Pyga Stage Max

Pyga Stage Max

Photos by Drew Rohde

We had a moment of clarity while testing the Pyga Stage Max, this long legged XC bike can take a hit! After years of strict diets, regimented workouts and long days in the saddle, you’re worn out. You’ve gone soft and your cheat day is turning into a cheat life. It’s not that you’re lazy— you can still outride most of your friends, but the excitement of lycra clad, self inflicted punishment against the clock has faded, much like the tan line on your upper thigh. The other day you even hit a jump trail, and liked it… After years of making fun of those dirt bag “freeriders” or “lifestyle athletes” you’ve actually started to envy the fun they have. Maybe it’s time for a new bike. Time to swallow your pride and run a dropper post, and get something a little more…playful. Is that what the kids call it these days? Your new bike of choice? The Pyga Stage Max. It very well may be the official ride of XC guys gone soft (or fun) and aggressive riders looking to do longer days in the saddle.

The Lab

If you haven’t heard of Pyga Bikes don’t think you’re alone. The South African brand is new to the States, with distribution coming out of Reno, NV thanks to Howie Zink and his buddies. We recently visited their HQ to learn more about them and got some seat time on the bikes. You can watch our fun video and read that story here. They sent us home with a Stage Max and Slakline to try out for a few months. We’re certainly not retired XC racers, so we’d fall into the ‘aggressive riders looking for something a bit more efficient’ category.

Pyga Stage Max

The Stage Max is a 130mm travel carbon 29er with a stiff frame and progressive rear suspension. Pyga set out to prove that XC bikes don’t have to be boring, creating a bike that pedals just as well as it flicks. A 438mm (17.24-in) chainstay across the size range keeps things short and snappy, while a 67.5-degree head tube angle balances confidence with responsive cornering and climbing. The 74.2-degree virtual seat tube angle works in unison with the suspension design to make this bike a rocket ship on the climbs. Even with the somewhat steep head tube angle, the 13.46-inch bottom bracket helps the bike handle and corner like a dream.

Pyga offers the bike as a frameset, or as a complete build. The two complete options are: a SRAM XX1 or GX Eagle. Our XX1 Eagle test bike came with a 130mm Rock Shox Monarch RT3 rear shock and a 140mm Rock Shox Pike RCT3 front fork. The single pivot suspension is simple, providing solid performance thanks to a well-tuned leverage curve and high anti-squat. The XX1 Eagle drivetrain, with an XG cassette worked well during our test and is a combo we’ve grown familiar with. SRAM Guide RSC brakes are spec’d on the XX1 build and did a decent job. Pyga USA teamed up with We Are One out of Canada. The niche composite brand’s Insider rims and DT Swiss 350 Classic hubs kept our Stage Max spinning while also looking good. The performance to price ratio is something we always look at, and Pyga hits the mark.

Pyga Stage Max

The Dirt

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.

Pyga Stage Max

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 Stage Max

The Wolf’s Last Word

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.

Price: $6,299;
Weight: 27.69lbs;

Pyga Stage Max

Frame: Carbon; 130mm
Fork: Rocks Shox Pike RCT3; 140mm
Shock: Rock Shox Monarch RT3

Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Handlebar: Race Face Next R; 35x800mm
Headset: Cane Creek 40 Tapered
Saddle: SDG Bel Air 2.0
Seatpost: BikeYoke Revive; 160mm
Shifter: SRAM XX1 Eagle; 12s
Stem: Race Face Aeffect; 50mm

Hubs: DT Swiss 350
Rims: We Are One Insider
Tires: Michelin Force AM; 29 2.35

Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB PF GXP
Cassette: SRAM XG-1295; 10-50t
Cranks: SRAM XX1 Eagle DUB; 175mm, 32t
Derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle; 12s

Pyga Stage Max

We Dig

Corners Well
Climbs Well
Playful and Stiff!

We Don’t

Harsh in Rocks/Roots
Dropper Post Failed
Tire Spec

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