Innovation of the Year Winner - 2017 Pinkbike Awards
Why it's the winner:
Darrell Voss' Naild R3ACT rear suspension, the Specialized WU dropper post, and BMC's Trailsync system are all innovations that sprang forth from highly evolved products. Each, in its own way, breaks free from the stagnation of creativity that is so often the byproduct of incremental improvement. The WU dropper suggests that lowering the saddle is only half the solution and that adjusting its angle completes the descending equation. With one click, BMC's Trailsync system configures the Speedfox's saddle height and rear suspension for the task at hand, and further challenges the status quo by integrating the mandatory dropper post into the frame design. Naild R3ACT, however, takes that concept further.
Naild R3ACT rear suspension earns the win because it deconstructs the entire process that brought modern suspension to where it is today, and aptly demonstrates that there is, in fact, a simpler solution to keeping the wheels on the ground without wasting the rider's energy. Designer Darrell Voss suggests that fixating upon the notion that the perfect dual-suspension chassis should pedal like a rigid, unsuspended bike has led frame and suspension designers to engineer a succession of band-aid fixes. Arguably, today's suspension designs perform quite well, but they are complicated, expensive, and have reached the road's end for significant improvement. Naild R3ACT launches a new dialogue, that if suspension designers stopped worshiping false gods and took a different approach, supple suspension and efficient pedaling could co-exist in other forms as well.
At a moment when the sport is choking on carbon caviar, Voss and Polygon offer a simpler alternative: How about we skip the science class and ride one bike that can do just about anything we'll ever need a mountain bike for? The Square One EX 9 is not perfect, but it's darn close, and it's a first try. R3ACT suspension, and the bicycles that are built around it are only going to improve, which is bound to light a fire under the butts of some of Polygon's very conspicuous competitors. Just when we thought that trail bikes couldn't get much better, Voss and company leave the industry with no other option.