Ever since he can remember, biking was all about freedom for Leo Kokkonen.
“When I was a kid, my bike took me places,” he recalls. “You can jump, have wind blowing through your hair and everything like that. When you grow older some people might think it’s kid’s play. But for me, I still escape on my bike from all life’s worries and stress.”
Kokkonen decided it was time to share this sensation a few years ago. A professional downhill biker himself, he teamed up with logistics engineer Patric Wladimirov “to design high quality bicycles for all cycles of life.”
Embracing the Finnish word for ‘pedal!’ as its name, Pole has been based in their hometown of Jyväskylä since 2013. And power forward they have. The company has since released over 15 models of bikes, with tweaks in design that accommodate cross-country, trail, enduro, downhill and urban.
Now, the rule of thumb is that if an innovation is truly progressive, it will swiftly agitate opposing opinions. Such has been the response for Pole Bicycle Company.
On one side people have raised an eyebrow at its range of long and slack two-wheelers. On the other, glowing reviews from the likes of UK website Bike Radar, have lauded ‘the world’s longest production mountain bike’.
Certainly, the booming wheelbase measurement of 51.7 inches (1 312 mm) dominates first impressions of Pole’s Evolink 140. Closer inspection reveals it’s not only a stylistic choice, however. Having also founded a successful industrial design company a decade ago, Kokkonen’s patent pending suspension design is a prominent feature of Pole’s bikes.
“We test everything and try to be scientific with product design,” Kokkonen admits. “We are also thinking differently and openly; we have not founded the company based on secrets or a simple-minded stubborn way to think.”
Alongside making good business, the company’s motto is to produce safe, effective and easy bikes. And let’s not forget about convenience, with Pole’s Evolink downhill, cross-country and enduro bikes easily foldable.
Whilst everything is currently rolling very nicely indeed for Pole, Kokkonen is keeping an open mind about potential developments down the path.
“I would like to try electric assistance,” he admits. “You can go anywhere you want with an e-bike. But, the technology is still a bit debatable for my ideology. If we can find a good motor that suits our bikes, we can definitely try it out.”
Not so fast, though – Pole Bicycle Company’s four-person crew is currently finding ways to keep up with surging demand for their pedal-powered offering.
“We run out of stock quite often,” Kokkonen says. “People are looking for higher quality from us. As our new evolving bikes get really good reviews from reporters, they are almost sold out.”
Thus, having initially bootstrapped, the company has recently launched a second round of crowdfunding to help alleviate the situation.
“The problem is we don’t have enough funds to produce enough bikes,” Kokkonen admits. “We could sell loads more than we can currently produce.”
And so, as they continue to gear up in future, the company’s approach is set to remain the same: creating bikes that they would like to ride themselves.
“When it’s my own designed bike, that feels really good,” Kokkonen reflects. “Everything is as I want it to be.”