Bikes are getting longer, it’s a fact! But have some of the more extreme bikes gone too far? We hand one over to Mr Average to find out if the radical concepts deliver on the trails.
Looking past the controversy of Boost and birth of E-MTB, there has been somewhat of a geometry revolution creeping through the cycle industry. Certainly, if we look at the geometry tables from the last five years, the trend in bike design has been defined by slacker and longer, 10 mm here, half a degree there. Each new model taking a tiny step forward, however, there are some brands who have taken a giant leap, shortcutting progression and going straight for the end zone! Are we seeing a glimpse of the future right now, or does the pendulum swing both ways?
It’s the size that matters, not what you do with it
We have all read the marketing blurb from the big brands, “now longer and slacker”, “new super slack geometry” etc.. However, when we drill down to the hardline numbers nothing much has changed. When it comes to progressive ideas and radical thinking we need to look towards the smaller brands, those with flexibility and volumes small enough to push trends and make big changes. Super brands like Specialized, Trek and Giant cannot suddenly introduce huge shifts to their geometry, every bike has a place in their lineups and changes need to happen gradually. To test the extremes we need to look at the heretics like Pole Bicycles and the Nicolai Mojo Geometron, both pushing a new and radical way of thinking that has the the forums buzzing with questions.
Saying that short chainstays makes a bike agile is a bit like saying that eating fish will make you smarter – there’s more to it than that. Short chainstays transfer more rider weight to the rear wheel and away from the front and vice versa, good handling is about balance and harmony. Will these numbers add up?
There has been a lot of love for the Pole EVOLINK and Geometron in the media, claims of “best bike ever”, and the “fastest enduro bike out there” are trading faster than pre-brexit promises. Arguably, a lot of these comments are from tall riders, who until now could never find a bike that fit them anyway. But what about Mr Average, what about me! I am 1.8 m tall, 75 kg, and have size 43 feet, boringly normal, irrefutably average. I have been riding for over 20 years but I have never won an EWS, I enjoy racing but am not a pro. I love chucking myself down super steep trails and buzzing wheels, but I also like a mellow ride with friends too. I want a bike that will allow me to push my STRAVA times, give me the edge over my mates in an enduro race and not try and kill me if I point it down something crazy, or hook too fast into a switchback. Will a super long and slack bike be the revelation that I’m looking for?
Just look at the graph above, it may look complex but essentially short and steep bikes sit top left, long and slack bikes sit bottom right. looking at extremes, the Pole EVOLINK and Nicolai GeoMetron are in a world on their own.
If you are going to do something you may as well do it right. In this experimental descent into the extremes of geometry I needed to ‘go big or go home’. So big I went. The Pole EVOLINK 140 is as extreme as they come, and my height put me bang on the Large size. With a 1314 mm wheelbase it’s a whopping 14.2 cm longer than a Large Canyon Spectral, 12 cm longer than a Santa Cruz Nomad, damn, I may even need a new bike rack for the car! Mixed in with those ample proportions are long 456 mm chainstays to keep the rider weight centred and a super efficient 77.5 degree seat angle, these are radical and exciting proportions, a worthy mistress indeed. Choosing this bike also opened the door to as many ‘long pole’ innuendos as I could ever need.
So the geometry affair has begun, for the rest of the year I will be sneaking out to the bike storage, past all the ‘conventional’ bikes, creeping to an illicit affair with something a little longer. In an innuendo filled editorial I will be riding the long Pole for a full season, from enduro races to home trails to day-long mountain epics. Sometimes there will be timing and back to back runs against more conventional bikes, uphill, downhill and everything in between it’s time for an unbiased expose on how the radical geometry sits as an all round bike for Mr Average, to see if size matters, or if it’s just what you do with it.
Check out the next page for the build, setup and the first impressions of the ride.