Renowned framebuilder Patrick Morewood recently left his namesake company to forge a new bicycle company, PYGA Industries.
Capitalizing on his proven history of high-performance single-pivot machines, Morewood has again struck pay dirt with the 110mm-travel OneTen29 full-suspension 29er, as we found out during our visit to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and its challenging World Cup course.
Ride & handling: Firm pedaling platform with excellent handling
We've noted a few reputable companies in the past whose single-pivot full-sus frame designs seem to have got a bit confused with the move to 2x10 drivetrains. But not PYGA…
Morewood has placed the stout, widely set main pivot just above the inner ring, yielding a firm pedaling platform that subtly digs the rear wheel into the ground on steep climbs – something the Pietermaritzburg course provided in spades. Yet the bike still feels reasonably efficient when attacking shorter pitches in the big ring.
The main pivot is offset from the centerline of the main frame
"[The main pivot] is very critical and has been placed to be suitable with the modern chain ring sizes, especially the new single-ring configurations," Morewood told BikeRadar after our test ride. "It is able to provide very good pedaling anti-squat without being so high that the rider experiences excessive suspension 'rise'."
Even more impressive is the fact that the PYGA displays such solid pedaling chops without resorting to heavy-handed compression valving on the rear shock, lending a lively personality that's full of pop.
We rode the course after all the weekend's racing had wrapped up, and even on the well-worn braking bumps the PYGA's rear wheel was surprisingly planted. Moreover, the unique rear brake setup – the caliper is mounted to the seat stays despite having pivots located above the rear dropouts – provides a slight floating arrangement that keeps the rear end from locking up when the pads are engaged.
"I wanted to design a bike that could provide an active suspension under braking, but it needed to be single-pivot without infringing on any patents," Morewood said. "I found that by placing the pivot as close to the rear axle as possible I could achieve this. It doesn't give the same braking anti-squat that other brands have, but there is another small benefit: the pads move up and down slightly on the disc rotor, preventing grooves from wearing into the pads or rotor."
That capable suspension performance carries over to bigger hits, too. We maxed out the full travel on the course's surprisingly aggressive main A-line drop – measuring more than a meter from takeoff to landing at race pace – with no harsh bottom-out or violent rebound despite the limited travel. It left us composed enough to easily attack the next jump just a few seconds later.
PYGA normally recommends 120mm of travel at the front end rather than 140mm
Handling and fit also seemed nearly spot-on for aggressive trail riding, if perhaps a touch slack on account of the longer-than-intended 140mm-travel RockShox Revelation fork.
With the standard 120mm front end, our medium-sized test bike would feature a 69.5-degree head tube angle, 35mm of bottom bracket drop, a pleasantly rangy 590mm top tube and a reasonably short 110mm head tube. Just right for stretching out for long days while leaving us upright enough to tackle challenging technical downhill sections such as Pietermaritzburg's intimidating spiral log staircase.
While the OneTen29's giant 29er wheels and generous end-to-end length obviously can't quite match a more compact 26in-wheeled rig in terms of maneuverability, it's still admirably tossable as long as the confines aren't too restrictive. That's thanks to tight, 440mm-long chain stays and a reasonably compact 112.6cm wheelbase.
The OneTen29 isn't especially feathery on the scale, however. Our test bike was built with a mix of SRAM X9/X7 components, correspondingly light ancillary gear, a RockShox Revelation RCT3 fork and bantamweight Stan's NoTubes Arch 29er rims. Even when factoring in the useful RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost, the total package was a somewhat average 13.02kg (28.7lb) without pedals.
On the positive side, the OneTen29 is a seriously stout chassis. Big tube sections, complex hydroforming throughout and well-designed pivots and links allow little flex when you put the power down or aggressively muscle the bike through grippy, high-load corners or tough rock gardens.
Frame & equipment: Aluminum experience plus tried-and-true gear
Morewood has a long history making aluminum mountain bike frames – he even welds prototypes himself. That background is proudly displayed in the OneTen29's raw finish. High-end purists will undoubtedly miss the sex appeal and increased stiffness-to-weight ratio of carbon fiber construction, but there's certainly no shortage of modern technology.
The laundry list of features is long and impressive. Dramatically hydroformed tubing is used throughout – the chain stays, seat tube, rear shock placement and links are highly asymmetrical, the rear shock is anchored between floating mounts for a more highly tuned spring rate, and press-fit bearing cups allow for an extra-wide bottom bracket shell and correspondingly broad down tube, main pivot, seat tube and chain stay dimensions.
The hydroformed aluminum tubing is extensively shaped throughout
For now, nearly all of the non-tubular bits on the OneTen29 are CNC-machined. However, Morewood says he might switch to more efficient cold forging later on, depending on sales volume.
Moreover, PYGA also includes the usual current must-haves, such as ISCG tabs, a tapered head tube, a stout through-axle rear dropout setup, full-length housing with cleanly executed clamps and routing for dropper posts, a direct-mount front derailleur and post-mount rear brake caliper tabs.
One test ride obviously doesn't give much away about long-term performance and durability. But one aspect of the main pivot design suggests the PYGA will stay largely creak-free. In a similar way to Santa Cruz, Morewood has incorporated a collet feature into the pivot that expands the axle outward against the surrounding swingarm, for a more secure hold.
We don't have an actual frame weight to report, as we were operating remotely on a limited time frame. But Morewood claims 3.15kg (6.94lb) for a medium bike with shock.
The build kit on our OneTen29 tester comprised a mix of proven gear from SRAM, Avid and Truvativ, so we won't bother rehashing the same prior experiences here. It all performed well during our test day, with no issues to report.
The two-ring chain guide from South African compatriot cSixx is worth mentioning, however, for its ultralight carbon fiber construction and apparently reliable security. There's no bashguard to speak of, so it's really only intended for cross-country applications, but it's impressive nonetheless. Our unit sported a twin pulley system but according to company founder Mark Hopkins that's likely to change for production units.
The burly chain stay protector that won't go unnoticed
Finally, riders who regularly find themselves on loose ground or soft, clumpy dirt will definitely want to look into something other than the Ritchey Shield tires fitted to our bike. They're undeniably fast but pack up quickly and offer little grip if the terrain isn't especially solid.
As capable as the new PYGA OneTen29 seems to be, Morewood is still in the process of setting up international distribution, so if you're outside South Africa it might be tough to buy one.
International pricing is also still to be determined, but based on current exchange rates we can expect a frame to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of US$2,000/£1,250/€1,600.