The basics of the Piolet are a sturdy steel frame, built around fat tyres (ideally 2.2″) with mounts for just about any combination of racks, fenders, water bottles, Salsa Anything cages and so on. Smaller sizes use a 26″ wheel, larger sizes jump to 29″. Proportionate wheel sizing is always great to refine the handling and avoid toe overlap. We’ve already seen others fitting 650b or 27.5″ wheels to the 26″ models.
The Piolet is similar to Surly’s Ogre and Troll with a few key differences. The closest bike we’ve had to the Piolet might actually be the Soma Wolverine, although the Piolet has gone a step further towards rough trails and singletrack mountain bike trails.
Unlike the Ogre and Troll, the Piolet is designed primarily for drop handlebars, meaning shorter effective top tube lengths for the same size bike. VO advertise the Piolet as being suitable for flat bars or drops. Figuring out what will work best for you based on handlebar preference and your height, leg length, etc. is a good job for our in-house fit bike.
Another key difference from the Ogre and Troll is the lack of suspension correction in the fork. This means that the fork is made the right length for the frame rather than to match a particular suspension fork length. The advantages are both aesthetic and functional. Firstly, it means that there isn’t an enormous gap between the top of the tyre and the crown of the fork. Secondly, it means that the fork isn’t as long a lever, and the head-tube can be made a decent length. The only real downside is that you can’t fit a suspension fork.
We’ll be building our first lucky Piolet Pilot a new bike around this frame in the next couple of weeks and we’ll be sure to take lots of pics.