Dangerously Fast! – First Ride Review on the Pole Stamina 180

If you’re planning on riding the new Pole Stamina 180, make sure you have a big strong coffee first! The Finnish luxury bike with radical geometry and 180 mm travel unleashes an onslaught on your nervous system – and provided some interesting surprises during our test!

POLE Stamina 180 | 180/180 mm (f/r) | 14.28 kg (29” Size L) | € 7,950

It looks like the people at Pole haven’t had much sleep lately. Just a few weeks after causing a stir with their new Pole MACHINE, the Fins have followed up with two more exciting entries: the new Stamina 180 and Stamina 140. The two new frames are built using the same unique manufacturing process and implement the same radical geometry concept developed by Pole’s mastermind, Leo Kokkonen. Uniquely, the frames are machined in two halves from solid aluminium billet and then bonded together using an aerospace grade glue. Since the process is almost entirely performed by machines, there’s no need for additional manpower to carry out monotonous welding work or time-consuming carbon layup. Machining the frame using CNC means no expensive carbon fibre moulds need to be produced and revisions to the design only require simple and inexpensive updates to the machining protocol. This means Pole can make adjustments immediately, giving them flexibility in prototyping and testing concepts. Last but not least, this method allows them to use the stronger 7075 T6 aluminium, which is hard to weld using conventional methods and thus not commonly used elsewhere.

Suspension and geometry form a solid unit and provide outstanding riding characteristics!


Speed is the answer to everything

Leo Kokkonen has an obsession with speed. Every time he’s out testing a bike or new component, there’s one essential tool in his pocket: a stopwatch. His addiction to speed led to him developing the radical geometry we already know from the EVOLINK and MACHINE models. With the Stamina 180, Pole continues this approach, combining the same extreme, long and slack geometry with a massive 180 mm travel front and rear. The Pole Stamina 180 is available in three different build kits and as a frame kit. For our test, Pole provided a prototype frame with a 180 EN Kit and there’s really not much to complain about on the spec of our € 7,950 test-bike. All components are thoroughly proven and perfectly suit the intended purpose, with just one exception. The thin EXO casing of the tires can’t withstand the performance of the bike, and despite running an additional Huck Norris insert we had to deal with several flats.

Fork ROCKSHOX LYRIK RC2 180 mm
Shock ROCKSHOX SUPER DELUXE RCT 180 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XO1 Eagle 1×12
Seatpost BIKEYOKE REVIVE 125/160/185 mm
Stem TRUVATIV DESCENDANT
Handlebar TRUVATIV DESCENDANT CARBON 800 mm
Wheels MAVIC DEEMAX PRO 29″
Tires Maxxis MINION DHF/DHR II 2.50″/2.40″

Unique
The machined look of the Stamina 180 is unique. Whilst the two halves of the main frame are still glued together, the additional bolts found on the MACHINE are a thing of the past.
Balance is everything
One of the Stamina’s greatest strengths is its extremely well-balanced geometry. Despite the radical numbers, the bike is good-natured and easy to ride.
More travel = more performance
With 180 mm of travel front and rear, the new Pole offers enormous reserves for the hardest trails. Despite the huge amount of travel, the handling is still incredibly directly.
Pragmatic
The cables are routed externally. This allows for easier servicing but comes at the expense of aesthetics.
Improved
Pole has revised the strut between the seat- and chainstays (see picture). On our version, the chain was repeatedly hitting the additional bracing. Customers who already bought a Stamina 180 will receive a replacement free of charge.
Lots of room
There’s room for up to two large drinking bottles in the main frame triangle. If you still need more water, you can place another bottle cage on the bottom of the downtube.
Asymmetrical
Pole offers their new bike with a number of different suspension setups. Depending on the spec, the bike comes with different shock mounts.
Overwhelmed
On hard landings and big compressions, the chain loses tension. When the rear end of the Stamina extends again, the derailleur clicks back in place and puts the chain under tension and damn, it’s loud! In our opinion, however, this doesn’t really affect the riding performance but is still very annoying and noticeably dents your confidence.

Form follows function

Anyone who knows Leo, knows that he’s a pragmatic guy. He doesn’t beat around the bush and follows his convictions – the Stamina 180 is a clear reflection of that. If you’re a fan of internal cable routing, you’ll be disappointed. All cables are routed externally for ease of maintenance and are held in place by zip ties. Nor is there an elaborate chainstay protector – simple and functional Slapper Tape will do! It’s all about practicality and the bike allows for up to three large bottles, which you can fill with either water or tools. The Stamina 180 LE top-spec version comes as standard with a OneUp Components EDC tool integrated in the steerer tube – nice!

Redefining the concept of speed

Despite looking incredibly radical in its proportions when stationary, once you get on the saddle, the Pole Stamina feels surprisingly tame – at least for the first few metres. Considering the massive wheelbase (1,336 mm), super-slack head angle (63.5°) and the enormous reach of 510 mm (size L), once you sit on it, the bike doesn’t feel as huge as the numbers would suggest. With a nicely integrated riding position, the bike implements steering inputs willingly and accurately. As soon as you drop into the trail, one thing becomes clear: not only does the Stamina break all conventions, but it also has the potential to crush KOMs and induce a whole new kind of speed rush – and not just on challenging downhill tracks. With its generous rear end and aggressive geometry, the bike generates an insane amount of traction. During our test laps, we had to increase the tire pressure by around 0.2 bar, because the bike pushed us to carve through the corners with considerably more speed than expected, increasing forces that could have caused tires to burp or even pop off the rims at lower pressures.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 400 mm 420 mm 440 mm
Top tube 570 mm 600 mm 630 mm 660 mm
Head tube 110 mm 120 mm 120 mm 135 mm
Head angle 63.5° 63.5° 63.5° 63.5°
Seat angle 78.3° 78.3° 78.3° 78.3°
Chainstays 455 mm 455 mm 455 mm 455 mm
BB Drop 385 mm 385 mm 405 mm 425 mm
Wheelbase 1,276 mm 1,306 mm 1,336 mm 1,
361 mm
Reach 450 mm 480 mm 510 mm 540 mm
Stack 636 mm 645 mm 645 mm 658 mm

However, if you really want to exploit the full potential of the bike, you’ll have to adapt your riding style a little – especially when railing around corners. Comparing the Pole with a ‘conventional’ Enduro bike, we would say that the Stamina likes to be leaned over into the bend in typical ‘moto-style’. Furthermore, the bike benefits from an active riding style and conscious use of the suspension. In other words, you get a lot more out of the bike by actively weighting and unweighting the wheels. Once you get the hang of it, the Stamina feels agile and nimble, effortlessly carving through the tightest of corners, despite its unusual length. But since the active riding style also requires greater physical effort, describing the bike as playful would be a little far-fetched. The one drawback of the massive wheelbase becomes evident when you have to lift the rear wheel on very narrow trail sections – here the rear end tends to get stuck on the edge of the trail. However, this will likely only bother a handful of riders.

The Stamina 180 opens up a whole new dimension of trail speed and literally makes the trees fly past you. Naturally, this also requires a great deal of concentration – we actually crashed a few times, simply because the sheer speed the bike develops is overwhelming at first. The Pole is extremely stable and sticks to the trail while inspiring huge amounts of confidence. This feeling is enhanced by the massive freedom of movement provided by the low top tube. The suspension filters out bumps sensitively but feels supportive and lively at the same time. The Pole is eager for airtime off ledges and jumps and offers good support through tight berms. All in all, the Stamina is well-balanced in corners and its long rear end always helps build enough pressure on the front wheel. If you like popping manuals out of corners, you’ll need a lot of strength though.

We developed a deep respect for the Stamina 180 – it’s just brutally fast!

Our test bike weighs a very reasonable 14.28 kg, no doubt aided by the light tires. The light weight combined with the steep seat angle and the resulting centred riding position allows for very capable climbing performance. The front wheel never threatens to lift off the ground which means that you can lean back, relax and still keep the bike on track. Only on very technical climbs on narrow trails do the massive wheelbase and the slack head angle affect the climbing performance of the Stamina.

Note on our own behalf

For this test, Pole provided a prototype frame which, in our opinion, still had a few minor issues. After talking to Leo and discussing them with him, he told us that he would revise the frame before sending the bike into production and provide all customers who had already bought the frame with an updated version. One of the problems with our test bike was the strut that connects the chainstay with the seat stay. This design causes the chain to rub against the brace and to hit the strut repeatedly. Furthermore, some dimensions are very tight and the prescribed tolerances and clearances are on the limit. These issues will be remedied in the production model.

Our first conclusions on the new Pole Stamina 180

Since our test bike features a prototype frame and the final production bike will get some updates, it’s too early to draw final conclusions. What we can say, however, is that we’ve never come across an Enduro bike that generates this much downhill speed. Whilst the Stamina shifts your horizon on the way down, it is still a very decent climber. A true superbike for all riders aiming for maximum speed!

Tops

  • redefines the concept of speed
  • extremely smooth and confidence inspiring
  • still “agile” and not at all sluggish

Flops

  • feels bulky in very tight trail sections
  • loud chain slap with hard knocks
  • on our prototype, the chain grinds against the reinforcement brace (this should be fixed for the production model)

For more information head to: polebicycles.com

This article is from ENDURO issue #039

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