Polo Bike Review: 2011 Redline Urbis

The Redline Urbis (pronounced Urbis) is an out-of-the-box ready-to-go 3-2-1 polo machine. Almost.

2011 Redline Urbis Polo Bike

What you get: A maintenance-free bike with glorious stand up straight and balance like a top geometry.

With fixed freestyle in mind, Redline built a tough-as-nails bicycle that is super stable and balanced. This translates well to polo where ball control is dependent on rider stability. I’ve always done well at controlling a ball in front of me, but the Urbis is making me better at the old reach around. And my teammates thank me for that.

I’ve also noticed that my defense is improving in goal. With better balance, I am able to sit more upright, watch the action and position myself where needed to block incoming shots. When I get out of position to push or swat at the ball, the geometry of the Urbis makes it easier for me to retrieve my balance and pull back into form. I’m “riding out” much less on the Urbis than I did on my other polo bikes.

The “tough as nails” component of this bike is visible in the bullish appearance of the overbuilt 36-spoke deep dish rims. Appearance is half the battle with polo. There are days when looking good can almost make up for poor performance. If you’re not so good at polo but have always done well at fashion shows, this may be a good bike for you.

Due to an improperly adjusted brake, I hit the rink wall behind the goal at 10+ mph during my first match on the Urbis. I’d like to say I was going faster, but I probably wasn’t. I made the goal and expected to discover a bent rim when I got up off the ground. No, none of that. The deep dish took the hit like a champ. And so I’ve decided to continue beating my wheels with reckless abandon.

Thanks to decent wheels and mighty fine set of Burro wheel covers, the bike has stood up to all the normal abuse of polo in the weeks and months since without a single spoke adjustment. In fact, I’ve never even looked to see if they need adjustment. I’m not even sure where the wheels are on this bike.

The wheels are indicative of the true beauty of the Urbis. It’s maintenance free. Once you get it setup properly, you don’t have to think about it. At all. It’s tough and reliable like a big BMX bike.

They always say you get what you pay for, but in this case I think I got a little more. While not the deciding factor in my purchase, it helps that the bike was dumb cheap. I picked mine up for $375. That was my price on a leftover 2011. Expect to pay $550 or roughly 28 cases of Pabst for a new one.

What you want: This bike should cost $100 more and come with a better brake, an adjustable seat and sealed wheel bearings.

The Urbis comes with a front disc brake. This was a favorable selling point for me as I’ve been playing polo with a front-disc for the past year. The problem is that the included brake is a 140mm Tektro mechanical disc brake with little interest in stopping the bike. The brake was weak and I so I donated it to a local Amishman for use on his scooter.

The good news is that the disc-ready fork and hub make it easy to upgrade the Urbis to a 160mm rotor and the brake of your choice for adequate stopping power (see below section about what you might end up trying only to regret later).

The second disappointment on the Urbis is the pivotal seat post and saddle. While this may be the bombproof saddle of choice for curb hopping and fixed-gear bar spins, it simply doesn’t allow enough adjustment for a proper polo configuration. With a pivotal setup you can’t adjust the fore/aft position and you can’t swap the seat for your favorite traditional rail saddle. To get the saddle where you want it, you have to swap both the post and the seat. No biggie, but something you should be aware of before you pluck down your hard-earned pesos for this “off-the-shelf” polo machine.

I upgraded my Urbis with a San Marco saddle and a standard post that allowed me to slide the saddle back a few inches from the stock positioning of the pivotal seat.

Sealed bearings. Not a huge deal. But in a day and age when you can pick up a 48-spoke deep v wheelset with sealed formula hubs from Eighth Inch for 96 tacos including free ground shipping, it’s kind of a downer to discover that your new polo bike has old-school hubs that come pre-packed with dog hair and pocket lint. That said, the stock hubs have been trouble free. The rear wheel has a flip flop hub that comes with a fixed gear only. I added a 19-tooth freewheel cause that’s my style.

What you might end up trying only to regret later: Hydraulic brakes on a polo bike.

I’m not dumn. I knew before I bought the bike that I’d need to upgrade the 140mm stock disc brake and slap on a Horseshoe to make the braking setup on the Urbis adequate for the kind of punishment and speed found on the courts of the Lancaster United. My first upgrade was to replace the 140mm rotor with a 160mm disc. This went well, although my local bike shop did have to try 160mm adapters before I was satisfied that the brake pads were positioned with adequate coverage on the rotor.

But when I upgraded to a hydraulic brake at the same time that I upgraded to 160mm, I ignored both my own good senses as well as the advice of my teammates.

I love the superior stopping power that hydraulic brakes bring to mountain biking and I was determined to bring this power and feel to the polo rink. My greatest fear was that I would rip open a line, losing my brakes altogether while spraying the court with a slippery layer of mineral oil. This never happened. The clever internal routing afforded by the spinnable stem of the Urbis allowed me to keep the hydraulic lines tucked out of the way of mallets and things that go snag in the night.

My problem was with the delicate lever found on my Shimano Deore brakes. As with most hydraulic brakes, there is a rod that runs through the Shimano lever and pushes against the hydraulic plunger. This rod is held in the plunger housing with a c-clip that functions a bit like a breakaway bolt. Any outward force on the lever and the c-clip pops. This is a good design that allows your levers to bend backwards without snapping apart or breaking the hydraulic reservoir, but it takes about 15 minutes in a shop with the right tools to get this clip back in place. With the frequency of collisions on the polo court, this snap-away lever has proven to be too delicate for the game. Until Horse comes up with a brake lever guard that works as well as his rotor guard, I’m going back to mechanical brakes.

Conclusion

Dollar for dollar, my Urbis is better than your bike. So yeah. Go buy one.Ted Houser Bicycle Polo

 

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19 comments

  1. irishvelo says:

    If they are the RL hubs, they are suppose to be sealed.

  2. ninjafast says:

    Maybe they are. Horse made some comment about them being unsealed and I thought to myself, “Really?” But since they are behind Burro covers all the time, I’ve never inspected them closely. Either way, like I said in the post, I’ve had no problems with them.

  3. Horse says:

    per redline:WHEELS Alloy 30mm Deep Dish 36H, Nutted Disc Front, Fixed/Free Rear, SS Spokes
    they have cones and locknuts, so i’m assuming they’re unsealed.
    like ted said, not a HUGE deal, just would have been nice.
    I really like the Horseshoe on your rig Ted.

  4. irishvelo says:

    According to the website they are indeed sealed. 2011 specs.

  5. Horse says:

    thats the urbis NOX, not the regular urbis.
    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/archives/2011-urbis

  6. Crusher says:

    fight fight fight FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

  7. adamhite says:

    where did you get it for $375? ebay?

    • ninjafast says:

      My local bike shop ordered it for me at that price. It’s a leftover 2011 so they got a good price and passed all the savings on to me. Win win.

  8. irishvelo says:

    So they are not redline hubs.

  9. […] aqui Gostar disso:GostoSeja o primeiro a gostar disso […]

  10. Mattin OKC says:

    I have one too as posted on the LOBP site. How big of tires are you running? I found i could run 38c as the largest in the back, safely with some hammer modifications to the brake bridge(?) and you could honestly probably go really large up front. I think i may still upgrade the rims since those stock ones are heavy.

    and as for the price I got mine barely used for $250 off craigslist.

    Still loving the Lancaster disc guard but it would have been less hassle if i would have upgraded to a 160mm disc beforehand.

  11. PigDestroyer says:

    Screw that bike, my upgraded D440 Kick ass!!

  12. Joe Ballance says:

    They are Not! Sealed! I play on this very same bike, but upgraded the wheels. Also went to a 650 in the front.

  13. Jordan Roy says:

    Thanks for the write-up. I’ve been thinking similar things about the Urbis. Your thorough and informed analysis is appreciated.

    • ninjafast says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! Given that polo is such a young sport and has little dedicated equipment, it’s up to those who play to share what works and what does not…

      Thanks for taking the time to read.

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