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Bike Check: Leigh Johnson’s Pole Taival Steel Hardtail


The British Pole Enduro Team rider had an incredible 2019 season with two top-ten finishes and closing out the year with a 12th place finish in the overall. With racing still a couple of months away, Leigh Johnson has built himself his first hardcore hardtail as an all-day trail weapon. Leigh says, “Although I’m itching to get back racing, I’m also itching to get out on this and explore some more hidden gems at home.” Check out all the details about Leigh’s steel hardtail below.

How long have you been riding for Pole?

This is my 3rd year with Pole, I started with them in 2018 and we have been growing together ever since.

How are you finding the Pole Taival?

It’s soo good, I’ve never had a hardcore hardtail before, but this has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, I have been using it to ride to trails even further away from home, sometimes stopping at a pump track or jump spot on route, and because it is made from steel tubing it’s very comfortable for all-day missions. I’m a big fan, and although I’m itching to get back racing, I’m also itching to get out on this and explore some more hidden gems at home.

Can you run us through suspension setup?

Of course, so obviously being a hardtail, it’s the easiest bike I’ve had to set up. The RockShox Pike Ultimate sit at 140mm travel, I have fitted 2 tokens and 115 psi, 2 clicks on of LSC and HSC, and rebound 4 clicks off from fully on. It feels real good but things may change slightly as I get to spend more time riding this bike.

What does your cockpit setup look like?

The cockpit is exactly the same as what I use on my other bikes thanks to Spank, I use a Spank Oozy Vibrocore 780mm wide, 25mm rise handlebar, I prefer the feel on the 31.8mm version and think the Vibrocore foam combined with 31.8 clamp helps save some energy on the longer tracks. I’ve chosen a 43mm Spank Split stem, the split stem comes in 4 different sizes all under 50mm so this is what I felt worked best combined with the longer reach of my bikes. The grips are also the same throughout my bikes, I prefer the larger Spank spike 33mm as my hands are on the larger side.

What about tyre setup?

I’ve really been enjoying the Michelin Wld Enduro combo for riding at home, paired with Huck Norris inserts front are rear with 25 and 30psi. I think this is the best set up I have found so far for speed and durability.

Do you know the weight?

Yes, it’s exactly 14.5kg with pedals. I’ve never even thought about the weight of it before answering this question as it’s so fun I don’t care haha.

Is there anything custom on the bike?

Apart from a sticker with my name on the frame, everything is “off the shelf” which just shows how capable everything is these days.

Do you have any personal setup tricks that are unique to you?

I don’t think there’s anything too unique going on on my bikes, I like everything to be neat and tidy, especially the cable routing. There’s a neat Garmin mount on the headset top cap too. Also, it’s essential to fit a Fidlock bottle and mount to my bikes, they are just the best.

I think my wheel set up could be unique to me, I choose to run a Spank 350 front wheel and a 359 rear wheel, this is because the front 350 has a 17mm rim depth over the 19mm of the 359 rear wheel allowing a lighter and more compliant front wheel and a stiffer rear wheel.



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