Pole says no to carbon

Economic, environmental and ethical risks are not worth it, company says

The small Finnish brand Pole is known for its radical geometry, which incorporates slack head angles, very steep seat tubes and incredibly long wheelbases. Even by today’s “long, low and slack” trends, Pole is an outlier. But it’s not the brand’s approach to geometry that is making headlines.

Late last week, Leo Kokkonen, the founder and head designer of Pole Bicycles, announced via the company’s tech blog that Pole was scrapping its carbon frame project and would instead focus on producing high-end aluminum frames.

“Within the mountain bike industry, there is tremendous pressure that every bike manufacturer must have their carbon fiber models instead of aluminum because the bikes would be lighter and the market seems to think that the only way to be in the high end is by producing carbon frames,” Kokkonen wrote.

According to Kokkonen, Pole was in the late stages of this project when a trip to China’s carbon manufacturing factories changed his mind about building in carbon fiber.

Pole is known for its long and slack mountain bikes, such as the Evolink 140
Pole is known for its long and slack mountain bikes, such as the Evolink 140

Kokkonen wrote that concerns over carbon's environmental, economic and social impact outweighed any benefits in carbon fabrication. 

Compared to aluminum, carbon is much harder to recycle. Kokkonen noted that carbon manufacturing is very labor intensive and often done in regions with poor human rights records, and that inhaling carbon nanotubes has been linked to respiratory illnesses and cancer.

“Mountain biking is the best thing I know, but it should not be used to exploit and ruin our environment. We are moms and dads here at Pole Bicycles, and we all agree that we would like to be able to look into our children’s eyes when they grow up and tell them that we made choices that turned people’s heads to a cleaner future for the living beings on this planet,” he wrote.

You can read Kokkonen’s entire blog post here.

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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