Bikes from Indonesian manufacturer Polygon are sold in Australia direct to consumer (AUD$2,198), affording some very competitive price points. The Helios C6.0 is a carbon road bike designed for the endurance rider, and is a great example of how a simple part choice can spoil an otherwise great ride.
Ride & handling: A touch on the racy side
The Helios C combines the more upright geometry typical of endurance bikes endurance geometry with a little racing flair, and doesn’t offer the same level of comfort or relaxed handling as some of its competitors.
With aggressively flattened seatstays and a skinny seatpost we expected a more comfortable ride, although we suspect the lack of rough road compliance could be easily fixed with a wider 25c tyre.
We wanted 25mm tyres on the Polygon Helios C6.0
Where the bike lacked all-day comfort, it excelled in stiffness. With wide, flattened tube profiles, the frame was stiff under power, with no hint of twist in the front or bottom bracket. Sprinting rewarded us with immediate forward acceleration and great feedback from the surface. Pointed uphill, the sub-8kg package was a delight to pedal, limited only by its tall gearing.
The bike’s geometry places you in an upright yet efficient position. With a tall head tube and plenty of headset spacers there’s plenty of room to achieve your desired handlebar height. In today’s world of compact frames, the top tube length seemed short given the seat tube length – don’t assume your sizing if you’re coming to this brand from another.
The Helios’ handling is on the quick side, closer to that of a race bike. Combined with the stiff frame and reasonably steep angles, little effort was needed when laying the bike into corners. We found ourselves pushing the edges of the tyres with confidence – something we’d more commonly do with bikes in higher price brackets. The stiff wheels and grippy dual compound tyres were certainly a helpful addition when cornering hard.
Frame & equipment: Value for money but strange gearing choice
Looking over the UCI-approved monocoque frame, it’s clear this isn’t a rebranded catalogue model. Toray carbon fibre is often advertised from high-profile brands, but rarely does the name pop up at this price point.
Polygon have put the material to good use, creating striking lines in a package that’s both stiff and lightweight. A clean touch is the internal cable routing with electronic compatibility, although we wish the front derailleur wire port were covered.
Di2 compatibility is a nice touch, we just wish they'd covered this unused wire port
Boxed bikes can often pose problems, but Bicyclesonline, the Australian seller of Polygon, aims to ease the process between unboxing and riding. Out of the box our Helios was pleasantly complete – a multi-tool is included to complete the pre-checked build. Install the handlebar, seatpost and front wheel, add some pedals and you’re good to go. Well… Nearly.
The build quality is good, but not perfect. The bar tape isn’t finished neatly and the long lengths of blue cable housing in front of the bar is an obvious mess. The gear housing is routed on the outside of the handlebar, too, creating an obvious bulge that gave us hand pain on even short stints.
All of this is easily fixed by a mechanic, but is an expense that shouldn’t exist with a new bike. Lastly, a bike of this quality demands a professional fit in order to deliver the most out on the road – consider this into the low price.
A carbon handlebar is a nice surprise at this price point
The Helios C6.0 was fitted with race-oriented gearing – 53/39 standard chainrings and an 11-25T cassette. This is a strange choice on a bike aimed at the endurance market, and stops it scoring higher.
For the casual rider, the gearing might prove pushing the bike uphill a chore, and will likely need swapping for a compact setup if your usual routes are hilly. Aside from the range complaint, the Shimano 105 gearing rattled off shifts without hiccup, and the non-series Shimano brakes were efficient stoppers.
The Helios has been given a trustworthy wheel package – Shimano’s RS21. Weighty yet durable, this wheelset is stiff under power and kept the bike tracking well through corners. Wrapping the wheels are the equally dependable Schwalbe Durano S tyres – the dual compound tread and proven puncture resistance were both welcome.
The carbon handlebar and seatpost are just about unheard of at this price level, and go a long way to making the bike feel a little special in terms of value. We liked the shape of the aero handlebar, which provided a comfortable resting spot on the tops and a smooth drop on the attack. The aluminium stem is a decent match, although the sharp bolts protruding from the back edge made our knees hurt just looking at them.
With its race gearing, stiff frame and fast handling characteristics, the Helios would perhaps make a better race bike than an all-day endurance machine. A different crankset, wider tyres and a professional fit are all that stops it becoming a lightweight, mountain-conquering bike for the masses.