In order to complete this test, we gave the bike to our very own washed up XC nerd and friend, Nic “U-turn” Hall. Of course, after Nic rode the bike we passed the Stage Max around for our own testing purposes. After all, Nic likes kale and kombucha, so you can’t blame us for doubting his taste. In the end however we all came away with a similar verdict: this is a seriously fun 130mm bike.
The build balances performance and value well. The We Are One wheels rode well and complimented the stiff frame quite nicely. This bike begs to be slapped and smacked into corners, and we did our very best to oblige with smiles on our faces. The BikeYoke Revive 160mm dropper post failed early in the test, but the bike had been ridden before us so we don’t know if it had been previously damaged. Like other bikes with the Rock Shox Pike RCT3 we’ve ridden, we experienced a bit of unwanted harshness from the front end..
Most people probably wouldn’t buy this bike unless climbing is a priority, and we did plenty of it. Okay fine, Nic did the climbing and we asked him how it was. The bike has a firm platform that he described as, “One of the best bikes I’ve ridden while fully open.” That means a lot coming from a long time 29er expert who’s been on the Evil and Transition fanboy program as long as we’ve known him. We all loved how the seat tube angle centered our weight perfectly over the pedals to achieve good weight distribution on steep climbs. Thanks to the stiff chassis, the bike takes hard efforts well and puts the power directly to the ground.
One may think based on the bike’s climbing prowess and numbers that it’s a one-sided love affair. On most terrain, the Stage Max actually descends quite well. The bike’s geometry strikes a balance between aggressive riding and efficiency better than many other bikes in the 130 category. While in Reno visiting the Pyga HQ, we rode behind the likes of Cam Zink, Brandon Semenuk and Pyga USA staff shredder Raymundo. While the rest of the crew possessed skills well above ours and also rode bikes with 160-200mm of travel, the Stage Max was still able to hang. They even drug us down one of their DH shuttle trails and we lived to tell the tale, seven-foot drop and all.
Back home in Bend,OR, the riding was much better suited to the Stage Max, and we were really able to see this machine shine. Of course, the progressive platform and single pivot does mean the bike hangs up in deep rocks, but the playfulness and willingness to go big more than makes up for it. This bike most closely resembles the YT Jeffsy in our opinion and has many similar features and ride characteristics. We’d probably lean towards the Pyga Stage Max just a bit for general trail riding performance as it’s a bit better rounded for normal trail riding applications and climbing rocky terrain.
After some tinkering, we ended up running around 35% sag and adding a volume spacer in the rear to get the right balance of chatter compliance and bottom out resistance on big hits. The smiles we got after sliding through corners and boosting jumps wiped any memories of brake jack or hang ups.
Pyga Bikes may be a new name to many readers in North America, but rest assured Patrick Morewood has been making fun, medal-winning bikes for some of the fastest riders in the world for decades. Pyga’s Stage Max is the ideal bike for a rider that wants to have an efficient rig to pedal their local loop, but doesn’t want to give up having a snappy, playful rig that is willing to huck to flat and roost up a corner. Die-hard XC guys may scoff at the bike’s numbers, but for wash ups and flat pedal freeriders like us, it’s the ideal small bike for local days. Pyga’s price to performance ratio is solid with the $4,500 GX Eagle Stage Max. It’s worth mentioning too that because of Pyga USA’s distribution model, you can call them up and customize the bike’s spec to your liking. If you’re a bike shop owner or employee, you should know that Pyga USA is willing to work with you and offer compensation to build up bikes they ship to you.