The Stage is Pyga’s take on what a marathon / cross country bike should be. A longer reach and slacker head angle to provide more stability in corners and on technical descents. Pyga came out swinging with an ultra-progressive geometry. At a time when slack in XC terms meant a 70 degree head angle at best, the Stage, at 68.5 degrees, turned some heads. Fast forward twelve or so months and we see some of the major bike manufacturers following suit with their cross country / marathon line-up. The longer and slacker formula is fast becoming the new standard for cross country bikes with Pyga on the leading edge of this new wave.
To the delight of all marathon racers, the full carbon frame supports two bottle cages, one mounted on the underside of the top tube and another in the standard downtube position. Along with their twist on geometry, Pyga also introduced the “plus five” chainline concept. The bike’s rear end is offset by 5mm towards the drive side to allow a better chainline resulting in improved shifting performance and less wear on your drivetrain. In order to achieve this the rear wheel is dished evenly providing a bonus of added stiffness and strength to the wheel.
Other smart touches include a removable front derailleur mount to provide two-by versatility and a super clean frame when running one-by. Internal routing further accentuates the smooth, clean lines which define the frame.
Most commonly known as a custom build frame kit company, with the Stage model Pyga introduced some “factory spec” builds: a top end SRAM XX1 / Rockshox RS1 / Monarch XX / PYGA Carbon wheels and a lower spec SRAM GX / Rockshox SID XX / Monarch XX / SRAM Roam 40 wheels. Although our test model is not strictly a factory spec build, it features a smattering of components common on both builds: most notably the same Rockshox SID XX 120mm up front and Rockshox Monarch XX as on their second tier build, a SRAM XO 11 speed groupset (arguably on par with the XX1) and the PYGA 29” carbon wheels.
On the trail
Climbing aboard the Pyga Stage for the first time does take some getting used to. Coming from a typical marathon bike the Stage is noticeably slacker, yet the lengthened top tube (622mm on the Large model as tested) means the position is very familiar and still suitably aggressive. The key change lies in the feel and response of the steering thanks to the slackened head angle. The more stable feel initially came across as being a bit cumbersome at slow speeds in comparison to the Stage’s more twitchy competitors. Very soon though, I was embracing the stability and security it offered.
Despite the more “trail” feel the Stage climbs impressively well. In full lockout you can smash away at the pedals eeking out every watt with hardtail-like efficiency. For most climbs though, the suspension platform offers a fine balance between traction and limited energy loss when opened up. Facing tricky rocky climbs the unweighted front end helps to quickly pop up over obstacles. On seriously steep climbs though I did find my position required a more aggressive adjustment than usual to ensure enough weight over the front wheel to keep in contact with the ground.
On technical trails, steeper descents and anything with a bit of speed the tweaked geometry really comes into it’s own. The slacker position and longer top tube places you comfortably within the cockpit rather than precariously on top of it. With less weight over the front wheel I had far more confidence in steep drops and comfortably glided through technical rocky sections. The 120mm up front does provide a little extra breathing room compared to the many 100mm peers in this class, adding to the confidence you carry when tackling anything tricky.
The Pyga Marathon29 carbon rims and Onza Lynx tyres did a lot to help the stability and comfort on rough terrain. With a 24mm internal diameter the Marathon29’s offer a few extra millimeters over typical rims in this category which, coupled with the 2.25” Onzas, provide heaps of stability and traction. For marathon or cross country racing you’d possibly want to look at a lighter, faster rolling tyre as the Lynx are on the heavier end of the scale, perfect as an all rounder, but the weight is noticeable on longer climbs and open roads.
When it comes to corners the Pyga Stage doesn’t disappoint. Even with my seatpost jacked right up to marathon standards the bike feels incredibly agile, yet planted through turns and berms. Again the long and slack design along with the low standover height pay dividends. There’s just a natural balance and low feel to the bike which enables you to carry speed and maintain traction through tight turns.
Leading the charge into an era of ultra capable cross country and marathon bikes, PYGA have proven with the Stage just how firmly their finger is on the pulse of modern mountain bike design. The Pyga Stage offers a delicate balance of race focussed performance and more progressive trail capabilities. All in all a highly versatile package which can see you comfortably through a marathon stage race and still keep you smiling on a weekend trail ride with mates. If you've only got room for one dual suspension mountain bike, the Pyga Stage could be just the right pick.