been a number of tires that have come out in the last year or two (including the one from E13) that I'd like to try which may be even better but I think there is a reason that this seems to be the most popular front tire in any EWS enduro race with somewhat wet conditions.

I sure would like to know what tire Mike Levy prefers for these conditions; maybe I've been missing out =)
  • + 7
 @Xorrox: I usually prefer something more all around, like a 2.35'' Nic or the newer Bonty DH and AM tires. The MM is just too single-minded for me, and it's tall knobs and wide knob spacing doesn't work on hardpack because of the lack of contact. On wet roots or woodwork, it's been scary in my experience. It's not a terrible tire, but I can't justify the lack of performance in some areas, nevermind the extra weight and rolling resistance, just because it rocks in soft conditions.

Tires are a funny thing, too. You have a few 'off' rides with one tire and then it surely sucks in your mind. And I also think that we all get used to how some tires perform, of course Smile
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: Hey Mike,
I think my comment came off wrong.For me, the Magic Mary has been an absolute all star as a front tire. I tried a lot of different tires from everyones favorite Minions to offerings from Michelin and Conti and nothing came close to the confidence I got with the MM. Having said that, I run a Hans Dampf in the back and as you pointed out, a negative experience or two can be very damaging. For me, the DHF just doesn't do it for me, go figure !
Might have something to do with a front end wash that was probably entirely my fault that resulting in a season ending injury a couple years ago..
  • + 3
 @Bailey100: I'm not a big DHF fan, either, but it comes on so many bikes that I'm used to it now. Not a terrible tire, but I'm a Schwalbe fan. They're so expensive (here in Canada, at least) and don't last long, so they're far from perfect, but I like how they feel.
  • + 1
 @Xorrox: An old semi slick MM in the back its great bro..
  • + 1
 @Bailey100: I use the same tyre combination also, front Magic Marry, back Hans dampf for my DH bike, perfect combination, couldn't find any better.
  • + 9
 I love that we finally have a new suspension design after years of consolidation and stagnation. I want to try this bike and I want to see more companies trying new designs.

I find that climbing on longer travel bikes is usually more limited by geometry than suspension. Doesn't matter how efficient the suspension is if you've got slack angles and a long front-center, so I'd agree that this probably isn't a "one" bike, but it sounds like it could be a monster for enduro/DH racing, and perhaps the design could work for XC with different angles.
  • + 2
 It sounds like a slacker head angle and slightly longer reach (and lighter weight?) would make it a race winner.
Proper enduro bikes aren't really fun either, but more travel and traction than the competitors sounds like a winning combo.

Fun? Not so much.
  • + 9
 Meh at riding 180 travel on anything but a rough wc trail. I'll take a ht any day of the week as a "one bike"

Plus how on earth do you market a bike as "the one bike" and dont put on bottle mounts, seriously? No dubt the linkage works but the bike has no real place with any serious rider since he wants a fun ride becuase he can already ride and dont need crutches.
  • + 2
 @johan90

"how on earth do you market a bike as "the one bike" and dont put on bottle mounts..."

Backpack or bumpack.
  • + 5
 Add 32.5 lb to that. For me, this is too much to be the "one" bike vs many lighter do-it-all "enduro/AM" bikes. I understand the suspension is super efficient, but still 30+ lb is a heft to pedal all day long.
  • + 17
 I don't get another thing. If you chose a bike with 180mm of travel, you won't exactly buy it to ride up&down all the time. You will climb asphalt or fireroad for anything between 15minutes to 5 hours, to get to the top of a "sick, gnarly, technical bla fkng bla" descent. So... whatever bike you chose, the lockout/LSC maxout switch has you covered for climbing. Like Cane Creek Double Barrell with climb switch. And then... if you are to use that 180mm of travel on your downhill run, you probably (and hopefully) use the tyres of at least Double Down /Super Gravity caliber, at least if you ride well enough to be a journalist on a major bike site. So... with that rotational weight you can go fk yourself with "climb like a trail bike" since you have over 600g more to propell forward, possibly with soft rubber compound. Make it a 29er and things get even harder. Better sort of Enduro racers tend to even ride full on DH tyres for a whole day of climbing and sprinting down the hill. So... no... this bike, with appropriate rubber will not climb better than majority of bikes out there. The tyres level out the field so we are left with descending capabilities as the point of focus. You buy such bike for a more limited purpose than you would with let say fkng Bronson at 150mm of travel

Having said that, i absolutely love the fact that bikes like this one exist. #doesnotlooklikeasession
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: You are correct, for the reasons you cite, there is no one bike. We have gotten real close, but a bike built to descend with the best shares little dna with the one built to climb.
  • + 15
 who gives a shit about a water bottle, 3 minutes on any trail in BC any time of the year except for july and august and its covered in so much mud that you need a shovel to find the damn thing never mind drink out of it, 20 years of riding and I never gave 2 shits about a water bottle
  • + 2
 @kgbspy: I will make a fat assumption but I think majority of riders in the world are out for no more than 1h-1,5h for their average ride... and water bottle is just enough for such effort.
  • + 9
 Water bottles are NOT for everyone.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm out for 1h-1,5h for my average ride, but I hate water bottles, clipless pedals and spandex pants how can I ride my bike now?
  • + 6
 @endlessblockades: Nope, but the should be an option for everyone who owns a bike meant to pedal up a mountain.
  • + 5
 @b-wicked: from what you describe, you are a poster boy for a Brah Culture so it is me who is weird... but no spandex? That's hard core bro... I personally can't afford a private proctologist... I heard banana skins work great, they are also ecological, holistic and gluten free but I personally prefer spandex diapers
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Why climb on asphalt or fireroad? If the descends are steep and technical then the terrain allows the climbs to be so, too? Of course on designated mtb trails the builders may have chosen to make the climbs easy and boring because riding a long travel bike uphill was too tough to take on anything more technical. But I suppose with the advent of lighter bikes that can also descend properly (XC bikes and WC races have evolved too), bikes with pedal assist and bikes like the one reviewed make climbing a fireroad or asphalt a waste of your time. Why waste your time on a fireroad when you ca actually have fun on a technical climb?
  • + 1
 @b-wicked: I rode for the first time on Sunday with clipless pedals and a water bottle - I remembered why I've ridden flats since 1995 and used a camelbak since 1999 - hate being clipped in and WTF do I put my tools and phone if I don't take a pack?
Rock on my brother from another mother!
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: Those who want a bike with bottle mounts are being catered for. But bikes without have their appeal to those who don't need it. A lower top tube gives the rider more room to move around, which I believe is nice. A Kona Process simply wouldn't be the same with a higher top tube just to be able to squeeze a bottle in. The other solution of course would be a curved downtube and that probably doesn't really have any practical downsides, I just think a straight downtube looks cooler. Probably more because of my love for simple steel hardtails. the sharp look they have more than anything else.

One possible solution would be to make mounts to the top of the toptube. If it is in the way, it would only be in the way for those who use a bottle but then again they'd otherwise have a higher toptube anyway. For the Alutech ICB2.0 (which I like because of this very reason) they actually recommend some system to mount a bottle to the toptube. Would that be a solution for you as well?
  • + 4
 I like it how you guys slice borders nicely, first we divide ourselves for camelbak bladders and water bottles, then clipped in and flat and finally guys in underpants and guys in lycra...

Can I already start an argument for flat pedals? You clipped in shills!!! Enduro is gay! Heeeeeey it all started with a water bottle but I will start throwing faeggets soon! Here's one! And by the way, get 29ers off trails!

Jesus Christ... hey I don't like water bottles, and don't ride in lycra, applause please, respect me now...
  • + 2
 @vinay: I would take a higher top tube on my Firebird so it could fit a bottle. Honestly, when is the last time you hit your junk on the TT? Even if it were high enough to fit a small bottle with a side loader cage, it would still be pretty damn low. They you adjust the length of it to give you the same reach. Done. Now you have a 170 mm travel bike you can take on big days because you can fit a bottle.
  • + 1
 @b-wicked: ride your bike for an hour and a half, I'll see you when I get back from my epic.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: no respect for posers
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I pack water and beer and am not going for KOM, so stopping to get it out is a good excuse to rest. I race the same bike DH and stay as de-accessorized as possible. Plus I'm going to be carrying beer anyway, so a small pack for me. I have an old micro military Camelback with no bladder that fits 2 16ozers and 2 litres of H20 and tools, etc.
  • + 1
 @PAmtbiker : What I like about a lower top tube is how you can corner these. It is not my junk being in the way (I'm no Danny Hart), it'd be my knee touching the top tube. I just enjoy the freedom to move my bike around like that. I'm under the impression that currently most full suspension mountainbikes with this amount of travel do have room for a bottle, so there is enough to choose from, I'd say?

@WAKIdesigns : What are you going on about? I explained that for some there are qualities to a frame not designed to take a bottle. So for people who aren't going to use a bottle anyway, it is nice to be able to take advantage of that.

I personally don't like riding with a bottle, but it doesn't bother me what others use. Yes it does pain me when I see lost bottles on or aside rough descends of which the owner apparently didn't notice the loss in time or simply is too lazy to hike back up to reclaim it. Then for me personally, I sweat a lot so I drink a lot. Losing my bottle on a ride would be pretty horrible and would cut my ride short. And on longer rides, a bottle simply wouldn't hold enough water for me though yes of course on a shorter ride it'd probably be sufficient.

Am I posing simply because I ride with a pack, shorts and a T-shirt, platforms and 26" wheels? No this is simply what suits me. I'm not going to invest in a bottle, lycra, clip pedals and 27.5" wheels just to not hurt any feelings.
  • + 3
 @vinay: I can see your point we all ride different trails and ride different ways. After two hours I am both of energy (I just smash it as hard as I can) and trails to ride so I want a bottle since I wont need more than that. Flattish trails too so short travel or ht is by far the most fun ride here. But if you ride bigger mountains you probably want more on your ride than just a bottle, maybe some tools and food etc. So a pack is must anyway.

Overall I still feel like a bike meant for trail riding is missing something if you cant mount a bottle, you can always not mount it if there is holes for it but if there arent holes you are forced to use a pack. More options is always good and from a companys perspective you choosing something else because they have bottle mounts is not really good for them is it?

But two each their own, ride what works for you!
  • + 4
 @vinay: Yeah, good point. I'd have a hard time giving up my bottle for standover, but I can see what you mean. And it'd be silly for me to say that being able to carry a bottle inside the front triangle should trump suspension design, I know. But damn, give me at least one spot, even on the damn top tube!
  • + 1
 Wolftooth b-rad, tape, and strong zip ties, attach cage to downtube, problem solved.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: Yeah, that was the one I was aiming at. But I think having your bottle below the downtube isn't ideal for everyone and everywhere. I was thinking it might go on the top tube though.

@mikelevy: It is about priorities indeed and it is different for everyone. For me geometry and room to move around are the main thing. And for some other designers, suspension design simply was more important than the ability to accept a bottle. Not only a complex linkage like this. Also a simple single pivot design like an Orange Five or Four, Santa Cruz Heckler and also my Cannondale Prophet simply don't have room left inside the front triangle. That didn't stop them from becoming quite iconic. Of course iconic doesn't mean they're faultless. But at least there is enough good about them. As for this Polygon, maybe you don't necessarily have to be too upset about the lack of a bottle mount as there are more than a few things that don't make this the ideal bike for you anyway Smile .
  • + 0
 When the hell did water bottle mounts become one of the top three most important things on a mountain bike? God damn bunch of whiney bitches @endlessblockades:
  • + 2
 I absolutely hate both water bottles and backpacks too, might have found the solution in the form of a lifestraw so I can safely drink from little streams.
  • + 1
 @bonkywonky: I hate water. in the first place. I drink Indian Pale Anal. Great as beard oil too,
  • + 1
 @bonkywonky: Sounds like a clever solution actually. But is it effective enough to be used in the dirty "cultivated" west? Guinea worm larvae are one thing, but to actually be able to filter out poisons and hormones from the bio industry that's a whole different challenge. Seems like a great tool for epic trips though Smile !
  • + 1
 @vinay: I only use it to drink water from small hillside streams so relatively low risks of chemical contamination. Even when I do carry a Camelbak I bring it, just in case I run out of water.

lifestraw.com/products/lifestraw
  • + 10
 Ermagerd I hate these things. Replace actual design information with mumbo-jumbo. Reading the suspension designer writing about the R3ACT system is like reading a cult manifesto.
  • + 9
 Sounds amazing but it's tough to call it a quiver killer if it doesn't like to get off the ground. The Honda Goldwing line may be some of the better writing I've seen in a review in some time. Smile
  • + 8
 I was lucky enough to have been able to ride the first two prototypes of the Naild rear suspension and have had a short time riding these Polygon Square One's. Here's a couple of nuggets I had to get my brain wrapped around from the early days up to this now production version.

About 4+ years ago proto #1 had 160 mm fork / rear travel and was tested alongside bikes with 140 - 150 mm DW Link and FSR rear suspensions in Kern, CA. Testers were in the same height range so we swapped bikes and would repeat sections. The proto was the heaviest bike in our test by a long shot (probably a good 6-8 lbs more). After a while we were catching each other trying to be sneaky and grab the heavy proto when it came time for long uphill transfers. It went downhill awesome too but the thing that amazed us was how much more efficient it was at getting us through sections that meant pedaling despite the weight.

Fabien Cousinie (aka Cous Cous UR team manager) used his Square One for the dual slalom at Sea Otter this year. There were a number of pro's that are known for being slalom type riders that did not qualify into the final 32 riders. Cous Cous qualified 20th and I'm told ended up with one of the fastest times on the blue course (had a mechanical on the red), final rank 22nd. Here's what stood out to me.... It's a 180 mm bike in slalom and no offense to him but he's not known for being top notch at that discipline these days (managing the team will slow you down a bit). Point being....it was a 180 mm bike in a discipline where you're supposed to be on a hardtail or short travel 100-120 mm slalom ripper. Plus he seemed just fine with it on the jumps & berms too. It's kinda of a real head scratcher.

I got to ride the Square One for a while with some other riders one thing that is noticeable is that while pedaling the shock only moves when you hit something and it can be quite small and still activate it. If you follow another rider around pedaling sections the shock does not move until there is something to move it on the trail. There doesn't seem to be any resistance to movement from the crap your riding over yet it still won't move around from your body's pedaling movements. There's no platform to the shock only the design of the frame doing that. It just seems to balance compression and tension forces like nothing else I've tried.

The freaky good traction comments from Mike are spot on from my experience too but not just from cornering, descending angle. The real eye opener is being able to stay on the gas in technical sections. It just moves out of the way of stuff you're going over but you can just keep pedaling. Best analogy I've heard applied to this design is it's like a hydrofoil boat. The water below it is choppy but the hull of the boat is calm and not bouncing around.

I haven't seen a bad review on this design yet (Marin or Polygon). I've seen a lot of people not understand why it's doing what it's doing but test editors from all over seem to get to the conclusion it's doing what it claims to to.
  • + 0
 The pedaling prowess can be explained by the bike having relatively large anti-squat throughout its travel. Lots of bikes are like this. Bikes with relatively little chain growth through travel and high AS numbers will have basically all the ride properties you describe (I own such a bike, which is how I know).

I get that they are trying to sell this thing like it's a magic elixir, but there simply *is* a technical, measurable, or scientific description for whatever it's doing, and without such an explanation I assume it's no better than existing optimal designs.
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: Perhaps, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you would be correct in your assumptions, at least in this case. Demo a R3ACT bike, then report back.
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: I'm not going to demo bikes that I have reason to suspect are uninteresting to me. (This is the general flaw in the 'you gotta try it before you knock it' philosophy). Should I demo an Orange that I suspect has too high pedal kickback? No, because I have reason to suspect I won't like it. (I did indeed demo an Orange and did indeed find it had too high PKB). There's always a possibiliy that something will surprise me, but I don't have time in my life to demo everything, including things I suspect won't work for me. As another example, I won't demo a bike with a 25 inch effective top tube or longer because experience tells me that anything 23-24" will fit.

Should I demo a new suspension system that makes no particular claims, but sells itself purely on the assertion that it's better? Well, no. I'm a dubious person. Tell me what it does or I'm going to assume you're blowing smoke into various bodily cavities of mine.

This is the same reason that people on the street have trouble selling magic charms and healing elixirs to me.
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: I couldn’t care less if you demo it or not... Seriously.
The point is, that all of your supposition is just that if you can't back it up with anything more than "my experience on other bikes tells me this"... This is not other bikes.
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: I actually can back up my suppositions. Anti-squat curves for this bike were published with the release of the r3act system and in the above Youtube video you can see the pedal kickback occurring with your own eyes.

In your original comment, what exactly are you claiming that this bike does that makes it so great? Really, what does even Voss claim that it does?
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: Well bike designers first learn their trade (by studying science or engineering usually) and once they have a well rounded grasp of their field they apply their knowledge and design a bike. Copious testing (which is more demanding than demoing) then ensues and lots of information is gathered about the things that worked and the work that remains to be done. Then the redesigns and further testing follows. After this process is done, the bike - good, bad or indifferent - is, finally, in a state ready to be demoed.

Now, if you have some scientific or engineering knowledge or you have taken the time to inform yourself about key suspension bike design issues then it makes sense to go to bike geometry and kinematic information, when it is available, and look at what it tells you. Suspension bike designers who typically are also riders, for example, would never demo any bike that they had enough information on to know that it was a poor design. You are following the right approach for someone who is well informed on bike design. Bikers who are less informed may insist that you waste your time by adopting their approach to discovering things but you are right to ignore that and continue to build your technical understanding of suspension bikes.

In that vein I would recommend giving these two sites your perusal:
linkagedesign.blogspot.com.es
mrblackmorescorner.blogspot.com.es

On page translators are provided for anyone unable to read the Spanish original. Both bloggers speak English too and welcome comments in English. Toning down the colloquialisms aids communication.

So, it is good that you are unmoved by accounts that suppose some sort of magic rather than sound engineering is responsible for the way a bike behaves but completely disregarding the odd sliding link on the EX9 it appears that some riders are reporting good experiences with the bike. In a preliminary way, I would suggest that this could indicate that riders are rediscovering the virtues of a bike with plenty of anti-squat and a rearward axle path and who are little concerned about pedal kickback.
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: "Anti-squat curves for this bike were published with the release of the r3act system"

I would be grateful if you could indicate the source(s) of information that you are referring to.
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: So, you read some numbers without fully understanding their relative context and you watched a video. Fax me when you actually ride one and apply your assumptions please.
  • + 1
 @stillunimpressed:

"Bikers who are less informed may insist that you waste your time by adopting their approach to discovering things but you are right to ignore that and continue to build your technical understanding of suspension bikes."

Snort - Pretty broad assumption there (not to mention the thinly veiled insult).
Having an open mind towards new ideas is also a possibility regardless of expertise, riding skill or industry background and or involvement.

Bottom line, if you don't ride it first hand, you don't know what you don't know.
But hey, stick to being internet experts - I stick to what I experience on the trail.
  • + 1
 @Hyakian: There was no veiled insult or any sort of insult in what I said. I don't consider ignorance of kinematics as somehow morally blameworthy, but, respectfully, your own words show that you don't look at the experience of riding from a kinematically informed point of view. You don't have to but it certainly helps when trying to understand the characteristics of a suspension system looked at as a mechanical apparatus. So, the right way of reading my words which were expressed to an individual who you had been insisting shouldn't follow his own instincts about how he might answer the question of how the suspension of this bike works - which is backed by a valid technical grasp of the issues - and should instead follow yours is as an expression of solidarity with and encouragement to him to find his own way. But, that doesn't imply that I would want to discourage your interest in getting answers more directly from riding the bike. Actually, I would value your direct impressions about the bike. But you should realise that the designer of this bike did not primarily rely on the seat of the pants experience in its conception. He used a kinematically informed perspective like all good bike designers. And while the creativity in this bike design does partly come down to the application of new ideas, I am sure Mr. Voss would confirm that his novel suspension design, like the design of all bicycle (and motorcycle) suspensions will partially reveal its characteristics through a kinematic analysis that largely abstracts from the new ideas and concentrates on the geometry and physical forces that govern the operation of the suspension.
  • + 7
 There's no such thing as 'the one bike'. Then again, I cannot afford more than one. Since neither my trails nor my skills warrant 180mm of travel, I'm quite curious for the 120mm version that rides more efficiently than a hardtail.
  • + 30
 I was thinking that a 130mm 29er version that weighs 27lbs would be unreal.
  • + 6
 There's already plenty of 120-130mm bikes that pedal well. At least well enough that they I wouldn't be tempted to trade their beauty for that extra efficiency a 130mm version of this eyesore.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: what are your thoughts on the 29er Spesh Enduro's? Finally got out on my Elite yesterday and is everything I've ever wanted in a bike, so much more useful than the stumpjumper it replaced.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: @mikelevy: I was waiting for that line in your review. That's all I could think of when I saw this bike announced: 130mm 29er that pedals with the efficiency of a hardtail. .... Too much travel, weight (and lack of water bottle) will kill this amazing design if they don't bring out shorter travel, bigger wheel'd, lighter versions.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: So when @Transitionbikes debuts the carbon Smuggler, you are going to be so stoked.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Isn't this and the Marin the first go at building a bike around the suspension design? First gen of anything needs more iterations to refine it. Given a few tweaks here and there the next iteration may be more to your liking but still retain some of the biggest pluses of the suspension?
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: I really can't help but wonder if the designers fell victim to myopia with how well they could get it to pedal even in a long travel chassis, & lost sight of making a bike that performed well in other ways. Might be appropriate to think of this bike as more of a demonstration model that showcases the possibilities, rather than a fully thought out bike.

That said, I'll defer to someone like @andrextr on whether this suspension design is really as novel as they claim, but watching the compression video, I'm not seeing it moving in a way that a linkage couldn't provide. always hard to tell from just a compression vid, though. It honestly looks to me like the slider does more to keep the suspension laterally stiff than it does to separate rider inputs from the suspension action.
  • + 1
 @pimpin-gimp:

gimp-pimp -> interesting that the Specialized boys split the difference in the EWS. Some gravitate towards the Stumpy and some the Enduro.
  • + 1
 There is such a thing - it just doesn't do everything great.
  • + 5
 @KrazyKraut: Agreed, especially dw link bikes and a handful of others. But this 180mm bike pedals so well that it's made me question if there is a god or not. I'm picturing a 130-ish version that looks nicer and is a bit more playful. I think it'd be unreal just so long as the geo was dialed, of course.
  • + 4
 @pimpin-gimp: I like the Speci E29er, yeah. They're so capable, but a bit too much bike for a lot of my riding. I've always found them a bit active under power, too, but the trade-off is traction, of course. They're great bikes.
  • + 6
 @btjenki: The design is too promising for someone not to turn out a killer, shorter travel trail bike version. Let's hope it has a few bottle mounts!
  • + 2
 @WheelandBlade: Yup, first gen for sure. I think that this design will eventually be as well respected and accepted as Horst Link, dw link ect. I can't wait to see what's coming.
  • + 3
 @groghunter: I think you're probably right in a way, and the next gen versions will be impressive. This thing is so capable and contradictory - I found myself trying to forget what we think a bike of certain travel (and even geo) should do well. With revised geo, this thing would be as capable as a true DH bike, and I know how crazy that sounds given that it pedals so well. I honestly believe that this bike is pushing expectations on both ends, DH and pedaling abilities. No, it's not the bike for me, not even close, but there's no way this thing can perform like it does and not stick around and evolve.

I agree on the video, which is why I wanted to get on this bike and find out. I expect a fair bit of pedal feedback/suspension firming... but nope. I mean, look at the little video, but on the trail, you simply don't feel it at all. It's like it's wide open and ready to take in everything.
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: "Old school" '13 Remedy + 160 Pike + 26" = 1 bike. All day, every day. Don't need any more or less. But I'm a simple guy.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I agree and I look forward to future applications of the NAILD Suspension, but I kind of get why they chose 180mm for their first bike. They wanted to make the biggest impression possible, even if less travel / less weight would've made this a more sensible bike (then again, they got the Marin Wolf Ridge for that).

I kind of get the impression that this is going to be the cheater's bike: People with average skill and fitness will be able to ride trails they'd normally consider too scary because they now got what is essentially a downhill rig underneath them with a lazy but forgiving character. Before, any bike that could've given you that was essentially impossible to ride uphill. These people also don't really care much for jumping and playfulness in general. It sounds condescending but I actually kind of get it.
  • + 3
 @bx-bmrz: Ah, yes, those were/are great bikes. I had a bunch of different Remedys over the years, one with tabs welded on, a cut up Hammerschmidt with a suicide shifter (an old Magura fork lockout) on the underside of the top tube to operate it, an old Fox 36, and some other stuff.
  • + 1
 @WasatchEnduro: probably depends on the model of stumpy to be fair, I had the comp who 29er with revelations, it was awful in comparison to my friends Elite with Pikes. And to be fair his isn't as nice as my enduro. I'm probably just a hacker that needs more bouncy bikes though!
  • + 1
 @pimpin-gimp: Just saying Jared Graves' bike of choice for (most) races is a pimped out Stumpy 29 (160mm fork) as opposed to the Enduro, which seems to be Keene's go to.... when he's not injured (heal up, Curtis!).
  • + 1
 @WasatchEnduro: oh yeah I know what you were getting at, I was trying to agree by saying I prefer the enduro. My mates stumpy is basically the same setup as Graves' bike, and even though his is a better spec I'd still choose mine!
  • + 5
 Its sounds like the rear suspention uses a small amount of stiction to create a damping platform to reduce pedal feed back. That stiction is the reason why you need minimal damping but would give you less feed back about how the tires are reacting to the terrain. Perfect bike for exploring uncharted trails.
  • + 3
 Spot on! I suspect that the 'stability' reported in the article arises from a combination of good level anti-squat and stiction from the telescopic link. Stiction, it needs to be emphasised, does not assist traction but detracts from it. Maybe this is obliquely acknowledged when the reviewer states, "The bike's stability is mindblowing...but I fear that it has come at the expense of a ride that feels anything but dynamic."

It is conceivable that the "mindblowing stability" that the writer speaks of is being mistaken for traction. In the XC world, too, which turns on lockouts and rear suspension compliance limiting mechanisms, traction and stability are often viewed as the same thing. But, they are not. It is not hard to see how this confusion arises. If a bike has enough traction, even when locked out, to get to the top of a hill, say, then locking the suspension out will produce the fastest performance (when enough energy goes into producing it) but that performance will be achieved at a point much closer to the traction limit than making the same ride with a fully open shock. That is, remove the lock out or the heavy damping limiting suspension compliance and the bike gains traction. That is true whether the bikes moves under hard pedalling or not. Traction is gained by the normal operation of the suspension with the suspension complying to the terrain rather than the bike bumping around and being deflected by obstacles. Of course, in certain scenarios, it isn't possible to produce the fastest lap times without sometimes locking out the suspension and allowing the rider to lay down whatever power they have. This is harder to achieve with the suspension cycling at the same time that the rider wants to put in hard pedal strokes. But just because a bike that is very stiff under pedalling gives a sense of amazing responsiveness to hard pedal strokes does not mean that the bike has greater traction. Where traction particularly comes into play is on steep terrain or terrain with slippery or loose surfaces. Locking out the suspension will not produce the best performances in such a situation but rather a wheel slip or slide or a fall. And stiction, too, despite not being anything like a full lockout can only detrimentally affect traction.

This bike has more than enough anti-squat, I believe, to achieve a pretty good pedalling performance without the 'help' of stiction from the telescopic link. In fact the latter can only reduce traction.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy @stillunimpressed @groghunter and many others. This is the analysis in my blog, it matches a lot with the review. What do you think?

mrblackmorescorner.blogspot.com.es/2017/06/polygon-square-one-ex9-2017.html
  • + 5
 Damn, I can't do no other than believe the stuff they say.

I'm well aware of the bullshit in this industry, but hell, when a review is commercially biased ir tends to be subtle, reasonable, believeable. The massive statements made here can only be true. (I can't imagine the price of telling lies that big)

Mike doesn't say it climbs like a XC, he underlines suspension's efficiency when climbing, mentioning as well how the bike handles acording to it's weight and geo.
And about descending, he talks about the massive traction, also noting the lack of playfullness or capabilities other than plow anything also seen on DH bikes, wich might be not everyone's cup of tea.

As usual, I think people would give it a go in case it was a Santa or a Spec. f*ck that.
f*ck the price too.
  • + 5
 The best (completely unfeasible) thing Polygon could do is send out hundreds of demo trucks full of these things to trailheads around the world. It's not a bike for everyone, no doubt, but it's so interesting and surprising that people should try it if possible.
  • + 6
 Did Kona's magic link bikes have these kind of reviews when they first came out?
  • + 4
 No. They did not. They really, clearly sucked immedietely
  • + 3
 A bit confused on the Magic Mary's at 2.5, can't seem to find reference to anything except a wire bead in the 2.5 and 2.6 size. They look like last year's super gravity markings, and not the new Addix versions. Just a curiosity...
  • + 3
 After having ridden this bike i think many of the main points of the bike are missed in the review. It is so different that reviewers dont know how to talk about it. This review is trying to make this a trail bike, and its trying to frame the discussion around the "one bike" idea. The problem with this is its not its not a trail bike and its not supposed to be one bike for fitting all conditions. I would call this more of a true "enduro race bike" than anything before it... its geometry is dialed in for all but the steepest fastest WC tracks, its got 140mm at sag vs 130 at sag for a typical DH bike... yet it pedals out of the saddle like a rocket, and manages excellent firm cornering/pumping support... and all the time it has TRACTION that is consistent and copious... the deal with this bike is that it has the most traction of anything out there and it pedals with most stability and power transfer of anything remotely close to it... the one intended use as far as i can see is to burn up the trail at high speeds down the hill... which is not what a trail bike is about...
  • + 2
 You may have a point, but:

"I don't believe that suspension travel should necessarily be part of that equation," says Darrell Voss [...] "Let's face it. Most riders [...] can only afford one bike. If it pedals efficiently, what is the downside to having more travel?"

Reviewers consider its fitness as a one-bike solution because that's what the designer says it's supposed to be.
  • + 3
 @WaterBear: not what the meaning is there... he is talking about the supposed trade-off between suspension travel and efficiency for pedaling... with this design you have to change your idea about this because it is efficient regardless of the amount of travel... for example, say they made a version of this bike for XC... XC racers are not used to running a lot of travel because of the trade-off with other designs... but with this design an XC racer could run 140mm with no downside... so why not do it?.. this one here though is an enduro bike... mostly they are running in EWS 140-150 bikes for the efficiency, support, and out-of saddle performance yet hitting super gnarly shit... so with the polygon, you get more efficiency/support/performance... and 180mm of travel (more usable after sag than a 200mm DH bike)... there is no downside to the extra travel in this system.. thats what he is talking about... not that you should replace your Ripley with a slacked out enduro bike...
  • + 2
 @eriksaunders: "but with this design an XC racer could run 140mm with no downside..."

One word: weight.
  • + 3
 @teamtoad: you guys are killing me- every FSR bike doesnt weigh what an Enduro weighs... of course you could get the weight down for an XC application...
  • + 2
 @eriksaunders: If we "don't believe that suspension travel should necessarily be part of that equation", as I quote, then why would you need a 140mm version of this bike for cross country, as you suggest? Voss is suggesting that his bike can do all things, even XC, with the amount of travel he's chosen to bless it with.
  • + 3
 @eriksaun: That big slider this design requires is going to put a cap on weight savings.
  • + 3
 This seems like some of the early 29" bikes. The idea behind the wheel size was right, and the wheels themselves worked well, but the knowledge and experience to build a proper bike around those big wheels wasn't there yet. Now you have companies making some 29" bikes that are receiving much more positive ride impressions. I'd give this new suspension a few more model year updates before jumping in. However if everyone waits on it, the design will just disappear and never improve. So in a few years if this develops into the new end all be all of suspension designs make sure and thank the early adopters.
  • + 3
 "Forget your assumptions about suspension travel and pedaling efficiency - the two can be separated, it seems. The 180mm-travel EX9 pedals like an efficient trail bike."

I'm not exactly sure what that statement means but if you meant to imply that this bike somehow defies conventional kinematic analysis (which is an branch of mechanics i.e. an established science not a bunch of personal "assumptions") you would be wrong. The anti-squat curve will determine acceleration characteristics and the anti-rise curve braking characteristics. The leverage ratio curve in combination with the shock will, broadly speaking, determine other ride characteristics. Poor structural or mechanical design or bike geometry or suspension component quality or excessive weight or too much chain growth will, as they always do, compromise and even cancel everything that may be of merit about the kinematic profile of a particular bike. This bike is no different.

So how would you start to analyse the acceleration, braking and ride characteristics of this bike? Figuring out what the linkage is would be a good start. I note in this connection that one of the anchored pivots (i.e. on the frame) joining the rear triangle of Yeti's recent enduro and trail bikes to the bike frame floats on a rail based link (i.e. the Switch Infinity). That bike despite the originality of implementation is technically a 'four bar' bike. And, so is this bike, I believe. With the Switch infinity we have a pivot that rotates on an axle bonded to a floating rail mechanism moving up and down in an invariant linear path that is close to vertical. The unusual stanchion link of the Polygon R3ACT suspension exploits a different mechanism from the very common pivot axle on a rotating bar or the Yeti pivot axle on a floating link on rails. The Polygon linkage uses a sliding/telescoping link that rotates on the (lower) anchored pivot axle. That much is directly observable from the images and video on this page.

Calculating the instant centre for this linkage, I think, goes as follows. One projection line goes through the centre points of the two pivot axles of the short upper link. The other projection line goes through the centre of the anchored pivot of the lower telescoping link perpendicular to the centreline of the telescoping stanchion tube (along its extensible dimension). The IC will be at the intersection of these two projection lines when looking at the bike in side view. If that is correct, the IC will always be somewhere in the vicinity of and just forward of the anchored pivot of the upper short link. At SAG the IC will be somewhat higher than the mentioned pivot and quite close to it - that indicates that the bike will have plenty of anti-squat around SAG, which is where it is needed for a good pedalling performance. Also, the IC on this bike has a fairly forward positioning compared to most other bikes. That forward positioning of the IC has a significant impact on anti-rise which should be at a modest level around SAG, which is, on balance, a good thing. (A higher level or anti-rise would offer better geometry stability during braking but traction under brakes benefits somewhat from a lower level of anti-rise.) Deeper in travel the IC moves to a position lower than the mentioned pivot and somewhat further forward. That will normally indicate a falling anti-squat rate later in travel. Allowing anti-squat to taper off as travel increases generally makes sense because a falling anti-squat rate is (loosely) correlated with a declining rate of chain growth. Chain growth impairs suspension function and makes the smooth and predictable riding experience that is necessary for producing consistent top performances hard to attain. So, the anti-squat profile of this bike is, probably. pretty good. The bike also apparently has a falling anti-rise rate over the course of travel (with the IC moving forward and downward relative to the frame). That kind of anti-rise profile doesn't confer any benefit that I can see - it just makes suspension response under braking unpredictable - but due to the fairly inactive upper link (the photographs and the video show that the link doesn't rotate all that much through the whole course of travel) it is likely that anti-rise rate doesn't plunge too precipitously. All in all, from a kinematic point of view, the bike should function well. Of course, it would be wrong to get carried away with what Polygon has done here. There may be other kinematically superior suspension linkage layouts that could use this kind of telescoping link mechanism to good effect.

For everything to work well with this sort of link the mechanical design will have to be superlative: robust, precise and very unlike a common stanchion under the skin. Sliding of any sort seems to be a very bad idea in this situation. The design should probably be more the the vein of the Lefty fork internals with high precision flat stanchion surfaces riding on needle bearings. If there isn't anything like that this bike would best be avoided. Also, the upper short link looks to be the wrong kind of design for the job: a one piece link, in the vein of enormously strong (lower) Santa Cruz links, riding on collet axles would probably make much more sense.
  • + 1
 Looking at the final linkage implemented on the EX9 more closely it is clear that the IC doesn't migrate very far at all compared to the prototype bike. Also, I overlooked that fact that the change of angle of the upper short link towards downward sloping (in the forward direction) as travel increases is still a lesser change than the change of angle of the upper chain rung which naturally enough also becomes downward sloping (with the suspension compressed). These differences from the description above mean that anti-squat over the course of travel is likely flat to slightly rising over the course of travel and probably always slightly over 100%. That will make for very good pedalling but opens up the possibility of significant pedal feedback depending on the wheel path of the bike. Judging from the reviewers comments chain growth and pedal feedback for this bike may be less than what would normally be expected for a bike with this kind of anti-squat profile. Once we know the axle path of the bike we can be sure, one way or the other.

The small degree of migration of the IC that occurs over the course of travel on the revised linkage also means that the fall in anti-rise over the course of travel is probably not too pronounced, which is a good thing.
  • + 3
 TL: DR
  • + 1
 In my arrogance I learned the hard way that you generally can't eyeball something like a leverage rate. Most of the geometric simplifications that exist work only for very specific designs - once you actually start sketching the geometry and writing down equations, things get complicated quick, and have very unique simplifying tricks to them. The same is probably true for the instant center. Your best bet by far would be to sketch this thing in some design software and just use a numerical calculation for the IC along some very finely broken up path.
  • + 3
 so rides like a velvet tank with no pop , a big gripper of a bike. a big ugly back end. na not for me. I like my bikes like i like my women, short and tight out back with a playful nature i can chuck about when its going down. great piece of engineering tho
  • + 3
 Well it sure looks weird but if the ride is everything it's said to be I would totally consider it. A bigger issue is the geo. The XL is damn short in reach and ETT with a slack ESTA and a high BB. These things are dealbreakers for me. The looks aren't.
  • + 4
 It's a funny thing, the bottom bracket *feels* so much lower than it actually is, even though the bike doesn't run a ton of sag. The ESTA doesn't gel with me, either.
  • + 4
 The Marin version is a 29er with better geo numbers for the xl.
  • + 2
 @LuvAZ: The Marin version definitely looks better but their geo is still surprisingly tame considering how edgy this suspension design in. Still got the slack ESTA but an even longer seat tube, which we really don't need any more.
  • + 2
 This review makes me think the suspension design would find a better home around 150mm...bridging XC pedaling with aggressive trail handling...

@mikelevy - I can't square with the weight...how heavy is the frame and shock combination? Because even with 1100grams of rubber at either end everything else about this bike is super (maybe excessively) light. TRS race carbon? Nexxt bars? XX1 eagle? On a 180mm bike seems like it might qualify as under-built.

Great review by the way...still makes me want to give it a spin.
  • + 2
 I think it sounds like the perfect bike for DH park rental fleets.

In other words, ideal for beginners. Most newbs can't yet appreciate nuance like "liveliness, poppy, playful and personality", but I'm sure anyone who's new to lift assisted-riding could benefit greatly from something so remarkably composed and easy to set up.

Also, I'd be very surprised if we don't see a full DH version, and also a lighter trail version that perhaps has a livelier nature?
  • + 1
 The DH proto is now being used by the Polygon factory team.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy Just out of curiosity, did you consider playing with the suspension settings to try and get the ride quality that you prefer? I know that their selling point is an easy set-up, but you are probably a bit more in tune with a more preferred type of ride characteristic than most. Just curious if there was any tinkering done.
  • + 4
 Yup, I did tinker around with settings. I ran a bit more sag but wasn't into it, and sped the rebound up even more as well.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: along the lines of "set up", however a hypothetical question relating to tires and wheels... If you could tune the spec to fit your preference by changing tires and wheels, do you think this would change some of your ride impressions? IE, because tire/wheel spec might be biased to the far end of the travel spectrum do you think this might play a role (no pun intended) in it's overall handling?
  • + 3
 @Hyakian: Yes, for sure. I usually try to test the bikes as delivered, but there's no doubt in my mind that a set of 750-gram AM tires would help rolling speed and a bit with the playfulness. That said, the Polygon has been designed to be a fast, ground-hugging bike, not a fun poppy bike. So while it'd help, I believe that the character of the Polygon is to go as fast as f*ck and smash. That can be fun, too.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Thanks Mike, I appreciate the response! I think a LOT of us are/were hoping this bike would be the real deal, maybe version 2 will be the one.
  • + 2
 Some thoughts:

- The bike "pedals efficiently" because it has massive chain growth (see the video)
- The difference between a slack, 180mm bike and a nimble 120mm bike is more than just suspension travel; geometry needs to reflect its use, longer travel bikes require more structural material and components also need to be up to the task. Thus, the 'one bike quivver' is a myth.
- Internal cable routing looks very clean (nice job Polygon)
  • + 2
 "Internal cable routing looks very clean" not sure if trolling or serious.
  • + 1
 Wait, you mean to tell me chain growth is still related to pedaling performance? In all seriousness, the physics are still the same and it is still picking tradeoffs.
  • + 1
 @carym: I assume that you are pointing out that a direct relation between chain growth and (the integral of) anti-squat may not exist for such a complex design, and you are correct in principle. OTOH designs generally always want to reduce PKB unless they have a good reason for it to exist, for example if it has to exist for their design to achieve desired anti-squat curves. Since this particular suspension design advertises its rather nice AS curves, it's safe to assume that they traded high PKB for godly AS (or some other design feature they thought was worth it).
  • + 2
 People want different things out of their bikes , for most people it is fun and satisfaction if I know my rear end will kick out on this wet root and I deal with it accordingly it is fun ,so I don't race as most people don't ,so is your bike setup fun or efficient ,or bulldozer or ADHD .The tester doesn't describe a fun bike.You take your bike and learn and progress with it ,for me that is fun
  • + 3
 Hey you all MTB expert XC's,Enduro's and downhillers what i can say just go to the nearest polygon bike store then try it feel the differences, I had try it before and almost sell my kidney damn that bike is carzy!!!
  • + 2
 I feel Mike's opinion on products is fairly neutral, even if he favors riding a xc rig.
one of the examples of this is his statement about how the EX9 stayed put while descending.
but really, its simple...heavier bikes don't get knocked around and (generally) stay stuck going down.
this bike seems like a practical choice for some riders..who can afford to buy a bike for the same cost
as a good used truck.
  • + 4
 It's more than the weight, though. The rear-end tracks the ground in a way I've never seen before. How it rides is very polarizing, which isn't a bad thing.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Do you think all of that traction comes from less low speed compression and a rear triangle with more flex? How did it pump terrain and how did it corner berms? How did it bunny hop? ( these events require more lsc)

It seams to me any design out there could just be tuned with less LSC and high antisquat and achieve the same results....but I havent riddent one yet
  • + 2
 The bike looks good, the suspensions sounds amazing, seems it would better suited for a smaller travel AM/trail bike though, but then it would probably weigh too much as the area around the BB and the extra stanchion are probably a serious weight penalty. Surprised he didn't mention anything about the noise, removing the chainstay has to seriously quiet down the drivetrain, was it a nearly silent ride?
  • + 4
 Yup, it's a pretty quiet bike. A quiet bike feels like a fast bike.
  • + 2
 It would be interesting to have someone review the bike who doesn't give a shit about weight. Carl Patton from Nzmtbm has gone on record and written a detailed article basicallly concluding weight makes barely any difference.

I get the impression (judging by Mike Levy's personal bike) that his preconceived idea of a bike that rides well is a light one that suits his riding style. I don't think this bike is aimed at Mike. I'm sure he shreds but clearly has a preference towards lighter more agile bikes.

This is basically a sledge so I think he's missing the point. It's designed to go down hills quickly but just been designed to pedal up them as well. I think Polygon have/Voss have missed the mark on how they marketed the bike also. Really should be advertised as a dh bike you can ride uphill.

'One bike for all' is ambiguous. It depends on the end user and what trails they ride. I think a 150mm version of this would be very interesting. If you could build it to 28lb it would keep the internet warriors happy but I think anyone who is riding 'enduro' style riding shouldn't be that bothered. On the other hand if people are honest with themselves they should really be on 130mm 29er trail bikes.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy You've well articulated what many suspected of the supposed magical physics defying bike, even on the most amazing sounding machine there's likely to be a tradeoff - I think I'll stick with my incredibly fun Capra.

Would this design not be ideal for a 200mm DH bike though, fast, efficient and well planted?
  • + 2
 Thanks for the kudos. As for a DH bike, I don't think this design would need 200mm to complete with current DH bikes. It'd be very race-specific, however. On the ground, fast, traction, all that.
  • + 2
 As I've become more "seasoned" (older) I find simplicity rather appealing in all aspects of life. I have no doubt that this and the Marin will ride nicely, but there is a lot going on to make that happen. I am biased as my pal is an Evil dealer, but the way those bikes pedal and ride is pretty incredible for as simple as the DELTA system is. Evil's praise in reviews has outpaced almost all of it's more complex competitors.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy @stillunimpressed @groghunter Check this on my blog. What do you think? Mike's review matches a lot. Science+great reviewer=perfect!

mrblackmorescorner.blogspot.com.es/2017/06/polygon-square-one-ex9-2017.html
  • + 3
 I get it right every now and then Smile
  • + 2
 Hi Mr. Blackmore. Congratulations on your blog and thank you for your interesting analysis of the EX9. You may be going in the right direction with your take on things but I must admit to being unsure. For my part, I acknowledged in an earlier comment that my own attempt at a kinematic analysis of the EX9 misfired. You are doing better, but I am not going to rush my thoughts on this, this time.

On conceptual matters, can this linkage really be considered a single pivot? You will have to do more to convince me. Let me make some orienting comments (that fall short of any sort of thesis about the linkage). I will start with a point of comparison with the rail link on the Yeti Switch Infinity. What we have with that link is a dolly (the black metal part) sliding over two (kashima coated) tubular rails. The rails are bound to the bike frame at both ends and don't move. Only the dolly moves on the rails. Also, a pivot axle on the dolly is one of two floating pivots that act as mount points joining the wheel carrying rear triangle to the bike frame. Now, looking at the novel rail link part of the Switch Infinity linkage, only, it is easy to see that the fact that the dolly runs on two rails has to do with stabilising the dolly and the pivot axle it hosts but in a certain sense that is all just fungible implementation details that are not essential to the design. So, lets get rid of what we don't need. Imagine a spontaneously stable dolly moving on one tubular rail only. No matter how odd it initially seems I want to suggest there is a loose analogy between what I have called the Switch Infinity dolly and the whole swing arm of the EX9. The EX9 swingarm is just a very large dolly sliding on a tubular rail and it is a very novel move to grow what is essentially a simple dolly/link sliding on a rail into the largest component of the rear suspension, which is what has happened with the EX9.

Now, if things stopped there we would have a very simple suspension based on a floating dolly without any conventional pivot at all. But they don't. It is essential to the Yeti rail link that the rail(s) are bound to the frame at both ends but the tubular rail on the R3ACT suspension is only bound at one end and the rail is free to change it angular orientation relative to the frame by rotating on the pivot axle that anchors it to the frame. An arrangement like that would be physically unstable which perhaps explains why, in the R3ACT suspension setup, there is a further 'tethering link' (i.e. the short link we readily see in side view that tethers the swingarm to the frame/front triangle) that captures the sliding dolly like swingarm in a physical arrangement in which the whole linkage assembly moves in the same strictly constrained way without variation (despite the changing position of the swingarm on the rail) with each compression and rebound of the suspension.

The link I have called the tethering link may be pivotal to the kinematics of this linkage or it could be uttering devoid on any kinematic function at all. Maybe, it just holds everything in place and that's it. I am not sure at this stage. But, I will be listening to any views offered.

Even if a more certain picture quickly emerges on the kinematics of this bike there may be much in Mike Levy's report that does not reduce to being a primarily kinematic issue. I would suggest to everyone with an interest in this to try to contextualise their experience a bit. When does this bike feel planted? When does it have a lot of grip? When does it feel lively? When does the compression or rebound feel slower than normal? Without a proper description of the riding situation, i.e. a more extensive description of the riding situation - terrain, surface, slope - it is hard to know what positive and negative statements about the suspension amount to. And we need to know what the rider was doing, too. Is this bike only good while pedalling or is it good all the time? If it is the latter then the positive reception of the bike might have more to do with the virtues of a linear leverage rate (thanks for clarifying that Mr. Blackmore) than the things that have mainly been spoken about so far. Anyway, I certainly will be interested to see how things pan out.
  • + 2
 @stillunimpressed: I want to prepare a post in the blog about how I get the results. In this case was relatively easy beacause Polygon released a blueprint of the frame and now Linkage program allows to use one or two sliders. If you not have this option it´s possible to change the slider for a really long linkage perpendicular to the slider. This simulates the movement of the slider with minimal error. Also the slider only moves about 15 mm maximum.

I consider that the main pivot is the joint of the short linkage upper the bb with the frame. It isn´t a monopivot and I must correct that in the blog, but it works like a one of them. If you quit the slider and the short linkage, and the swingarm was attached directly to the frame in the main pivot I commented before, the system barely changes. If the Polygon was sold as a monopivot it would lose all interest, but now you know this...

You are right with the "tethering link" XD. With only the short linkage, the swingarm would fall out (translation and rotation) so the function of the slider must be to "hold" the system (1 degree of freedom, without slider: 2 dof, which is not feasible).

I absolutely agree with your last paragraph, but on any bike. To get a true understand of how the system works, contextualize as you say is mandatory. This is possible if we start with a theory base (the kinematics analysis) and then we must consider how dynamics could affect (sag, type of spring, type of damper, spring and damper values, geometry, rider weight, type of riding...) This can be extended to the whole bike (fork, wheel size, peripherals... and everything mentioned before). I try to explain this in a simple and objective way in my blog, although it doesn't stop being my point of view.

PD: feel free to comment your ideas in the blog. It would be interesting and enriching Wink
  • + 1
 How the hell can this be even close to a trailbike? If the BB is high enough for 180mm of travel, than it can never ever handle like something with 120mm of travel and acording BB height. OR if the BB is low (like lower travel bike) you really dont want to bottom out, because you would be diging the ground with your chainrings.
  • + 2
 Effective seat tube angle is only accurate at one point of seat height. Pretty clearly this bikes actual seat tube angle is quite slack, hence the "falling off the back" feeling when dropper is maxed out, no?
  • + 2
 Yes, exactly. And I have fairly long legs, so the set angle for me is a touch slacker than someone with a shorter inseam.
  • + 1
 cheers!
  • + 6
 Looks like a Marin...
  • + 5
 Marin has their bike made in the same factory as Polygon thats why. I asked the rep at Sea Otter.
  • + 3
 @chillrider199: when I hear things like that, I'm genuinely curious why the same factory matters. Are the factories the one's designing/engineering/modeling/creating the new frame identity? And then just slapping different paint colors and brand names on them? That's what you're implying.....
  • + 0
 @chrisingrassia: No they just have prebuilt molds. Cheaper for a company to take a mold and tweak it slightly rather than just building a bike from scratch. I feel as Marin Bikes doesnt have the costs to build something all from scratch. Of course you can improve older models kinda how Marin has done with their Hawk Hill and such. But this was an oppurtunity for them to change things up a lil bit.
  • + 2
 @chrisingrassia: they are owned by the same parent company
  • + 3
 @chrisingrassia: The factory matters. A lot. Designing a manufactured product is only 1/2 the battle. Building it is another beast and just as important to get right. If you build the same thing at 2 factories you have to get it right twice and spend twice as much time worrying about the supply chain and quality. The factory might not design/engineer/model the frames identity but they do create it.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: ah, ok, see that matter FAR more than just using the same factory.
  • + 1
 Marin makes a 160mm 29er, the Polygon is a 180mm 27.5 bike.
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: Marin is owned by Polygon
  • + 1
 @biketiger: Hamncheez is right. Same parent company
  • + 2
 @chillrider199: Polygon is a brand owned and created by a factory. That factory owns Marin. Voss sits on the BOD of Marin.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: You may have noticed that I respectfully disagree with some articles you've written. But I'd like to compliment you that you've written a very balanced review here Smile . I suppose readers should be able to make out whether it suits their likes and preferences, which is the purpose of a review in the first place.

Regarding this bike, I think I'm with you too that I cherish my challenges. A bike can actually be too smooth and leave nothing for me to mess with. That said, I'm sure that for EWS riders this could be the ticket.
  • + 4
 Please keep disagreeing, too. I'll fight you to the death on some things, but I'm also wrong all the time so tell me when I am. Thanks for the kudos.

This thing, with maybe an angle-adjusting headset (ugh) would be an EWS beast.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Oh yeah there will most certainly always be some disagreement. But there will always be respect. Cheers!
  • + 1
 Hmm. Hard to get your head around it. What I absolutely don't understand: Why has nobody before gone the path of super low damping values to create über-traction? Or have people done that and it turned out to be crap?
People have been fiddling with damping and data aquisition in MTB for about 20 years now. And now this concept here says: Yeah, you went the wrong way. I don't get it.
I don't need damping for effin uphill, I tune damping solely for downhill and guess what: low damping values, especially low speed comp and rebound feel shit. How on earth can this bike handle consecutive hits, compressions and hard landings at all? How? Progression or faster rebound are no substitudes for damping in these cases. I will never have the possibility to demo, so please, anyone, why does the low damping concept seems to work here and nowhere else?
  • + 1
 i'm a simple person. And flawed. Because I like a bike that has to look just as good as it performs. At least to my eyes. And in this case, the highly positive review just can't change my mind about how challenged it is in the looks department. I can't un-see it so to speak. Maybe v3 will accomplish the same, while looking more polished and elegant.
  • + 1
 Here's my 'one bike to do it all' problem/solution.

I only own one bike, because that's all I can afford/justify owning.

I own a SB6c, it's not the best, it's not the worst, but it HAS to do everything because I can only have one bike. Problem solved
  • + 1
 Sounds like an awesome bike if you want to stay glued to the ground. I'm really surprised that only one adjustment is used on the Fox X2. Maybe with a bit of tinkering you could get the bike to pop and jump better, but they your killing it's great pedalling efficiency and active rear end.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy @stillunimpressed @groghunter and many others. This is the analysis in my blog, it matches a lot with the review. What do you think?

mrblackmorescorner.blogspot.com.es/2017/06/polygon-square-one-ex9-2017.html
  • + 1
 I have to wonder if a shorter-travel version of this platform could better fit the role as "the one." Maybe a 140mm 29er? More lively and tremendously efficient. There is an appeal to bikes like this, but despite my glaring lack of skill and finesse, I still enjoy a hardtail at times.
  • + 1
 So it pedals well as the slider allows chain pull forces to directly pull the rear wheel back in rather than there being any angular change of force distribution required through a purely pivot based linkage. This is a mechanically efficient way of using chain pull forces to create anti-squat. It would also level bumps well as it appears to have quite a rearward axle path and, again because there's far less mechanical inefficiency in the slider extending rearward.

Plenty of rearward axle path movement has always levelled bumps well and created lots of chain pull to aid pedalling. The downside as noted in the review also, is that if you look at the design, the shock when it extends will also try to push the slider rearward, which would 'compress' the suspension, the opposite reaction of what the shock extending is supposed to achieve. Only a short link is used to shift the shocks rebound force nearly 90 degrees to compress the slider instead. This huge mechanical inefficiency and angular force transfer is what necessitates the need for a high rebound speed in the shocks damping and also what will cause it, in conjunction with having 180mm travel, to jump badly. Sluggish or over-slow rebound will pedal well but jump horridly - this design creates this through poor mechanical force transfer with the 'linkage'.

I had an old Foes Fly with 9" travel and the wrong shock tune for my weight [combined with the Curnutt shock's intentionally slow rebound anyway] that rebounded far too slowly that effectively rode exactly how this bike reviews. Pedalled well, ploughed well, but jumped horribly. Only my old Foes looked 500% better than this weird looking contraption... and that's where this bike really falls apart, its fuuuuuugly!!!!
  • + 1
 It's certainly an interesting design - I'd like to see some analysis of the kinematics to find out what's really going on. The weight puzzles me, that must be a heavy carbon frame!

I feel like my own bike is also a one bike for everything but taking a different approach - it's a Banshee Spitfire (160mm fork, 140mm rear) with a DBair-CS and -2 deg headset. It isn't light (just under 32lbs) but it pedals efficiently and pumps equally well, so it feels good on less gnarly trails. The static head angle is 63.7 or 64.2 deg depending on the dropout setting, 25% sag front, 30% rear so that's about 40mm at both ends.

With that geometry, a good fork (Pike with Luftkappe) and shock, a stiff frame, strong wheels, fairly big tyres and 810mm bars it's pretty unstoppable once it gets rough or fast or steep, despite the relative lack of travel.

It might not be as fast on smooth singletrack as a lighter or shorter travel bike or as fast on the big stuff as a longer travel bike but it never feels like too much or too little bike and it's always fun and confidence inspiring. And it goes uphill well too, especially on more technical climbs (notable better in the middle rather than slackest/lowest dropout setting).

Bonus points - it's over three years old and has done thousands of miles but doesn't feel or look dated!
  • + 1
 One of my close riding buddies (ex World cup DH racer) said even of the Mk3 Nomad, that to ride a bike of that capability with his skill base, then full face and body armour were probably essential, so with a bike of this nature "light weight" is not going to be part of the equation if you are going to ride the bike to its full potential, in fact on that basis it is essentially a DH bike that can in this case be pedalled "easily" uphill, however to gain the max out of this bike full DH tyres would probably be required, which would then of course add considerably to the weight going uphill.
  • + 1
 I reckon if it was 160mm, make the head angle 65 or 64.5 and work out some way to make it a little lighter, maybe about the 30lb mark, this'd be a very capable "one bike"... as it is, it's more like a DH bike that pedals well but needs a couple of extra degrees of headangle. Maybe you can get an angleset put in, an offset bushing, or both? Wonder how it would go then
  • + 1
 What is the advantage to having this crazy suspension design that supposedly improves efficiency (and weighs a ton, and looks weird), over remote lockout/ travel reducing shocks used with conventional suspension designs that do the same thing? As seen on Scott and Cannondale bikes. (Legitimate question)
  • + 4
 Personally, I can't stand levers and switches. I want to get on my bike and ride it as is, without firming up anything or flipping some switch to steepen the bike. For that approach, the Polygon is pretty impressive. Zero pedaling aids needed. I'd argue that the EX9 is more capable (speed and terrain-wise) than any AM bike from Scott or C'dale, even with the EX9's HA that sells it a bit short. I have the new Jekyll but have yet to ride it, so we'll see.
  • + 2
 The lockout won't change when you ride on the roads or on fire roads, but when you lock the shock you lose its efficiency and sensitivity (the bike will react and feel more like a hardtail). I rode the new Marin Wolf Ridge and it felt really good.
I think I have several grammar mistakes, please ignore it.
  • + 2
 @rotemCa: Well some of the new remote lockout shocks have a middle setting that just reduces the travel instead of locking it out, which still allows the bike to have some sort of (more efficient) rear suspension. That's really cool you got to try out the Wolf Ridge, I'm really interested to hear more about it.
  • + 2
 @bridgermurray:
I have to admit that I haven't really tried such a lockout yet.
The Wolf Ridge is something different.
Before the first ride, I focused on the pedal efficiency, so it didn't surprised me a lot. The thing that really surprised me were the descents, it has tons of grip, and the rear wheel tracks the ground incredibly well.
The feeling is different and it might look wired, but you have to try it.
  • + 1
 Strange review...started on a real high but ended up on a low...
Probably its one of those bikes that needs to be seen live to understand angles, proportions and maybe starts to look better.
I wonder if that system in the UK tho, where 90% (or more unfortunately) of rides gets the BB area covered with mud, grit and stones, is even adequate, long-lasting or need constant maintenance to keep it that efficient. Water bottle cage? Who cares...unless you only ride for an hour or so!? Magic Mary is the best tyre I've ever tried in muddy wet conditions, so its interested to see such contrasting views!?
  • + 1
 There should be talk about the trend in the past several years to turn the shock into a structural member of the frame. I am not sure who was the first to do it (specialized I think) but this bike is one of the most extreme with that long yoke. I am sure the shock was not intended for those types of loads and without a doubt will result in excessive wear very quickly in the shock. Many companies are doing this now but I am not sure people are aware of what that means for the shock when purchasing the bikes.
  • + 1
 "Traction is a funny thing; most of us don't really notice it until it disappears, and when it does it happens in a near instant. But what if it doesn't disappear? Well, that's what it's like to ride the EX9, and it's a surreal feeling at first."

Statements like this really delegitimize these articles...
  • + 3
 "Statements like this really delegitimize these articles..." poppycock
  • + 5
 That's a whole lot of ugly for $9K.
  • + 3
 this bike is SICK!! Admit it ! Would LOVE to ride that but at the moment I cant afford
  • + 1
 Looks ever so slightly better than Marins version, though not nice enough to buy.
It's like walking through the red light district in Amsterdam. If I'm spending money on one ride I'm going for a looker! Right?
  • + 3
 there are no lookers in the red light district in Amsterdam.
  • + 2
 I quite like the look of this thing now. A hell of a lot of money though. Do I remember correctly that there was also talk of a shorter travel version possibly happening?
  • + 1
 @mikelevy have you rode a DVO Fork? I think that would tame the front end a bit. From my minimal riding time unnoticed a huge difference in how the bike tracked over Fox. It was different in a really good way.
  • + 1
 I have ridden a DVO fork. Nothing wrong with them, but also not any better than a 36, Pike and the rest. It's as good, which is a big compliment these days.
  • + 4
 Doesn't Marin produce this bike also?
  • + 3
 They do a shorter travel 29er that uses the same (licensed) suspension design.
  • + 3
 Great review which actually describes the bike instead of just saying good or awful.
  • + 0
 The best example to show how much we can do to better the suspension of mtb The worst example to show how don't put this on the ugliest bike ever made... the front triangle seems attached... Is like to see a opera dancer with the legs of schwarzenegger
  • + 1
 @mikelevy to be fair I take pedal efficiency from reviews with a good dose of salt as all modern rigs can pedal well with minimal rider influence, but how does this bike handle big watt sprint bursts?
  • + 2
 I'd argue that there are some massive differences in how bikes perform under power when a crutch isn't employed. The Polygon pedals well regardless of what the rider is doing.
  • + 1
 might have missed it on this post, but I think it would be interesting to compare Tantrum's missing link vs. the r3act suspension system, and then these newcomers with the likes of Ibis DW link, Specialized...etc.
  • + 0
 It isn't the "one" by any standard or stretch of the imagination. It directly competes with the Knolly Delirium, Phoenix Firebird, Intense Uzzi (which I have seen ZERO coverage on), Specialized Enduro, and the Santa Cruz Nomad. They all sport between 170mm-190mm of travel and aim at being the "one" bike that can do it all, pedal all day but can still shred a double black. I'd love to see some sort of shootout including bikes of this travel and discipline as I plan on selling my downhill bike and my trail bike to buy one one of these types of pedal-able downhill bikes. Dare I say, frreeride is back! And it can pedal!?!?
  • + 0
 building my delirium now and couldn't help but think that all the strengths he points out in this (crazy grip and super active under braking) are the reasons I bought the delirium... but I've never read anything accusing the Knolly of being a dead fish to ride... plus one extra rocker seems like way less maintenance than a whole other stanchion to keep cleaned and oiled... Granted the Knolly isn't supposed to pedal all that great up fired roads but that's why the engineering gods gave me a locked out DHx2 coil... oh and aluminum frame welded like a tank, coil front and rear in an xl that still weighs less than this and costs a few grand less to build up... not really seeing the point of this, now the new nomad does however make me wonder if I may face buyer's remorse.
  • + 4
 over priced!
  • + 3
 Totally - the Capra has this space better covered at 60% of the cost.
  • + 3
 Price is usually something I try to avoid commenting on. One man's pot of gold is another's pocket change, and we all have different priorities. Would I spend $8,499 USD on this bike? Nope, I wouldn't. But there are a lot of people who will.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Yeah, but it's an easy and noteworthy point of comparison, just like geometry and travel.
  • + 3
 @skelldify: It is, but I guess what I mean is that some people are happy to pay more for something that another person wouldn't even want. Geo is somewhat easy to rationalize: these numbers do this yada yada, but cost is different. But I do get what you're saying.
  • + 1
 What's the weight of the frame only (with the custom-tuned shock, of course)? This thing probably weighs a ton considering it's already on XX1.
  • + 3
 You had me at "Trek VRX" xxx
  • + 1
 Would love to see a suspension video and kinematic charts! Doesn't sound like my kind of ride, but I'd love to take one for a spin.
  • + 1
 The Hannahs should have ridden it in Les Gets DH. Also would someone tell Kerr and Chapman to lose the baggies? Gwin furtively untucked his shirt at Leogang finish line.
  • + 3
 Apart from the reach number the geo is crap.
  • + 6
 The geometry is definitely in the middle, but the handling is interesting. It rides bigger than it actually is.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Rear centre too short, BB too high, seat angle too slack blah blah.
  • + 2
 "Pedals like XC bike, descend like DH bike" - every PB review for the last 10 years
  • + 12
 Don't you know that I just copy and paste old reviews? No need to write new ones all the time!
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: More time for riding that way. Smile
  • + 3
 Polygon. Never wrong. Best bike.
  • + 3
 I left the review with more questions than answer?
  • + 4
 Me too
  • + 1
 I need to know his chosen tyre for wet roots... MM SG is exactly what I reach for when winter comes in the woods!
  • + 1
 Marin Wolfridge quick analysis by andrextr: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9yk8LXNxIU
  • + 2
 I actually think it looks badass
  • + 2
 is this a dating website? sorry I'm new here!
  • + 1
 ASL?
  • + 1
 It almost reads like he's trying really hard not to call it a boring ride...
  • + 8
 I did find it boring-ish, especially compared to some other all-mountain bikes that I've ridden recently. It feels fast as hell, though, which many will find not boring.
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: If you're bored, ride faster?
  • + 3
 @skelldify: Easy on this bike.
  • + 1
 Why do these reviews always have a picture with the dropper post halfway down? That always bugs the crap out of me.
  • + 1
 I wonder how sensitive the suspension is to different size chainrings for proper setup?
  • + 1
 How much pedalkick did you feel? Or to ask differently: does a lot of pedalfeedback annoy you on others bikes?
  • + 3
 That's the thing: I didn't *feel* any pedal kickback and it seems very active. The Slayer pedals insanely well, too, but that bike doesn't transfer a bit of the ground up into the pedals. I don't get this sensation on the Polygon at all.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: In the youtube video you posted, you can see some pedal kickback. It doesn't look like a huge amount, though.
  • + 1
 Yeah crazy how alienesque this this bike looks. Still hits trees by the look of it
  • + 3
 Looks like my butthole
  • + 44
 'can be ridden like a monster truck if one wishes'?
  • + 25
 180mm of travel??
  • + 24
 @LemonadeMoney: more like "rewarded a balls out, straight line, heels down approach "
  • + 13
 "...it's just too much of a blunt smashing tool for me to fall in love with it."
  • + 4
 You should stop looking at your arse.
  • + 0
 @CaptainSnappy: can't be unseen.
  • + 13
 "In other words, nearly wide open all around"
  • + 8
 "...but there are some angles, especially the three-quarter view from behind, that make it look simply awesome"
  • + 1
 Is this going to be Polygon's thing now--naming bikes after shapes? That bike looks more like a dodecahedron than a square.
  • + 2
 How is the bike standing up in that first pic?
  • + 0
 ever heard about photoshop ? Wink easy task to make the support disappear, it looks so more pro!
  • + 10
 There was a stick holding it up that was removed in Photoshop.
  • + 2
 Photoshop.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: shame you couldn't have airbrushed the bike lol
  • + 2
 i want one
  • + 1
 Wouldn't last five minutes in the north uk riding conditions
  • + 0
 Anybody notice this bike and the Marin Wolf Ridge look pretty damn near identical ?
  • + 2
 what size did you test?
  • + 2
 Whoops, forgot to mention that. It was a large-sized EX9, and I'm 5'10''.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: Mike, you put a lot of good content in the comments when you reply to people on your reviews. (BB Height vs. how it feels, that it's a quiet bike, that you tinkered with shock settings, bike size, etc)... Most people (shockingly) don't read the comments. Why not have an 'Updated' section at the bottom of every review where you guys can add info in as you realize you forgot it, or as it becomes available. Updates, with a date so as to differentiate them from the 'original' review.
  • + 1
 @btjenki: I often prefer the comments to contents - I think a lot of PB readers want to readr feedback to article/content. It's really what makes PB great.
  • + 2
 @btjenki: That's not a terrible idea. I enjoy the interaction and answering questions, especially when it's an interesting bike.
  • + 4
 @endlessblockades: I also sometimes prefer the comments to the content haha
  • + 2
 @mikelevy @endlessblockades : I agree the comments are what a lot of people come to PB for, and Mike interacting is great. I just think there is a lot of good info in here sometimes and 90% of people don't have time or the brainpower to go through all of these and dig out gems. Can have it in the comments, but then add to article as well.
  • + 1
 stupid bike to buy may as well buy a downhill bike
  • + 1
 Look like de marin wolf ridge !!!!
  • + 1
 this is "the one bike" to dump in the trash
  • + 10
 That's aggressive.
  • - 2
 as you can see in other comments here in this section, many people think the bike is ugly expensive and pointless. I think is one of the ugliest bikes I have ever seen in my 30 years of MTB and the suspension system is doubtful.
  • + 3
 @mudmandhbrazil: Having read the article, the suspension seems to be the one thing that isn't doubtful. My impression is that it's a bit heavy and unwieldy and closer to a downhill bike in a lot of ways. But the suspension function sounds great. I'm just wondering if it wouldn't work better on trimmer bike.
  • + 1
 @mudmandhbrazil: On the other hand, Mike Levy actually rode one and can see a place for it and says the suspension claims are justified, for the climbing at least, so maybe you could ignore the comments section which is full of people judging a bike by pictures and spec tables and read the review by someone who rode the bike.
  • + 1
 Press fit BB? No thanks. I'll pass.
  • + 1
 well it won't be my one bike
  • + 1
 Looks like something Cannondale would come up with.
  • + 1
 Looks like Marin Wolf Ridge
  • + 0
 How does the suspension prevent bottom outs with so little compression damping?
  • - 2
 I would like to read another review, after seeing mike levy"s personal rig. a 28lb 100 mm cross country 29 er rocky mountain. I don't trust his opinion on anything if he rides that of all bikes.
  • + 18
 It weighs 25lbs now, after some new test parts that I just put on (SID WC, Knight Composite wheels, lighter rubber, ect). Wasn't aware that the weight and spec of my personal bike disqualified my thoughts on other bikes Frown
  • + 6
 So what bike should reviewers ride?
  • + 3
 Well then. We dont like you
  • + 3
 I personally have mad respect for him after seeing that rig.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: How well does this bike pedal compared to the your Rocky? That is what I would like an honest answer to.
  • + 4
 @ak-77: You know, it'd be a silly question in any other situation given that one has 180mm of travel and one has 100mm, but it's not silly because of how crazy this Polygon is.

My little Hellement is super efficient, of course... and the Polygon *feels* just as efficient, but in a heavier, more forgiving package. It'll slosh around if you throw your weight around, of course. You can pedal the Polygon with effort and look down at the shock and it is literally not moving a millimeter.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: @mikelevy: Not totally, but our preferences to what we like, always give us built in subjective biases, whether we think so or not. So a guy who enjoys and prefers riding the bigger, burlier bike, (and the terrain that justifies it) would have more of an even keel on the subject. However, it doesn't discount your opinion. I think that's what fwp39 is saying. .
  • + 1
 Pressfit BB means it wont be anyones do it all bike
  • + 0
 Would you be able to describe it as "Just like a bamboo stick, but flexible"?
  • + 1
 Where's the $8K shock?
  • + 1
 I noticed ****
  • - 2
 These pedal uphill thing is becoming super cheesy. Just lock the damn shock on long climbs. Weight is what makes the real difference.
  • + 1
 Overall you save a couple of percent on the total weight of the system (you and the bike and water and tool etc) by going to a lighter bike. It will make a difference on the climbs but not as much as traction and an efficient drivetrain will. Saving weight in the places it matters (rotating and unsprung) is important but light bikes don't make as much of a difference as you would hope.
  • + 0
 @Patrick9-32: really....? I am not sure where you ride, but U.K. terreain is quite tame/begginer friendly. Go from a 32 pounds bike to 26 pounds, then see if it makes a difference. Lack of technical skills can't be compensated by technology. People don't know how to go over obstacles without impacting. What would be an efficient drivetrain? 1x lol.
  • + 0
 I know it's the one ugly bike
  • + 10
 Looks actually pretty sick in person.
  • + 6
 @chillrider199: It does, doesn't it? I know it's a subjective thing, but I keep thinking that it's either the best looking bike I've ever seen or the worst. But it looks sick either way.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: How I think of it is that its different but almost too different at the same time haha
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: But if this was how bikes had looked for years and then something we know of as "traditional" came along would you feel differently? Careful you don't become a cycle-ist.
  • + 0
 Bottoms out suspension, half the bike impregnates the ground.
  • + 0
 looks like the marin wolf ridge.
  • - 1
 " One of "the ugliest bikes of all
Time
  • - 2
 Not is aesthetics are involved... seriously, could it be uglier if it tried?! f*ck me.
  • - 2
 Overhype of the year..?
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