“29ers aren’t for short riders…With such a long bike, you won’t be able to corner!” You hear and read prejudices like this all the time. We have already shown that radical geometry works for tall riders, but would it work for a 1.60 m rider on the – still huge – Pole Evolink 140 in size Small.
Before we turn to the review, we would like to introduce our new ENDURO calendar 2019, filled with gorgeous high-quality prints of our favorite mountain bike pictures. Get yours here (new window)!
With a height of just 1.60 m, ENDURO tester Antonia is anything but your typical 29er rider. So far, she has only come into contact with the large wheels on cross-country bikes. No wonder: potent 29ers are hard to come by in size small. There are several reasons for this: on the one hand it’s challenging to integrate the wheels into smaller frame sizes, and on the other hand, many manufacturers are convinced that 29ers make little sense for small riders.
Finnish manufacturer Pole is of a different opinion. With their radical geometry, these bikes are currently on everyone’s lips, and they’re available in size S for riders from 160 cm and up – probably making the Pole the most extreme bike for small riders.
THe Pole EVOLINK 140 in detail
The Pole EVOLINK 140 in size S is still big, very big! For a comparison, the 1257 mm wheelbase is longer than that of a Specialized Enduro in XL. Yet the bike promises balanced handling for shorter riders. The secret: instead of just lengthening the front triangle and making the head angle super slack, the Pole comes with a long rear end also. At about 3.6 kg (without shock) the aluminium frame is quite hefty and so it’s not surprising that our size Small test bike with tough Double Down rear tyres weighs a considerable 14.91 kg. Pole offers two complete build options and a frame kit. The EVOLINK 140 29 EN with a RockShox Lyrik fork, SRAM XX1/X01 drivetrain and SRAM Guide brakes, as tested, goes for € 5,800.
Fork RockShox Lyrik RCT3 160 mm
Shock RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 140 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC 180/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost Bikeyoke Revive 125 mm
Handlebar Truvativ Descendant Carbon 800 mm
Stem Truvativ Descendant 40 mm
Wheels DT Swiss EX1501 29″
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5″ / Maxxis Minion SS II 2.3″
Weight 14.91 kg
Price € 5,800
The geometry of the Pole EVOLIK 140
How well the size Large EVOLINK 140 works for tall riders has already been proven by our race bike group test in Finale Ligure. There, the bike finished second on the two-minute race stage. If the stage had been longer, the test team was sure that the Pole would have come out on top. But tall riders usually have more power and more mass with which they can steer the bike and change direction.
|Seat tube||420 mm||440 mm||480 mm||510 mm|
|Top tube||584 mm||614 mm||644 mm||669 mm|
|Head tube||135 mm||135 mm||135 mm||135 mm|
|Chainstays||455 mm||455 mm||455 mm||455 mm|
|BB Drop||20 mm||20 mm||20 mm||20 mm|
|Wheelbase||1257 mm||1287 mm||1317 mm||1342 mm|
|Reach||450 mm||480 mm||510 mm||535 mm|
|Stack||639 mm||639 mm||639 mm||639 mm|
The Pole EVOLINK 140 on the trail
When climbing, tall riders, in particular, appreciate the steep seat tube angle of the Pole EVOLINK. You’re positioned very centrally on the bike and the front wheel sticks to the ground even on the steepest ascents. The same applies to size Small, but the effect is not as pronounced in comparison to other bikes due to the low height of the saddle not taking full advantage of the steep seat tube. Small riders won’t be claiming any KOMs on the Pole on the climbs, since the weight, the large wheels and the 32 mm chainring require a lot of strength. Antonia says it takes some effort to get the large wheels moving, which can also be attributed to her lower weight compared to larger riders.
Bang boom Bang! The steeper and faster things go downhill, the more the Pole blossoms!
When the trail points downhill, however, the Pole is in its element. As a smaller rider especially, you’re extremely well integrated between the large wheels. Paired with the long head tube and the huge front triangle, it is almost impossible to go over the handlebar on steep descents. The rougher and faster the trail becomes, the more the EVOLINK 140 shows what it’s capable of. The stability and confidence that the bike provides are enormous. However, you have to adjust your riding style a little bit, if only to avoid dragging your bum on the big rear wheel. While on other bikes, Antonia pushes her pelvis back a bit when going down steep trails, she was able to keep her weight more central on the Pole, partly due to the long chainstays, which keep sufficient weight on the handlebars. Even when jumping, the bike is very balanced, although Antonia often finds she is carried along with the bike rather than actively jumping it – in this case, the bike is a bit too cumbersome for small riders.
Never too small for 29 – Antonia is convinced of the advantages of large wheels!
If you think a bike this long can’t corner, you’re wrong. Even narrow hairpin bends were no problem for our test rider. But it takes an active riding style, a little getting used to and confidence to push the bike into corners. The weak point of this long bike and the large wheels is that quick direction changes weren’t as easy for our little tester, requiring a lot of power. The bike is quite a bit more cumbersome for small riders than it is for larger riders.
As in previous reviews, the size small Pole EVOLINK 140 also impresses with a high degree of composure and tons of speed. The rougher the trail, the more you feel the advantages of the concept. However, the bike requires a lot of power and input from small riders on climbs and in tight sections. This makes it an exciting bike for racers and as an alternative to a downhill bike, but it’s simply too much bike for normal everyday riding.
+ loads of confidence in steep terrain
+ flattens obstacles
– needs a lot of rider input
– sluggish when trying to quickly change direction
For ore info head to polebicycles.com
This article is from ENDURO issue #035
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer