2018 Pyga Hyrax X01 Eagle Bike
Pyga Hyrax may not be a word set familiar to most, but the name Patrick Morewood does carry a good deal of weight in the mountain bike world. Those with memories or birthdays relevant enough will recall the Morewood line of bikes fondly. The bliss is that Pyga and Patrick are one and the same. Established in 2012, Pyga has generated a following in the South African cross-country and marathon racing scene with their Stage line of bikes. Looking to expand markets in the industry as well as geographically, Pyga brought about the Slakline and Hyrax bikes, as well as distribution in the USA through Howie Zink. Using a four-bar Horst link suspension design, Morewood applied his virtues of gravity racing to his efficient cross-country bikes and entered the world of trail and enduro. We’ve spent the last four months getting to know the 140mm-travel, 27.5-inch Hyrax and invite you to spend a little time getting to know it yourself.
- Toray carbon fiber frame with aluminum rocker and chainstay
- 27.5-inch wheels // Frame will also accept 29-inch wheels
- 140mm (5.5-inches) of rear wheel travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) fork travel
- Four-bar Horst link suspension design
- Short 37mm offset fork
- Flip chip geometry adjustment
- Internally routed cables with access hatch on the downtube
- Trunnion mount, Metric 205x57.5mm Deluxe RT3 rear shock
- Molded rubber downtube and chainstay protectors
- Threaded bottom bracket with ISCG 05 mounts
- Boost 148mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
- Fits full-size water bottle inside the front triangle
- We Are One Carbon wheels with a lifetime warranty (US build)
- 2.8-inch max tire size
- Measured weight (size Medium, no pedals): 28.0-pounds (12.7 kg)
- Customizable options through Pyga US
- MSRP $5,999 USD as tested
All About The Hyrax With Pyga US
We had the opportunity to chat with Howie Zink for an overview of the bike, about bringing the brand to the states, customization options, future developments, and more. Listen in:
The Hyrax comes standard with a 150mm travel RockShox Pike fork and 140mm travel rear, supported by a trunnion-mounted RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock. The frame uses a flip chip to accomplish a 65.6 or 66.1-degree head angle. Reach on our medium test bike was 447mm and the large comes in at 470mm. Of note is the 434/432mm (low/high) chainstay length. A number of brands are tucking the rear wheel closer and closer as 430mm and shorter rear ends becoming the norm on trail bikes. Pyga state the few extra millimeters at the back help balance climbing performance and high-speed stability without becoming tug boat long. The Hyrax’s seat angle feels a bit slacker than the 75.7-degree number advertised, but more on that later.
Pyga US collaborated with the mothership in South Africa to spec the Hyrax with a 35mm stem and reduced 37mm offset fork. The South African brand took note of this rising industry trend and decided to give it a go for themselves. While the Hyrax uses some staples of modern bike geometry, Pyga does make some efforts to stand apart from the herd.
Some bikes and suspension platforms can take a little fiddling to get dialed to a rider’s exact wants. The Hyrax would not be a bike in this category. The guys in the Pyga US office state they like to run the bike a bit on the firm side, closer to 25% sag, though the standard 30% is what is recommended. We went struck a happy medium at 28% and never had much cause to make the bike any firmer due to the Hyrax’s progressive tune. The Pike RCT3 fork contained two bottomless tokens and was set to the air chart on the lower leg plus three clicks of compression.
The Bike Yoke Revive 150mm travel dropper has a delightfully low collar stack that, when combined with the short 430mm seat tube on the Hyrax, had a little skin showing for a 5’9” rider with 30-inch inseam; impressive. As many will do, the test started with the Hyrax in the “low” setting. With that, we were off to the trails.
On The Trail
A bike this versatile demands the extreme ends of the spectrum in testing. Long-distance cross-country rides, steep techy descents, and all points between were on the menu over the past four months. Taken to the extremes the Hyrax shows its limitations, but the middle 80% of what we rode was an absolute joy.
Pyga has dubbed the Hyrax their “trail smashing machine” – a hefty title for a 140mm travel bike. Joyfully, the Hyrax delivers on the claim, riding like a bike with much longer legs. Small-bump sensitivity impressed right out of the gate and was continually appreciated time and again as the tiny elephant bike was lobbed into rock gardens and sprawling fields of chunder. The progression curve hits a happy medium that feels similar to, but not quite as distinct as the Canyon Spectral. Staying strong on the bike keeps it planted and composed without feeling stuck to the ground. The Hyrax does take a little more input than the Spectral when boosting smaller lips, but the trade out is worth it as the nod for overall trail composure goes to the Hyrax.
There is something to the Hyrax that makes it want to go as fast as possible, whenever possible. Lower gradient trails are pump tracks to this bike, encouraging you to push hard into corners and work the terrain. Riders that move with the bike will be rewarded handsomely, with a responsive ride and snappy temperament. Laying the Hyrax into corners is a delight, outdone only slightly by the Transition Scout. Despite its “longer” chainstays, the Hyrax will turn on a dime and give you five cents change.
Early on in testing, the Hyrax was taken to Mt. Elwell in Graeagle, California. A rowdy ride, it demands a lot of equipment and rider. It has been a litmus test for a variety of bikes, pointing out faults and strengths along the way. It was here that the Hyrax first impressed with its mid hit gobbling ways. The Hyrax does not become overwhelmed or harsh, taking hit after hit, staying the course. Moving along, boulder fields give way to open trail at the bottom and things get fast. Very fast. As the trail progressed, there was a sudden increase in trail grade through a left-hand corner which faded away to the outside. The sudden change had the Pyga floating to the outside and towards the edge of the trail. A split second decision to shift body weight forward and press the front wheel snapped the bike to attention. The line was held, the corner was made, and we were on to the next. This proved a shining moment of just how capable the Hyrax can be.
Give the Hyrax a steep, technical climb requiring a few power moves and ledges and it will get the job done in spades. Take away the technical bits, make that steep climb a loose grinder, and the Hyrax will begin to wander as the front end gets a bit too light, displaying a bit of wheel flop. In all honesty, we were left to wonder how the Hyrax would scoot uphill with a more traditional front end (standard offset fork, 50mm stem). The magic combo to really see the benefit of the newer, shorter offset push seems to be: slacker than normal head angle, longer than normal reach, and reduced offset fork; the Hyrax has two of the three. While a spare fork was not on hand, we were able to make use of the flip chip on the bike, steepening things up and pushing the rider forward for climbs. This helped a fair bit for rider positioning and was of little sacrifice on all but the steepest of downhills.
At the more dramatic and steeper end of the spectrum, the Hyrax begins to show why it carries a trail bike designation. Steep, diving corners and heavy terrain make apparent that yes, this is a 140mm bike and the geometry isn’t "enduro." After all, Pyga has the Slakline with its longer travel to flex muscles and stare down the rowdiest of challenges. It isn’t that the Hyrax was scary or trepidatious, but speeds were slower and the brakes ran a bit hotter. Again, we are playing at that outermost range, situations that most riders won’t find themselves in on their trail bike.
In the continuum of 27.5 trail bikes, there are the all-around performers such as the Canyon Spectral, Trek Remedy, and Santa Cruz 5010. Each with its own personality and sense of mission behind it. As you move towards the more aggressive side of things, you’ll encounter the Transition Scout with its stout frame and transformative geometry, albeit limited by the small travel numbers. Moving into Roy Jones Jr. country, you have the Santa Cruz Bronson and now the Pyga Hyrax. Bikes that can punch far out of their weight class, they begin to blur the lines of category designation.
Things are getting competitive in bike land and the definition of value may be coming due for a reevaluation, so let’s break down the Hyrax. For $5,999 USD the Hyrax comes equipped with Canadian-made, lifetime-warrantied We Are One carbon wheels, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, Code RSC stoppers, Bike Yoke dropper, Race Face carbon bars and, of course, a carbon frame riding on top tier suspension. Objectively, six grand is a bit of money so Pyga also offers a GX build with alloy wheels on the same frame for $4,599 USD.
Fork - When the RockShox Pike RCT3 was initially revamped into the ever common black chassis it took the trail market by storm. The return of the Lyrik and refinements to the FOX 36 had the Pike sitting at the back of the closet with the rest of the forgotten toys. Well, the latest iteration may have riders reaching for their old friend once again. Buttery smooth performance, easy (and noticeable) tuning options, as well as a touch of weight savings – what is not to like here?
Tires - The Michelin Wild Rock’rfront tire is a trusted ally in dry/loose/rock wars. The Wild Grip’r rear may grip in the soft stuff, but left a bit to be desired during our test. The corner knobs have a vague feel and the carcass is a bit frail, plus the rolling speed is also not up to snuff for what the Hyrax has in mind. A slightly used Minion DHR 2 winked at us from the corner of the shop so we tossed it on the bike.
Wheels - Hailing from rowdy Kamloops, Canada, We Are One Composites would like to become a household name. Our Agent wheels were top notch. Rumor has it a touch of maple syrup is added to the resin for proper give’r strength. A 30mm inner width and a muscly profile inspire confidence. Our particular set was laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs – not super fast on the engagement but reliable and far from lackluster. In the course of testing, the rims took a few rocks to the chin with a decidedly solid thump. No damage, dings or scrapes were found. A little research told us that aftermarket sets like ours will run you less than $1,300 USD, weigh around 1,845 grams and carry a lifetime, no-fault warranty.
Brakes - The revised SRAM Code line is proving a winner, even in the long term. Our set of Code RSC brakes left nothing to be desired. Power was on hand with great modulation. A firm avocado squeeze on the levers will lock the wheels, while a tomato touch slows you down properly.
Drivetrain - When Eagle came about, one of the advantages touted by SRAM was the ability to run larger front rings than its 11-speed predecessor. The broad range Eagle cassette would give riders an easier low end and retain high gear options as well. It has been curious to see trail bikes often spec’d with the same 32 or even 30-tooth front rings, making them rock-crawler machines instead of trophy trucks. The Pyga came with a 34-tooth ring and we loved it. Eagle's wide range comes to life here with less shifting happening on trailwhile still gaining an easier set of climbing gears than our 32-tooth, 11-speed setups of yore.
Long Term Durability
In four months of rock slinging and dust eating, we came across no issues with any part of our test bike. All bearing assemblies and pivots stayed tight and true. The paint is top notch with little to no wear showing. Pyga backs their bikes with up to a five-year warranty.
What's The Bottom Line?
In product testing, the question is always “Who is this product for?” The Hyrax is certainly not for the cross-country set looking for more travel, we have the Trek Remedy for that. What about the heavy hitting enduro set, craving park laps, and big lines? No, Pyga has already conceded that to their Slakline. Those are just subsets, groups within a group of riders that need something for their fringe desires. What about the versatile but still aggressive end of this narrative, the chargers that earn their turns? Well, that begs yet another question, what does one call a 140mm travel bike that truly shines on the descents and is pretty good on the climbs? We suppose we’d also call it a trail smashing machine.If that’s the sort of rider you are, then the Hyrax is a great option.
Vital MTB Rating
- Climbing: 3.5 stars - Very Good
- Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
- Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
- Value: 5 stars - Spectacular
- Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent
About The Reviewer
Brad Howell - Age: 39 // Years Riding: 25 // Height: 5’9” (1.75m) // Weight: 160-pounds (72.5kg)
Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25 tire was large and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing and trying to send it at the local gravel pits. This lead to working in bike shops as a wrench to help fix those bikes whilst in college. Fortunate enough to have dug at the past six Rampages and become friends with some of the sport’s biggest talents, Brad has a broad perspective of what bikes can do and what it means to be a “good rider.” The past few years Brad worked in the bike industry and got to see the man behind the curtain. These days though, he likes just riding his bike in the woods with friends.
Photos by Brad Howell // Action by Ray Syron