Bold, cleverly configured mid-high-pivot suspension layout, but is it overkill for an eMTB?
| WORDS: Myles Kelsey | IMAGES: Max Sullivan | LOCATION: Helderberg Trails, Somerset West |
If you’re unfamiliar with Pyga, think of high-performance machines designed by a man with more institutional knowledge of building bikes, than most in the industry; – globally! You should also know they are made right here in South Africa. The creator is Patrick Morewood and he’s a legend of South African mountain bike racing and has been building bikes for over 20 years.
Frame and suspension
In classic Pyga chiseled styling, Patrick’s Evolve is an eye-catcher. Handcrafted from the durable and strong 6066-T6 type aluminum, the design casts a mean silhouette. In stock configuration, it’s a full 29er however mullet setups are possible with a 27.5-specific seat stay.
The suspension layout is a combination of the proven four-bar horst linkage design with a slightly higher main pivot. Pyga have labelled it the “HP4”. In stock configuration the Evolve is a 160mm rear travel machine matched to a 170mm fork. By changing shocks and shock extenders, the Pyga Evolve can be ordered with 150, 160, 170 or 180 rear travel.
The Mid-High-Pivot design on the Evolve features the patented i-Track layout which, according to Patrick, gives them more freedom to achieve their design goals. Namely, a high anti-squat percentage while reducing the amount of upper chain growth and in turn, pedal kickback. Pat says: “The outcome is a very smooth ride while hammering on the pedals or coasting at high speed.”
Any Mid-High-Pivot (or full HP) design necesitates an idler pulley and to that end the Evolve features a 16-tooth, thick/thin, hardened stainless steel idler. The guys at Pyga tell me many thousands of kilometers are possible before the idler needs replacing. An extra long tooth design and chain guide protect against chain drops.
The pivot location on the Evolve facilitates a slightly rearward axle path of (almost 15mm) for the first 5/8ths of rear wheel travel. An 18% progression tune in the kinematics means the bike is air and coil shock compatible.
The supplied test bike had custom finishing touches by Hasie & The Robots which is a brand created and owned by Cape Town based artist and illustrator, Johan Johnston. Pyga has a range of standard colours on offer and full colour customization.
Generous 30mm increments in reach are given to each of the three frame sizes. That’s 455, 485 and 515 for the medium, large and extra-large chassis. Along with the very contemporary stack numbers a 63.5° head angle screams gravity capability.
The seat tubes are on the longer side of the acceptable spectrum for big trail sending. A 350mm bottom bracket height is a little higher than one finds on most eMTBs. The idea is to improve clearance and reduce pedal strikes.
Build kit and drive unit
Driving the Pyga Evolve is Shimano’s EP8 motor producing 85 Nm of torque and a peak power of 500 watts. The integrated battery is a 630Wh unit and the controls and display are stock standard Shimano too.
|FRAME | Pyga Evolve, 6066 T6 Aluminium Frame, HP4 Suspension Layout, Adjustable Rear Travel 150 160 170 180, Mullet or 29er ready
|BATTERY | 630Wh Shimano integrated battery
|CONTROLLER | Shimano
|MOTOR | Shimano EP8, 85Nm
|FORK | DVO Onyx 38, 170mm
|SHOCK | DVO Topaz
|BARS | cSixx, Prototype
|STEM | cSixx Enduro Stem, 50mm length and 35mm bore
|SADDLE | SDG
|SEATPOST | Bike Yoke
|WHEELS | cSixx eSeries
|TYRES | Maxxis Dissector EXO+
|CASSETTE | SRAM Eagle XG-1275, 10-50T
|MECH | SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
|SHIFTER | SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed trigger
|BRAKES | SRAM Code RSC, 4-piston, 200mm rotors
|RRP | Frame only R120 000, complete builds from R170 000
|WEIGHT | 23,4kg (Size Large as tested)
Frame and driveunit only, or complete builds are available from Pyga. Our test bike featured SRAM GX shifting, SRAM Code RSC brakes, a cSixx carbon bars, wheels, stem and dropper lever, SDG saddle and grips, Bike Yoke dropper post, Maxxis EXO+ tyres and DVO suspension.
The beauty of a Hasie & The Robots finish is a complete colour co-ordination of every component. This bike will eventually be headed to the USA to be retailed at around $12000.00 US. Locally, a frame, shock, motor and battery retails for R120k with complete build pricing dependant on your chose build kit.
Front and rear tyres are from Maxxis, in the fast rolling Dissector tread pattern with EXO+ casing. The only carbon bits on the bike are supplied by cSixx in the form of their eSeries wheels coupled with a set of prototype bars that appear to be about a 30mm rise and 8-degree sweep.
The trunnion mount DVO shock features a lot of adjustment — including compression, dynamic rebound, positive and negative volumes and an adjustable bladder pressure. The DVO 38 fork has all the usual adjusters too.
The battery cover is aluminum and Pyga have positioned the Shimano EP8 motor to maximise clearance. At 23,4kg, construction is appropriately robust, yet the final product has clean lines and highly desirable aesthetics. It’s not a farm gate!
Firstly, it’s good to see Pyga hasn’t pigeon-holed the Evolve. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the most versatile full-power eMTB on the market. Ride it as a full 29er with 150, 160, 170 or 180mm rear travel. Or mullet it, with the same travel options. That’s some impressive creativity and engineering right there. As a result, when specced appropriatley, the Evolve will not be out of sorts on gentle fire roads, flowing single track or technical bikepark riding. Pat, on that point alone, your’re a bloody genius mate.
Even though the Evolve was in development for over two years, beginning in 2020, the geometry is from the future. On the trail, the high stack height has many bonuses for eMTB riding — such as a better body position for descending, a relaxed climbing position and a front end that is easier to lift over things like pavements, rocks and roots. By raising the bottom bracket just a few millimeters, the chances of potentially disastrous pedal strikes are dramatically reduced. On my local loop in Tokai, I easily cleared rocks that on other eMTBs I often don’t.
Sizing wise, at 1.74m, I prefer a reach of around 470mm for an eMTB so I was a bit stretched out on the size large Evolve which runs a reach of 485mm. If it were my bike, I’d switch to a 35mm stem and the problem would be solved. When descending, riders who naturally hinge a lot at the hips might want a little more dropper post insertion than the Evolve offers.
My current personal eMTB is a Santa Cruz Bullit and so I have grown accustomed to the Shimano drive unit. It does have a natural feel about it, is reliable and the power does come on smoothly. It’s also not the noisest full power system around.
The burning question — is a Mid-High-Pivot suspension layout overkill for an eMTB? After a week on the Pyga Evolve the answer, in my opinion, is emphatically a no. It’s not overkill – it’s flippen lekker. In fact, I’m so impressed with the benefits I’ll bet my annual pilgrimage to Morzine (catch some big mountain bike park tips and tricks right here) that we’ll see more brands move in this direction. The Pyga Evolve with it’s Mid-High-Pivot suspension layout absolutely gobbles up small bumps like they weren’t there in the first place. It is ridiculously smooth — that’s when climbing and descending. The pedal kickback on rough climbs and low-speed drops is virtually non-existent.
Overall, the Pyga Evolve seems like a no-nonsense, highly versatile full power eMTB that will outshine many with it’s magic carpet suspension. The ride is incredibly impressive.