First Ride: Polygon’s $3,299 Colossus N9

Polygon’s new Collosus N9 first emerged in all its urban camo painted glory at Sea Otter this year, complete with the IFS suspension layout first seen on the Mt. Bromo eMTB. The bike has 29″ wheels front and rear (it’s not mixed-wheel compatible), and 170mm of travel. After a season of enduro racing and refining it’s now available, with an aluminum frame and a $3,299 price tag that stands out in stark contrast to the ultra-expensive carbon machines that have been released recently.

For the price, Polygon have put together a great parts package. Suspension is handled by a Fox 38 Performance fork with a Grip damper, and a 230 x 65mm Float X2 shock. SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors help keep speeds in check, and Shimano takes care of the shifting via an XT derailleur, SLX cassette, and XT cranks. Unfortunately, those cranks are 175mm long, which may not be ideal for riders in rockier terrain. 2.6″ wide Schwalbe Magic Mary tires are mounted onto Entity rims that have a 35mm internal width.

Colossus N9 Details:

• Wheel size: 29″
• Travel: 170 mm
Aluminum frame
• 63.5º head angle
• 77º seat tube angle
• 435 mm chainstays
• Sizes: S – XL
• Weight: 39.25 lb / 17.8 kg (size L)
• Price: $3,299 USD
• polygonbikes.com

All of that adds up to a not-insignificant 39.25 pounds (17.8 kg) – Collosus seems like a very fitting name given those numbers.
Frame Details:

The Collosus’ frame is visibly stout; everything from the forward shock mount to the double-braced swingarm makes it look like it was built to take a beating. All of those links and the shock position do take up some precious water bottle real estate, which means that only a ‘regular’ sized bottle will fit in the front triangle. Still, it’s better than nothing. There’s also no in-frame storage or any accessory mounts to be seen. Another feature that’s missing is a universal derailleur hanger, something that’s likely to become more of a ‘must have’ if the rumors about SRAM’s next generation drivetrain are true.

There is a ribbed chainstay protector, although it’s a little short – further coverage towards the front of the chainstay would help keep the paint from being chipped by the chain. The brake, derailleur, and dropper lines are routed internally, although there isn’t really anything inside the frame to keep them from rattling around – thankfully, I didn’t notice too much noise on my test bike.

It is nice to see that the Collosus is spec’d with a chain guide and a bash guard, since crunching a chainring is a good way to put a damper on a race run. There’s also frame protection on the underside of the downtube to keep it safe from flying rocks or truck tailgates.

Geometry:

Most of the Collosus’ geometry numbers are right in line with what’s become the norm for this category. The head angle sits at a slack, 63.5-degrees with a 170mm fork, the reach is 480mm for a size large, and the seat tube angle is 77-degrees. The chainstays are on the shorter side at 435mm across the board – they don’t change with each size, a practice that more and more companies are adopting.

Suspension Design:

Polygon seems to have an affinity for suspension designs that are a little different from the norm – there was the wild-looking floating dual-link FS3 design back in 2014, and the even more out-there aesthetic of the SquareOne EX9 with its R3ACT suspension in 2017. The Collosus keeps the trend alive, although the overall look probably won’t be as polarizing as those other two examples.

It uses a version of the IFS (Independent Floating Suspension) design first seen on Polygon’s Mt. Bromo eMTB. The concept is that the two lower counter-rotating short links can be used to dictate the axle path, while the seatstays and rocker link are used to adjust the leverage curve, or how much progression there is. All those links may make it easier for designers to achieve the suspension characteristics they want, but it also means there are 16 cartridge bearings to keep track of, and the lowermost set of bearings are directly in front of the rear wheel, right where mud and dirt will end up on a sloppy ride.

The anti-squat percentages are fairly high, sitting around 121% at sag before gradually dropping off as the bike goes through its travel. The scaling of the chart makes the progression look fairly extreme, but in reality it’s around 19%, which is fairly typical for a longer travel enduro bike.

Ride Impressions:

To anyone who says that weight doesn’t matter, I encourage you to take the Collosus out for a spin. I’ve spent plenty of time – years, really – pedaling around bikes in the 40-pound range, and I’m far from being a weight weenie, but I’ll admit that it’s a little harder to muster up the motivation to get out on a long pedal on a bike this heavy. Who knows, maybe I’m just getting soft.

Yes, I realize the Collosus isn’t some crazy expensive, carbon fiber wonder bike, and I’m willing to cut it a little slack in the weight department considering its price tag and solid parts kit, but 39 pounds is still pretty chunky. I can’t help but wonder how much weight and complication would have been saved by going with a tried-and-true Horst Link layout, rather than sticking on the links required for the IFS suspension layout?

Weight aside, the Colossus does: pedal well, especially for a bike with 170mm of travel. The suspension is calm enough that I didn’t feel the need to flip the Float X2’s climb switch, and even on longer fire road grinds I was perfectly content keeping it in the open position. The chainstays are on the shorter side of the spectrum, but the steep seat angle and slack head angle work together to help keep the bike from feeling like it wants to loop out on steep climbs. Even though it’s a fairly substantial, slack bike, I didn’t find it to be overly difficult to maneuver through tighter switchbacks or more technical sections – it’s really the slow rolling tires and overall heft that give it a more subdued feel when heading uphill.

When it comes time to descend, the Collosus isn’t the fastest out of the gate, but it feels very solid and ready for anything once it’s up to speed. The back end is quite stiff, and that trait combined with the shorter chainstays makes it easy to snap the rear wheel in and out of tight turns, although that does come with slightly reduced traction and stability – at times it felt like the Collosus’ rear wheel was more likely to slide through a turn rather than carve a clean arc. It also doesn’t have the plushest, most fluttery suspension feel; it’ll take the edge off the rough stuff, it just doesn’t erase those bigger hits in the same way that some other bikes in this travel bracket do.

Overall, the Collosus N9 delivers a great value when it comes to the parts spec, and the geometry isn’t going to hold it back as long as you keep it pointed down steeper, more technical trails. The weight is the biggest downside, although that might not be much of a concern for riders who spend most of their time climbing inside a shuttle vehicle or sitting on a chairlift.


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