09 Sep 16

I remember the first time I heard of 29ers. There was Gary Fisher in all his pimped out style and goatee and alligator shoes looking, tbh, great and sprouting about how this new bigger wheel system was going to re-invent the wheel and with it mtbs. I also remember thinking what a crock of shit it was. I mean how could wheels that where going to be not only more flexy every time you pumped them into corners but also that much more easy to break out on the trail due to longer more exposed spokes, rim surface etc leaving you high and dry be a good thing?

Ok perhaps they could make you go faster like some Lance-like roadie full of drugs that once you got the thing going you only had to race to the line but er what about turning along the way? Frankly, for years we had been happily rolling along on smaller wheels that seemed to do the trick, so why change? How could I take a 29″ wheel seriously when all the reviews by the mtb mags out there were deriding a 26″ bike simply for not having a 12mm bolt through – it being too flexy on the back end? And by this same logic, surely it seemed that a longer fork and longer chainstays would only add to these flexy woes.

Fine I thought, OK, for XC racing on a carbon hardtail that weighed less than your camelbak on a light day out on the hills, or a bike that you Strava´d down to the milli-second only to get you across flat lands or the race line, yes. But a hard hitting mtb where you could push your wheels into rocks and corners without them feeling like spaghetti – no, not possible.

And so the marketers and designers of the mtbing world seemed to agree with me. 29er designs were resigned to the club of shaven leg´d km munching monsters that loved the speed up on a fire road, period. Add to this their geometry was sheit.  No one dared it seemed to take a 29er and fit it to DH bike angles and BB heights – angles that inspired confidence and poise. It seemed as if these two camps were afraid of falling pray to the common perception that 29ers couldn´t turn and that they were for racing XC only.  Little by little however, a few daring designers did try to mate the 2 worlds but again they lacked the conviction to really let their designs hang out there so they ended up being nothing more than an enduro bike with 29er wheels with XCish geometry. Indeed the few 29ers that I tried left me with the feeling that I was perched on a gate waiting to be pitched forwards or back and high above the ground that I needed to be in communication with. There was nothing about these bikes that made you want to hang it out.

This was all until I tried the Pole Evolink 140 29er – a total game changer. Imagine a bike that you get on and you are immediately faster than you have ever been before? Imagine a bike that gives you the confidence to hit all those jumps that you have been finding excuses to avoid? Imagine time slowing down when you are actually hitting corners harder than you ever have? Imagine you handing this bike over to your mate to let them have a go only to watch them disappear off in a cloud of shred – them returning but not wanting to return your bike? Imagine hitting the sickest lines that people on a DH bike walk down and you fly down without taking much notice? Imagine the feeling of the first time you rode a bike? Thats how this bike feels.

A few years ago I broke my back on a stupid little jump in Malaga. I had hit it a thousand times before but that day my rear mech decided to pack up and over I went. Up till that point I had been building up my jumping confidence only to have it erased. Fast forward 3 years and there are quite a few more jumps in Malaga and several of them a hell of a lot bigger and scarier than I would have hit just a few years before. Its ok I thought, just ride around them you have nothing to prove. But I did. It annoyed the hell out of me that I knew I could make these jumps but was afraid. The rides went by and soon enough I even started to avoid those tracks with those damn jumps. Then I got the Evolink and EVERYTHING changed. WTF? How was I able to hit the biggest jumps on a 29er? Wait what happened to their XC roots? What had changed…?

I don´t know if I am the only person to have ridden ´that´ new jump in Granada on a 29er but I wouldn´t be surprised if I am. I do know that if there is another rider out there to have hit it – they´re on a Pole Evolink 29er.