2019 has been a momentous year for PYGA MOUNTAINBIKES as it has seen the realization of a dream to bring manufacturing back home to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. A fitting place to manufacture mountain bikes given its strong ties to both the roots and greatest achievements of the sport in South Africa.
The journey into manufacturing started a long time ago for Patrick Morewood, the founder and co-owner of PYGA. In his early years as a competitive downhill racer, equipment was always a challenge and coming from a long line of designers and engineers Pat continued the tradition by designing and building his own components. This then culminated in full blown bicycle design and manufacture with what would become the world renowned and critically acclaimed MOREWOOD BIKES brand in 1998.
After some 15 years with Morewood Patrick moved on to form PYGA in 2012 with the express idea to design bikes that were more accessible and rewarding to the average rider not only those competing at the top level. This saw the birth of the iconic PYGA ONETEN29. These aluminum frames were manufactured in the East under Pats supeNision and watchful eye; the first batch were worked on in China, by Pat himself.
PYGA moved on as a brand growing its range to encompass XC, Marathon, Trail and Enduro bikes and branching into carbon frames, the STAGE which rode to victory in the 2019 ABSA CAPE EPIC’s Queen stage, piloted by Local team riders Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys.
Up to this point all bikes had been produced in TAIWAN by high end factories, with all design work and real world testing being done in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. New partners in the form of Ollie Burnett and Richard Crouse joined the business to assist with this expansion. As the business grew, the challenges of outsourcing the manufacturing and freedom to make improvements became more significant and the inevitable discussions started around the possibility of bringing manufacturing home and opening our own factory, a dream all the partners shared.
“For me it was more than just having bikes made in South Africa, it was about my need to create and use my hands as well as hopefully inspiring others as well as youngsters to believe that we can compete on the world stage.” – Pat Morewood.
In late January 2019 the final decision was taken to establish our own bespoke factory. This started the search for machines and tools both old and new and within three short months we had a fully functional aluminum bicycle factory. Two months thereafter we had our first prototypes and in October 2019 we shipped our first production frames out of our own factory, an accomplishment of which we are very proud.
The ability to now control our future in terms of quality, improvements and delivery are truly game changing for us. In a world of increased commoditization and mass production to deliver a truly artisan, handmade frame to our customers is the dream all of us at Pyga subscribe to. Pyga’s aspiration to become a globally recognized, high end, mountain bike brand is vastly enhanced by the establishment of our own factory.
The freedom the factory gives us to prototype and move quickly to market with new models is a luxury one does not always achieve with outsourced manufacturing. With a current capacity to manufacture in the region of 1200 frames per annum and offer a vast array of customizable colors via our powder coating plant, we can offer a truly personal product to the customer.
“My experience in South Africa with the entire Pyga family was unreal. I was blown away everyday by the people, the culture, the wildlife, and the South African vibe is the best part. Then being able to visit the factory and see our bikes being built right in front of me gave me a special feeling. The craft of small batch alloy frames is still a tremendous process. I can’t wait to go back and see what the factory and the Pygans have going on next year. Patrick and Karen literally opened their home to me before actually meeting me in person. One of the coolest places I have ever visited and I met some amazing people. I truly appreciate what Pyga has done. ” – Howie Zink, PYGA USA Distributor
Believing in better is something we live and breathe at Pyga and to truly deliver on this manufacturing frames in our own factory is an essential element. In a South African context with increased negativity and a doom and gloom mentality prevailing we are determined to become one of the many good news stories and centers of excellence in South Africa.
The first ride on our locally produced frames was an incredibly fulfilling and somewhat emotional moment, one that is only surpassed by seeing the genuine smiles and stoke on the faces of our customers once they swing a leg over one of our locally produced bikes.