Propain’s Rage 3 CF Mix Highend might not be the first bike you think of when discussing downhill bikes. It doesn’t have the cultural standing of the Santa Cruz V10 or the accolades of the Specialized Demo, for example.
I tested the bike with a 29in front wheel and 650b rear, although it’s also available with full 29in wheels. The carbon CF frame dishes out a whooping 215mm of rear-wheel travel from Propain’s Pro10 suspension linkage.
It’s available in three frame sizes: medium, large and extra-large, with a race-ready spec that shouldn’t hold back even the fastest racers.
The Rage 3 is an impressive piece of kit and a bike that should be taken seriously by those riders and racers who want top performance for a sensible price. After thrashing it around the Alps for a couple of weeks, I was impressed.
The ride character is fun over a wide range of trails. There’s plenty of rear-end traction to hunt out the most fun lines on the trail and it’s great for boosting big hits in the bike park.
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend frame and suspension
Propain’s Rage 3 uses a carbon frame and is built with the brand’s Blend Carbon construction. This uses different carbon fibres throughout the frame, where the properties of each type are intended to meet specific requirements.
Propain claims this enables it to balance stiffness, flexibility, weight and robustness with high precision.
The frame also has plenty of adjustability built in. There’s a flip chip in the upper link that enables you to choose your rear-wheel size while maintaining its geometry by altering the bottom bracket height and head tube angles to compensate for the different wheel sizes.
The frame can run a 29in rear wheel for more high-speed stability or a 650b for more agility.
The Rage 3 frame features plenty of details, including sleeved internal cable routing for easy maintenance. It comes with integrated fork bump stops to help prevent damage from triple-clamp forks.
Propain’s Dirt Shields are an added cover to the external faces of the bearings to help keep dirt and water out. The Rage 3 uses Acros stainless steel bearings to prolong their lifespan and keep them running smoothly.
Plenty of frame protection is included, and it can be replaced if needed. There’s a threaded bottom bracket, which will please the privateers and home mechanics.
Propain’s PRO10 suspension platform is a short-link four-bar design using two counter-rotating links, similar to Santa Cruz’s VPP. It places the shock centrally in the frame, aiming to keep the bike’s centre of gravity well balanced for better weight distribution.
The PRO10 design kinematics and 215mm travel are claimed to have a 38 per cent progressive leverage curve that Propain says will work with both coil and air shocks. This is fairly high and best suited to a coil shock.
Propain also uses a high anti-squat of around 100 per cent, so the bike should pedal well for its intended downhill use and have a fairly lively ride feel.
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend geometry
I tested the large Rage 3 CF in the mixed-wheel size. This bike features a 465mm reach, and I used the shorter 445mm chainstay setting for testing to increase manoeuvrability.
A large head-tube diameter enables riders to use an angleset or reach-adjust headset if they wish to fine-tune the front end.
There’s also a flip chip at the rear axle, which allows riders to choose from a 460mm or 445mm chainstay length.
The stack height is 638mm, which lifts the front end high enough for the steep tracks it’s designed for without making it feel too tall.
The head tube angle is in line with other downhill bikes at 63 degrees, and should add stability on descending trails.
The seat tube isn’t the shortest at 440mm, but I was able to get the saddle plenty low enough for my 173cm height without it buzzing the rear tyre.
The wheelbase is 1,275mm and there’s a 3mm bottom bracket drop. Overall, the geometry provides a capable platform for riding at speed.
|Short / Long||Short / Long||Short / Long|
|Seat angle (degrees)||69||69||69|
|Head angle (degrees)||63||63||63|
|Chainstay (mm)||445 / 460||445 / 460||445 / 460|
|Seat tube (mm)||420||440||440|
|Top tube (mm)||562||589||619|
|Head tube (mm)||100||110||110|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||357||357||357|
|Wheelbase (mm)||1,246 / 1,261||1,275 / 1,290||1,305 / 1,320|
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend specifications
The ‘Highend’ build kit on the Rage 3 CF Mix here is Propain’s top-spec package. It includes Fox’s top-of-the-line 40 Factory dual-crown fork and Float DHX2 Factory shock.
There’s a SRAM X01 DH 7-speed drivetrain with carbon cranks and Magura MT7 Performance brakes that have a big 220mm rotor at the front and 203mm at the rear.
It rolls on Newmen Evolution E.G.30 DH wheels wrapped in Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Downhill and Big Betty Super Downhill tyres.
The cockpit comes from Sixpack and includes its Millenium handlebar and stem. The bike is finished off with a Sixpack Kamikaze saddle.
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend ride impressions
I took the Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend for a couple of weeks of testing in the Portes du Soleil, basing myself in Morzine. Trail conditions ranged from hard-packed dry dust through to slick mud and grease, then back to dust.
I hammered the bike as best I could over a wide range of trails. It hit high-speed bike-park runs featuring big jumps and taller berms, as well as steep, off-piste tech trails littered with plenty of square-edge bumps, deep compressions and nasty cambers.
The trails across the Portes du Soleil delivered tons of variety and suitable tracks to put the Propain to the test.
To get the setting best suited for my 75kg weight and ride-feel preferences, I inflated the Fox 40 Factory fork to 72psi, which gave me 41mm of sag – or 20 per cent.
This is Fox’s plusher recommended setting. I kept the standard two tokens for progression because this gave plenty of support while still managing to get full travel.
I kept both high- and low-speed compression dials fully open to provide as much sensitivity as possible from Fox’s supportive front end. To get the rebound feeling best for me, I ran low-speed at 10 clicks from closed out of 14, and high-speed at seven clicks from 10.
The Fox DHX2 shock came with a 450lb spring that gave me 28 per cent sag at the shock. This setting gave plenty of initial sensitivity with enough support to prevent harsh bottom-outs.
For high-speed compression damping, I ran six clicks from closed out of the nine settings. For low-speed compression, I was at 14 clicks of 18 from closed.
There was a light rebound tune on the shock, so I used only two clicks from closed out of eight for high-speed rebound, and 10 clicks of 19 from closed on low-speed rebound.
Because I ran the bike in its Mix setup, with a 29in front wheel and 650b rear wheel, I kept the frame in its dedicated position.
I also used the 445mm chainstay position, which for me gave the bike a more agile and easier ride character without seriously compromising stability at my top speeds.
Getting the bike set up was simple and all the dials were easy to reach. However, The Fox 40 Factory fork stanchions can’t be slid through the crowns because they hit the handlebar.
This means you can’t lower the handlebar height below a certain point if the front end is too tall.
More annoyingly though, you need to remove the stem or handlebar if you want to check or change air pressure, or the volume spacers in the fork.
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend descending performance
The Propain is a fun and easy bike to ride. Even with its additional travel, it has a playful demeanour. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s only bike park shred-ready – it’s still highly capable when the going gets rough and speed picks up.
At the start of its travel, the Fox DHX2 Factory shock and frame kinematics deliver a supple and low breakaway force, enabling the bike to sink to its sag point easily.
This gives the Propain plenty of small-bump sensitivity and helps the rear wheel maintain contact with the ground when rattling along trails littered with small roots or washboard bumps.
I found that helped the bike track across awkward, off-camber sections of trails, and provided grip and confidence in slower, unsupported turns.
The rear end doesn’t break traction easily, which enabled me to accurately place the Propain where I wanted and I could hunt out lines off the main one.
This helps make the Propain a fun bike to ride, and I could play around easily on the slower trails and pick out the fun features.
Progression builds smoothly through the travel and the mid-stroke has good support. This was great for keeping the bike balanced through high-speed berms and on the take-off of jumps.
The Rage has an impressive amount of pop considering its travel.
The Fox DHX2 coil shock’s more supportive mid-stroke helps prop the suspension up and gives a usable platform to push against.
The Rage excels on these flowy trails. The support and high progression help maintain speed, while the additional travel enabled me to hit jumps and go deep on drops without fearing a harsh bottom-out.
Through rough, high-speed square-edge hits, the rear end does a decent job of swallowing bumps, but it can’t match the composed rear suspension and bike stability of the Giant Glory when trails get choppy.
The Propain’s frame delivers a touch more vibration and bump-impact feedback through the pedals when at full chat ploughing through rough trails.
The Rage doesn’t skip around or bounce wildly, but I felt less isolated from bumps, which made me think about the bike more than when riding the Giant I tested it alongside.
When braking on steep trails, though, the bike felt stable. The supportive fork, sensible stack height and frame kinematics keep it level under hard braking, and I never felt nervous or apprehensive about attacking steep trails.
I would like the seat tube to be shorter and the bike to come with a smaller saddle. That would help make moving around the bike easier through gradient changes. This wasn’t a major hindrance, but I felt the saddle more than with other bikes.
The rest of the kit on the Rage 3 CF Mix Performance is race-ready and I had no issues with any of the parts.
The Propain isn’t cheap, but you don’t need to change anything.
Because there’s plenty of grip in corners from the Propain, and good support to push against, it inspires plenty of confidence when dropping into turns.
The Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres work great no matter the conditions, and I was happy hitting turns with gusto.
The bike’s geometry keeps weight balanced between the wheels, so I never found myself using lots of body language to keep front- or rear-wheel traction.
The handling is good and the geometry centred me well over the bike so I could move around easily and take advantage of the tyres’ grip.
How does the Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend compare to the Giant Glory Advanced?
Both bikes offer plenty of engaging ride characteristics on the trail. For such stable speed machines, they still have spring in their step and are active no matter what the trail throws at them.
Even with the Propain’s extra travel, it still has more enthusiasm on jump lines and flow trails. It’s well-supported and gives plenty of pop to maximise air time and fun.
It can plough through the chunder well, but isn’t quite as composed and settled as the Giant Glory when things are wild. The Giant better mutes fast, hard bumps, while the Propain soaks them up but returns more feedback through the bike.
If you’re after bike-park party laps, the Propain is the ideal bike. For the utmost control at top speed, the Glory marks its authority.
How we tested | Downhill race bikes
We took three downhill world cup race bikes out to the French Alps to give them a thorough thrashing.
This enabled us to ride suitable trails and use chairlift and gondola uplifts to get plenty of testing runs in.
We judged these bikes on their overall ride character, and how easy they were to ride at our limits. We wanted to dig into how they balance traction and support, their chassis stability at speed and how they behave under braking.
We also highlighted how they feel on the trail and who they’re most suitable for.
Bikes on test
- Nukeproof Dissent Carbon 297 RS
- Giant Glory Advanced
- Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend
Propain Rage 3 CF Mix Highend bottom line
The Propain is a truly versatile downhill bike, and shines over a wide range of trails.
It’s happiest in the bike park, floating its way down jump lines, and railing berms and landing drops. It pedals well too for a downhill bike.
At speed, it delivers stability and fun, and is engaging to ride, but it isn’t the most composed when blasting over the roughest trails.
It’s still got race pedigree and can charge capably through the bumps, but it’s not quite as settled as other bikes.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, EUR €6389.00GBP £6519.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 16.61kg (L) – no pedals, Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Propain|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, M, L, XL|
|Bottom bracket||br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, SRAM DUB83mm|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Magura MT7 Performance, 220/203mm rotors|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, SRAM PC-1110 11-speed|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, SRAM X01 DH Carbon, 165mm|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Fox 40 Factory|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Propain Blend carbon fibre, 215mm travel|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Propain grips|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, SIXPACK Millenium 805, 805mm|
|Headset||br_headset, 11, 0, Headset, Acros, ZS56/ZS56|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Rear Shocks||br_rearShock, 11, 0, Rear Shocks, Fox Float DHX2 Factory|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, SIXPACK Kamikaze|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Propain alloy|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, SIXPACK Millenium DRM 35, 35mm|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Schwalbe Magic Mary UltraSoft SuperGravity 29x2.4in (f), Schwable Big Betty UltraSoft SuperDH 27.5x2.4in (r)|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Newman Evolution E.G. 30|