Bike Check: Pyga's Custom 1993 Iron Horse FS Works Inspired Hyrax

Feb 15, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

Pyga have been riding, racing, designing and building mountain bikes since 2012. However, the brand's history in the sport dates back way before then through founder and bike designer, Pat Morewood, who launched Morewood Bikes in 2002, and another board director who has his original race bike from 1997 on permanent display in the Marin Museum of Bicycling’s Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

Inspired by the fluorescent paint, unique frame designs and anodised parts of mountain biking's early days, the brand has built up a version of its Hyax frame that pays tribute to what it calls the first 'proper' full-suspension bike. After considering a number of options including the GT RTS, Manitou FS and the ProFlex Offroad, they landed on the Italian made Verlicchi that was rebadged and rolled out by brands including Sintesi, Kona, Rudy Project, Saracen, and, most notably, Iron Horse as the FS Works.

In its Iron Horse guide, the Verlicchi was piloted to success at the Downhill World Cup in Bromont, Canada by Dave Cullinan and was later named the Bromont by Sintesi to commemorate that victory. Dave's purple and silver bike became instantly iconic and it's that bike that Pyga are throwing back to with its tribute build.

Iron Horse FS Works (1993)

Frame: Verlicchi – Italian made
Fork: Marzocchi XC 400 (50mm)
Shock: Marzocchi (55mm)
Stem: Controluce
Brakes: Shimano XTR
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Crankset: Shminao XTR
Rear Derailer: Shimano XTR
Front Derailer: Shimano XTR
Shifter: Shimano XTR / STI
Cassette: Shimano XTR
Handlebar: Zoom Brahma Bars
Grips: Ritchey Logic
Wheelset: Shimano XTR / Mavic 117 SUP
Front Tyre: Panaracer Dart
Rear Tyre: Panaracer Smoke
Headset: Shimano XT
Saddle: Flite Titanium
Seatpost: Control-tech

Pyga Hyrax Retro Dream Build

Frame: Pyga Hyrax (140mm)
Fork: RockShox Pike (150mm)
Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT3
Stem: Hope AM
Brakes: Hope Tech 3 E4
Pedals: Pembree R1V
Crankset: Hope Evo
Rear Derailer: Sram GX Eagle
Front Derailer: N/A
Shifter: Sram GX Eagle
Cassette: Sram GX Eagle
Handlebar: Hope Carbon
Grips: Deed
Wheelset: Hope Fortus 30 Pro 4
Front Tyre: Onza Porcupine TRC 60
Rear Tyre: Onza Porcupine TRC 60
Headset: Cane Creek Forty
Saddle: Deed
Seatpost: BikeYoke Revive Max

bigquotesLooking back at early bikes really fills me with nostalgia. The Iron Horse was the pin-up bike of the day, and as a young guy, I was just hooked on the look (although they were well out of my price range at the time). It was these bikes that inspired me to ride more, start racing and ultimately become a mountain bike design and manufacturer. It only seemed right we salute our history and heritage with the Pyga Retro Dream Build Hyrax and I’m delighted with the final outcome of this fun project!Pat Morewood, Founder, Pyga Mountainbikes

The Iron Horse FS Works

The original Iron Horse FS Works was the ‘poster bike’ of its day. The Verlicchi frame was designed in collaboration with Marzocchi so it had 50mm of their Italian air suspension front and back. It also had the all-new XTR groupset as the 1992/3 season was the first year Shimano produced XTR M900 too.

Pyga Hyrax Retro Build

The Pyga Hyrax is an alloy 140mm trail bike, which means it has almost three times the travel of the Varlicchi downhill bike from 1993. The rocker, rear chain and seat stays have been anodised in the exact same purple as the Iron Horse as well as the front triangle anodized in silver. The Pantone colours of the decals also exact replicas too.

The key noticeable difference, especially when side by side, is the wheel size and attitude. The Hyrax is a 2020s 29er’s, utilizing modern geo, while the Iron Horse is 26” and pretty short by comparison.

[PCAPTION]With every Pyga frame built in South Africa and a new powder coating/anodising and assembly facility in Nottingham, England, they had the capability to create a ‘one-off’ bespoke bike pretty easily.[/PCAPTION]

Pyga partnered U.K. based, carbon-neutral [L=]]Pembree[/L] who created a one-off colourway of the R1V pedal, especially for this project.

Pyga have Pantone matched the colours on the bikes to make them as similar as possible.

Onza recently resurrected their legendary Porcupine tire from the 90s so its gumwall throwback look was a solid choice for this build.

Who else but Hope to bring the purple anodised touches to the build?

Apparently, the feedback so far on the project has been so positive Pyga are considering offering anodisation as an option on builds in the future. In the meantime, customers can use the ‘mix and match’ tool on the website to choose between over 700 paint and decal combo’s to create their own dream build. More info, here.


  • 147 19
 Tribute that only has matching colors... They couldn't even have done an XTR build? Mavic (or Shimano) wheels? Marzocchi suspension? This is the epitome of nostalgia-baiting. Meh.
  • 69 6
 I was going to write the same thing. I wanted to see a "then and now" build with updated parts from the same companies. Im gonna paint my jeep dark green and call it a 1969 "Bullitt" mustang.
  • 19 1
 Probably couldn't get the XTR for this...
  • 7 2
 But then where do you draw the line for matching it up with a retro bike? 26inch wheels? No I think this was always intended to be a dreambuild bike with matching colourways as something from the 90s.
  • 6 3
 Agreed I see nothing retro here
  • 17 2
 And where are the damn bar-ends? C'mon!
  • 8 0
 @Eric27: HAHA I'm gonna put a rhinestone cowboy hat, pitvipers and a mustache on my VW and call it Randy Savage.
  • 3 0
 @gossman: "0H YEAH"
  • 6 0
 @GeeHad: At least match some brands and updated versions of the same components. There is not even a single brand component that matched. Yes, of course some don't apply; but c'mon with swapping XTR for GX. Should be at least XT to keep the Shimano theme or XX1 to keep the top-end theme. XT or XTR brakes, save the Hope (co-sponsor?) stuff for things that wouldn't be possible because the maker doesn't do anything in a modern equivalent, like the pedals, stem, bar.
  • 7 0
 Not even polished cranks. Nostalgia fail!
  • 1 0
 50mm travel was a bit of a stretch.
  • 4 2
 paint myself black and call myself a custom martin luther king
  • 1 0
 But then... it's not even an Iron Horse, so what does it matter? I do agree it would have been good to see though
  • 1 0
 @richybiker: The Iron Horse in question in wasn't even an Iron Horse, so it fits.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: First thing that jumped out at me too.....
  • 1 0
 @Curse-of-the-foot-long-sub: OMG... This will the quickest a post has ever been removed.
  • 1 1
 @Eric27: mustangs are shit
  • 2 0
 @Texanhog: YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!! Why are you so hurtful? Classic Mustangs are beautiful pieces of art mixed with "great vengeance and furious anger" that will strike down all that attempt to poison and destroy them. And you will know their name is a FORD when they lay their tires upon thee!
  • 1 0
 @Curse-of-the-foot-long-sub: You should ask Trudeau for advice on this kind of thing. He's an expert.
  • 61 1
 1.5" travel noodle-forks with quick release? Check.
Skinny bars? Check.
Long stem? Check.
High post? Check.
Cantilever brakes? Check.
1.95" wide rock-hard compound tires? Check.

How the eff did any of us make it out of the 90's alive!? Smile
  • 5 0
 I wonder that all the time. You could not pay me to ride my 1994 Raleigh M80 on todays trails. I'd be dead in minutes.
  • 8 0
 @Eric27: that’s the thing... today’s trails are nutso by 90’s standards. I used to do a fair bit of recreational racing back in those days, with a steel hardtail Bridgestone MB3 and first gen Manitou fork, along with those same Zoom Brahma handlebars that the Iron Horse above had. It don’t ever recall being all that scared on the bike at the time, but it’s practically a gravel bike by today’s standards. Hell, today’s gravel bikes still have better brakes than the cantis that Dave Cullinan won that World Downhill title with.
  • 6 0
 don't forget noodle frame.. the verlicchi was notorious for cracking/failing swing arms.
  • 3 0
 I don't worry about how I made it out of the 90's, and I don't wonder about it either. I had a lot more skeletal muscle mass then, and the trails we rode were a LOT more mellower than today's trails.
  • 6 0
  • 6 0
 Kids these days don't even know...
  • 4 0
 Very, very slowly and carefully, all while leaving a trail of broken bike parts down the mountain, haha!
  • 1 0
 @rem17 rode his old Rocky Mountain Pipeline (first edition) a couple of years ago... nope! Don’t think he will be doing that again anytime soon (but! He SHOULD).
  • 2 0
 That was all we knew, at the time.
  • 18 0
 Just for fun.
Try to imagine that bike (1993) without the aesthetics / mechanical influences of that era. If the designer had an epiphany of the future and was free to apply his/her ideas on the design, without worrying about what the “experts’ of that era would have to say…

I just changed the top tube. How modern it looks now!
  • 5 0
 Super cool!

Maybe do another with HTA and stem length changed for the curious? Smile
  • 7 0
 Put an idler on that high pivot and it's this year's hottest downcountry bike!
  • 2 0
 Pyga should have called you to design a true retro throwback bike for them. Looks sick!
  • 1 0
 You've got a good point. Having to bend to the design trends of the day makes sense to sell the bikes during their time period. But, it does date them pretty quickly. It happened before and it'll happen again.
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 @patrickmorewood: If I see such a model in your line-up, I expect royalties.
  • 2 0
 Put drop bars in it and you’ll have invented a 2028 gravel bike. That’s some good insight
  • 2 0

Ok. But this could lead to an endless (and baddly perfomed) rendering... idler it is...
  • 1 0
 @uncajohn: Eek I keep clicking on it, but I can't find the preorder page, so now I'm just throwing my money at the monitor!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @uncajohn: Love it!!!
  • 1 0
 @uncajohn: Now I really want to see somebody do this: build the Grim Doughnut of 1994 and see how capable of a bike you could build with mid 90s mtb tech and today's geometry numbers.
  • 1 0

I suspect that due to that era's short travel forks, we would need a Parafork! (or an other 'wild looking" linkage fork)!!!
  • 1 0
 @uncajohn: I may be able to help with that ...
  • 1 0
  • 15 3
 It's when you see old skool bikes next to modern geometry & wheeled bikes of today like in that first picture it makes you think that we all used to ride kids bikes! Also, I rode one of those Iron horse bikes yester-decade... what a pogo stick it was! Hit a bump and a second later it hit you back in the arse just a little bit harder!
  • 14 2
 I love it. You can never have too much purple on a bike. Fact.
  • 18 1
 Didn't the artist formerly known as Prince once sing a song called 'Purple drive tRain'?
  • 2 1
 and Marzocchi instead of RS.
  • 3 0
 @bigtim: Too bad they couldn't have added another component to match his classic "Little off-red casette".
  • 11 3
 I wonder why he didn't also build it on XTR. ...Way better than GX
  • 12 1
 He probably, much like myself, had a hard time finding anything Shimano drive train in stock
  • 4 0
 I wrenched on that bike for the remainder of the 92' season and his world championship bike, wasn't much to it back then-put a fresh set of Tioga tires, check the front and rear suspension, wish Cully good luck! haha. To think that thing was THE bike to have, almost an advantage to have that bike. Cully had to race Hanebrink forks the first half of the season-what a nightmare that was.
  • 3 0
 I have one of those Verlicchi framed bikes (mine isn't badged, but I suspect it was a KONA based on the blue anodizing), that I'm currently rebuilding, its a beautiful frame to say the least.
The thing I am in awe of is the sheer difference in stack height compared to my Megatower. The bars on the MegaT are like a foot higher!
  • 1 0
 Most likely the Propuls version. The Kona was purple if I'm correct.
  • 1 0
 @konamat: as was the Rudy Project????
  • 1 0
 There was also a Haro and Bromont version. My friend had the Haro, with the slopping toptube. Fun bikes, but a bit of flex..
  • 1 0
 My brother-in-law has a blue anodized one too (blue swingarm, raw frame). His just has Verilicchi on the downtube iirc and the badge was something weird.

I'm impressed so many frames survived and are in great condition. Meanwhile I want to find an early 90s Kona frame and it's nearly impossible to find one that isn't ratbagged. I can find RM hardtails from the same era all day long.
  • 1 0
 @patrickmorewood: I had the Rudy Project stickered one. Photo in my profile from about 1993.
  • 4 0
 There's not nearly enough Cully love in this thread. Style before most in mountain biking knew what style was.

'92 Bromont bridge jump:
  • 4 0
 Say you time traveled back to 1992. You had funding to start a bike company, but you could only use the available components, technology, etc. What could you do different?
  • 2 0
 Longer TT, slacker HA, steeper ST. Shorter stem, wider bar. 1x setup with narrow wide chainring. Ok I cheated a bit, but I don't think creating narrow wide chainring is impossible back in those days.
  • 1 0
 @rifu: The problem is range. It wouldn't be that hard to do a 11-40t cassette, but no derailleurs of the day will be able to use it.

I also wonder how much benefit you can get with a slacker HTA when your fork is a wet noodle and only gives you 2" of travel...
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: range is always a compromise. Even with modern mtb 1x12spd groupset we can still find some people asking for even lower gear. It also depends on the terrain. Mostly flat? Downhill only? Rolling with short punchy climb? Extended climbs followed by long downhill?

My personal preference is 20T front ring (SR Suntour microdrive) with 8-sp 11-28T spread. Sure I will spin out easily, but I'd rather pump than pedal.

Fair argument on slack angles and short travel. Should I go with steel rigid forks with engineered flex and big wheels instead? 28"/700b (635mm ETRTO, which actually makes it larger than 29") wheels are commonly used by pedicabs in my hometown even before I was born.
  • 2 0
 I'd just make a rigid bike with contemporary geo and source the fattest tires possible and go ghetto tubeless. Hiterite would be mandatory too!
  • 1 0
 >What could you do different?

Hire motocross engineers with degrees to make downhill bikes instead of roadies with an artistic vision.

People say vintage MTBs are cool, but personally, from an engineering perspective, Id be ashamed of the companies past making the sponsored riders ride these dangerous geometry configurations in downhill competition, which were clearly inspired by road bike geometry.
  • 6 0
 Wonder what Cully is up to these days. He was a boss in his era!
  • 4 0
 As I recall, after retiring from MTB racing due to his heart valve issues, he'd briefly worked for Oakley, but apparently didn't dig boring office life and quit in short order. As of maybe 8-10yrs ago, he was working for a moto accessory company called Two Brothers Racing ( in SoCal, but not sure if that's still the case.

And you're right on about him being a boss back in the day. I can't even count the times I have seen that pic of him jumping the bridge in Bromont posted on walls in garages, bike shops, etc... and his big air riding style is made all the more impressive when looking at it in retrospect as we now have perspective on how sketchy the bikes were, whereas back then we all just took it for granted.
  • 3 0
 Those Cully pedals were well ahead of their time.
  • 1 0
 @thekaiser: Cully's heart issues didn't take him out, IIRC. Instead, bad wrist/hand fractures.
  • 3 0
 I dont like it, the "tribute" bike isn't an Iron Horse... It's like you tribute an old Ferrari with a modern "underground" car...
Pyga is a nice bike but matching colours with an old bike, take care about plagiarism
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the comments and support guys, we really appreciate it as a small brand. It was never supposed to be an exact replica, it was a cool project and wanted the inspiration to be 90's, arguably the "Golden era" of Mountainbiking.

Keep on ripping PYGA
  • 1 0
 Funny to see a (to me) well known frame that seems to be labled by Ironhorse. 30 years ago a German manufacturer had the same design and claimed "Made in Germany"
  • 2 0
 I seriously doubt it. It looks like every other Verlicchi,down to the Marzocchi air shock.
  • 1 0
 I used to have that same Zoom Brahma bar on my lugged steel Bridgestone MB3. Strong, light (compared to bars with bolt on bar ends), and pretty inexpensive at the time (Zoom was a value brand, with stuff made in Taiwan back when not much was being made overseas yet). It also offered a ton of different hand positions (at least four), which made long rides and climbs a pleasure.

It was a pain to get grips on and off though, as they had to navigate that two turns in the bars. I think I also wrapped the additional length with roadie bar tape at one point, which I later swapped out for hockey tape as it was grippier.

Also, the bends made the cockpit effectively narrower as well. Not a big deal back in the days when we all cut our handlebars down to stupid narrow widths anyway, but looking back on it now... shudder.

This would be a great idea to resurrect for the gravel bike crowd, honestly. I would much prefer a modernized Brahma bar over any set of drop bars.
  • 1 0
 Interesting that that Pyga has that extra support beam welded by the join of seat tube and top tube. Very reminiscent of the signature “A” frame design of the Iron Horse hardtails of the era. GT had it’s signature “Triple Triangle” design, and Iron Horse had something similar with its design, which they promoted as being stronger than a traditional double diamond.
  • 2 0
 100% looks like a GT Force or Sensor frame in a large with some custom paint and better cable routing.
  • 1 0
 i Like it a lot but i may be biased towards some purple bits as in my latest build
(i still need need purple hubs though)

i remember lusting after the original bike back in the day......ages ago now
  • 2 0
 Off topic, whatever happened to the panracer dart and smoke combo, I remember using them and thought they were great at the time, but the bikes were pretty much crap too so maybe I’m just being nostalgic
  • 3 0
 they're still available. they never got ported to 27.5 or 29 but the 26 inch version is widely available
  • 6 1
 Bike check Big Grin Article Big Grin
  • 2 0
 We had an FS Works stolen from the front window of our shop. Sad day. Although not very functional, The Pro-Flex was way better, it was a thing of beauty.
  • 4 1
 oh how i miss bikes of the Pygon era
  • 2 0
 For purple anodised parts there was only one place you could really go... Hope!
  • 5 0
 I don't know, for the American bikes it was all about the Ringle
  • 2 0
 @Woody25: also cook bros racing & grafton
  • 1 0
 @scantregard damn those were the days!
  • 1 2
 The most noticeable difference is the suspension designs. Elevated chainstay single pivot & just another Horst link. That Iron Horse would be my choice, but Pyga should have went after a Specialized or similar Horst link design.
  • 1 0
 This post just acknowledges how nasty winter is in a pandemic. Next we shall make a solid gold GT Zaskar with diamond encrusted triple triangle
  • 2 0
 Use to love the morewood style of bikes ,never had a chance of buying one ,but always loved the look ,simple and stylish
  • 1 0
 I have an Mbuzi being rebuilt. Love the simple monopivot. I wish they would come back with an updated version of this frame for 27.5/29. Mine is mullet 26 on the back and 27.5 in the front, I have tried 27.5 in the back, but it touches the front derailleur attachment when it is compressed.
  • 2 0
 Sam hill ditches current ride. Hops back on his old Sunday and takes the DH overall 2021 !
  • 1 0
 Cool idea, but none of the parts are modern versions of their past counterparts, and it's not an XC bike! I like it still tho
  • 1 1
 I have an anodized Santa Cruz frame from 20044 that would still shine up as new. Is anodizing too expensive? Too dirty? If not, then bring back anodization.
  • 1 0
 Liteville and of course Nicolai/Geometron are waiting for your call
  • 1 0
 The purple can't make up for the uber-boring suspension design... Though a 100% anodizing might make up for it!
  • 3 1
 Make purple ano great again !
  • 1 0
 I hear Steve Peat is looking for his old Sintesi, apparently his first full sus bike.
  • 1 0
 The perfect bike (the oldest one) for the Vintage MTB Festival this summer
  • 1 0
 Wish someone would move those bikes so we could get a better look at that awesome mural.
  • 2 0
 Look at the chain getting beat to death in that old picture!
  • 1 0
 I had that exact Iron Horse!!! My first FS bike/ $1500 and a sweet roadie helmet to boot!
  • 2 1
 But that matching Plaid Helmet is where its at!
  • 2 0
 Very nice project!
  • 1 0
 From XTR to GX, amazing tribute.
  • 1 0
 Happy to see the feedback has been positive.
  • 1 0
 Marzocchi XC 51. My first suspension fork! I believe it had 63mm of travel
  • 1 0
 F@@ked it with the crank set then.
  • 1 0
 Needs more Marzocchi and Shimano parts - 4/10..........
  • 1 1
 Dat logo mocking Ferrari's One..
  • 3 6
 Just like a Camry would run circles around a Ferrari from this era, a modern bike from Target would destroy that Iron Horse. Although just like the cars, if I was given the option, I'd rather ride the Iron Horse.
  • 2 0
 Uhhhh that's enough weed for today dude
  • 1 2
 That’s a perfect example of why 3D violet became passé.
  • 1 2
 Where's the idler?!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, it would be pretty funny to calculate the anti-squat on this thing. It would be insane by modern standards in any gear, but in the granny would be off the charts! I guess with only 55mm travel you can get away with a lot more design flaws, as the suspension isn't moving a whole lot anyway, so chain growth, or excess rebound from bad damping, is limited in its impact.
  • 1 3
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