Polygon Strattos S4
CHARLES LEE | 20th Nov 2016 | PRODUCT REVIEWS
Should you get yourself a good road bike when you are still a freshie in the complex world of road riding? Some say the first bike need not be a good bike, for fear that the rider’s enthusiasm may not last long. We have a different opinion though; your first bike should be a solidly-built bike. It need not one which is spec’ced with high-end components. But it should be one which is good enough to allow you to truly immerse in the beauty of the two-wheeled sport and to keep your passion going. How good is good enough? Polygon holds the answer to your question with the Strattos S4.
The Polygon Strattos S4 is not exactly a bike that possesses the “wow” factor. It is not one which a seasoned or competitive rider will aim to buy. But we cannot refute the fact that the S4 is a steadfast stallion that can give the rider an impending sense of confidence in any kind of riding occasion.
Although it is primarily targeted at entry-level riders, those with a keen eye for details will find that the S4 has a lot more to offer. Taking centre stage is the S4’s ALX heat-treated, double-butted alloy frame. Comes exclusively with a matt finishing, the frame is upright yet comfortable, giving away hints on the DNA of the S4 as an endurance bike. The joints that linked the tubing are intricately smooth and buffered. Adding to the overall finishing touch is the frame’s internal cable routing feature.
Leveraging on Polygon’s proprietary ALUTECH treatment process, the frame is stiff and has a predictable feel, which in turn, delivers precise handling. The aerodynamic ACX carbon fork helps keep the S4 light.
Apart from the frame and fork, riders on the S4 will be getting more than what they have bargained for. The S4 is spec’ced with the Shimano Tiagra group-set and the braking system. Components of Tiagra grade are built to deliver better performance than components designed for entry-level riders.
The S4 is a strong climber as well as an aggressive downhiller, thanks to its 10-speed 12-28T cassette configuration. The S4’s crankset uses the 50x34T dual chain-ring system, which is pretty common in entry-level and mid-range variants. The S4’s wheel-set comprises the Entity XL2 low-profile rim and the Schwalbe Lugano, a 25-millimetres wide tyre which is moulded from a unique blend of high-quality silica rubber compound and puncture-resistant K-Guard.
The S4 is mated with Entity handle-bar, stem, seat-post and saddle, which is pretty standard, given the business relationship between Polygon and Entity.
Experiencing the S4 is perhaps the best way to discover its potential as a better-than-entry-level bike. With a 72-degree Head Tube Angle (for a medium-sized bike), the S4 offered us with a tall and upright feel. Such a configuration worked quite well for long-distance riders like us. We liked the fact that the height of its handle-bar could be adjusted by the addition or subtraction of headset spacers. That said, the S4 is not all about endurance riding. It’s set-up was flexible enough to allow us to get into aerodynamic mood and dived into pro-style racing.
We were pleased with the S4’s 73.5-degree Seat Tube Angle. Our knees could reach the pedal axles comfortably and our pedalling rhythm was smooth and regular without losing any efficiency. At a featherweight of not more than 11 kilograms, the S4 was expectedly punchy and responsive right from the first pedal stroke.
With 20 different types of gearing configurations, we were able to find a sensible ratio to match the steepness of the terrains. The Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs convinced us that they are more than just beginner’s components, executing countless responsive and precise shifts without any technical hitch. The front derailleur was a little hesitant though, and this was especially squeaky when the S4’s chain was shifted onto the largest rear sprocket (first gear) and the largest front chain-ring. You may need to enlist the help of your mechanic to mitigate the problem.
The S4 was a pretty smooth descender. Handling was generally decisive and assuring. Do note, however, that the S4 is, after all, a road bike with wafer-thin rubbers. Any aggressive pedalling when going downhill may earn you a trip to the nearest A&E department if the road is peppered with road deformities and sizeable aggregates.
The maintenance-free Shimano Tiagra brakes, whether in dry or wet conditions, provided strong yet modulated stopping power. We had no complaints thus far.
The Schwalbe Lugano tyres were amongst our favourable components and they had showed their worth with their dependable puncture resistance characteristic, strong grip and riding smoothness. Being wide-sized road tyres, the versatility of the Lugano rubbers was put to the ultimate test when we took them across unpaved terrains. Although not particularly light, the XL2 rims performed quite well, offering decent levels of strength and stiffness.
Our Buying Verdict
The S4 is a combination of a high-quality frame and reputable parts. In many ways, it is quite hard to convince ourselves that the bike is actually targeted at entry-level riders.
With enthusiast-level components like the Shimano Tiagra group-set, the S4 is probably one of the the more versatile bikes in Polygon’s endurance line-up, offering features that give amateur riders a bang for their buck, and at the same time, allow competitive riders to consider using it for local races.
The light chassis, along with a straightforward and no-nonsense geometry, offers a comfortable platform that introduces the S4 as a respectable racing machine as well as a recreational steed for your weekend long-haul rides.
The Polygon Strattos S4 is distributed by Rodalink Singapore, and available at all Rodalink retail shops.