At A Glance
South African brand Pyga may not be overly familiar, depending greatly on which part of the world you call home. For me, this is my first time on a Pyga, and for this inaugural ride, we have the 110, the descriptive if unimaginative name for their 110mm travel full suspension machine.Buy Trail Bikes on
These bikes are the result of two guys, Patrick Morewood of Morewood bikes and Mark Hopkins, co-founder of Leatt. The two of them wanted to make bikes that combined race speed, with trail bike fun and to put smiles on faces, which all sounds pretty good to me. The range takes us from an all out race machine in the 'Stage' models, then through the 110, 120 and 140mm bikes.
The 110 is a 29er that initially looks and feels a lot like an XC machine but with some rather incongruous touches. Firstly it has a dropper, nice move, but also has a very low standover height giving a low-slung look of a more aggressive bike. The numbers, however, suggest marathon XC, with a 69-degree head angle, which strangely is steeper than the out and out race bike the Stage...
The kit on the bike keeps things light and tight, with Revelations in 130mm travel up front and a Monarch RT3 out back controlling the 110mm of bounce. My version featured SRAM XO shifting, and carbon cranks provide a stiff pedalling platform along with Spank wheels and Onza tyres providing a fast rolling set of hoops, all slowed down by some Guide RS brakes. The build is light but reliable, with a nod to drier conditions with the low profile tyres. 2017 builds will be based on the same suspension but with SRAM ROAM wheels and a GX or X1 specification.
On the Trail
The 110 feels immediately feels very different to my usual trail bike, this is in part due to a low front end, some fairly narrow bars and a long stem. It's been a while since I rode a 70mm stem, so things took a little bit of readjustment. If I’m honest, I probably didn't want to like the bike, and various preconceptions including size, travel and geometry had got me in a negative frame of mind. I like a good pedal, but my heart is in technical riding, and I thought this probably wouldn't float my boat. Fortunately for the Pyga, it showed its hand very quick and is, in fact, very hard not to like.
It pedals like a rocket, certainly in comparison to my usual big enduro bikes, and immediately feels stable and composed (which I didn't expect), my initial scepticism over bars and stems quickly forgotten. Having arrived at my local trails in record time due to some seriously rapid road spinning, it was chomping at the bit to climb, and this is where the XC pedigree shows through. It was a clear reminder that big trail bikes still have a way to go before they can claim to climb like an XC bike. The round profile tyres are perhaps more suited to South African dust than a UK leafy autumn, but their light weight helped with the height gain.
With the addition of a dropper post, it allows for every inch of trail performance to be squeezed out. Now I'm not going to suggest that it enjoys being launched into rock gardens or plummeting the steeps, but it certainly comes alive when there is a mixture of both pedal and gravity assisted speed. I stopped worrying about stem lengths, or fork stiffness and just had a good time, finding the limits of those tyres in every corner I could!
This is a bike that knows what it can and can't do, and where some bikes will get you into trouble by feeling initially more competent than they are, the 110 will let you know. Rough ground, big rocks are all perfectly rideable, but you'll have to rein things in a bit. The steep head angle and long stem don't inspire confidence, but time and time again it surprised me with what was possible. For many riders (myself included) this bike will do an awful lot of their riding without skipping a beat, and get them there and back far quicker than an over-gunned 160mm bike.
The short travel rear end feels like it has much more depth than a mere 110 and set up was easy to tune in. It provides a firm-pedalling base while working as hard as it can to keep things smooth and never feeling like it has nothing left. The Revelations are not the stiffest fork out there, especially in 29er guise, but while the flex may be noticeable, the damping is as good as you'd expect from Rockshox. The short travel means plenty of reward for sprinting out of turns and using small trail features to get airborne and float over the rough in a precise and measured way, rather than wild and loose.
Comparisons have to be drawn to other short travel 29er out there at the moment as bikes can no longer be easily defined by their travel and wheel size. The obvious one is the Kona Process 111, which shares more than a few aesthetic touches with the 110, however where the Process is a hooligan in short travel disguise, the Pyga 110 is a far more composed machine with an appetite for miles and miles of singletrack rather than self-destruction.
Pyga suggests you can swap the fork for a 140mm and get a bit rowdier, or do the opposite and slam in a 120 and dig your lycra out the closet. I feel, that with a 140 Pike, go one size bigger, put a shorter stem on and some big tyres and before you know it, well, you've gone enduro dude! I think however there are better bikes in the Pyga range for this, and you'd lose the characteristics, which make the 110 so good. Whatever build, the 110 frame is a solid base for a bike to start from.
Kit wise it's hard to fault the speccing of the bike; the Spank wheels need a mention as they consistently provide solid, tubeless ready and modern width rims in a great package. Bars could be a touch wider, but the SRAM kit performed as it should. Tyres are a regional choice, and a personal touch, but overall it all looks pretty sweet.
I may not have wanted to like this bike, but it has won me over. I've been reminded how and why short travel bikes with a need for speed are still relevant and important in mountain biking. We are constantly marketed to about the big bikes, but for so much of the riding we do, a fast, light and nimble bike can regularly bring more smiles to the miles. Having merged some trail bike fun with XC velocity, this is a bike for covering the miles, not boring miles, but exciting, flowing and challenging miles.Buy Trail Bikes on
This review was in Issue 45 of IMB.For more information visit Pyga Industries
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.