Unveiled in 2015, the Pyga Stage was ahead of its time, engineered with progressive geometry that most major brands have only recently incorporated into their bikes. Inspired by the capability of trail bikes, Pyga’s goal was to create an out-and-out race machine that was both light and efficient, and – most importantly – didn’t exhibit any of the unnerving twitchiness associated with the marathon/ XC race bikes of the time.
Fast forward to the 2018 model year, and every manufacturer worth their carbon weave has adapted their bikes in the same manner as Pyga did two years earlier – a feather in their cap!
Interestingly, rather than boost hub spacing, the Stage features Pyga’s ‘+Five’ wheel and drop- out spacing that keeps the chainrings exactly where they are, but offsets a standard 142x12mm rear wheel 5mm to the driveside. This means the chainline on the 12th gear (easiest gear, largest cog) on a +Five frame is equivalent to the chainline on the 10th gear of a regular frame. This creates a more balanced chainline across the cassette range – improving shifting, but also yielding a stronger wheel, thanks to the more balanced spoke geometry and tension.
While testers found the Stage to be incredibly stable on technical terrain (Oli rode it for three days in Piket-Bo- Berg), predictable when cornering at high speed, and firmly planted while climbing, there was still the vague sentiment that there seemed to be something missing – an ‘ X- Factor’, so to speak.
Discussing it among ourselves, we felt the Stage lacked the excitable pulse present in the other bikes – especially the Spark RC. While predictability and stability are superb attributes – especially for technically- challenged riders – we felt that the Stage didn’t convey a burning desire to be pushed as hard as possible, with the rear shock tuned for safety rather than speed.
Fitting a remote lock- out lever for the rear shock is a must, as reaching down was both dangerous and time- consuming – something racers shouldn’t have to expend energy on.
With a few tweaks – like a shock tune, and a different handlebar – we felt the Stage would have put up more of a challenge in this esteemed company, making it the dark horse among our contenders.