Last week Pyga Mountain Bikes announced that their new and first-ever Ebike is ready for production! This is a very exciting milestone for the much-loved South African brand. The Pyga Evolve is a gravity focused E-MTB sporting a new type of linkage design from their current lineup and 160mm of rear wheel travel. It is powered by an 85Nm / 500W Shimano EP8 motor with a 630Wh battery, and manufactured from aluminium in KZN like their Slakline and Hyrax Models.
The Mid-High Pivot (MHP) suspension linkage certainly catches the eye and is a clear talking point on the new bike. We reached out to Pat Morewood, the genius behind Pyga’s range of mountain bikes and the new Evolve, to get some insight into the design process of this new Ebike from Pyga.
WILD AIR: First off Pat, congrats to you and the rest of the team at Pyga! You must all be pretty stoked to have reached this point with your first E-MTB finally being production ready?
Pat: Thanks so much, it’s a privilege being able to share this bike with everyone. I’m really happy about the new Evolve, it has taken longer than hoped …as always but we have an incredible new bike.
WILD AIR: How long has this journey been from inception of the idea to where we are now? From what we’ve heard, you weren’t too keen on Ebikes at first but then swinging a leg over one in the Karkloof changed that?
Pat: I began working on this bike mid 2019. About a year or so before that I rode an Ebike and thought it was quite nice to be able go for a quick ride in a short space of time, this was a while after I said I’d never make or ride one..LOL.. A few months later a friend lent me his Santa and I did the 40km Baynesfield Classic to better understand and evaluate how a long travel beast would perform with regards to speed, input agility and battery life, I came away from that race convinced that it’s the way forward..I was buggered from pushing so hard but had the biggest smile.
We’ve had Pat on the SOMETHING FRESH podcast before and he alluded to the eBike and now here we have it!
WILD AIR: They are definitely a bucketload of fun to ride. When you began designing the Evolve, what was your goal? We have seen many different directions from bike companies with regard to material choices, application (big hitting gravity bikes to “lightweight” trail focused machines), battery size, suspension travel, etc. How did you and the team decide what you wanted your Ebike to be and did that change much through the development process?
Pat: Well first off an Ebike is a motorised mountain bike, one must remember that the added engine power changes the way the bike will ride under power. I started looking at the high pivot with a moving Idler pulley, something I experimented with in about 2005 at Morewood bikes. The idea is to try and minimise upper chain growth which causes pedal kickback when the rear wheel impacts an object. If this happens while powering through on a rough uphill trail, there is a noticeable pushing back against one’s feet. Now add a motor to the equation and go really fast, it gets worse. By adding the idler pulley to the lower link (non-concentric to the main pivot) this is all but negated while still retaining exceptional anti-squat levels (the good stuff that makes a bike pedal well).
We have started with the 160mm EVOLVE as it covers the majority of riding that people are likely to take part in. In the future we may look at a shorter-travel lighter (smaller battery and motor) model.
WILD AIR: It certainly sounds like it is a proper trail eating machine. Hopefully I’ll get to swing a long over one sometime soon. So over the course of bringing the Evolve to life, what were some of the major challenges that were faced in the design, spec, packaging the battery etc, and were many of the challenges unexpected?
Pat: The major challenges were really Covid related delays. Regarding the design aspects, I wanted a bike with a short chain stay, the high pivot also helps achieve this. Weight is always a factor, and it was a really good challenge to bring that down below the majority of alloy Ebikes and being lighter than some of the well known high end Carbon equivalents as well.
Our final challenge was when we were approached by Hugh McLeay, unbeknown to us I was using his patent called “I-Track” which relates to the way we have our MHP layout.
We are only one of a few that have and will be licensing his patent and there are very good reasons for this. For me this is not a bad thing but merely tells me that what I’m doing works and is good.
WILD AIR: That definitely sounds like a good nod that you’re going in the right direction. We have seen some pictures of the new “Freeride” Pyga being raced under Ross Kew and Beani Thies. There seems to be some influence from the Evolve (with the mid-high pivot) as well as the Slakline present in the bike. Whereabouts are you in the design process of that bike and can you share a bit of detail about the vision for its design and intended use?
Pat: Well what I’m doing here is seeing how the Ebike platform translates to a regular bike, it’s easy to say aah this bike is good and pedals well when it has a motor, but as regular bike one can really see how well it works. I’ve made up a few prototypes in a 180mm rear 200mm front configuration.
The idea with it is to possibly have a super-enduro, bike park / DH type of bike. Beanie raced her’s at the SA champs in Cascades and the World Champs last weekend, she did really well improving on her previous World’s results on less rear travel.
Ross is over in Europe getting some experience behind him and raced the Swiss Enduro Series last weekend with his SLAKLINE suspension setup on the same bike finishing up 3rd u21 (as a 17 year old)! His first comment was how smooth and quite the bike was. Next weekend with the change to his bigger shock and fork he will be racing DH at Val di Sole.
We basically made the EVOLVE with a SLAKLINE downtube and a few changes in geometry to compensate for the longer fork.
WILD AIR: Well that certainly sounds exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing how that project comes along. Thanks for your time Pat. All the best to you and the team at Pyga for what’s to come.
Pat: A big thanks to WILD AIR for reaching out and showing interest in what we are doing as always.
Keep and eye out for more details on the new Pyga Evolve on their website: pygamountainbikes.com