TESTED: Polygon Siskiu D7 Mountain Bike
The Polygon Siskiu D7 has been the entry point for many riders to the world of dirt. And we can see why.
Polygon bikes are known for being the rides of Mick and Tracy Hannah, but also as some of the best value mountain bikes in Australia, just about anywhere in their range. Polygon bikes come from Indonesia, but here in Australia, everything is handled by Bicycles Online, who ship the bikes around the country and offer highly competitive pricing for their Polygon bikes when compared to similar models from other manufacturers. The Siskiu is the cross-country/trail bike in the Polygon range, and for 2020 it's had a bit of an overhaul. The Polygon Siskiu D7 on test is the special edition model that comes stock with a dropper post.
The Pros and Cons of buying a bike online.
Bicycles Online say that the Siskiu has great XC pedalling efficiency with all-mountain capabilities. That's a bit of a claim, depending on what your thoughts are on pedalling or all-mountain riding. At $2099 the Siskiu D7 is outstanding value for money, with quality parts like a Shimano 11-speed drivetrain, RockShox and X-Fusion suspension, Tranz X dropper post, WTB tires, and Polygon's own brand Entity finishing kit.
There isn't too much to compare the Siskiu D7 to, save for something like the Giant Stance 2, which is a few hundred more, doesn't have a dropper post, and has Suntour suspension which isn't as well known. The Stance does have an Eagle group set for a wider gear range, but you might still be paying $300-$400 more, depending on whether you look at the 27.5” or 29” model. And as a percentage of the price that's a lot.
Pulling the Polygon Siskiu D7 out of the box, I was impressed with the build quality and finish. It has been a really long time since I have worked in a bike shop, but the memory of building some bikes up that were pretty shonky as they came out of boxes remains in my mind. The Polygon Siskiu D7 doesn't match those horrible memories, and the bike went together easily, especially with the included torque wrench to help get the bolts right for the handlebars and stem. Beyond fitting those, the front wheel and the dropper post and pedals – the bike is otherwise ready to go. The gears shifted fine and didn't need any adjustment, and the brakes ran rub free.
As Bicycles Online sell their bikes direct, having their bikes just about ready to go when they arrive is a key part of their business strategy. And while I'm comfortable building up a bike from the frame and a few boxes of parts, most people aren't and don't have the tools required. Building the Siskiu D7 really was very easy and took less than 10 minutes. Bicycles Online have videos online to help if you get stuck.
The Polygon Siskiu frame has been updated for 2020, and the Boost spacing back end has some shorter chain stays at 436mm (on the large, 29” wheeled model tested), a 67.5 degree head angle, and a moderate reach of 465mm. These numbers are quite modern for what is an entry-level performance mountain bike. Some bikes are longer and slacker, but for a value-oriented 120mm trail bike these seem right on the money. What's interesting is the fork is 100x15mm spacing, not a Boost 110x15mm. Sure it might be a tiny bit less stiff, but it's a smart cost saving move that lets Polygon bring the bike in just over $2000 with quality suspension components.
The Siskiu now has size specific wheel sizes too. So riders on a small sized frame you have a bike built around 27.5” wheels, on the medium you can choose for 27.5” or 29”. If you're on a large or XL you will roll on 29” wheels. There are small geometry changes to suit the wheel sizes, but in general you will still find modern trail numbers on the geometry chart. All the details are on the Bicycles Online website if you're data hungry.
Polygon have allowed room for a bottle cage with their updated design, which is a boon for just about anyone. Riding with a backpack or bumbag is fine, but being able to sling a bottle on your bike and spares in your pocket can sometimes make getting out the door more often a bit faster and easier. The frame is neatly welded and has internal routing in the main frame as well as a very modern profile with the dropped, flattened top tube. The colour is a love it or hate it thing. Some call it beige, but others like the look. I'm on the fence.
It's great to see Shimano shifting components and brakes. The brakes do have a long lever which suits newer riders, but you will want to move them inboard if you're used to a shorter and more aggressive lever. The shifting is Shimano, but the cassette and chain and chain ring are not. They ran smooth in the stand and on a driveway test. At almost 15kgs the Siskiu isn't light, but it's aim is features and price point, so this is nothing different to any other bike around this price and spec level.
Jumping on the Siskiu D7 and rolling out, it's easy to notice that it's not your usual entry-level performance mountain bike. A lot of bikes that target lower price points have geometry based on comfort more than performance. So they tend to be shorter, with taller head tubes. This means you sit more upright in what most feel is more comfortable. But as you would know, short and upright positions don't really help when you're riding trails. The longer reach on the Siskiu for 2020 means they can match the frame with a 45mm stem and wide 780mm handlebars. The frame has enough length to keep the front wheel on the ground when climbing, and to keep weight on the front wheel when loading up into corners. The short stem keeps the handling direct, with plenty of leverage and stability from the wide handlebars.
Polygon state that the bike has great pedaling and all-mountain capabilities. With most of my trails having reasonable climbs on them I can attest that even in the open setting on the X-Fusion rear shock, the bike climbs really well. I ran about 25% sag, and really only felt the need to use the shock's easy to reach lockout on the smoothest fire road climbs. Otherwise, the Polygon really dug in up looser trails with the suspension open. It's not a rock solid lock out so if you leave it locked and hit rougher terrain it won't feel awesome, but it won't be the end of the world either.
Cornering on the Polygon Siskiu D7 was just like other 120mm bikes, thanks to the updated geometry. While the 2.25” WTB Trail Boss tyres were good, cornering in the dry and in loose conditions would only be improved with a tyre with a larger bag, such as a 2.35" or maybe 2.4”, running tubeless. This is any easy change down the track. A Maxxis Rekon 2.4" front and Ikon 2.35" rear would be a sweet match for the Polygon.
The lower bottom bracket really made a difference for stability, but combined with the 175mm cranks on the large on test, pedalling up and over rockier terrain and over edges did end up with the odd pedal strike or three. A slightly higher volume tyre when the stock ones wear out could help a little here – but 170mm cranks as stock would be gold.
The model we have on test has the optional upgrade of the KS 125mm dropper post, I think you would be crazy to get the high post option given the $100 price difference. Funnily enough, with the quick release still installed you could actually completely slam the seat tool-free if you needed to. And that's actually kind of useful. The dropper lever was under the bars and completely fluid to use. Thanks to the 11-speed 1x drivetrain for helping with that! The SLX and XT mix from Shimano shifted well, and although the cassette, chain and chainring aren't from the Shimano family, they all worked without complaint and similar items will be available from any bike shop.
The general ride of the Polygon Siskiu D7 was really controlled and agile when descending, and it really only started to feel like an entry-level performance bike when the pace heated up on trails with more rocks and roots. That's when it was difficult to get the control I wanted from the suspension. The RockShox Recon's legs aren't as stiff as many other popular 120mm forks, and the Polygon doesn't come equipped for an easy tubeless setup (that is, you need to bring your own valves and tape) so getting tyre pressures just right was harder. While I would have loved to try the 130mm Marzocchi Z2 long term test fork on with a Boost spaced front wheel and 2.4” rubber front and rear – an upgrade that nearly doubles the value of the test bike wouldn't make that much sense. But to be clear, the bike does ride really well and it could be a good platform to update a little as you need to.
On the same theme, while I'm a big fan of Shimano brakes, the long levers of the BR-M201 did take some getting used to, and the braking power was never quite where I wanted with the resin pads and resin only rotors. Bear in mind that along with the above comments on suspension and tyres, this is judging the bike against my regular ride. If this bike sold for $2500 or more it would still be very impressive and easy to recommend. So the fact that it's $2099 is incredible. If you wanted to upgrade the rotors and pads down the track it could be worthwhile, especially if you live somewhere with wet and gritty trails, which will kill both pretty quickly. Changing them from new is not required.
All these points are really just an aside, as the Polygon rides incredibly well for the price. The pedaling ability of the bike and how it handles itself on singletrack and fast firetrail descents should win over many riders, and it truly would be a good package for anyone looking for a new dual-suspension mountain bike for about $2000 that suits trail riding. It's certainly more at the cross-country and trail end of the spectrum than the all-mountain, and if that's what you're after the Polygon Siskiu T7 is where you should look, with burlier suspension and a SRAM Eagle 12-speed group set - it sells for $2499.
Yet again, Bicycles Online are delivering another killer-value bike. The Polygon Siskiu D7 dropper post model is ready to take you deep into mountain biking, with quality parts and a well-designed frame. As a 120mm bike it can walk a line of ambiguity – is it a long-travel cross-country bike or a mid-travel trail bike? That's up to you, but in general this is a bike suited for getting out and riding trails. Whether that's the local singletrack, a fire trail bash in the nearby parkland, or a visit to one of Australia's epic trail locations, the Siskiu D7 is a good partner, save for those with hard-hitting gravity leanings. With a few choice upgrades to parts as they wear or your riding develops, the Siskiu could be a long-term partner for many mountain bikers looking for a good value bike to get started on.
*All photos courtesy of Colin Levitch
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