Polygon Pave i7 urban bike review

With the growing popularity of two-wheeled commuting and the increasing number of cycleways popping up around the world, urban style bikes are becoming all the rage – and Polygon’s Pave i7 ‘utility bike’ is right on this global trend.

The Pave i7 is a sleek, stealthy?“utility bike”?ideally suited for the urban commando, featuring a carbon-belt drive with a seven-speed internal-hub gear system, and retailing at under AU$1,000 (UK prices TBC) through a direct-buy channel – it’s priced to go.

Weighing in at 12.34kg for the 50cm model delivered to?BikeRadar’s Asia-Pacific office in Sydney, the Pave i7 features a sturdy 6061 alloy frame and fork. Its biggest attention grabber, though, is the Gates belt drive, paired with a Shimano Nexus seven-speed internal gearing system that keeps the mechanical shifting components hidden from sight and also out of the elements.

Pulling the Pave out of its box, we were met with a preset torque wrench and small pedal spanner. (Polygon’s Australian online distributor, Bicycles Online, includes this – and it’s everything needed to complete the mostly assembled bike.)

This reviewer has always been a big fan of internal drive systems, so we were eager to take the i7 for a spin. The first thing we noticed right from the start was the Shimano trigger shifters were in reverse, compared with a normal mountain bike setup. This took some getting used to, and to be completely honest we were still getting it backwards days later.

Seven gears are hidden inside this rear hub. the downsides? internal geared hubs add weight, offer limited gear ranges and have additional resistance:

Seven gears are hidden inside this rear hub. The downsides? Internal geared hubs add weight, offer limited gear ranges and have additional resistance

Also blatantly apparent were the limitations of the?seven-speed setup. While fine for commuting and leisure riding in Adelaide, Austin or East Anglia, riders living in Sydney, Sheffield or San Francisco may find it simply does not have enough range when you’ve lost your grunt when forced to take hilly routes. This is less than ideal when creeping up roads with gradients closing in on double-digit percentages. After all, there is nothing worse than arriving at the office after just a short pedal and feeling the need for a shower.

However, on flat roads and rolling hills, we found the Pave i7 to be an exceptional ride. The longer lasting, lower maintenance belt-drive and internal gear systems provide a silent, almost seamless ride void of rattles and clicks often associated with chain-driven, multi-speed external gearsets. The belt also requires no oil, so say goodbye to messy grease stains on the legs or worse – your trousers.

The belt is tensioned via turning the eccentric assembly within the frame. unfortunately it's an extra component that can creak - as ours did:

The belt is tensioned via turning the eccentric assembly within the frame. Unfortunately it’s an extra component that can creak – as ours did

Unfortunately it wasn’t all perfect, with the crankset/bottom bracket on our test sample making some groaning noise under stress. A little grease fixed it right up, but this requires specialty tools – something to consider, because the bike is often sold online and shipped to your door in a box.

The Pave i7 floats effortlessly over the tarmac, especially with the 700×35c Schwalbe Citizen tyres mounted on Rigida alloy double-wall wheels. The Citizens are bulletproof and possess enough grooved traction channels to keep you both puncture- and worry-free on your daily commute, even under damp conditions. The Pave i7 feels both stable and responsive and, fitted with an Entity road saddle, its ride is anything but harsh.

Standard v-brakes work just fine, but a little rain will cause a quick loss in performance. disc brakes often more consistent performance and greater durability:

Standard V-brakes work just fine, but a little rain will cause a quick loss in performance. Disc brakes offer more consistent performance and greater durability

For stopping action, the i7 uses Tektro levers connected to alloy V-brakes, which are adequate, but not as precise as disc brakes, especially over rain-kissed roads.

With just two sizes available, the Pave gives up the precise fit offered by bikes available in a greater range. Even so, we were perfectly comfortable for shorter journeys – and the quick release adjustable seat post makes for a quick fitting process.

The final verdict is simple. At this price, with carbon belt-drive and Shimano Nexus hub gearing, Polygon’s Pave i7 is a fantastic buy if you live in flatter areas. If your home’s in more mountainous urban territory, however, you might want to consider Polygon’s pricier (AU$2,199) sibling, the Zenith Di2, which features Shimano’s Alfine 11-speed internal drive hub system and has disc brakes to boot.

Trail Tech: Joe Graney interview

In this edition of Trail Tech we venture inside the mind of Santa Cruz engineer and director of quality Joe Graney. Since 2001, Graney has been designing, testing and redesigning many of the Santa Cruz models beloved by mountain bikers around the world.

Graney is a man of frank talk and strong opinions. His passion for the craft is readily apparent, as is his disdain for industry standards that don’t offer tangible benefits to the rider.

We caught up with Graney at the launch of the redesigned Santa Cruz Nomad in Santiago, Chile, and picked his brain about the development of the new bike, as well as the future of mountain bike design.

Since 2001 joe graney has been designing, testing, and redesigning many of the santa cruz models beloved by mountain bikers around the world:

At the Nomad launch you mentioned that the Bronson seemed like an easier project, so you switched gears to focus on that.?What made the redesign of the Nomad so challenging?

The Nomad was having an identity crisis. Was it a coil shock bike or an air shock bike?? Was it “all-mountain” or “mini DH”? What do those things even mean?

The nomad ushers in some significant changes for santa cruz. specifically, internal routing, a recessed lower link and the 1x-specific frame design:

The convergence of wide-range single chainring drivetrains with the rise of enduro racing set the stage for the Nomad’s redesign

Marketing?types often pitch new bikes as “the best ever” with “zero compromises,” but as an engineer you work in a world of give and take.?What are some of the major compromises that one must take into account when developing a bike such as the Nomad?

Geometry and fitting parts are the fundamental challenges. How slack is too slack, how low is too low? How can you fit a front der if the tire is overlapping the cage? Would anyone use a front derrailleur on this bike anyway? How can you fit a piggyback shock and a water bottle? Should we have adjustable travel or geometry and what are the compromises in doing that??

The Nomad appears to usher in some significant changes for?Santa Cruz.?Specifically, internal routing, a recessed lower link and the 1x-specific frame design.?Are these technologies that you plan to incorporate into future projects?

This might sound like a cop-out answer, but we really evaluate each model and incorporate what is best for the riders. For the Nomad, 1x was a tough decision, for other bikes it might swing a different way. The internal routing came from the fact that it was 1x, actually. If it had a front derailleur it might not have been. The cross-over of the rear derailleur cable from left to right on the down tube is done inside the molded tunnel, and prevents rubbing on the head tube.

The nomad has carbon tubes molded into the down tube to make it easy to feed the cables through the frame:

Carbon tubes molded into the Nomad’s down tube make guiding cables through the frame a painless process

Do you think 1x frame designs will become the norm? Is the front derailleur destined for extinction?

There are times when an expanded gear range is preferred, or closer steps between gears is preferred. The front derailleur is hard to package on modern bikes, if the mechanism was changed to address some of the issues (noise, chaindrop, extra shifters, weight, etc.) then I think riders would opt to have more gears rather than less in a lot of cases.??

The nomad is one of a growing number of frames that ditch front derailleur compatability :

There’s no provision for a front derailleur on the new Nomad

How far into the future does?Santa Cruz?work? Are the next generations of the Nomad and Bronson already on the drawing board? Are they already being ridden?

It depends on the model really. The Nomad was started in mid-2011 and it’s 2014 now. That’s more of an exception however. We work on changes to things quite a bit, but typically don’t start a full redesign until we feel like we can make a significant improvement over the current design.

Some brands have a bit of a regional flavor to how their bikes ride.?Do you feel this is the case with?Santa Cruz? Do the?Santa Cruz?trails play a defining role in shaping the character of the bikes you build?

We are lucky to have some of the best trails a short ride from the door of the building in?Santa Cruz. While we use our bikes on the local trails, the designs are influenced more by the people who work here. We don’t build bikes that we don’t want to ride, so those preferences are built in to our decision-making processes. We did get out of town quite a bit on the Nomad mule-testing process, from Finale Ligure to Downieville to Whistler to?Santa Barbara.

Santa cruz experimented with many different designs in the process of revamping the nomad:

An early Nomad test mule clearly demonstrates that not all ideas make it into production

Which?Santa Cruz?model do you gravitate toward as your daily driver?

I ride the Solo locally, and the Bronson when I’m in the Sierras. Probably switching to a Nomad, though.

Santa Cruz?launched an extensive 650b salvo last year.?In the process, the company cleared out most of its 26in models.?Some, but not all, of these bikes were replaced with 650b counterparts.?Is there a place for shorter-travel 650b models (bikes with less suspension travel than the Solo) in the?Santa Cruz?line? Is a 650b hardtail in the works? What about a 650b XC full suspension?


VPP aside, is there another suspension design you appreciate?

I don’t think any system itself has validity. It comes down to the execution of a system for a particular model. Anyone who rides and older Nomad compared to the latest design can testify to that, despite similar wheel travel and suspension system.

I prefer mechanical systems that are simpler and don’t require gimmickry or custom-made spring damper systems to work well. Our bikes are designed to last a long time, so we want to make sure riders can fit the latest shock technology to their bike in a few years time.

If you could wave a magic wand and make one new “standard” or technology disappear, what would it be?

Press-fit bottom brackets on mountain bikes. It’s ridiculous how many ways this crappy system has been tried. Epoxying your BB in is acceptable??

For a deeper dive into the musings of Joe Graney, visit Joe’s Corner, his tech blog on the Santa Cruz site.

Day in the life of the downhill mountain bike mechanics – video

BikeRadar is in Cairns, Australia, for round two of the UCI downhill mountain bike world cup. Plenty of rain leading up to the racing this weekend means the mechanics are working furiously between the riders’ outings to keep things clean and dialled.?

We spoke with mechanics from GT Factory Racing, Specialized Racing Downhill, Santa Cruz Syndicate, Trek World Racing, CRC/NukeProof and more to find out what’s keeping them busy and to learn more about their daily duties as pro mechanics to some of the world’s best.

Stay tuned for more videos featuring Sam Hil (CRC/Nukeproof), Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing) and Greg Minaar’s (Santa Cruz Syndicate) bikes.?

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Video: Mechanic tech talk at the downhill world cup round two in Cairns, Australia (Anthony Gordon)

Mother’s Day CycloFemme rides to offer free bike shares in three areas

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — CycleFemme is working with bike share programs in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Boulder, Colo., to provide bikes for participants in Gloabl Women’s Cycling Day, May 11. Bike share programs in those three areas are promoting self-led CycloFemme ride routes throughout their service areas.

San Fran shop hosts panel discussion on women’s cycling clothing

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Huckleberry Bicycles is hosting an industry panel discussion this Friday on women’s cycling apparel. Panelists from three brands that focus on women’s urban cycling clothes will speak and field questions from consumers and industry representatives in the audience.

Malmö Opens Fantastic Bike&Ride Parking at Central Station

13 Fe?vrier 2014Copenhagenize Design Company was pleased to have been invited across the Øresund to the grand opening of the City of Malmö’s brand new Bike&Ride parking facility at the central station.?On a sunny morning, the ceremonial ribbon – strung between two cargo bikes – was cut. Malmö is Sweden’s leading bicycle city – so much so that it features in the Top 20 on The Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities. It is a premier bicycle city with around 30% of the population using bicycles each day to go to work or education.

This brand-new Bike&Ride facility will host more than 1,500 bikes and there are even – be still our hearts – dedicated spaces for cargo bikes. There are loads of details; two air pumps, a bike shop, lockers, numerous screens showing train departure and arrival times, restrooms, a lounge if you have to wait for the train. There is even a single shower for the odd “cyclist” who might fancy a spandex ride. Generally, the facility is geared towards the Citizen Cyclist population of the country’s third largest city.


Parking is free at Bike&Ride and there is 24/7 access. It is patrolled by station guards throughout the day.?

There is, however, a separate section for those who want some extra protection. A secure parking area for 700 bicycles based on a subscription service. It costs 80 kroner a month and you get a chip card. Although if you have a transit card, you can combine it with that.

There are numbers painted on the floor to help users remember where they parked so they don’t have to wander around looking for a black bicycle in a sea of black bicycles. All of it with a fresh orange colour and cool, Nordic graphic design.

One great detail is the height of the bars in the cargo bike area. Too low for regular bikes to be leaned against them.

Our über intern Dennis, who studies at the University of Utrecht, was impressed with the second tier bike racks. Excellent ease of use, he says. There is a low bar on them to lock your bike to and they require little effort to lift up and put into place.

Access to the secure parking area is, of course, wide enough for cargo bikes, too.

One of the waiting areas, with water fountain.

The Bike&Ride is located under the bus station and connects directly with the train platforms. It’s partially underground but it is lovely and bright because of excellent lighting and windows and glass doors.?

All the signs, pictograms and colours (orange and green) used make the facility attractive and user-friendly. We mustn’t forget to highlight how important it is to use architecture and design to make sure facilities fit the users.?


In comparison, the Bike&Ride parking located at Hyllie Station on the outskirts of?Malmö that opened in 2010 seems less appealing even if it has the same facilities.?

The upper level of bike parking is hardly used because you have to use a set of stairs with a ramp and the connection to the platforms is not at all direct. In the daily routine of a commuter, anything that makes it more inconvenient, however detailed, will not encourage them to consider changing their mode of transport. A2Bism is what we’ve always called it and Hyllie Station lacks that.

Let’s hurry up and get back to the new facility at Malmö Central. That’s the main focus here. The City has proved how serious it is about improving conditions for cycling in an already exemplary cycling city. Their new Bike&Ride should embarrass the City of Copenhagen and they should be incredibly proud of it.

Another 200 parking spaces are located outside, under a XIX century style roof. These spots are closer to the train station but, above all, they are important for the image of cycling. The City wanted to make sure that some bicycles remained outside the station. You don’t want to remove them all. It’s still important for everyone passing by to remember that Malmö is a bicycle city.

Malmö has a vibrant bicycle culture and, in April, the City will recieve the results of a massive survey dealing with transport habits and we will know how the modal share of cyclists has changed over the last few years. Gathering data is something the Danes and the Swedes take very seriously.
DSC_0059The bike shop called Bicycle Clinic.

The ticket machines located conveniently at the bicycle parking.

While we’re dishing out love for Malmö here on Valentine’s Day, we should also recall their brilliant behaviour change campaign – No Ridiculous Car Trips.

Heja Malmö!?

Here’s what the parking around Malmö Central looked like until recently:
Malmö Central Station Malmö Train Station Parking
The Bicycle Island

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Tricked Out Rides: Which Bicycle Accessories are Right for You?

In need of some extra carrying capacity on your ride? Don’t know where to start? CycleLogistics has got you covered.

As you are hopefully already aware, CycleLogistics is an EU-funded project that aims to reduce the energy used in moving goods around cities. We try to influence businesses, delivery companies and private individuals to turn off the engine and pedal their way around town instead. As a part of this project, we ran consumer tests to help the average citizen become more aware of the products out there to help them equip their bikes for more intense transport.? Our consumer tests judged 5 categories of products – cargo bikes, bike trailers, bike baskets, pannier bags and rear shopping trolleys, evaluating 4 or 5 popular brands and products based on their function, price and design. These tests are a pretty big deal – this is one of the first times that anyone has consolidated this much information on such a range of bicycle products and accessories.

There’s quite a lot of variety out there in terms of available products. For instance, do you need a cargo bike to cart your children around? Or perhaps you own a small business and need to move products all over town? Maybe you just like carrying an extra passenger? Do you need a front basket to hold your overloaded purse? Or your four-legged friend? Will your pannier carry your daily groceries, or maybe your laptop? These tests prove that different designs fit different needs. You might even discover an item you hadn’t even considered before, such as a shopping trailer that you can bring into the store with you and then simply hook on your bike before you head home.

The Danish Cyclists’ Federation oversaw the consumer tests on behalf of CycleLogistics and the European Cyclists’ Federation, so you can trust that the organizers really know their stuff. The tests were carried out over the course of 5 days by 5 individuals or small companies who use bicycles on a daily basis. Participants were told to simply incorporate the product into their daily routines and then rate them based on how well they did their job. These test users are therefore experienced and knowledgeable while also entirely unbiased in their reviews.

The full results?from each of the?5 category test are available for download here. Want to read it in your native language? No problem! CycleLogistics has produced a consumer test report in 7 different languages, available for each and every category. Be sure to read them through and share them with your networks – spread the word, find your favorites and see how these products work for you.

For more info on CycleLogistics be sure to check out the website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

VooDoo Aizan review

Available exclusively from Halfords, the Aizan has – like all VooDoos – been designed by Mountain Bike Hall of Fame racer Joe Murray. If the sloping top tube design looks familiar, that’s because Murray was one of its earliest proponents, back in the late 1980s. Brought bang up to date with 29er wheels, a nine-speed transmission and a 120mm (4.7in) travel fork, the Aizan looks like a great deal on paper. But is it in practice?

Frame and equipment: spot-on geometry and some pleasing spec choices

We’re so used to seeing aluminium tubes manipulated into a shape-shifting smorgasbord of profiles that the Aizan’s mostly round, mostly straight plumbing is a breath of fresh air. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that it’s a throwback though – there’s plenty of clever detailing.

The chunkier-than-it-looks down tube is subtly ovalised at the bottom bracket, to help prevent the frame twisting under heavy pedal pressure, and curves gently into the join with the head tube, to help disperse stress from hard impacts away from this vulnerable area.

The top tube doesn’t have any fancy profiling, but the seat tube has a subtle backwards kink just above the front derailleur mount. This helps reduce the length of the chainstays as well as the bike’s overall wheelbase – a clever move that’s aimed at keeping the handling tight and snappy.

Despite that short rear end, mud clearance is decent even with the 2.2in rear tyre, thanks to dimpled chainstays and snaky seatstays. There’s even a set of rack mounts, should you have the urge to saddle up for a longer tour or tackle the daily commute.

Surprisingly, VooDoo has opted for a 120mm travel Suntour fork up front. It’s relatively rare to see a fork this long on a 29er hardtail, the theory being that the bigger wheels roll more easily anyway, so what’s the point in adding more travel?

However, the spot-on geometry and neat frame design touches aimed at keeping the wheelbase in check show that VooDoo hasn’t simply pulled a long fork from the parts catalogue – they’ve thought about it and designed the Aizan’s frame accordingly. Our test fork should have had adjustable rebound damping, but was missing the adjuster knob. Halfords assures us that production bikes do have the adjuster.

Given the Aizan’s competitive pricing, it’s good that VooDoo found room in the budget for a nine-speed transmission. That means closely spaced gears and a useful 34-tooth big sprocket for climbing – both essentials on a 29er.

A flat handlebar reins in the inevitably high front end and chunky Continental tyres give lots of cushioning, but wheel weight is a concern. Tipping the scales at over 5.5kg for the pair (complete with tyres), the Aizan’s wheels are on the lardy side.

Ride and handling: playful, but over-ridden by the heavy wheels

We thought those heavy wheels would dominate the Aizan’s ride. Turns out we were half right. The VooDoo has a split personality. On the one hand, it’s hard to escape the fact that this is a heavy bike. It’s heavy to lift out of the car and it’s reluctant to translate effort at the pedals into forward progress in the wheels.

On the other hand, it wants to play. The sorted geometry makes it one of the best-handling 29er hardtails we’ve ridden, at any price. Which just serves to make that wheelset all the more frustrating. The Aizan responds best to smooth, steady, seated pedalling – mashing away at the pedals doesn’t get you very far, very fast.

A good rider can use the VooDoo’s momentum and easy-rolling big wheels to his or her advantage. Read the trail right, choose the right gear ahead of time and keep the pace steady and the Aizan simply bulldozes anything in its path, uphill or down. But it takes skill and experience to pull this off, which is why it’s a good thing that VooDoo got the handling so right on this bike.

With the rear wheel tucked in under the rider there’s bucketloads of traction for tackling steep climbs, while the short wheelbase gives the front end a surprisingly placeable, lively feel.

This bike wants to be pushed hard on descents, but the fork – like all budget 120mm travel units we’ve ridden – ultimately holds it back. The Aizan falls between two stools. The geometry is fantastic, but needlessly weighty wheels prevent it from showing its true potential.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.


Dealer Tour: Progress and promise pedaling Seattle

SEATTLE, WA (BRAIN) — Before crossing Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island for visits at BI Cycle and Classic Cycle, Day 2 of BRAIN’s Seattle Dealer Tour got under way with a sampling of urban riding highlighting the accomplishments of local advocates as well as the challenges they face in easing two-wheel transit in the Emerald City. Straight from our hotel base, we embarked on a stretch of Westlake Avenue where the designated cycling route consists largely of an aisle in a crowded parking lot off the waterfront. Here, advocacy group Cascade Bicycle Club seeks to establish a dedicated bike path to open up cycling on a major arterial flat enough to accommodate a wide range of bike commuters

Bosch-powered e-bikes make consumer debut at Solar Decathlon

IRVINE, CA (BRAIN) — Debuting the Bosch system to U.S. consumers for the first time, four bike companies are offering e-bike demos at the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon at Irvine’s Great Park in southern California. The event opened last Thursday and closed Sunday