NSMB's First Impressions: Polygon Siskiu N9 29er
The 150-160mm travel 29'er is quickly becoming the bread-and-butter platform for medium-and-taller riders in every locale with rough, technical terrain. The current trends in suspension kinematics give them similar seated pedaling performance to shorter travel trail rigs and weight differences are more dependent on rubber than anything else. More notably, these longer-travel 29'ers have enough suspension capability to sort out the trouble their aggressive geometry will lead a rider into – an increasingly common complaint associated with long-and-slack 120-140mm travel bikes.
Polygon's answer to this category of bikes is the Siskiu N Series. Right away I appreciated the wheel size considerations with small and medium models delivering 170mm of travel and 27" hoops, and medium, large, and extra-large bikes sporting 160mm of suspension and 29" wheels. The frames look good, both in terms of paint and weld quality, and I'm always interested in testing rigs at the more affordable end of the spectrum.
It's easy to anticipate two complaints about this bike. Only slightly less notable than the lack of an in-triangle mounting location for a water bottle is that the geometry chart indicates every size is a bit short on reach and the effective seat angles are too slack, particularly in large and XL.
But what about price? With this Siskiu N9, Polygon is taking the most common path to demonstrate value, or at least the perception of value, by combining a quality aluminum frame, GX Eagle shifting, and Fox Suspension at the lowest price. In this case, it's 2800 USD for the package.
Polygon is available in the USA through bikesonline.com and originally this review process was going to include a build-up experience. Bikes Online has been very successful in Australia and is up and running in the USA but the company isn't selling bikes in Canada just yet. This Siskiu N9 was delivered to me built so I can't comment on how they come out of the box for consumers.
What You Get
First off, the frame is very nicely put together. The tube set, forgings, and welds all look good as does the matte green paint with orange accents.
Push on the saddle and it's obvious the Siskiu drives the shock as nicely as any linkage-actuated single pivot and it initializes more easily than many of the suspension designs optimized around water bottle placement. There's a reason that my favourite, classic, best-feeling suspension bikes like the first edition Knolly Delirium-T and 2008 Specialized SX Trail use a similar shock configuration.
The general consensus is that SRAM GX is the best value Eagle drivetrain, when balancing performance and durability, which I suppose makes sense since it sits smack dab in the middle of the lineup. But GX is maybe more than that? I've heard some very strong arguments, when it comes to mountain bike drivetrains, that GX is now the standard against which all other drivetrains, including those from much larger Shimano, are measured. As a former 'core Shimanophile, it's hard to process living in a world where XT isn't the measuring stick but SRAM's GX drivetrain is both excellent and legion.
The Addix Soft Magic Mary tires are a nice choice at any price of bike and while I'd personally choose the heavier Super Gravity sidewalls I think Schwalbe's 1.5x ply SnakeSkin sidewall is the best choice here. I was excited when I noticed the 27" sizes of the Siskiu N9 come with the 2.6" version of the tire, but alas the 29'er comes spec with the 2.35 which again is the more universal choice. Moral of the story? Really good job on the tire spec.
The TRP Slate are great feeling brakes that bring a decent bite once the stock pads are upgraded to a set of sintered Shimano pads - specifically the fin-less Saint/Zee pads. The long lever blades feel good and make it easy to modulate the power, which compares to SRAM's Guides (as opposed to the new G2 version).
I've put the brakes in the win column because I think the mineral oil system is a bonus for folks buying this bike online and working on it out of their own homes. Shimano pads and fluids are compatible and readily available, the TRP brakes are rebuildable and easy to bleed, and there's no wandering bite point.
I'm not actually fully committed to the current geometry trend of all the reach with a really steep seat tube angle and I have to say the Siskiu fits like a glove with a 40mm stem. Arguably at 5'9" with T-Rex's ape-index, I should be saying that exact thing about a size medium frame. I do however believe every brand should have a 500mm+ reach bike in their lineup whether they call it an XL or XXL.
A couple of rides in I can tell you the suspension was very easy to set up and the Polygon has good trail manners. I'd call the size large frame a medium-large and some larger frame sizes are needed to accommodate taller riders.Now it's time for the real testing process out on the trails.