Polygon’s gravel-based Bend combines a frame and fork constructed with its own proprietary aluminium frame and fork called ALX. This is a lightweight triple-butted tubeset that keeps the weight down and aids chassis stiffness.
Polygon Bend CT5 spec overview
- Frame: ALX aluminium
- Fork: ALX aluminium
- Wheels: Halo Aerorage Track
- Cranks: SRAM Rival x1 38T
- Cassette: 11-42
- Shifters: SRAM Rival
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM Rival
- Brakes: SRAM Rival hydraulic disc
The bike’s angles are pretty standard road fare thanks to a 72.5-degree head and 73-degree seat. The 607.8mm stack and 399.2 reach make the Bend both tall and long, and the bottom bracket drop of 72mm (distance from the centre of the BB to the wheel axle centre) is more road than 'cross bike.
This all gives the Bend a sprightly feel on tarmac, added to by the gravel-specific Schwalbe G-One tyres, which roll surprisingly swiftly on the road, unlike most cyclocross-derived efforts.
SRAM’s 1x groupsets have become the default for both 'cross and gravel, and it’s easy to see why. Not only do you enjoy a massive range through just 11 gears, ranging from a 38/11 to a 38/42, although the jumps towards the bigger sprockets are large it’s something you barely notice in the rough stuff. Also, over greasy terrain the bottom gear is most welcome to keep you pedalling smoothly.
The 9.5kg-plus weight doesn’t make it the greatest companion on long, dragging road climbs; that said, I appreciate the Polygon’s lively handling and sharp responses.
Throw in the excellent SRAM hydraulic brakes and superb fat tyres with plenty of grip and it makes the Bend a mean urban descender and one that’s confidence boosting through the bends (so that name really is apt).
The alloy frame and fork are impressively stiff, and I like that both frame and fork are appointed with mounts for guards and a rear rack to make it a viable commuting choice.
That stiffness combined with a solid-feeling bar and alloy post does mean the CT5 bangs and crashes a bit over rougher surfaces. Thankfully, the Schwalbe tyres take the edge off, and their volume allows you to run a few less PSI to gain the necessary comfort.
Ultimately, the Polygon Bend is a decent chassis with truly excellent tyres and drivetrain that elevates the whole ride. Whether that’s enough to swing it as my choice for your first gravel grinder, however, is a different story.
Polygon Bend CT5 early verdict
Impressively equipped, stiff and responsive on road, and punches above its weight off-road too.