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Polygon Tambora Gravel Bike Review

Ready to dip your toe into gravel riding? The Polygon Tambora is a good entry-level gravel bike that will get you out on the open dirt roads without demanding a steep investment.

A lot of the folks I talk to who are interested in a gravel bike already have a road bike or mountain bike, but are looking to add another discipline. The Tambora facilitates this expansion, offering an attractive price point without significant compromises in performance compared to its pricier counterparts.

This accessibility and versatility are why we’ve included the Tambora in our list of the best gravel bikes for women.

polygon tambora propped against garage door

Review In A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Carbon frame
  • Solid component build
  • Beautiful design/paint
  • Lots of mounting points
  • Adjustable geometry–gravel to road

Cons:

  • May be over geared for mountain riding
  • Matte paint scuffed easily

Price: $1,699 List (Tambora G5)


Video Review

Fast Rolling On Or Off Road

I’ve been riding the Polygon Tambora as my bike of choice this spring. It’s just that fun!

Unless I’m headed out on a true mountain bike ride, the Tambora can sort of do it all. It adds a little adventure and spontaneity to my rides.

Rather than grabbing my road bike, I’ve been tending toward the Tambora. It can manage all the spring debris and potholes on the road better than a true road bike, and allows me to shortcut on the random dirt path.

climbing a dirt road on the tambora

For true dirt road riding, the Tambora is another no-brainer. I have a long forest service road climb that leaves right from my house, and have had some quality training rides on it this spring. The only caveat to that is that the bike is a bit overgeared for Rocky Mountain riding. (It has a 42T chainring). This isn’t a complaint unique to the Tambora. Most gravel bikes seem to be designed for MidWest riding.

The bike handles well, never feels twitchy, and I’ve even taken it on some mellow singletrack. If you plan on doing much trail riding, you’d be better suited to a more adventure-oriented gravel bike (like the Canyon Grizl), but for the occasional trail, it will do fine.

While I left the bike in “gravel mode,” it is important to note that the Tambora has adjustable geometry to allow it to be used as a true road bike. Stealing the flip chip concept from the mountain bike world, the bike has adjustment points at both the rear axle and the front fork to shorten the wheelbase for narrower road bike tires.

This isn’t necessarily a quick conversion. You’d have to swap tires and add brake caliper adapters, but for the occasional century ride or similar, it might be worth it.

Comes In Several Build Levels

The same Tambora carbon frame comes in several build levels. I’ve been testing the G5 version, which is the base level build, but offers decent parts.

The TRX hydraulic brakes (which have performed well for me) are replaced with brand-name SRAM brakes on the next build level (G7). Both the G5 and G7 have a SRAM Apex 1x drivetrain, but the G5 has an 11-speed cassette while the G7 has a bit more range with a 12-speed cassette.

If you want to go all out, the G8 has a SRAM AXS 1×12 drivetrain and higher-end SRAM Rival disc brakes. It also has carbon wheels for an even faster, lighter ride.

But, frankly, the G5 gets you the same carbon frame and fork and the components are all functional. You can always upgrade individual parts later when they need to be replaced. I was perfectly happy with the spec build on the G5 (although as already mentioned, the gearing was a bit stiff for me).

Average Weight

We put the bike (with pedals installed) on the scale and it came in at 24 pounds, 5 ounces. This makes it far from the lightest bike on the market, but it’s certainly respectable. Given the price point, I think it’s a great weight, in fact.

scale showing 24 lbs 5 oz

Lots Of Mounting Points

The Tambora has a TON of eyelets for mounting whatever your little heart desires: water bottle cages, a frame bag, fenders, a rack, you name it. This means the bike is well suited for bikepacking, touring, or long remote rides.

There are eyelets on the seat tube, the top and bottom of the downtube, and the bottom of the top tube. There are also eyelets on the rear triangle for a rack. Notably, however, there are no mounts on the top tube so you won’t be able to add a bolt-on bag there (something that’s become fairly trendy in the gravel world).

Tubeless Ready Wheels & Tires

While the Polygon Tambora doesn’t come set up tubeless, it has the ability to convert it easily. The rims are already taped, and in my experience, the Vee Tire Co tires work great for tubeless setups. If you don’t know how to set up your tires tubeless on your own, you can always have a bike shop do it for you.

The 700c x 40c tires are (as I already mentioned) a good compromise between burly off-road tires and fast-rolling road tires. I used these on “road” rides without any complaint, and managed all but more technical trails on them as well.

I also really appreciated that the wheels use thru-axles (rather than quick release skewers). This provides both safety and stability when riding on rougher terrain.

Appropriately Sized Components

A lot of bike brands stock the same size parts on all of their frame sizes. So, I was really pleased to see that Polygon doesn’t take this approach. The size small and medium frames (which most women will be riding) have a narrower handlebar (420mm) and a shorter stem (90mm). It might be nice if the cranks (170mm on all sizes) were tailored like this also, but we’ll take what we can get.

No Quick Release On The Seatpost But Ability To Add A Dropper

The Tambora takes a queue from the newest road bikes and uses a hidden seatpost clamp. To raise or lower the seat you use a hidden bolt on the inner side of the front triangle.

This looks super sleek but it does make it a little harder to adjust than a standard collar, and it precludes you from being able to install a quick release. On the positive side, however, the bike is compatible with a dropper post, should you choose to add one.

hidden seatpost clamp

It’s A Nice Looking Bike!

I post a lot of photos and videos of bikes on my Instagram, and rarely do I get as much response or questions about a bike as I have the Tambora. It’s obviously a good looking bike!

posing with the polygon tambora gravel bike

The bike has unusual, but sleek looking angles, and the streamlined aesthetic is aided by having all of the cables internally routed and the aforementioned hidden seatpost clamp.

Of all the Tambora builds, the G5 has the prettiest frame color. The light blue-ish green looks a lot like my beloved Bianchi, and turns a lot of heads.

While I love the look of the matte paint, it does get scuffed up easily. The bike had only been a ride or two with me before some scuff marks started to appear–bummer!

scuffed paint

Polygon Tambora Vs The Competition

The Polygon Tambora G5 (the model I tested) is unique in that many of its closest competitors (like the Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 and the Specialized Diverge Elite E5) offer an aluminum frame at a similar price point. The fact that the Tambora G5 has a carbon frame makes it very attractive.

That’s not to say that it’s a lighter bike. In fact, both the Trek and Specialized are a few pounds lighter. BUT carbon can make for a more comfortable ride especially if you’re riding rough roads.

Bottom Line

The Polygon Tambora punches well above its weight class in terms of value and versatility. For cyclists looking to explore the world of gravel biking without breaking the bank, the Tambora is a wise choice.

Its carbon frame sets it apart at a price point dominated by aluminum offerings, ensuring a smoother ride on rough terrain. The bike’s thoughtful design features, such as adjustable geometry and ample mounting points, underscore its suitability for a range of cycling adventures from daily commutes to more extended bikepacking escapades.

Moreover, while the Tambora may not be the lightest in its class, it offers a commendable balance of durability, comfort, and aesthetics—qualities that are often compromised in more budget-conscious models. Its ability to handle a variety of riding conditions with poise makes it an ideal candidate for riders who want a single bike that can do it all. Whether you’re rolling down a smooth road or taking a rugged trail less traveled, the Tambora is equipped to provide a reliable and enjoyable ride.

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About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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