First time out on the Voima, you're very aware you're on a 26 kg bike with a considerable wheelbase. Threading it through tight trees or picking up the wheels to negotiate off-camber roots and crux moves requires recalibrating the timing and amplitude of every body movement. Running the fork firmer helped, but I'd have liked a faster rebound setting to get more energy back when preloading the ground before lofting the front wheel. Dropping the saddle lower in the frame than the 165 mm dropper allowed helped too, but there's no getting around the fact this bike isn't for jibbing. I can just get it to the balance point of a manual, but it takes accurate timing and more effort. Bunnyhopping is also possible, but hard work and height-limited. I consider myself pretty good at bunnyhops, but anything much higher than a kerb is beyond me. If your local trails involve regularly hopping fallen trees you may want to pack your hernia belt and incontinence pads.
But with practice, you can hustle it through the tight and technical stuff. It just takes more effort and forethought. Besides, these awkward trials-like moves aren't where the Voima was meant to excel. Get it on something fast, rough and open and the speed it can carry is sure to put a grin on your face. The suspension isn't just soft and wallowy; it's surprisingly well-controlled. The touchdown feel at the rear is super supple and forgiving but there's enough progression to prevent any trapdoor feeling when pushing into a compression.
I never bottomed out but always had a smooth and bump-swallowing feel. An impact that might cause a typical 160 mm bike to bottom out hard could still leave the shock O-ring a few millimetres away from the end of the shaft, goading you to go deeper next time. And while shorter travel bikes can be made to resist bottom-outs with volume spacers, this creates a kicking sensation as the ramp of spring force happens abruptly; the Voima's suspension feels continuous and predictable. Combine this with the stable geometry and the Voima encourages you to let it run and go fast. There's loads of grip on offer and the bike is so forgiving of mistakes you feel you can get away with murder.
Trails that are fast and rough, filled with rocks, holes and drops are where the Voima makes perfect sense. To say it rides like a downhill bike would be underselling it. The extra chassis weight adds stability and suspension sensitivity few of them can match. On trails like these, I was looking further ahead, riding faster, and most notably, had much less fatigue than usual.
Cornering is a double-edged sword. The high bottom bracket and long wheelbase slow the handling, which takes some getting used to. I was running wide in the corners to start with. But after a few rides, you can get used to this different timing, especially if you know the trail. Even chicanes requiring quick changes of direction can be handled at speed if you look ahead and anticipate them. But for blind riding where a corner can come out of nowhere, it can feel a little lethargic and demands an assertive approach.
For flat corners, I grew to trust the immense grip and lean the bike over hard. Leo recommends riding with feet level, which I think is good advice on any bike where you can get away with it because it allows you to push into the ground with both feet and generate
traction; the Voima's high bottom bracket just means you can do this more often without catching the inside pedal on the side of the rut. During steep switchback turns that go from traversing the fall line in one direction to the other with a steep slope in between, I found the high bottom bracket made the bike feel tall - I was very aware of my feet being above the front axle.
But with practice, I learned to simply lower my body further towards the bike when cornering (another reason for a longer-travel seatpost). A slight bend in the knees compensates for the higher-than-average BB height. Besides, there were plenty of times when riding through stumps, ruts and rocks, where not having to worry about clipping my feet was a genuine relief. Running more sag would lower the ride height too, but I found the suspension too soft and unresponsive when set like this.
Overall, it's hard to say whether the high BB is a good thing or a bad thing - there are pros and cons. I'd like to try a Voima with 20 mm lower bottom bracket just to see. But for now, I think of the high ground clearance a bit like running narrow bars if you live somewhere with tight trees (as I do) - the handling certainly takes getting used to, but the extra clearance makes it easier to ride fast if clipping bars/pedals is a concern.
Dropping some weight would be nice too, but the Voima isn't especially heavy compared to some other big-battery e-bikes (Whyte's E-160 is heavier despite having less travel). As for the Voima's main USP: the 190 mm suspension travel? I'm all for it. It makes it easier to ride challenging features uphill and
downhill. What about a smaller frame size?
Having finished testing the Voima in size K3, I asked Pole to send me a K2 to try out. That's the size Pole's podium-finishing EWS-E racer, Leigh Johnson, rides and he's about my height.
On their website, Pole recommends the K2 to riders up to a maximum
height of 185 cm; I'm 190 cm tall, but I wanted to see if the shorter front center would improve the nimbleness. Unfortunately, the K2's super short seat tube (360 mm) wasn't long enough to get my saddle to the proper height, even after I'd swapped the seatpost to a 212 mm travel Vecnum dropper - the longest one I had. But thanks to the motor, I could put up with the saddle being around 30 mm too low. I think only the 240 mm travel OneUp V2
post would be long enough to make the K2 work for me, and even that would be on the limit. That's why I'm putting my thoughts on the K2 separately from the rest of the review: I'm not 100% sure if I can actually get the saddle high enough to make it fit me!
Straight away, it was apparent that it was much easier to get the front wheel off the ground. Sure, you can still tell it's a heavy bike, but for me, it was not too hard to get to the balance point and hop over kerb-sized obstacles or manual through puddles. I was happy doing big jumps on the K3 but getting height on small, abrupt jump faces was tricky. With the K2, it was much easier to generate pop and height when needed. I also noticed I had more grip on the front wheel in flat corners and it was easier to make tight turns and quick direction changes. The bike still feels weighty when changing direction quickly, especially when moving the bike from side to side relative to your body, but overall it's surprisingly easy to sling it through the corners. In fact, with the grip the suspension and tires generate combined with the relatively balanced weight distribution, the K2 Voima allows you to really lean it into corners and carry speed through. After a few laps, I was riding the corners on my familiar test tracks with as much speed and confidence as I have done on any bike.
Downsides? We're still talking about a bike with a 63-degree head angle and a 1,313 mm wheelbase so it's not like the K2 ever feels unstable or prone to "tripping up" when braking hard through bumps, although I was still aware of the high BB height on tight, steep turns.
When sizing down, the handlebars feel close to your lap while seated, but I didn't mind this. You could always slide the saddle backwards on the rails (which would effectively move the seat angle towards 79 degrees) or run a slightly longer stem if this bothers you, but I felt no need.