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  1. #1
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    Pole Evolink 150: Build/Ride Log

    I will use this thread to post updates to the bike as well as riding impressions and I get more time in the saddle. There are not many Poles in the US and I am a firm believer in their progressive bike design. Long reach, long wheel base, slack headtube, steep seat tube; the thought is with a larger cockpit the rider has more comfort and space to move and with the rider centered between the axles the added stability aids in grip, confidence, and speed going up and downhill.

    At 6'8" 250lbs, 7'2" wingspan, and an aggressive riding style I am continually searching for bikes which fit me well and can handle my riding style. Last October I picked up a XXL Santa Cruz Hightower LT and rode it for 9 months. In terms of geometry and performance it was a huge step in the right direction from my previous bike but fell short in certain areas.

    On the HTLT I struggled to get my Fox 36 PE and DPX2 dialed in with the VPP suspension. I was near maximum PSI both F/R to hit recommended sag numbers, I also can a "firm" VC49 tune in the 36 which made for a "very communicative" suspension setup, IE no suppleness. This didn't really bother me much at the time since I love riding hardtails and like the trail feedback but in retrospect after spending some time on the Pole, the suspensions are night and day different. My other main complaint with the HTLT was the slack seatube as it put me way behind the bottom bracket when climbing, it was nice to feel that added reach with the seat up and back but on steeper climbs I really felt like I was in a fetal position with my chest down and pedaling the cranks in front of me, big load on the quads.

    I was also blowing through drivetrain components, I went through 2 E13 TRSr cassettes, quickly wore out 1 SRAM GX cassette, destroyed 3 Novatec freehubs, and broke a few chains. I can put some power down but I am curious to see how my drivetrain holds up on my Poke, since I have a hunch that with my static weight and the pedal kickback of the VPP that the combo may have really added premature wear on the drivetrain, the Pole has a slight amount of pedaling platform ealy in the suspension stroke but then fades so the suspension will stay active. I am hoping my drivetrain lasts much longer without the constant forces/feedback from suspension activity.

    Overall the XXL HTLT is a nice bike for big guys but still a little undersized me. I am planning on getting a Pole Taival (steel hardtail) later this summer but they are still in production. In the meantime I found a nice deal on a lightly used XL Evolink 150. Pole is known for long and slack bikes and aside from the Nicolai Geometron or a fully custom frame they are the longest bikes available. The reach on the Evolink is about +40mm longer than the XXL hightower, the headtube is 63.5" which is the same as the Santa Cruz V10, seattube is a steep 77.5 to keep you centered while climbing.

    One thing to note is this Evolink 150 is their last generation frame which was built around 27.5" wheels but can accommodate 29". Modern Evolinks (131, 140, 158) are built for 29" wheels but the suspension design and frame design is essentially the same with one exception, the modern Evolinks have a lower BB and much greater stack. My 150 has about 50mm less stack than the modern frames and I definitely notice it since I have to jack my seat up to get proper leg extension with the high BB which put my handlebars low and disrupts what should be a very comfortable and neutral pedaling position. I will make some bar/stem/seat/CSU adjustments to remedy this but that 50mm of stack will be a welcomed addition, especially for larger riders.

    The bike arrived with a decent build kit but I had a pike of parts intended for my hardtail which I borrowed some items from to help make the Evolink better suited for me and my style, durability and capability are top priorities.

    Here are the build specs.
    Lyrik RCT3 + Luftkappe air cap
    Monarch Plus
    Industry 9-E13 TRS+ wheels
    Eagle GX
    Magura MT5 brakes, HC levers
    9point8 200mm Dropper
    Ergon SR3-L
    ANVL 50mm stem, Deity Holeshot 825mm bars
    WolfTooth Fat Paw Grips
    Crank Brothers Stamp 3 Large pedals
    Maxxis Minion DHF, Aggressor 2.5
    Cushcores

    Here is how the bike arrived with different wheels, tires, brakes, bars, stem, seat, and seatpost.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3121.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3123.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3124.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3130.jpg

  2. #2
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    Time to get to work.

    I had a 2018 Yari which had a longer steerer tube so I used that CSU and swapped over the Lyrik internals and lowers.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3157.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3159.jpg

    Stock Air shaft left, shaft modded with Luftkappe right.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_e3160.jpg

    There was some wear on the chain stays so I added some 3M mastic tape.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3131.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3132.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3212.jpg

    I decided to swap out the rear shock bushing for a RWC needle bearing, it should help with suppleness (which is already great) hopefully it holds up to the forces I put it through.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3201.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-edhy6659.jpg

  3. #3
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    That's a nice bike, looking good.

    Great report and detail, super helpful for people on the high end of the normal height range. Super hard for you guys, especially back in the old slack seat tube days. Here's to better climbing for you now.

  4. #4
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    Beautiful bike, I can't wait to read more updates!

  5. #5
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    If you donít crush that bike it says volumes. Tuning in for Pole narrative.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Bicycling is politics by other means.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamK View Post
    That's a nice bike, looking good.

    Great report and detail, super helpful for people on the high end of the normal height range. Super hard for you guys, especially back in the old slack seat tube days. Here's to better climbing for you now.
    Thanks, I hope others find it useful or at least entertaining.

    QR collar swapped for a sleeker Hope collar.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3233.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3234.jpg

    Took advantage of the Rockshox fork and got some Torque caps for the i9 hub.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3231.jpg
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_e3230.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3232.jpg

    It took a few tries to get a clean bleed on the Maguras but I finally had success and they feel great, also installed the Cushcore inserts.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3209.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3115.jpg


    Here are some pics after the mods and some detail shots.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3238.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3240.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3242.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3175.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3174.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3168.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3171.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3172.jpg

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperStang View Post
    Beautiful bike, I can't wait to read more updates!
    Thanks, more to come!
    Quote Originally Posted by Structure View Post
    If you donít crush that bike it says volumes. Tuning in for Pole narrative.
    I am an excellent durability tester! I should see if I can flip the scenario and have companies pay ME to break their parts! lol

    So far the frame itself feels solid and stiffer than the Santa Cruz, I also notice it tracking better in rough stuff. I know Santa Cruz engineers their carbon to have some compliance but I think with my size it was a little excessive, when I first got the HTLT I would double and triple check my hubs, axles, and pivots since the lateral movement of the rear wheel made me think something was loose!

    In comparison the Pole just feels solid which I really appreciate given my size/weight.

    Evan

  8. #8
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    Although not 100% necessary since this bike has a high bottom bracket, I still chose to install the OneUp Bash-guide for peace of mind, it is a negligible weight penalty for keeping your chain secure and protecting your chain/chainring.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3266.jpg

    With most of the build complete and accessories added I threw her on the scale. 35.8lbs isn't bad IMO considering the LONG aluminum frame, 29" wheels, Cushcores, and beefy components.
    For reference my XXL Hightower LT was 34.4lbs
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3268.jpg

    Speaking of Santa Cruz here is how an XL Tallboy measures up to an XL Evolink. The rear axles are aligned in this photo.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3219.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3217.jpg

    With the monster wheelbase of the Evolink I had to slide the rail on my Thule roof rack backwards to accommodate. It fits, barely.
    Pole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3213.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3264.jpgPole Evolink 150:  Build/Ride Log-img_3265.jpg

  9. #9
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    Nice write-up. I followed your Hightower thread, and enjoyed it! I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on the Magura brakes, as I'm in the market for a new set.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willstylez View Post
    Nice write-up. I followed your Hightower thread, and enjoyed it! I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on the Magura brakes, as I'm in the market for a new set.
    Glad you enjoyed it, this thread will be very similar!

    As for Maguras, I ran some Louise FR brakes back in the day and really enjoyed them with their modulation and ample power.

    Coming from Shimano M8000 brakes on 203mm rotors I loved the responsiveness of the brakes and the serviceability but needed more power. Excluding the exotic brakes like Trickstuff the top dogs in stopping power are always Saints and MT5/MT7s with Maguras offering a more manageable modulation of that power. Both use mineral oil which is great and I can't believe companies still use Dot. Magura would have hit the nail on the head if they spec'd better levers on the MT5 but they offer these cheap feeling, sometimes flimsy, plastic levers which are out of place. If you get along with the stock levers then there is no reason not to get the MT5s if you want the best performance/price ratio.

    Personally I needed better levers and coming from Shimano I really like the small 1-finger trigger style so I remedied this situation by buying a pair of MT Trail Sport brakes and an which come with aluminum trigger style levers, a 4 piston up front, 2 piston rear. Then bought an additional MT5 brake so I would replace the 2 piston rear with the 4 piston caliper. Now I have MT5 calipers with nice levers which include reach adjustment and I can sell the MT5 lever + 2 piston caliper which is essentially an MT4 brake to recover some cost. Upgraded levers and single calipers are available individually but they are priced in a way which dilute the deal. For example an MT5 caliper is $100 but you can find a complete MT5 brake system for that price if not less.

    Shortly after installing these brakes I found a killer deal on eBay where a guy was selling 3 MT5 brakes, I bought all of them for $170. 2 are like-new and 1 is literally new. Since these have the MT5 levers I will experiment with running Shimano levers and creating "Shigura" brakes. There is a long thread on RideMonkey where people collect brake data and experiment on mixing and matching brakes and levers in hopes of creating the ultimate brake. There are people running this Shimano lever + Magura caliper with success and it sounds very interesting, essentially the Shimano levers offer a bit more poweron the Magura calipers and the end result is a more power (with less force) than a complete Magura setup but not as instant-on like a complete Shimano system. As a bonus the SLX, XT, or Zee levers can all be had for reasonable prices usually $60-$70 will get you a new pair if you are a savvy shopper. I am optimistic about this since the Shimano levers offer great ergonomics, easy servicing, and are an economical acquisition. I don't find myself needing more lever power over my current MT5 setup but knowing how my old Shimanos were, having a system which blends the two does sound appealing.

    Evan

  11. #11
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    I had a member privately message me about my thoughts comparing the VPP vs Evolink suspension. Although saddle time has been limited on the Pole I was happy to offer my current observations. It ended up being rather long-winded so I figured I should share it here for others.

    Cheers,
    Evan

    ----------------------------

    As for suspension, it is hard to compare apples-apples since I was running Fox 36 (Fit4 with the older "firm" VC49 tune) + DPX2 on the HTLT where I am on a Lyrik RCT3 + Monarch Plus RC3 so both kinematics and components differ but I can compare my current observations the complete packages. For pedaling the VPP is noticeably superior, I never once thought about touching my lockout, the HTLT felt like a hardtail with some give in this regard.

    My Fox had 3 volume reducers and ran ~110psi out of 120max. DPX2 @320psi w/ large reducer.

    Currently my Lyrik is @120psi out of 140max with 2 volume reducers. Monarch Plus is 320psi out of 340max and I haven't checked volume reducers, I assume none.

    Both setups put me in the 27-30% sag range.

    It is worth noting that on the Fox setup I NEVER bottomed out but was frequently using 80-90% of travel, so maybe a little less usage than ideal but I loved the high ride and support.

    So far with the Rockshox I am experiencing similar max travel use on the Lyrik up front although it does sit a bit deeper in it's travel (it's also much more supple), keep in mind I have the Luftkappe air piston installed. In the rear I am using 95-100% travel but have never noticeably bottomed, assuming I have zero volume reducers installed adding 2 should offer a nice improvement.

    With the Pole I am still testing different sag settings but running 28-30% sag the pedaling is "fine" definitely more give than VPP but TBH it doesn't bother me for a few reasons: I don't RACE uphill, the suspension is more active so I have better grip climbing and the ride is more comfortable when seated. This can be subjective, some people might be more particular about suspension support while climbing but for me it isn't terribly important, more of a luxury than a necessity. It is important to remember that anti-squat and suspension activity are inversely related, VPP is more anti-squat, Evolink is more suspension freedom/activity.

    The difference riding the 2 is night and day with my strong preference going towards the Evolink. My Lyrik is noticeably more supple than the Fit4 Fox 36 up front and the Evolink is WAY more plush out back with the same sag setting. It is worth noting that I setup my Fox suspension to recommended factory specs, set sag and then both rebound and compression are in the middle, IIRC I took a couple clicks off of both. On the Pole I am running ZERO compression and only 5 clicks of rebound (out of ~20 from full open) this is what Leo recommends and it allows the Pole to stay active and gobble up the small stuff. On the Santa Cruz when I would take too much rebound off I would feel like I was going to be ejected on a pogo stick but not on the Pole, perhaps it is due to the higher leverage ratio? I have read in some reviews that the Monarch Plus felt average on some bikes but performed very well on the Pole. Not sure what to attribute the ability of the Pole to have such little rebound and compression yet still feel controlled but I like it.

    The increased activity of the Evolink yields lots of grip, both climbing and and descending and improved tracking flying through rough stuff where the SC would get pinged and bounced around. Factor in the longer reach and slacker H/A with the grip and tracking and you can see why these bikes are fast and comfortable.

    Another aspect of the suspension design that I will be observing with this bike is drivetrain wear. On my HTLT it took me about 8 weeks to wear the E13 cassette down to the point where my chain would pop/slip over teeth (with proper chain wrap) I went through 2 E13 cassettes before switching. Aluminum cassettes stood no chance and even the full-steel 11psd GX cassette I put on was showing signs of wear but it lasted about x2 as long. To be expected with my size/weight/power I suppose but still the wear seemed excessive. Now that I have the Pole and can feel how FREE the suspension is from lack of drivetrain feedback that got me thinking about how much tension is ALWAYS on the drivetrain with the VPP. Factor in me being 260lbs geared up and riding rough terrain that is a lot of fighting between the chain and cassette, the pressure between the two is applied in the same way it is when pedaling which makes sense how lots of anti-suat can have a big impact on drivetrain wear, rounding off cassette teeth and such. The Pole has a little of anti-squat at first and then it fades off, just enough AS to keep the pedaling performance "acceptable" while allowing the suspension to do it's thing free of restraint.

    Overall my riding style isn't going to change between the two bikes, if anything I will be pedaling more often on the Pole since I will have the traction and confidence to add a few pedal strokes in rough stuff; it will be interesting to observe the life of my drivetrain and see if there is any correlation between lifespan and suspension design, my guess is there will be in favor of the Pole applying less stress ....which would be great since I am now on Eagle GX and replacing and Eagle cassette every few months will get expensive. "normal" people may not suffer from annoyances like this but the struggle is real for us Clydesdales.

  12. #12
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    Nice e34!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    Nice e34!
    E39*

    Thanks, have an E61 as well, love me some wagons!

  14. #14
    The perfessor
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    - yeah, I'm 6'1', and I've been eye-balling the newest Evolink........tempting but I'll wait just a bit.........
    Rigid 29er Ti SS / 29er SC Tallboy AL

  15. #15
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    Great thread uscbwsr. Appreciate the bike porn and tech details. The bike is sick looking. You can really see the progressive geo on the side view. Pure sex.

    The current XL Evolinks appear to have the fit / geo I seek. They may be a little slacker that I would prefer, but size-wise Iíve always had longish stems combined with setback posts and seat jammed all the way back. Would be nice to try a longer bike, including a longer reach.

    Regarding drivetrain components, Iím surprised that wear is impacted by the lower anti-squat, but I wonít argue with the initial results.

    Question: How does the bike pedal on the flats or smoother uphill runs? I donít like flipping levers during a ride to kill pedal bob. The Evolinks appear to have an anti-squat curve like the Speshy FSRs, which I do not like.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JACKL View Post
    Question: How does the bike pedal on the flats or smoother uphill runs? I donít like flipping levers during a ride to kill pedal bob. The Evolinks appear to have an anti-squat curve like the Speshy FSRs, which I do not like.
    I also hate flipping lock out levers. On the Santa Cruz it simply wasn't needed and on the Evolink it helps but not enough to warrant me to reach all the way down there. I think pedaling bob could be subjective, personally the Pole does move more than the Santa Cruz but it doesn't bother me and I don't feel like much of my effort is wasted. Hard to say if it will bother you.

    One thing to consider is the Evolink relies heavily on the shock tune to counteract pedal bob. I have ZERO clicks of compression front or rear and only a little rebound so my suspension is about as active as can be, as recommended by the founder of Pole. For someone wanting more pedaling support it sounds like playing around with compression and possibly different shocks would be worth exploring since the suspension should be very response to subtle changes.

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