Leigh Johnson: Could I be competitive on the Evolink 158?
Previously published by the name of “EVOLINK Price drop”.
As a recap here’s what our boy Leigh Johnson has to say about EVOLINK
Here’s Leigh’s message for those who think about getting an EVOLINK
So as some of you know I decided to race the Pole bicycles Evolink 158 at the trophy of nations. I wanted to see how an out of the bike box performed on real race stages. The only things we ended up changing in preparation were the wheels to our Mavic Deemax Pro, 2 tokens in the fork and adding a Fidlock water bottle. First thing I noticed was how easy it was to feel comfortable on the bike, with the limited time I only started riding the Evolink for 1 day of practice, and just felt at home, I could focus on the stages rather than getting used to the bike. I gradually picked up speed throughout the day to see how it would feel at race pace, this is where I noticed the differences between the Evolink and my race Stamina. Overall though I was super happy and most importantly felt more than comfortable to take an “out of the box” bike straight into racing. Race day aboard the Evolink went as smooth as I could have hoped, not a single fault with the bike all week and it didn’t even get a bolt check all week!
How the Evolink and Stamina compare
Riding: I think the stamina is more planted and gains more grip when speeds get faster, I think I would feel more confident tackling harder lines and pushing speed on the stamina but it could be related to the 20mm less travel the Evolink has.
Weight: My stamina feels a bit lighter to pick up than the Evolink but this wasn’t so noticeable when riding and I don’t feel like the extra bit of weight held me back at any point.
Climbing: both bikes climb incredibly well, however coming from the stamina with a steeper seat tube and shorter top tube I found I preferred this not only on the steep climbs but the longer road climbs also. I think this was just something I had gotten used to and not spent enough time on the Evolink to adapt to the slight slacker position.
Descending: I think this is where both bikes excel, they both love to be pointed downhill and fill the rider with confidence. The Stamina felt a little more capable though when things got steeper and gnarlier, I think this is down to the extra rear travel over the Evolink, along with top-level suspension I think I could find more grip and support on stamina.
Could I be competitive on the Evolink 158?
Absolutely, the bike was ripping and loved every minute of racing it, which is the most important part. What would I change if I was to race the Evolink again? Given that we only had the ‘TR’ speck bike there would be some upgrades I would do to gain extra speed in a race situation. I think to make the bike even more competitive I would change out the suspension to a Lyrik ultimate up front and maybe a coil shock at the back. I feel this would improve confidence further and allow some extra speed from the extra grip. Also, I would upgrade the brakes to the Sram Code RSC with bigger disks front and rear to allow for later braking approaching corners and steeper sections of trail.
I think the suspension combined with the upgraded brakes could make a seriously competitive bike. However, the ‘TR’ spec bike hits all the nails on the head for general riding and having fun, bearing in mind I would only make some small changes to squeeze some time on the race stages.
Massive thanks to Pole Bicycles for making this comparison possible and creating 2 amazingly capable bikes. Maybe in the future, we can put them both against the clock to see how the speed really compares, but until then, I hope this helps you guys out.
We have good news for people who are looking for buying the legendary Pole EVOLINK frameset. We have reached a number of sold frames that cover the cost of the bike tooling cost and we can now drop the price for our end users. The new price is 1950€ (1573€ vat 0%) with Rock Shox Monarch Plus. ENJOY