MEET THE PYGANS
Pyga Bikes recently announced their North American debut. If you’re anything like us you’re first response may have been, “Cool, but what’s a Pyga?” After reading further into the email and checking out some pictures of the incoming bikes, we got a bit more excited. The South African brand was founded by renowned designer, Patrick Morewood. After founding Morewood Bikes and building race machines for some of the fastest riders in history, he sold the company and then moved on in 2012. Since then he’s been busy growing a devout following below the equator.
Despite their reputation down south, Pyga is a brand we had never heard of until Howie Zink reached out to us a few months ago. After some passionate conversations and seeing a couple of the bikes in person, we were very excited to learn more about Pyga USA. We packed up Vandito and drove south to Reno, Nevada – Pyga USA headquarters.
Howie and his partner Cole run Pyga North America out of their office on the east side of Reno. Serving a dual purpose, the office is also shared with Howie’s brother Cameron Zink and their company Sensus Grips, where they sell grips (it’s a joke). Cole and Howie have gained plenty of experience distributing goods and they just so happened to be looking for a new brand after parting ways with YT Industries.
“We were doing the YT thing for a bit and after that ended I was looking for a new bike to ride. I saw a picture of a Pyga at Eurobike and wanted to know more. Serendipitously, a mutual friend asked if I knew Patrick Morewood or had heard of Pyga Industries. I expressed my recent interest in trying to procure one and he introduced us. After getting the first test bikes and riding them on our local trails I knew there was something special.”
Based on Howie and Cole’s experiences on the bikes, they began discussing the potential for distribution in North America. Patrick Morewood shared, “When Howie contacted me I was pretty stoked to find out who he was. After learning what he’d done with YT USA and Sensus, I was keen to discuss how we could get Pyga into the States. We are a small brand and want to continue our organic growth with interesting product that is fun and affordable to ride. Howie and Cole are after the same thing.”
With the foundation laid out, the boys in Reno began spec’ing and building the bikes the way they saw fit for the North American market. Warehouse setup was finalized and pretty soon they were ready to assemble and ship each frame that comes through the doors. A major bonus for Howie and Cole’s decision to work with Pyga was Patrick Morewood’s openness to let the duo build and spec the North American bikes. “We have a certain way we like to build and ride our bikes, and we think offering bad ass builds at solid price points is going to get our type of riders excited on these new bikes,” Howie shared. After looking over the entire line we’d have to agree, even the shorter travel bikes have a certain, aggressive feel to them that trail shredders will greatly appreciate.
Before we arrived in Reno, they built up a Slackline and Stage Max for us to ride. The bikes were ready to ride and the boys let us take them home for some extended testing. While we were having a great time laughing at Howie’s deadpan office tour outtakes, we couldn’t wait to leave the Reno valley floor and head up to the hills for some riding with the Pyga NA crew. It’s always a treat being able to check out brand’s offices and see their local trails. These interactions give a much deeper insight into what a brand is all about in ways advertising and marketing bits can never accomplish.
Howie, Cole and Raymundo are the real deal. These guys are down to get dirty, and dirty we got. In fact, we can’t wait to get back down there to ride some more trails in less dusty conditions. Normally we box our test bikes up and ship ’em back, but we may just have to hand deliver them just so we’ve got an excuse to chase these dudes down some more kick ass trails.
Check out the video from our dust-sucking ride with the Pyga North America crew and stay tuned for some long-term reviews in the near future. If you’re in the market for a unique and fun riding bike backed by a bunch of rad dudes, this is it.
For more info, visit pyga.us and tell ‘em The Wolf sent ya.
Who is Patrick Morewood?
He is a fairly quiet South African from Pietermaritzburg who loves all things bikes and engineering. Husband to Karen and father to Cam and Shelby – he loves the simple things in life like camping, riding bikes and making things.
What is your favorite part about designing bikes?
Fitting all the pieces together in the simplest most aesthetic way possible. I get the most satisfaction in finding different ways of improving the way things are done traditionally. I also love riding THE FIRST BIKE. It’s also hard to beat the smile on people’s faces after their first ride and when they tell me what they felt is precisely what I designed the bike to feel like.
If you could only pick one of your bikes to ride which one would it be?
I think it would have to be the Stage Max.
What sort of suspension feel were you going for when creating these bikes? Obviously a 130mm bike has a different intention than a 160mm, but what values do you find most important when working with a suspension platform on your bikes?
This is a very pertinent question these days. All of our bikes exhibit high levels of anti-squat. The Stage is a single pivot linkage design, with a moderately high level of progression. We don’t use lockout levers for reducing pedal induced suspension movement, but rather let the mechanics of all our bikes provide the rider with a simple, well performing bike. Even our pro riders are running their suspension open in the Cape Epic eight-day stage race.
For our longer travel bikes we are using a Horst link, which allows us to have improved braking squat characteristics. Again, we use high anti-squat levels, up to 140%. We have a lot more progression on the curve, making the bikes truly ready to handle the big hits.
What bike do you suspect will be most popular in North America?
Based on the type of riding over there and the enduro scene I’d say the Slackline. Here in South Africa, Marathon and multi-day stage racing is massive as we don’t really have much in the way of bike parks. People here are mad about competing in any sport.
We know that the Reno boys love their milkshakes after a ride, what’s your favorite post ride reward?
If it’s a ride with my boy Cam, then It would have to be a lime milkshake, if it’s with the “Boyz” then it’s a Black Label draft followed by a brandy and coke (a very South African vibe).