Pole Machine
First Impressions

Riding Pole's Machine in Whistler

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Aug 15, 2018

Pole’s 160mm ‘Superbike,’ The Machine has been making waves since being released earlier this year. For years Pole has been developing unique bikes with what's considered by most as extreme geometry. But founder, Leo Kokkonen pointed The Machine in a new manufacturing direction. Dissatisfied with factory practices and seeking a less wasteful process, Leo decided to manufacture Pole’s CNC machined frame in-house, in Finland. Check out Leo's interview which delves into his path to the current manufacturing processes.

  • Rear travel 160mm, front 180mm
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 230x65 Shock
  • 73mm Threaded BB
  • Room for two bottles in the front triangle
  • Fits up to 2.8-inch tires
  • MSRP: 3,800 EUR frame only (Approx. 5,700 CAD / 4,300 USD)


Pole Machine Models

Pole currently has two builds available for the Machine; the TR and the EN. The EN is the higher spec build, with SRAM Code RSC brakes, X01 Eagle drivetrain, RockShox Lyric RC3 and a Super Deluxe RCT shock. The TR build includes Code R brakes, GX Eagle drivetrain, Lyrik RC and Super Deluxe Coil R. However, there really isn’t a “low-end” or budget entry model thanks to the manufacturing process, and both models fetch a pretty penny.  

Pole Machine in Whistler


Though not currently on their consumer direct website, Pole has begun offering models with the high-end EXT Arma HBC coil damper. They’re also working on some special wheels with Mavic and both will be available as top-level builds, for riders who seek the very best.

  • Pole Machine TR: 5,800 EUR (approx. 8,683 CAD / 6,615 USD)
  • Pole Machine EN: 7,300 EUR (approx. 10,929 CAD / 8,325.75 USD)

The Pole Machine Works off a Dual Link Suspension Platform

Frame & Suspension Design

Pole first evaluated carbon frames but that investigation led the company away from the material. The Machine frame is created from billets of 7075-T6 alloy and there are no welds to be found anywhere. The frame utilizes Pole's Evolink, dual-link suspension design. The lower link rotates around the bottom bracket and the upper link is situated just above it, keeping the weight low. The links are machined from 7075-T6 alloy at Pole while titanium is used for the pivot axles.   

In-house manufacturing allows Pole to make changes in the span of a production run, which is about a week according to Leo. Alterations such as supportive fixture (bolt) placement and the spread of material throughout sections of the frame can be updated on the run. This means no model year production for the Machine. Instead, if Pole finds a way to improve the bike, they’ll make amends to the process on the fly based on test results.

Pole Machine Geometry

Rider size: 160–170cm 170–180cm 180–190cm 190–200cm
Frame size: Small Medium Large Extra Large
Head Angle: 63.9º (591mm AC, 51mm offset)
Reach: 450mm 480mm 510mm 535mm
Top Tube: 577mm 607mm 637mm 662mm
BB Drop: -20mm
Seat Tube Angle: 78º
Seat Tube Angle (Effective): 79º
Stack: 660mm
Wheelbase: 1275mm 1305mm 1335mm 1360mm
Chainstay Length (Effective): 455mm
Seat Tube Length: 420mm 440mm 480mm 510mm
Head Tube Length: 135mm
Fork Offset: 46–51mm
Front Center: 820mm 850mm 880mm 905mm
Standover (BB to Lower Portion of TT): 360mm
Seat Tube Insert Length: 190mm 210mm 260mm 290mm
Seat Tube Diameter: 30.9mm
Seat Tube Clamp: 34.9mm
Axle to Crown: 581–591mm
Brake Mount: Direct mount
Travel Front: 170–180mm
Travel Rear: 160mm
Shock Size: 230x65mm
Bottom Bracket: 73mm threaded
Chain Device: Low direct mount/Pole bashguard
Bottle Mounts: Three (two on top and one beneath downtube)
Dropouts: 148mm
Axle: 180mm, thread length 20mm, thread pitch M12x1.75
Wheels: 27.5+/29" 730–755mm
Recommended Max Tire Size: 3" (27.5"), 2.8" (29")
Tire Clearance: 91mm (sideways), 384mm (from axle), 11mm to seat tube (29", 3")
Shifting: One-by only, 36t max
Cable Routing: External/Stealth Dropper Post
Recommended Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe L1/M
Material: 7075 T6 Aluminium
Weight: 3kg (Size M including hardware w/o shock
Colours: Machined Raw

Geometry

The Machine is a beast. 29-inch wheels are matched with 160mm rear and 180mm front travel, planting the bike firmly among the biggest trail bikes available, but it doesn’t stop there. 'Long and slack' as a label undersells this bike. The size large ridden features a 510mm reach, 63.9-degree head angle, 455mm chainstays, 1,335mm wheelbase and an incredible 79-degree effective seat angle*

*Actual seat tube angle of 78 degrees.

On paper, the numbers are similar to the GeoMetron G16. The equivalent sized G16, the longest, features a wheelbase that measures 1,328mm, compared with the Machine’s is 1,335mm. The head angle on the G16 is 62.5 degrees while the Machine’s is 63.9 and the seat tube angle is 77 degrees, two degrees slacker than the Machine. Reach on the equivalent G16 is 10mm longer; 520mm. How does it compare to bikes from major manufacturers? It doesn’t… These bikes and those from a select few other brands are in a league of their own, dwarfing everything from major bike brands.

Pole Machine Front Triangle

Initial Riding Impressions

After connecting with Leo about his plans for Crankworx Whistler, things got underway quickly. Once he arrived in Whistler we met with plans of a good pedal and no bike park. After initial introductions and formalities, I laid my eyes on a number of freshly built Machines. In the flesh, the bikes look incredible. External surface machining is beautiful. 

Though I’m a bit lighter, Leo and I weigh about the same and he set me up on his freshly built bike. Being his personal rig, it was built with all the bells and whistles; yet to be released Mavic wheels, the EXT Arma shock, Lyrik RC2 and blinged out gold SRAM XX1 Eagle cassette. Swinging a leg over the Machine, it felt similar in size to the size “longest" G16, though still different. The steep seat tube angle of 79 degrees provides a very forward bias seated position. Shorter in reach than my G16, the top tube and cockpit felt compact, though comfortable. Once going uphill, the aggressive seated position made it easy to control the front of the bike and Leo doesn’t run a shorter fork offset. Add the 455mm chainstays and traction grinding up the loose, blown-out climb to Micro-Climate was excellent.

Pole Machine Seat Tube

The asymmetric shock remains completely out of the way on the trail.

The Pole Machine's Shock Mount

It's securely fastened. The links and frame in general provided a very positive flex quality. 

The Pole Machine's Small Bolts For Added Security and Machining

A machinists wet dream…


With the bike being freshly and quickly built for our ride, stack height for the stem was a little tall. On a bike of average geometry, the height would have become instantly apparent. But with the climbing position and great traction thanks to the placement of the rider mass, it was manageable. Nevertheless, we stopped to lower the stem, a move that really unleashed the beast. The only dilemma was during the single track portion of the journey to MC. Being over-sprung for me, there was some instability across awkward square edges. A more forgiving setup would have granted even more traction—which is hard to imagine—and allow the wheels to move over obstacles more freely.

Dropping into Micro-Climate traction was constantly apparent as was stability. The long wheelbase and more importantly, the spread of rider weight within, provided incredible composure down a trail that was completely blown to pieces.* I haven’t ridden MC for a few years — blame Dark Crystal for that — but rather than it being an issue, the Machine made up for my mistakes and got down everything with ease. Any time there was trouble or a ‘moment,' the balance of the Machine made it easy to trust the bike and let it go.

*We rode Micro-Climate the day of track walk for the EWS riders, but it was already a mess.

Pole Machine in Whistler

Don't be scared off by the wheelbase. It can still be setup "playful" and corners like it's on rails down anything experienced on Micro-Climate. More to come.


Being over-sprung, it was a harsher ride than I'm used to. I found myself getting caught on some of the square edges on the blown-out trail. Despite not sitting into the travel as I would prefer, the bike rode remarkably well, especially when pushing harder; it just beat me up a little. Even weight distribution and the stability this afforded made up for the DH race spring rate I rode. Leo also noted that his Pro EWS athlete, Leigh Johnson, was having similar issues despite being on his dialled setup, and they found the heat was causing some problems. After some damper adjustments, Leigh rode to a 32nd place finish.

After only one short ride, and without it setup ideally, I’m left intrigued about what this bike is capable of. What can the Pole Machine get away with if it was showing me the way without the perfect settings? A review bike for some thorough testing should be here later this year and I look forward to digging deeper. 

To find out more about the Machine, head to the Pole Bicycles website

Comments

qduffy
-1 IslandLife Todd Hellinga sansarret goose8 Jerry Willows Adventurepew Zapp
qduffy  - Aug. 15, 2018, 1:59 a.m.

It's beautiful when you focus on parts of the bike, but the big picture view is just gawky and weird.

Reply

mammal
+2 goose8 Jerry Willows Adventurepew IslandLife
Mammal  - Aug. 15, 2018, 10:47 a.m.

I really like the looks of the bike, and appreciate how the manufacturing differences set the appearance apart from everything else on the market.

I think it's damn sexy, actually.

Reply

FLATCH
-4 IslandLife Darryl Chereshkoff AndrewR goose8 Jerry Willows mike Adventurepew Zapp
flatch  - Aug. 15, 2018, 5:17 a.m.

$5700 bucks, rubs his eyes and puts on his glasses. yup,$5700 dollars frame only! the frame is just down right fugly.

Reply

nouseforaname
+6 AndrewR goose8 Adventurepew Zapp Cr4w Niels AJ Barlas IslandLife
Nouseforaname  - Aug. 15, 2018, 9:22 a.m.

That's the cost of making good things in a country that cares about air and water quality and worker happiness.

Reply

xy9ine
+9 AndrewR jaydubmah Andrew Major Jerry Willows Adventurepew Zapp Mammal Cr4w Niels AJ Barlas IslandLife
Perry Schebel  - Aug. 15, 2018, 9:58 a.m.

that, and developing / utilizing a completely new & super expensive manufacturing process. though i'd never drop this kind of $$ on a frame, that innovation like this is going on makes me happy.

Reply

mammal
+1 AndrewR Adventurepew IslandLife
Mammal  - Aug. 15, 2018, 10:48 a.m.

Me too. 

I'd never drop the cash, because I straight up can't afford a super bike, but if I was in the market, I'd definitely buy this. 

I've been waiting for a review for a bit, and looking forward to the long-term.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+1 IslandLife
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 15, 2018, 8:06 p.m.

And that's for the RS Super Deluxe Fantastic Beta shock. The EXT Storia upgrade will put the frame alone over $6000 CDN. 

Shelling out this kind of cash on a frame I'd take a Robot Bike Co tbh.  Or wait to see what Forbidden Bike Co has for details on their frame.

Reply

amrskipro
+2 AJ Barlas Endur-Bro
AndrewR  - Aug. 16, 2018, 9:52 p.m.

It is being specced with the EXT Arma as the Storia 'climb' switch is unnecessary.

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 17, 2018, 9:17 p.m.

Totally missed what model of EXT it was. Is that due to PoleLink or just how good the shock is?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 18, 2018, 5:12 p.m.

You nailed it. 👍🏼

Reply

imperial
-4 Axel Ericson IslandLife AndrewR jaydubmah Adventurepew Mammal
imperial  - Aug. 15, 2018, 6:42 a.m.

Put a +1 angleset in the new specialized stumpjumper evo and you would have the trail/AM version of this.

Reply

craw
+9 IslandLife AndrewR goose8 pedalhound jaydubmah Zapp AJ Barlas Cooper Quinn natbrown
Cr4w  - Aug. 15, 2018, 7:48 a.m.

Minus the seat angle, chainstay length, reach, wheelbase, stack and suspension. But yeah other than those things it’s virtually the same.

Reply

cooperquinn
+4 IslandLife goose8 jaydubmah Zapp Mammal Adventurepew
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 15, 2018, 9:50 a.m.

I see someone woke up an put his long sassy pants on this morning.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Aug. 15, 2018, 12:01 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

LoamtoHome
+1 Cr4w
Jerry Willows  - Aug. 15, 2018, 10:59 a.m.

Actually the Stumpy is half a degree slacker hta. Chainstay length for a medium is longer and the sta is only a degree off. You could almost buy 2 stumpy evo's for the cost of the frame. I do agree that the reach is much more on this. I'm not sure why no media are looking at the evo.

Reply

xy9ine
+2 Jerry Willows Cr4w
Perry Schebel  - Aug. 15, 2018, 11:06 a.m.

the evo does look pretty interesting on paper. especially at the price point. but yeah, flying under the radar for some reason.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+5 Jitensha Kun Mammal Jerry Willows jaydubmah Cr4w
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 15, 2018, 2:01 p.m.

The Stumpy's numbers are awesome, but still don't compare. 3-degree slacker effective sta, 12mm shorter chainstay and the far smaller reach make for a wheelbase that doesn't even come close. Travel is also less at 140mm rear 150mm front for the 29er.  

They're still very different weapons at this point. The Evo is great, and I can't wait to try one with a better fit, but it's still got a way to go before it's in the same region as the Machine.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+2 AJ Barlas Jerry Willows
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 15, 2018, 3:01 p.m.

Actually was somewhat impressed with the Stumpy Evo numbers when it was released.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Aug. 15, 2018, 5:19 p.m.

how tall are you and what size EVO did you try ??

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 16, 2018, 6:04 a.m.

191cm and their S3 is what I spent time on. There is talk of a larger S4 if demand is there, and it sounds as though there may be.

Reply

LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Aug. 15, 2018, 6:08 p.m.

The medium and small EVO's have longer chainstays than small and medium Poles. Sta is 2 degrees which can be mitigated by pushing the seat forward. Why media is not covering this from one of the big 3 is mind blowing.

Reply

mitchdreizwei
+1 AJ Barlas
Mitchdreizwei  - Aug. 16, 2018, 4:37 a.m.

Pole machine has 455mm chainstay length on all sizes...

Reply

LoamtoHome
+1 AJ Barlas
Jerry Willows  - Aug. 16, 2018, 8:13 a.m.

Yup. Epic reading fail on my end.

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 16, 2018, 6:09 a.m.

I covered the new Stumpy range, including the Evo quite extensively and was very pleased with the ride qualities, you can read about it here. As soon as the S4 becomes a thing, I’ll be all over the long-term review.

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Jerry Willows AJ Barlas Darryl Chereshkoff
Perry Schebel  - Aug. 15, 2018, 6:48 a.m.

sick! jealous you got to fondle this mythical beast.

Reply

fartymarty
+2 Jerry Willows Mammal AJ Barlas Darryl Chereshkoff
fartymarty  - Aug. 15, 2018, 7:46 a.m.

I'm also a fanboi and love the looks of it.

Reply

Endur-Bro
-2 Jerry Willows AJ Barlas goose8 Mammal Adventurepew Zapp
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 15, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

Way too expensive considered the frame is stock with RS shock. 

It's good to see Pole/media is getting away from the Oceanfill #fakenews

Reply

jaydubmah
+6 Jitensha Kun legbacon Cr4w AJ Barlas Niels Jerry Willows
jaydubmah  - Aug. 15, 2018, 8:34 p.m.

I've had my Machine for the last 6 weeks and have a ton of rides into it. While it's still early days - I love the bike. 

My previous bike was an Ibis HD3 - so, I was expecting a big change adapting to the wheelsize and geometry. Honestly, it didn't take long to get used to it. For comparisons, I find the Machine to be flat out faster and with the steep STA a superior climber. As far as fun factor - it's a riot. While it's a bit less nimble than the HD3, it's still a lively bike and the added stability opens up other kinds of fun through being faster.

I agree that $5600CDN is eye-wateringly expensive for a frame. I took a chance on the kickstarter, and got my frameset for approx $4100, which is in-line with many carbon options I was looking at. 

Personally, I love how it looks, the machining is gorgeous and having 2 bottle mounts is awesome. In a world where the big manufacturers do small, conservative iterative design changes (the jaded part of me thinks it's planned obsolescence and milking the consumer), I think it's kinda cool that we can get stuff from small players that is more out there.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 16, 2018, 6:13 a.m.

Sick Jay. Stoked to hear you’re enjoying it. It’s true, the different geometries don’t take much getting used to when the bike is well setup and can still ride very dynamically. Where are you based?

Reply

jaydubmah
+1 AJ Barlas
jaydubmah  - Aug. 16, 2018, 1:31 p.m.

I'm based in Canmore, but have had a chance to put some big days in Vernon, Squamish and Whistler. Cheers!

Reply

MysticMountain
0
MysticMountain  - Aug. 16, 2018, 10:17 a.m.

@AJ Barlas what kind of duties and taxes might be involved beyond the currency conversion?

Reply

jaydubmah
+1 Jitensha Kun
jaydubmah  - Aug. 16, 2018, 1:33 p.m.

As a Canadian customer, I didn't actually pay any duty / taxes to bring my frame in. Just picked it up from Canada Post.

Reply

shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - Aug. 16, 2018, 3:56 p.m.

You got lucky then.  There should have been at least 5% GST on that frame plus the handling cost that Canada Post usually charges (~$10)

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Aug. 16, 2018, 4:08 p.m.

CBSA charged GST/PST+Duty+$10 handling for my MOJO.  Had to dispute it as only GST

Reply

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