Opinion: Moving The Needle

May 22, 2018 at 9:12
by Richard Cunningham  
Pole Bicycles at Sea Otter 2018.
Leo Kokkonen, Founder of Pole Bicycles


Sea Otter Classic was winding down. Some vendors were already dismantling their displays while the golden hour's glow cast color and shadows across the still-packed venue. I was lost in thought, threading a long-travel 29er through the crowd towards the media parking lot with two bundles of tires and a plastic bag full of soon-to-be-reviewed bits slung over my shoulder when someone called my name. The face was so familiar, but I could not place it.

Carbon vs Aluminum
Leo Kokkonen introduced himself with some anticipation in his voice. Leo is the brilliant engineer behind Pole Bicycles and the guy who launched the anti-flat, tire-insert trend with Huck Norris.

We had never met face to face, although we had butted heads recently over the carbon versus aluminum debate. "This could get ugly," I thought. Either way, I knew it was not going to be a "Hey bro, gotta go" trade show conversation.

Any trepidation I harbored was unfounded. Kokkonen is articulate, soft-spoken, and about as genuine as a person gets. We dove in deep into the challenges he faced with CNC-machining an entire frame from aluminum. Remarkably transparent, Leo spoke about the project's failures with the same enthusiasm as he did about its successes. We had a laugh after I shared that, like Pole's prototype "Machine," the first version of what would later become my most popular dual-suspension design broke within a few kilometers of its first ride.

I learned that much of the motivation behind the novel design of Pole's Machine was sound business practice. Computers handle the lion's share of the manufacturing, so Pole doesn't need to manage a factory full of skilled welders and metal workers to produce frames. Inventory is almost unnecessary, as frames can be made to order within a couple of weeks. Aircraft grade 7075 aluminum and CNC machining centers are available worldwide, so as their exports increase, Pole could easily manufacture its frames in the geographical locations where their customers are based, instead of wasting time and resources incurred by shipping and import duties. Like Kokkonen, there is more to the Machine than meets the eye.

As our conversation broadened, it became clear that Kokkonen's aluminum stunner was not the end product, but the continuation of a journey that began somewhere around the time when he was experimenting with long top tubes and exaggerated seat and head angles.
Pole Bicycles Machine at Sea Otter 2018. The frame is machined in 2 halves and then bonded bolted together.

bigquotesWalk the same path and you will always arrive at the same destination.Anonymous

"When I first rode the prototype Evolink," says Leo. "I thought, 'Well, this is strange,' but then, after riding it more, I knew that it was better for everywhere. It is easier to ride, so you have more confidence, so you can go faster. The stopwatch proves this." Kokkonen committed to his findings. He disregarded industry-wide pushback for its ugly-duckling looks and put the Evolink into production.

Kokkonen's decision to carve the Machine from aluminum billets and glue it together was similarly inspired: he optimized his frame design to maximize the advantages of a best-practice process. For Pole's limited production, it was an easier way to manufacture, he had complete control, and there was arguably less environmental impact. He'd be happy to show you the numbers. Kokkonen's ability to ignore convention and search well beyond the horizon for solutions was refreshing.

We both thought that that rider-forward geometry has yet to be exploited, that most riders are adapting their present technique to take advantage of its benefits. Kokkonen envisions that, ultimately, it will inspire new techniques that could fundamentally change the way we ride a mountain bike. He shared some video clips of a group of riders ripping a series of tight corners to illustrate his point. Three of the four hit the turns like your basic shredit video stars, but one was compressing each apex with such force that his bike was floating between corners. The speed he carried was impressive. Kokkonen suggested that the next breakthroughs in DH racing may well evolve from trail and enduro.

Pole Bicycles Machine at Sea Otter 2018.

Ask the sport's luminaries to comment upon the development curve of today's mountain bike and they'll tell you it's flattened out - to expect less innovation and anticipate a period of gradual improvement. Evidently, Kokkonen didn't get that memo. In the course of our thirty minute conversation, the unassuming engineer articulated a dozen ideas about alternative manufacturing methods, riding techniques, integrated tire and rim designs, and suspension, any of which could have been labeled as revolutionary, and yet all of Leo's concepts were grounded in reality and could be implemented with existing technology.

Our conversation ended much too soon. It had been a long while since I had so thoroughly enjoyed tossing around ideas with such a creative mind. Leo vowed to pick up where we left off in the near future and I began my five hundred mile drive home. Plenty of time to think.

No doubt that, given the resources, Leo would tick every box on his wish list. I am less certain, however, that if his visionary solutions do arrive, the sport's elite will embrace them. Today's bicycles and riders are pretty damn good, so its easy to believe there aren't many opportunities left for significant improvements. People don't like change when everything looks rosy, and the product of that complacency is that it doesn't take much in the way of innovation to move the needle.

Leo isn't concerned with wiggling the needle, he wants to zip tie it to the red line. It's laughable to imagine that an industry full of Kokkonens would have tip-toed one at a time from nine to 12 cassette cogs, anointed themselves for squeezing out three millimeters of tire clearance, or wasted a decade to get from a 70 to a 67-degree head angle. One can only imagine what we'd be riding today if he were driving the bus when those decisions were made, but if Leo continues on pace, I am sure he will soon give us a preview of how that may have gone down.


134 Comments

  • + 56
 I think I heard somewhere that he doesn't like carbon. I'm not positive though...he hasn't been real clear about it.
  • + 34
 Sounds familiar. I wonder where I saw that.
  • + 51
 Nonsense. This "Leo doesn't like carbon" rumor is just an unethically manufactured one...
  • + 7
 #fakenews
  • - 6
flag manco (May 24, 2018 at 21:56) (Below Threshold)
  • + 41
 Keep doing what you're doing, Leo! I can't afford a Machine, but if I could, it would be my #1 choice for more than one reason.
  • + 39
 I don't know if I could ever get away with telling my buddies i'm off to go ride my Pole. We American's can't handle that sort of humor.
  • + 2
 That makes 2 of us.
  • + 7
 @spinko: I feel like that could be the next series of puns on pinkbike. I mean that's the finest Pole i've ever seen. LOL
  • - 11
flag chasejj (May 24, 2018 at 12:45) (Below Threshold)
 @spinko: My next bike most likely as long as they stay together under actual riders for a year or so.
Brand needs a name change now, before they really attack the US market. He already has Huck Norris. I say rename it Chuk Norris Bikes. Boom Done. I'll send you the bill.
  • + 11
 @raditude: Dude! The puns are like 32.5% of why I want this bike! HAHA!
  • + 1
 @chasejj: I guess we will see. Seems like the older ones are built well, no? I would have to assume the Machine will be better?
  • - 1
 U go ride your long Pole Machine made out of pure metal. No matter how hard it's rattling nothing will stop you on your long Pole.
  • + 7
 @spinko: hold my Pole while I snog your girlfriend...
  • + 7
 @raditude: You think that's bad? We have a criterion track that has the unfortunate shape of a cartoon penis, with Strava segments aptly named "shaft", "balls" etc. It's nicknamed the "D*ck n' Balls". This morning I inadvertently said "I need to do a few laps of the d*ck and balls this weekend", and thought nothing of it, at a café....
  • + 2
 @spinko: you mean 28.99%
  • + 5
 @raditude: dude, I ride a Devinci Johnson. I can never say that I’m going out to ride my Johnson, I would never live it down lol
  • + 3
 @raditude: and you come from the South Pole, so you should know.
  • + 2
 @raditude: beat me to it!
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: Dude, want a turn on my pole? It rides reaaaalllyyy niiicceee. It's super long!
  • + 2
 @raditude: what if you were to walk in to a dealer and ask, "Can I test ride a Pole?"
  • + 4
 @lumpy873: You should really try the Fat Pole for winter riding!
  • + 1
 @raditude: would you have to deal with Pole shrinkage in the cold?
  • + 2
 @lumpy873: I believe that's refered to a turtle pole. happens in cold weather whilst wearing bibs.
  • + 1
 Stromlo!!! Didn’t even have to check you were from Canberra haha @Lejla:
  • + 1
 @raditude: I wonder if they are available in a brass color?
  • + 1
 @Lejla: oh, man. Been there. My buddy was leaving a cafe and I called out to him as he was leaving, "See ya later, fatty!" Except, instead of fatty, I used the Dutch word which sounds like "Dick-s**k." I didn't realize what I had done until I noticed half the place staring at me. idiot. . .
  • + 25
 Oh boy here we go with the comments. Let me just say that I am in no way affiliated with Pole but I am a happy customer. I'll admit that at 6'4" it's always been tough to buy bikes and my 140 Evolink has opened my world up. Paul Astons review is what pushed me over the edge to purchase a frame tbh. The thing with these long bikes is that they are so stable at speed, it's almost weird but so fun. I ride primarily on the North Shore in Vancouver and I have yet to get frustrated or held up by the bikes length, I just ride different lines now for the most part and my times (Yes Strava!) are consistently faster overall. Is the bike 'poppy' or 'playful' or any of those other buzz words that people like to use? You betcha! In fact I would say it's more playful just because of the increase in room the rider has to move the bike around. Now Pole isn't really the only brand with extreme geo anymore, Kona did the sameish numbers with the process 111 and now Transition is pretty close with the Sentinel among other brands. I'm seeing more and more of these bikes on the Shore and people are quite stoked on this new geo. Go demo a new geo bike and then make the call. Some of my old bmx buddies can't do it because they're so used to tiny bikes which is fine, but at least they tried.
  • + 9
 I agree, and also think people saying modern geo bikes are 'boring' or 'too stable' or 'not playful' are missing the point.

The bikes are faster and capable of more. Once you learn to ride them and get them up to speed they are just as fun, but you are going way faster in the process - win/win.
  • + 6
 @Tmackstab "different lines" You're the source of all the new wide lines in the Fiver courses. Smile j/k
  • + 1
 @shirk-007: Haha!!! Busted!! But really it's @theedon and everyone knows lol
  • + 11
 @JoeRSB: yeah some folks might be missing the point but some people's idea of fun might be a less stable bike that's easy to jump or hop and gets funny/scary at less than warp speed. I know it's not the point of this bike, which is speed, but for shits and giggles riding I guess people are legitimately asking is this really the best shape (for their own definition of mtb shits and giggles)?
  • + 4
 Never rode one but can imagine what a bike with 52" wheelbase and 18" chain stays would ride like. Probably be blast going really fast in a straight line But.anything that is slow, twisty and technical would be awful. Would turn like a 747 taxing down LAX and manualing it would be like doing a 300lb deadlift.
  • + 3
 haha
  • + 2
 @in2falling: You would be incorrect. See my comment below regarding just how amazing these bikes ride. I came from a 26" rear/27.5" front project bike with a 45" wheelbase.
I bought an Evolink 140 29" wheels 50" wheelbase because it's the most do-everything-brilliantly bike I've ever ridden. Try oneSmile
  • + 1
 With the exception of one or two brands XL or XXL frames Pole and Nicolai are the only ones that have similar geo everyone else is still miles behind them!
Kona Process 111 size XL: reach 510mm, chainstays 430mm, headangle 67.5º, wheelbase 1235mm
Pole Evolink 131 size L: reach 510, chainstays 455mm, Headangle 65º, wheelbase 1304mm
Aside from the same reach in different frame sizing I fail to see how they they are sameish! Not even same proportions!
  • + 1
 @in2falling: On paper it would seem to ride like that but in reality it doesn't at all. I recommend trying one before making up your mind.
  • + 1
 I rode an old school skinny trail last weekend. The state of disrepair of the elevated skinnies held myself back more than the 1300mm wheelbase bike did.
  • + 1
 @JoeRSB: You're right mate, but not sure this kind of very agressive geometry will suit every rider. You need more than average riding skills and a good force of persuasion to get such a bike through a switch back.
Anyway, Pole is pushing the limits, try to innovate and to provide different product on a market where 'Look like a Trek' ( a Kona, a Turner from the good ol days Smile ) is the benchmark…
  • + 4
 @in2falling: I have tried some big bikes - you’re right. I honestly don’t know how anyone can argue otherwise. Sure the things have merit but don’t try and tell me they’re as manoeuvrable and easy to jump, manual etc as a shorter wheelbase. It ain’t so, it will never be so.
  • + 5
 The Pole has a high stack height which helps bring back some manouvreability, I’d be interested to know if they did that on purpose. The higher bars will give more leverage when lifting the front end etc. But it’s kind of pseudo-manouvreability. The bike is still too big to handle the way I’d (personally) like.
It would be interesting to me to see how you guys who like the Pole (sorry) get on if you switched to a moderate bike right now. My guess - you still have the confidence on straight line speed that you’ve learned riding a long wheelbase but after wrestling the bigger bike through corners you’re now a cornering pro on a smaller bike.
I must iterate I’m over arguments about which is better, if you’re loving the bike then that’s all that matters. But everything is a compromise, you can’t have the best of all worlds. My small bike will probably get left behind by a Pole on many of my own descents which are fast and straight and rocky. But my small bike will have the edge elsewhere, simple as that. Pole haven’t created a magic bicycle, it’s just a bicycle with bigger proportions and everything that comes with that.
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: You don't have to get mad dude, I just mentioned the Kona because at the time of its release, the 510mm reach was the hot topic of that bike and now other brands are doing it. That's why I said 'sameish' and not 'same'
  • + 1
 @Tmackstab: What's the Reach on your 140 EvoLink?
  • + 1
 @gonecoastal: 510mm, I'm on a large which is the same as the original Xl Process 111, The XL Evo is 530mm.
  • + 1
 @Tmackstab: How do you even ride a bike made for midgets?
  • + 4
 @ThomDawson: Actually when I get on a small bike it just feels wrong! The bike feels so twitchy and I get the feeling I'll go over the bars at any moment I hit technical terrain. When people ask if I want to try their bike I politely decline...
  • + 16
 Leo has built an amazing community for Pole owners in addition to amazing bikes. I have personally gone to Leo with weird suspension questions on facebook and he has been amazingly responsive and helpful. He's gone so far as to run some stuff on his computer to answer my questions. It's not just me either, he is consistently responsive and engaged with the riders and community. I can't think of another company where consumers have that kind of access to the engineer(s) and the engineers are able to respond without attorneys dictating what they can say.
  • + 7
 Yeah I'm on the Facebook group too and he's super active in there. Really awesome
  • + 19
 Not ready for the saddle angle.
  • + 6
 Try this...look at the picture then rotate your computer screen 45 degrees counterclockwise...now does it make sense?
  • + 1
 It's the future of bike fit/geometry. Your seat will automatically change its pitch depending on climbing conditions. It's the ultimate solution in ballsack comfort only to be surpassed by cornstarch on a hot humid day and ventilated seats on a road trip.
  • + 4
 @ryan83: now try pedaling up a 45 degree slope. Good luck with that.
  • + 4
 @toast2266: I clearly don’t pedal up 45 degree inclines but hopefully you get the point. In places with a lot of climbing pointing the nose down on a bike with noticeable sag really helps. If you my ride mellow or flat trails then it’s a moot point.
  • + 9
 upduro
  • + 1
 @topherdagopher: the specialized command post does this already!
  • + 1
 @ryan83: You should check this out. I agree with what you said.
ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb13179236/p5pb13179236.jpg
  • + 17
 Where can i find that video that they were talking about?
  • + 1
 Ditto
  • + 1
 This is the video I showed to Richard. The rider is Isak Leivsson. The second rider is not on Pole.

www.instagram.com/p/BhmkPm6hyzp

Here I is what I showed when I talked about our suspension concept. This is me riding.

youtu.be/Pomo3gch58g
  • + 15
 ..I prefer my Pole with front/rear Assguy's that have at least 2.35 of girth.
  • + 11
 I was fortunate to be one of the first three people to experience the Pole Machine and Evolink 140 at the first stop of their ongoing US Demo Tour. We rode over 22 miles and nearly 3000 vertical feet of climb and decending with Dan Albert (Pole US Demo Tour Manager) switching back and forth between the Machine and the Evolink. Three takeaways from the Demo;
1/ Both of those bikes are remarkable! They both climb and descend faster with more stability and finesse than any bike I've ridden. The steep seat angle works brilliantly to create a very comfortable climbing position that allows you to just churn up anything. Tight switchbacks... no problem at all with 63.5 & 64.5 head angles. The bikes simply offer the best of everything I want in a fun, fast mtb! 2/ Dan was an incredible guide/host who set up the bikes to our specific size and style and allowed us to really experience what the bikes could do. 3/ Pole is one of three companies making bikes like this (Mondraker and Nicholai being the other two) and I think it's the beginning of a mtb revolution. I liken it to the Prince tennis racquets. People first thought they were ridiculous fly swatters. 2-3 years later everyone was making and playing oversize racquets. When I look at the masses of trail/enduro bikes with oh-so-similar geometry I yawn. There's nothing new happening there.
The only people I've heard doubt the Pole bikes are people who haven't ridden them. How convinced am I... I ordered an Evolink 140 EN! I'm in.
  • + 2
 Amen to that!
  • + 1
 Nice toread a review from someone who has spent time on these bikes. I was always intrigued by the radical geometry of Pole bikes. I am slightly skeptical cause they seem a bit "too much" for the trails I usually ride. Their geometry screems "enduro race". My current bike is a Santa Cruz 5010. It feels nice in terms of suspension travel but I think I would enjoy a longer/ slacker geometry.

What was your impression of the Evolink 140 and Machine on... not-so-extreme trails? Are they fun to ride or they need a proper steep enduro-style trail to really shine?
  • + 2
 @Lapsus: If you do largely flat, XCish trails then an evolink is a bit much unless perhaps if you get the 131 or the older but now extinct 110, Don't get me wrong the bike still works fine but it is just like having a Porsche in the city...Wink
  • + 8
 Innovation in the bike world too often comes as a series of incremental, evolutionary steps. Mountain bikers claim to like seeing new tech, but this "new tech" often tends to be a slightly more refined version of an existing concept. Pole should be commended for offering something genuinely new and forward-thinking, as should Pinion, Zerode, Nicolai, Gates, etc.!
  • + 4
 Leigh Johnson - a rider that many of you may not be familiar with (but will be soon) has seen his race results improve since getting aboard a Pole, this season www.rootsandrain.com/rider2761/leigh-johnson/results
Now Leigh may have improved this season anyway - he's an out&out rocket, but riding a Pole (stop it!) certainly hasn't done his results any harm - top 15 in the EWS in France, earlier this month is a testament to how fast he's getting, also 1st in Innerleithen, in Scotland - beating big name pro locals who built and know the track. He rocked up to the Welsh Gravity Enduro in Afan last weekend - took one run on each section (it's a 'Mash-up' format, where you can session a section until you're happy with your time) and SMASHED the rest of the field, then promptly went off riding with mates. The kid is a machine - watch out for him
  • + 8
 Innovation used to fuel the bike industry now it's marketing.
  • + 1
 there's innovation in marketing too, these are marketing pushed product innovations, which are generally not very creative or new, but the marketing around it makes it seem like the next big thing.
  • + 1
 For the last 10 years,it's been all about pushing the niche markets to the mainstream: Fat bikes,plus bikes,e-bikes,even freeride back in the day...I guess we've got to the point where "everything is invented",and money has to be made somehow. This happens because the American market drives most of the market,and people over there change bikes almost every year,searching for the "latest greatest".
  • + 2
 I think burritos fuel the bike industry. And beer.
  • + 4
 I met Leo at the Otter, got to sit on the Machine and chat a bit. Super nice guy, super easy and fun to talk to. I'm a fan. Still not sold on this crazy geo they are promoting, maybe if I can get an actual ride in on one it will show me the light. Best of luck to him.
  • + 1
 Ya, I'd have to try it. I imagine if I take my bike but with longer reach, longer chain stays and a slightly slacker head angle it is going to be a pig in tight stuff. And where I ride, there's lot of tight stuff. But I'd like to try one and be proven wrong. Because it would obviously rip down hill.
  • + 1
 @pinhead907: It rips uphill and generally everywhere too!
  • + 4
 @RichardCunningham don't suppose you've got the link to the videos of those riders hitting the corners with the apex loading king available?
Or anyone else who may know for that matter.
  • + 4
 Having seen one at Switchbacks MTB in Spain, where they test them, this bike is a serious piece of engineering and an absolute weapon. These long travel 29ers are the way my friends
  • + 2
 having ridden with one of their test riders on the Machine and see what he can do on that bike, Pole are now the only brand that really interests me and grab my attention from my Mondraker. (and maybe the Geometron).

Leo is in direct contact with the rider on with the test bike too. It was superb to see the instant comms between them whenever the rider had any feedback. I'm also told the Leo himself is a pretty fast rider on the gnar as well as switchbacky trails :-)
  • + 2
 "a decade to get from a 70 to a 67-degree head angle."

My 2005 Reign 1 had a 67 HA with a 160 fork... Giant's own geo chart spec'd it at 69, but in person that just wasn't correct.
(granted, it also like a 69* seat angle, but who's counting? Smile )
  • + 1
 My old 1997 Turner Afterburner had a head angle of 66 degrees.
  • + 6
 Keep doing what you're doing, Leo!
  • + 5
 If it comes in black, Waki will ride one.
  • + 1
 It seems like half of every ground breaking innovation is BS. I think we are seeing other manufacturers adopt these concepts but in a much more paletable way. So Leo et all have changed the Geo game, but they aren't necessarily the ones benefiting from it. It's the Ibis's of the world that sit back and wait for others to find sweet spots for geometry and then they become a 3rd mover that nails it.
  • + 2
 True. Many business experts will say that imitators are more successful than the innovators.
  • + 1
 Yuuup. Ibis was speccing a 51mm offset fork on their Ripmo until the owner rode the Sentinel at one of the MTB fests. Ha ha!! Now its got low offset.
  • + 1
 In the UK there are quite a few brands that have very long, low and slack bikes. I actually have one of them but none of the brands here is pushing it quite as much as Pole or Nicolai. Yes the bike I ride is very stable but the tradeoff is it is less playful and slightly more awkward for tighter turns, you can't have it all. Looking at the Pole IMHO it would be a bit of pig in the tight stuff, yes I am sure you could post a vid of some shredder destroying turns but your average rider isn't going to be. The Machine does look sexy though.
  • + 4
 Well they found a better way of making bikes, instead going down the plastic way
  • + 2
 I still think plastic bikes could be cool. Just think, tires would last forever.
  • + 0
 @raditude: man, I used to shred big wheel tires back in the day, those things wouldn't last a weekend.
  • + 1
 Much respect to this guy's determination and effort to bring his own product to the market. He's also a very good rider, which always gains my respect. But I have serious trouble understanding the design philosphy behind the company: to design the bike that's the easiest to ride.

Since when did anything being easy make anything more fun? We've all been kids and perhaps most of us have done things like play video games on easy mode or play football with flooball goals etc. But ever since I've been ABLE to, I've always wanted things I do for fun to be as challenging as possible. Be it a sport, a craft, an art or any other. I belive the pleasure we get from learning new things and overcoming challenges/difficult things is universal: we all enjoy it one way or the other.

However, this said design philosophy reflects a whole nother idea: it (i this case riding) is the better the easier your equipment make it. I call this "easy mode riding" and to me it's a bit pathetic. What happened to ripping your body to shreds with BMX as a teen, then slowly progressing to more advaned bikes once you've learned to ride better and started to trade some of that riding time for cash? Eventually one gets up to the amazing level our bikes are today, but not because it is easier, but because you can finally both afford it AND have the skillset to weild it.

Of course this could all be part of my huge grudge against what the sport has become - I feel like the 30-something engineers coming fresh into the sport with the latest and greatest gear, barely having any awareness of their movements nor any natural instinct on the bike, are not able to fully appreciate the nuances. Growing up riding your bike, putting in the work and coming back from the inevidable injuries all force you to learn to appreciate the sport, your own and other people skills much more than any gear available. The gear changes constantly but the spirit should remain true.
  • + 1
 Let's say his geometry really does allow an excellent Ryder to adjust technique and become significantly faster in the turns. The industry may be conservative, but eventually a high level competitor will ask their sponsor to build them a test mule do they can replicate that. From there, it's two race seasons until it becomes the hot new thing.
  • + 1
 You're 1 season into that cycle.
  • + 5
 So did Specialized with the new Stumpjumper EVO model.
  • + 19
 yeah, only the man who put Leo on his path, as well as Chris Porter from Geometron, a man who started the super long and slack trend, namely Cesar Rojo, says it all went too far. Anyone who has ridden a DJ back to back with a mainstream Enduro bike will realize what wheelbase and angles do. So an idea that you get a super stable bike that suddenly gets playful is like a self picking fruit. Not to mention Jared Graves confirming what Cesar said: long for race, short for everyday riding. And the only thing Leo can say to this is show videos of Isaac Levisson, a skilled, straight forward man who could zap a Harley Davidson around a pumptrack berm if you asked him to. Super long wheelbase does increase confidence sure. To ride in a straight line. And since most of his clients can't turn anyways, it doesn't matter to them. All they know is they want to feel confident in rock gardens.
  • + 10
 WAIT! My popcorn isn't done.
  • + 8
 @WAKIdesigns: Don't we all? I can get my way through a switchback regardless of WB. But if I'm trucking through a rock garden the thing I want MOST is confidence.
  • + 9
 @WAKIdesigns: Evolink owner here, You are correct that the same bike can't be stable and "playful" at the same time. The Evolink definitely falls into the stable category, but to suggest that it can't corner is just wrong. Along with the stability and central riding position comes traction, gobs of it. All that traction means I can rail corners like nothing else. I'm taking inside lines I never considered before and carrying so much speed through the exit. The rest of what you said is all rider preference. That's fine, people like different stuff, just don't assume the Pole or riders are only fast in a straight line.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I looked at your 'skillz' videos man, awesome riding there. Bunnyhops seem to go so smooth with a carbon bike. I think I have to change my shitty pole ht for one of these dream machines, so I can start working on my technique as well.

I can see from your riding that you'd never benefit from a long pole anyway, as youre so skilled already. Skilled guys seem to do better with bikes that can turn, and are not just fast on a straight line. You see, Poles bikes and their clients are only good for riding boring and straight trails slow and safe as you said.
  • + 1
 @humanpowered:
Exactly the same with my Sentinel: incredible at every type of cornering where you have to lean the bike, in fact better than my old scout that was already outstanding. And no problem for really tight switchbacks, just lift the backweel a little more.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: So what you're saying is you've never ridden the Pole bikes?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: You gotta try one before you judge it! Don't listen to the pros or anyone else decide for yourself!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: What is long and what is short, in your believes?
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: My bet is on @WAKIdesigns receiving a (keepers) test frame from @polebicycles and becoming an evangelist for the brand. Big Grin
  • + 2
 @jollyXroger: there is a huge chance that my next bike will made by a Pole... or two.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Any news on 29er CJ?
  • + 0
 @jollyXroger: nothing that I know of. But I will be pushing them to make a medium or even small if it ever comes. Those long travel, slack 29ers have so much stability that one may want to keep them smaller to keep some playfulness. Especially when 29” DH tyres come into play. I also hope CS will be short. What people don’t realize is that long stays not only require more force to pull the fromt wheel up, the time to pull it up is longer, so when you are bombing down a hill, you have to be really good at timing. From the moment you initiate the lift to rear wheel leaving the ground, you can cover 10m, easily. Does average dude with cash for such bike have skill to A manual well B time it? No... he likes to tag along and long bikes are great for it. So we have folks hating on 29ers, on long travel enduro bikes, plus tyres, but miraculously 1300 wheelbase is cool! Playful! A tool of experts. I want that on my Down Country bike! 1350! And 61 head angle! Full steeze on ups and downs
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Sounds like it would be closer to Darkmatter than CJ, suspension configuration-wise, if it were to feature shortish CS at 29" wheels.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: The problem with short stays and a long front center is that it messes up the balance of the bike. Most riders put their weight too far back when cornering and reduce front wheel traction. Short stays and long slack front are going to exacerbate this. If you want something less stable or more playful you'd be better off with a geo built around that objective as a whole. I personally think scaling down the overall length of the Pole but maintaining the ratio of front to rear length might work for that. It's not what I want but probably a better solution than a long front and short rear. On another note, I hope you recognize the irony of a guy riding a Carbon Jack calling into question the skills of riders with the cash for a Pole.
  • + 2
 @humanpowered: it depends on many factors, I am personally quite particular about putting weight on my front wheel, so no problem there. At least as long as I have Minion sized side knobs in the front. Also slack, for a 29er I’m fine with 65-66, there’s enough gyroscopic effect with Exo to make DD/ SG equipped bike slice through everything. It’s no rocket science to me what Polesized bikes do, how distances from BB and riders COM in relation to tyre patches work. But calling it the best compromise is a stretch. Because such thing doesn’t exist. Everything changes, all the time, including what a particular rider considers as his favorite kind of riding. Discussing extremes like super long geos, abnormally big or little amont of travel on a do-it-all bike, extra fat tyres, giant cassettes, it’s all trends. They will all collapse only to be reinvented again. Now watch what will happen to 160-200mm hole and XC bikes. Down Country is a larvae state for the latter while E-bikes will make Hucking great again.
  • + 1
 @humanpowered: So cash/credit equals skill because you can buy a "better" bike? Serious question.

Watch out Nino & Gwinn, my Visa and I are a coming for ya! LoLoLoL
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: I didn't say anything of the sort. Apparently, you are missing the context.
  • + 1
 Great article. Would love to test ride a Pole. Bring yourself and a few down to Cape Town please Leo. Winter time is hero dirt time!
  • + 3
 Can we see the video mentioned in the article?
  • + 1
 I don’t have much pole riding experience, that said, I’ll take a short travel pole! I’ll leave the long travel pole to you canadians ehh?
  • + 1
 "but one was compressing each apex with such force that his bike was floating between corners." Can you elaborate on this please? Sounds very interesting!
  • + 2
 Try the New Capra and compare it to the Poles.
  • - 2
 Am I the only one that thinks that quarreling about the choice of frame "material" is kind of silly? It is true that Pole bicycles started up by wearing a fake environmental mantle and attributing a number of bogus problems to carbon, but really ... who cares what do they use to build a frame??
  • + 0
 @RichardCunningham: Hey RC, My Scott Ransom frankendog is 11 years old and it has a 67* HA. Must be special, or were you talkin about only XC bikes?
  • + 2
 It needs to be a little longer and lower
  • + 2
 Pole or Needle? Which one is it.
  • + 1
 No one ever talks about 3D printed alloy frames. They’re being used in structural aerospace products already.
  • + 0
 im not the only one who remembers when they tried to make plastic frames, am I?
  • + 1
 Surely such saddle angle can't be good for your knees?
  • - 2
 Rotate your computer screen 45 degrees counterclockwise...now does it make sense?
  • + 1
 So did I read that right each side is glued together. GLUE!!!
  • - 2
 id ride a bike that looks better than it performs rather than performs better than it looks
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