Vikkelä Frame Details
Remember the wild-looking, 190mm-travel Voima e-bike that debuted last summer
? Pole is now ready to release the Vikkelä, a mountain bike version featuring the same dual-link suspension system and polarizing appearance, but without the motor and battery. Just like some of their other bikes, the aluminum frame is CNC machined in two halves from a chunk of 7075-T6 billet aluminum and bonded together, and the entire thing is manufactured at their factory in Finland.
Despite having as much travel as some downhill bikes, Leo Kokkonen, the company's founder and CEO, says that it's agile and pedals well enough to be a "hard-hitting" trail bike for some riders. In fact, Vikkelä is a Finnish word meaning nimble or agile.
• Intended use: Enduro
• Travel: 190mm
• Frame material: CNC aluminum
• Sensei dual-link suspension
• Head angle: 63.5°
• Seat angle: 80°
• Internal routing
• Weight: TBA
• MSRP: €3218 (frame w/ Cane Creek Kitsuma Air or RockShox SuperDeluxe Ultimate), complete bikes from €4508
• More info: www.polebicycles.com
If you're thinking that the Voima and Vikkelä look similar, it's because Pole set out to create two different bikes from one platform. The former is made to accept a 725Wh battery and motor, while the bike pictured here gets a smaller downtube, a slimmer area around the bottom bracket, and is sleeker overall than the e-bike. Pole isn't talking frame weights yet and they generally don't set out to make light bikes, but they are claiming that it'll be lighter than the older Stamina.
Cable routing is internal, with fairly large openings at each end that are covered by rubber grommets for the lines to pass through. To keep them from rattling inside the downtube, Pole inserts a large section of foam tubing that runs its entire length, but it's actually used to hold the lines against the inside face of the frame rather than the lines being run inside of the foam. While it seems a bit basic for such an exotic-looking machine, Kokkonen says that it's simpler and lighter than a tube-in-tube approach.
Pole did make a prototype Vikkelä with downtube storage but decided against putting it on the production bike. That said, Pole being Pole, you can fit two bottles inside the front triangle and another on the underside of the downtube. There's also a keyed chain guide interface around the threaded bottom bracket that lets you spec Pole's own super light guide or an ISCG-05 adapter to fit something else.
Another thing to mention is that you can choose from two different pivot axles (pictured below) that Pole says have a massive effect on swingarm rigidity. The left and right sides of the swingarm are two separate pieces rather than one, and the bike is offered with standard axles or, if you're racing or are a relatively heavy rider, you can get it with 'Race Axles' that add 70-grams and 30-percent more rigidity. Why not sell the frame with the stiffer axles as standard? "We have learned that stiffer is only better for some. Most riders are better off with a more compliant frame. A Stiff frame is something that does not give in and is not easy to bend. A very stiff frame would mean a bike that is very accurate in turning at high speeds and is not so forgiving of the mistakes we make. We have learned that a nimbler rear triangle is easier to corner at low speed. Overall the bike is more tolerant of errors and more comfortable."Suspension
The Vikkelä uses a co-rotating, dual-link layout to deliver its 190mm of travel, and it looks drastically different from pretty much anything else out there aside from the Voima. In fact, Pole says that both bikes get the exact same swingarm and same kinematics, despite only one of them having a motor. And while Pole released the Voima last year, the Vikkelä was actually born before the e-bike: ''We started the process by creating a normal version to test the suspension,'' Kokkonen said. ''We wanted to develop the new linkage system on a normal bike to avoid the added weight compensating for the suspension design.''
Pole calls the dual-link design Sensei suspension, and says that it supplies an anti-squat number that, "hovers slightly over 100% at sag, no matter what gear you are in." It's also said to begin with a high leverage ratio for more active suspension but offers more than 30% progression through its travel, a relatively big number. All that comes together, according to Pole, to make the 190mm-travel Vikkelä pedal so well that it could be a "hard-hitting" trail bike for some riders. "Our urge to explore new ways and challenge the status quo has led us to an insight that some of the textbook kinematics are not perfect. Roughly there are two ways of determining anti-squat values in the kinematics textbooks. We know that neither of these theories works 100% on bicycles. We have developed our way of building our kinematics."
"We have learned that long-travel bikes can pedal as good as short-travel bikes. I believe that Voima and Vikkelä are even more efficient than many shorter-travel bikes because we need to be very accurate on the kinematic."
Can a 190mm-travel aluminum monster make a good trail bike? The answer obviously depends on where you are and what you're doing, but we'll be getting a Vikkelä soon to find out more. Leo has surprised us in the past... Geometry
With the same travel and kinematics as the e-bike, and both being based on the same basic frame layout, it's not a surprise to see that the Voima and Vikkelä also share the same geometry. That means four sizes and a longest reach option of 535mm on the 'K4' which translates to an extra-large. The K3, or medium, gets a 480mm reach, while the smallest starts at 450mm. All the bikes get a 63.5-degree head angle, steep 80-degree seat angle, and 455mm chainstays.
As on the Voima, this bike also has zero bottom bracket drop, with Kokkonen saying that it means that it, "doesn't want to stand up when you hit the corners," and really helps the bike's agility despite having so much suspension travel.
Want to know more about Leo Kokkonen and what Pole is doing? Below, I chat with him about production challenges, carbon and aluminum, geometry, and a whole bunch more.
THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 143 - POLE'S LEO KOKKONEN ON RECYCLING, INTERNET COMMENTS, & E-BIKE BATTERIES
Sept 8th, 2022
No carbon, no welds, but definitely some glue, batteries, and controversy.