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Field Test: 2022 Propain Hugene - The Definition of Balanced

Nov 18, 2021 at 13:16
by Alicia Leggett  


Propain Hugene

Words by Alicia Leggett; photography by Tom Richards

Plenty of folks out there spend their lives looking for the one - the one bike, the one person, the one drug, whatever, that will finally solve it all. In the trail bike niche, versatility is the name of the game, and every bike-maker and their dog promises to have made the latest and greatest quiver-killer, the do-it-all holy grail of mountain biking. Will one of them finally do it? Well no, probably not, but the mission to get there has brought us some pretty incredible machines: trail bikes that descend better than ye olde DH sleds and enduro bikes that climb like they're filled with helium.

On its website, Propain boldly calls the Hugene the "one bike to rule them all." Has the German direct-to-consumer brand finally cracked the code? Should we all just go home now?

Propain Hugene Details

• Travel: 140mm rear / 150mm (geo chart) or 140mm fork (geo chart)
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 65.1° (65.5° with 140mm fork)
• Effective seat tube angle: 76.1°
• Reach: 476mm (L as tested)
• Chainstay length: 445mm (across all sizes)
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 31.25 lb / 14.17 kg
• Price: $6,737 USD as tested
The updated Hugene is a 140mm 29er that has middle-ground trail bike geometry and uses the same PRO10 virtual pivot and floating shock setup as Propain's heavier-hitting full suspension options. Originally introduced in 2018 as a 130mm bike with geometry that in hindsight looks obsolete, the bike has seen the same head angle slackening and seat tube angle steepening as just about every bike, and now presents itself with a very reasonable 65.1° head angle, a 76.1° effective seat tube angle, and a 476mm reach as tested with a 150mm fork.

Propain offers three build kits for the Hugene, and they’re customizable, at least in Europe. (Those of us in the States will have to be content with the parts Propain has chosen for us, though Propain says it'll start to offer similar customization options in the US in 2022.) The base Start model starts at $4,199 USD and comes with RockShox Select suspension and a GX drivetrain. The mid Performance level starts at $5,273 and comes with RockShox Ultimate suspension and an XO1 drivetrain. The Highend build costs $6,737 and comes with top-end Fox suspension, G2 Ultimate Carbon brakes, and an XO1 drivetrain in the US, while it gets an AXS XX1 setup in Europe.


The Hugene is available with either a 140mm or a 150mm fork, so it's possible to build it up to emphasize its all-day pedaling ability or make it a little more capable. All in all, the bike has a thoughtful build, though we had a few minor gripes: First, the bike would benefit from a longer dropper post. The 160mm post just isn't enough for the large frame, and although there's a 185mm option in Europe, the US options top out at 160mm. Personally, I also wish the bike had a slightly higher bar than the 20mm rise one that came on the bike, but that's a preference based on how this particular bike fits with my particular proportions. We also wondered if the bike should come with Code brakes instead of G2s, but the 200mm rotors front and rear somewhat make up for the lighter-duty brake spec.

Aside from component preferences, the only true design flaw we could come up with was that the cable port plugs don't stay in place. While the idea is spot-on, the execution is lacking, and hopefully Propain figures out a better way to keep grit out of the frame in the future.

The highlights, however, far outweigh the negatives. To start, the Newmen Advanced SL A30 wheels were rock-solid and extremely quiet. Next, the Fox Factory 36 and Float X did their jobs flawlessly, balancing efficiency with traction nicely. Finally, the extras are well-thought-out: the frame bearings are protected by caps that keep water and dirt out, the bike comes with a downtube protector and a silencing chainstay cover, and the water bottle and tool mounts inside the front triangle are easily accessible with plenty of space. The bike ticks more boxes than most of the other trail bikes we tested.



The Propain Hugene hits the mark in terms of maximizing pedaling performance without quite cutting into downcountry territory. The 76.1-degree seat tube angle isn't as steep as that of Propain's enduro model, but Propain says that's because the firm, supported pedaling platform on the Hugene doesn't let the bike sit back into its travel when weighted, and our experiences out on the trail seem to back that up. And while the bike doesn't sink back on its heels, the suspension is sensitive enough to keep plenty of traction on technical climbs.

At 31.25 lbs, the Hugene is also the lightest trail bike we tested, and the light weight combined with the efficient suspension platform translates nicely to snappy pedaling when the bike is pointed uphill.




The Propain Hugene is one of the bikes on test that most represents the trail category. Compared to the SCOR, the Propain is more balanced, with longer chainstays and a bit more stability at speed. Compared to the Raaw, it is a lighter, floatier ride that prefers to skip over the choppy sections rather than be pumped through all the holes.

The Propain feels like it's designed for 50% uphill and 50% downhill, while bikes like the Starling feel geared toward a 40% / 60% uphill / downhill split, and the Propain doesn't have quite the same stability, predictability, and dampened feel as the Starling, which was outstanding in those respects. The same characteristics that make the Hugene such a great climber also make it just a tiny bit chattery on rough descents, with more feedback from the suspension than some of the more supple designs.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed descending on the Hugene. It felt plenty stable and energetic enough to have tons of fun while still delivering a quiet, composed ride. This review is entirely to say that the Hugene is really, really balanced, plus it makes it tempting to pedal out of every corner.
Timed Testing

Our timed lap for the trail bikes was about three minutes long and was a mix of choppy, rooty sections and some fast flow. It started with an optional rock roll, a little drop, some fast corners, and a small double. As it serpentined its way down the hill, it included some steeps, a few root hops, and a few slight uphills. While none of the track was overly technical, the bikes that excelled on the test lap had to be capable on both fast, rough sections and in quick corners.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.

Alicia Leggett: "The Propain was my second fastest lap time, less than half a second behind the SCOR. Given that it was almost dark when I rode my timed lap on the Propain and I fully expected it to be a slow lap, I have to give that bike some credit."

We all have somewhat different bike preferences, of course, and Matt Beer, who is faster than all the rest of us, feels that the Hugene has such pedal-friendly suspension that it sacrifices some small bump performance - perhaps from too much antisquat as the bike moves into its travel - but I think the Hugene makes all the right trade-offs for a trail bike. It doesn't feel like an enduro bike, but it's not supposed to. It's not made to feel bottomless or to absorb massive hits; it's the right tool for many other jobs like high alpine adventures, daily driver laps, and the occasional shuttle day, all while having a blast.

While the 445mm chainstays don't scream playful, the bike does want to hop around; the light weight and easy handling make it a bike that we'd want to ride on the vast majority of trails.



+ Neutral, intuitive handling
+ Efficient climber
+ Lightweight
+ Lots of customization options in Europe
+ Sealed bearing covers


- Less small-bump sensitivity than some bikes we tested
- Ineffective frame port protection
- Few customization options in the US

The 2021 Fall Field Test is presented by Rapha and Bontrager. Thank you also to Maxxis, Schwalbe, and Garmin for control tires and equipment.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
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  • 235 5
 But, sadly, nobody in Canada sells Propain....nor Propain accessories.
  • 88 0
 dam it Bobby!
  • 18 24
flag frankmartineau (Dec 13, 2021 at 9:40) (Below Threshold)
 I just receive my tyee and i'm in Canada
  • 55 3
 @frankmartineau: *whooosh*
  • 9 0
 @SpecSRAM: where's Canada's Hank Hill when you need him?
  • 8 1
 @frankmartineau: that would be a - woosh, haha!
  • 49 1
 @SanD-blkrider: In Canada, his name is Al Berta.
  • 7 0
 @SpecSRAM: This is the content that keeps me coming back
  • 13 1
 Those bikes always reminds me of this clip from trailer park boys

  • 2 0
 @ATXZJ: Yes! Hilarious!
  • 2 0
 @SacAssassin: Glad I could support your daily Pinkbike feed hahaha
  • 2 4
 Build it with a shop in the US and ship it. Find a shop willing to give you some pass through savings on components to source a complete bike. I did this with a Canadian shop who shipped to the US... no problem.
  • 1 0
 @ATXZJ: should have used that for their ad campaign !
  • 1 0
 Hopefully you burn wood than! Its cold there!!!
  • 9 1
 @likeittacky: I'm in Vancouver...pretty much everybody here is too stoned to notice that it's cold at this time of the year.
  • 3 0
 @jason475: 6 0'clock in the morning and that boy ain't right!
  • 3 0
 @ATXZJ: Freakin' Randy and his cheeseburgers..
  • 2 0
 @SpecSRAM: Snowblind
  • 4 0
 @SpecSRAM: Red Green
  • 2 0
 @ATXZJ: Randy's cheeseburgers ain't gonna cook themselves.
  • 1 0
 @jason475: take out the trash, Bobby!
  • 90 8
 But how does it compare to the Spur?????
  • 27 0
 This is the new 'looks like a session'
  • 3 0
 @mattg95: Boring you mean;-)
  • 65 6
 Propain continently makes the sickest looking bikes, and in my opinion it doesn't matter how well a mountain bike rides if it doesn't look cool.
  • 16 2
 100% agree. Plus Phil Atwill is such a classy rider.
  • 36 4
 And if you are a propain dealer you can say that you sell propain and propain accessories.
  • 31 3
 ... and Rémy Métailler is not the worst ambassador they have...
  • 16 0
 And don't forget ol' George
  • 13 1
 Very happy they aren't incontinent.
  • 1 1
 I agree...mostly. That super long seat tube is not my favorite.
  • 5 0
 @danstonQ: I would LOVE to see Remy do a ride video with Phil Atwil!

Those 2 together would be awesome.
  • 7 0
Relax, don't get all pissy about it.
  • 2 2
 I tell you whhhhat.
  • 1 0
 Honestly this is my first time giving any Propain bikes a hard look and I have to agree, good looking bike. Also, that suspension looks rather keen, more going on there than a quick glance would suggest. Definitely grabbed my attention.
  • 52 5
 Cons - somebody didn't line up the label on the tires exactly even with the wheel valves and its driving me crazy No, but foreal... I was real keen to try a Propain this last year, and the fact that I couldn't get a frame only option in the States made me sad and look elsewhere. Maybe next time. The specs of their bikes are neat and the geo numbers are neat and I was intrigued.
  • 15 14
 My tires have too much dirt on them to even tell... you know... from riding Wink
  • 10 5
 If the valve isn't right between the two x's, then it is just plain wrong.
  • 3 1
 @BillT999: Between the XX's or lined up with the Max inflation PSI marking...
  • 58 0
 I ALWAYS line up my tires totally at random because the idea of it bothering some people makes me smile inside.
  • 10 2
 @BillT999: This is the correct answer. The company was originally going to be called 'Maxis' but one of the team launching the company pointed out that the valve stem aligning with the black space between the X's was the most visually appealing configuration. Studies show that if you're not setting up your tires like this, you're literally devaluing your bike. 100% internet truth.
  • 3 0
 @JakeEPooh: you're a cruel bastard - now I can't UNSEE it....
  • 2 0
 and base model cost more than a 1000 more than last years
  • 2 0
 @JakeEPooh: some men just want to watch the world burn....
  • 1 0
 @BillT999: always drives me nuts when the valve and logo are not lined up. if you really want to be OCD about it, between the XX's is not actually centered on the MAXXIS logo. The letters have different widths.
  • 1 0
 @dancingwithmyself: you literally just ruined my day
  • 1 0
 @BillT999: but now you know! Smile
  • 42 0
 Damn fine writing Alicia! So excited to see you gettin into the technical stuff.
  • 4 0
 Really good presenter as well!
  • 44 7
 Re: Efficiency testing.

If you have a power meter on your pedals/ cranks you are effectively measuring the following: Rolling resistance, chain/ drivetrain efficiency & bike weight.

What you are NOT effectively measuring is the efficiency of the pedaling platform & rider positioning. Think about this, you could have an identical bike but with a super slack STA that would be hard as heck to pedal and would cause the bike to bob like crazy, but once the rider created 250 watts at the cranks, the bike would still go up the hill at the same speed, regardless of how hard it was for that rider to create those 250 watts.

This is because your power meter is at the cranks, and it doesn't measure how much energy the rider had to burn to create the specified power at the cranks.

This is the reason that multiple studies have tested bikes locked out & not locked out, and had nearly identical climbing times, even on much older very inefficient pedaling bikes. What these studies didn't measure is the energy it took for the rider to create those watts at the cranks.

What needs to be devised is an efficiency test that normalizes the rider's output before the cranks. Maybe just an all out sprint for 1 minute? HR is too inconsistent and lagging.

  • 19 1
 Another example to prove my point: You could slam your dropper and end up in a terribly inefficient pedaling position, create 250 watts at the cranks (at a much greater effort than creating the same 250 watts at the correct seat height) and climb at the same speed (or possibly faster due to improved aero) as a normal seat height. But the rider's output would be MUCH higher.
Cause 250 watts at the cranks is going to give the bike 250 watts of climbing power. Now you are just measuring rolling resistance, chain drag & weight. Not pedaling efficiency.
  • 9 0
 Yes, it is the metabolic cost that you don't see. I've seen a study peddling up a constant grade that shows every time the lockout was disengaged the heartrate went up even though the measured power was the same.
  • 7 0
 @SunsPSD: I see your point on the dropper from a biomechanics perspective but the force at the cranks being transferred through the drivetrain is what compresses the suspension due to kinematic factors, so it should still be registered by the power meter. I'm not sure an old hub based system like power tap would see these losses, but I believe anything on a pedal or crank would.

From the video it looks like Alicia climbs out of the saddle quite a lot. The difference in her COM vs. Henry's efficiency test, which I assume was seated, might account for the difference on trail feel vs. "measured" efficiency.
  • 4 1
 @sspiff: ~ should ~ account for Suspension Kinematics, but doesn't as proven by locked vs. unlocked suspension climbing at exactly the same speed as long as the crank Watts are the same.

I'll admit, it's a half baked idea on my part, and I haven't considered it enough to work out the ideal Bro-Science efficiency test.

Maybe the same overall gear ratio, in one gear only (no shifting), and an all out sprint from standing still across a finish line with a radar gun in 10 seconds. Fastest speed wins? Must be seated. Short enough to be repeatable, and really a 10 second sprint nicely matches what I commonly do to jump up my speed and is where you really feel these differences, in my experience.

I'm open to a better test however. 30-60 second max power up a darn steep hill maybe? That's pretty repeatable.

I dunno.
  • 7 1
 I think you're probably right that *some* power is not captured at the crank, but generally speaking, in a steady effort the forces that cause suspension bob are also transmitted through the crank and would be registered by the power meter/strain gauge. What would otherwise be suspension bob in the "open" case might just turn into equally useless tire/wheel/frame deflection in the "locked" case. Less bob/deflection, but on a much stiffer "spring", and less obvious to the rider.

Unless the test athlete is bouncing up and down on the saddle or moving their upper body around in weird ways, I think some very large % of the rider's total output is captured by the power meter, assuming suspension and saddle position are set up properly. If you got the ergonomics (saddle height, sizing, etc) completely wrong for one bike and not another then definitely perceived effort and metabolic cost could go up. But in the studies of suspension lockouts they're on the same bike for the locked/unlocked trials. And in the case of these bike vs bike sort of tests, I think it's reasonable to expect that these testers know where to put their saddle.

OTOH, during hard, non-steady-state efforts (sprints, hard accelerations to get over obstacles, etc) I think a lot of these conclusions become less valid as body weight starts moving around. I also don't know how to quantify the metabolic cost of compensating for harsh ride quality, but it certainly seems real.

Idk, it's definitely a complicated question.
  • 7 0
 @SunsPSD: The game of eliminating variables is hard. Are the locked/unlocked results actually "proven"? I guess I'm more thinking from a theoretical/free body diagram perspective. The way I understand physics (decent) and power meter engineering (poor, I admit), I'd expect the power measurement to not be affected by the drivetrain forces.

Probably the real takeaway: if the signal is in the noise, it's not a very important signal to begin with!
  • 2 1
 Another way to do this better is to have a power meter at the crank and a hub power meter at the rear wheel. Use an indoor trainer and smooth tire to establish the wattage differences between the two so you can normalize that out. Then, do the climb, keeping the 250w at the cranks. Then you can observe the power drop difference between the crank and hub. To find the 'efficiency' of the bike (drivetrain, suspension bob). This would remove 'bike weight' from the calculation--but bike weight isn't 'efficiency'. So that's fine.
  • 5 0
 Pinkbike has the money, buy one of these.


They have an elite level athlete tester, Matt Beer.

Hook Matt up to the metabolic tester and prove out a real efficiency test.

@brianpark make it happen.
  • 35 1
 Me and a buddy used to race on a Propain Tandem back in the golden years of DH tandem racing (Dandeming) and I'm stoked to see that they've brought some of that heritage to the single seat game!
  • 85 2
 I'm sorry what?
  • 3 0
 @tbubier: #commentgold
  • 15 1
 @tbubier: He meant "My buddy and I..." Sheesh!!!
  • 2 1
 @kpickrell: He didn't
  • 27 0
 Alicia is a welcome addition to the reviews. Not to mention she is slaying the trails!!!!! Well done
  • 15 0
 Trying hard to find some cons I see. BTW, that trail looks amazing.
  • 6 66
flag Graywing34 (Dec 13, 2021 at 9:04) (Below Threshold)
 Con, only dentists can afford it.
  • 36 0
 @Graywing34: Their builds look super reasonable though. The GX build for $4200 is amazing value by today's standards.
  • 24 0
 @Graywing34: check out their build packages... their Performance builds (in the US, at least) are $5200 for X01 and Ultimate suspension. That's probably $7000+ if the frame said Santa Cruz or Yeti.
  • 3 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: base model was 3000 last year
  • 1 0
 @NoahJ: Was it carbon? That's wild!
  • 3 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: Not sure about the hugene but if you go build a base carbon Spindrift right now on the EUropean website it is 3300 USD with dropper (not sure if that includes taxes etc. ) that is with Rockshox R level suspension but can add/ upgrade whatever you want. AL spindrift with select+ suspension cura 4 brakes and some other uprgrades in like 3200. You would have to ship it tho.
  • 4 0
 Yup how is "limited customization" a con when they offer a configurator for specs online.. Did I miss that option on the latest trek/spez/... Bikes?
  • 1 0
 @daweil: the US sites customization options are extremely limited compared with the EU. Can't upgrade suspension, brakes, etc.
  • 4 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: I know, but this is the accepted standard for all other manufacturers isn't it?
  • 1 1
 @daweil: To give Euros more options and US customers less options? Not that I know of. Companies like Guerilla Gravity and Orbea I think also allow you to upgrade specific components.
  • 1 1
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: ya no customization and 1000 more
  • 9 0
 If you’re in Europe and you’re buying one of these, I highly recommend the Formula Cura 4 brake option. They’re the best brakes I’ve ever had on a bike. Also, the bog standard Stans wheelset option is a good choice if you want to save money which you can then use to spec a better fork or shock or both.
  • 1 0
 Do your Cura4 also have annoyingly long free stroke on the lever? I like my bite point to be far from the bar and free stroke very short but found it impossible to set on all two Cura4 sets that I own. All the usual tricks to shorten the free stroke wouldn’t work at all or the effect would disappear after a short ride. Changing lever reach by moving it moving farther from the bar isn’t the solution I’m after. Two piston Curas were much better in that regard. Anyway, revised model is apparently coming early next year. Hopefully this issue was addressed. Other than that Curas are fantastic stoppers.
  • 2 0
 @pbuser27288: I haven’t had a single problem with them. I find that they’re there as much or as little as I need them. Great power and modulation. I’m a big big fan.
  • 1 0
 @pbuser27288: overfill them slightly during the bleed allows you to play with the lever throw. Mine have a very short throw after this.
  • 2 0
 Stans hubs aren't great. Me and a friend have both had the drivers blow the ratchets out.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-thetown: sorry, I should have been clearer - Stans hubs with Propain’s own hubs.
  • 2 0
 @ODubhslaine: those would be good. I run stans rims on XT hubs.
  • 3 0
 @ODubhslaine There are no more Stans wheels in the Propain configurator. The base wheelset is Newmen Performance 30 (or 25 for Hugene), which is a better deal than Stans imo.

+1 for the Cura 4s, I love them.
  • 1 0
 @grotesquesque: oh that’s a nice upgrade where the base model is concerned. Looks like supply chain issues worked out in favour of the people who ordered later than me.
  • 2 0
 @ODubhslaine: Yeah, especially as Newmen only seems to have one hub model, the Fade, which would mean that all Newmen wheelsets get the same hubs. At the time when I ordered, Stans were still in the configurator, so receiving the Newmen wheelset instead was a nice surprise.
  • 7 0
 The Hugene is a beautiful bike. Alicia and Mike's description match how I would describe my Devinci Troy, although the Hugene is a lot lighter. I think a 150/140 that pedals well is a great choice if anyone is on the fence between a smaller travel bike or maybe wanting a bit more. I bought my bike because it has great geo and I assumed the efficiency test results of another Split Pivot bike, the Blackthorn, would be similar. But, maybe it's better not to know. I find as long as my bike feels like it charges when I put the power down, I'm happy to put the effort in. I never got the same satisfaction on a horst link bike.
  • 9 0
 No "propain and propain accessories" joke, the minor disappointment from a great review. C'mon Levy!
  • 2 0
 @bwalsh434 , see @SpecSRAM comment above, ha!
  • 2 0
 @RBalicious: Ha, he beat me to it by 1 minute!
  • 5 0
 Since I received the Hugene in beginning of November I thought it would be helpful to give my 2c about it....

First, I have the Start model, which has Rockshox Select suspension, so it is worse compared to the high-end Fox suspension which came on the PB tested bike.

Still, I think this review is spot on, related to the rear suspension. I mounted a GoPro on the downtube and watched the suspension moving while going over small roots, by small I mean ~ 1/2 inch above ground and I could see the suspension didn't really "track"such small bumps. Did I feel them? VERY lightly, so lightly that I thought I will make a video just to prove myself this review is wrong... But after looking at the video, I have to agree with the review. I think it's also true that bigger bumps make the suspension work as one would expect. Also, no bottom outs so far, but I saw I just have a couple mm which are not used even with ~33% sag, so the suspension didn't blow through the travel easily.

Other than that, the frame is really nicely protected at the chain area, I could hear no chain slap whatsoever till now while on the middle or big cogs.

The bike was packaged perfectly, the bike came intact, not even one minor scratch.

The cable ports do move a little, but at least on my bike, I had to fix one or two, only once after 4 or 5 rides.

My bike is equipped with an 160mm bikeyoke revive dropper which I saw had very good reviews in Europe. No play so far, and it does work as expected.

The Newmen Evolution 30 SL wheels which came on my bike seem to be very nice (the Start model I bought should come with a lower Newmen Performance model, but Propain upgraded my bike since the lower model was not available, yaay), again reviews from European websites say they are light but pretty tough. The axles do move very smoothly so far, again as one would expect for a new set of wheels.

The SRAM GX drivetrain shifts well, but I think it's a tad less crisp compared to the Shimano XT I had on my previous bike. Shifting up and down on the extreme cogs is fast, but there is some lag when shifting to a smaller cog in the middle of the casette. I will try to play with it.

The SRAM G2 R brakes are good so far, but have a different feel (their bite point is closer to the handlebar) compared to Shimano SLX, which I was using before. I think I got used to this...

The Propain support was very good and responsive so far: my bike came with a loose rebound adjustment knob on the Pike fork. I noticed it, but I thought it might be just flimsy by design, so I didn't tighten it on day one. As a result, I lost it on the trail, after the first trail ride. The Propain support (Vic) reached out to SRAM multiple times and asked them to send me one, but SRAM didn't have that knob on stock, so in the end I have to order it at a SRAM dealer.

All in all I really like the bike.
Hopefully, this helps people thinking about this bike.
  • 4 0
 I have one and love it. It s definitely super versatile. And it does everything really good without compromise, and still have a great personality. It s a keeper for sure. @mikelevy based on how those guys liked it and how it is a complete package, I could see that being a reference bike for future trail bike test?
  • 5 1
 Substitute "it" for she/her and it reads like a sweet love declaration (save that part on @mikelevy and the guys).
  • 6 0
 They should release a Propain multitool and brand it Accessories. And then have Remy Advertise it.
  • 4 0
 anyone ridden this bike and can compare it to a Ripmo v2? I wanted this bike, but i couldn't wait until it was available in the US, so I built a Ripmo instead. The Hugene still has my eye, though...
  • 3 0
 I've the first Hugene model, with 130mm rear travel.
It's super reliable, and I like it.
I went in October 2021 in the Garda lake in Italy for the 'Bike Festival'.
I've made a track with my Hugene, recording it with my Garmin, dividing it with 3 segments, uphill road, uphill single track, downhill.
After that I've made the same track with:
Santa Cruz High Tower
Ghost Riot Enduro Full Party
Propain Spindrift
Canyon Spectral
The new Propain Hugene
Scott spark 910

The faster time in the uphill road have been made with the the new Hugene (20m34s against 22m37s).
Also the uphill single track and the downhill the new Hugene was faster than mine.
It's the only bike of my field test faster than my old Hugene.
That's a huge bike, and the configuration that I tried was a 4500 € one.
  • 2 0
 Needs needle bearing upgrade to replace the upper shock bushing to improve small bump compliance. I still don't understand why no bike manufacturer's seem to offer the upgrade for designs with large rotation in the shock bushings. The improvement to small bump compliance is astronomical.
  • 2 0
 Something seems off about your testing methods for the efficiency tests. This is two consecutive categories in a row where the bike that "felt" the fastest was tested as one of the slowest. Having put a lot of miles on the Niner's CVA suspension as well as multiple horst links, I know the Niner "feels" faster. Mash pedals -> bike goes, that's why I bought it. Lets maybe take the bikes that felt fast but tested slow and run them on a complete trail, then compare to one of those flex stay bikes that tests so well. There has to be a better way to show the "pedal-ability" metric than this gravel climb.
  • 1 0
 @Mattbeer it's not just me that thinks late-travel anti squat is bad! I just took delivery of a Propain Tyee and am having a hard time getting along with it. Feels too firm and caught up in the chunk, and I wondered if it was because of anti squat going up as it goes into travel.
  • 1 0
 Do you have a coil on the Tyee? I got mine a few weeks ago and just put a RS coil on it (to replace the RS Super Deluxe Ultimate), and it totally transformed the rear suspension.
  • 1 0
 @stevemokan: I do not have a coil but I did try a chainless run down one of my favorite downhills (for science) and it felt way better, but still not as supple and comfortable as I wanted it to be. Plus, in a new bike I was looking for something lighter (they say 14kg/30.8lb for the performance) - and mine in XL with a water bottle cage and pedals weighs almost 16kg/35lb). I really don't want to add another lb on top of that for a coil. Wasn't a weight weenie til I picked this bike up.
  • 1 0
 @ihertzler: strange... My L Tyee weighs 31.8 lbs with pedals, which includes the coil, Lyrik Ultimate, X01, and I9 Enduro 305 wheels.
  • 1 0
 @ihertzler: Just put a SAR spring on it... helps take the sting out of the weight increase.
  • 3 1
 @ihertzler: I tried my best to make my new giga as per factory model weight..and, after axs, real tires, pedals and sealant, I got to 16.3 kgs; and that assegai maxxgrip is a fvecking power killer..I die a little with each pedal stroke.

at the same time, one of my friends has a 2 year old cube stereo 150(150 with 160mm fork), that is below(a little below though) 14 kgs; he can ride it everywhere I ride my Giga as he is a much better rider so, now I'm wondering what the actual effin' is happening with these bike's weights?, my full enduro bro alu Sanction was 16.2 kgs. At first, when I measured the Giga, I could not belive it, I thought the scale was broken..but, sadly, it didn't.
  • 2 0
 Have you checked the bushings on your rear shock?
RS had a batch with bushings that basically could not mode.
Had this issue on my Hugene, changed the bushings (www.huber-bushings.com), and it felt like a completly different bike!
  • 2 0
 Love my Tyee. Did a 32 mile cross country race I'm it over the summer, ha! I have a 500lb coil and it feels amazing
  • 1 0
 Sounds like my ideal bike if it had a few more mm of travel. I'd also love to try one before I buy, but that's impossible. The demo options at shops in my area are limited, and I've never seen one on my local trails. I'm down to ask random people to try their bikes. I'll buy you a beer, pizza, or wine if you let me try your bike.
  • 2 0
 Try the Propain Friends app.
  • 3 0
 Their Tyee is 170/160 and a beast of a bike. Had mine for a month and love it so far.
  • 2 0
 I love Propain bikes and really nearly went for the Tyree but they have such long seat tubes. As a rider with short legs and a long torso, I need a Large but the seat tube would kick me in the ass too often
  • 1 0
 Great review as usual, the bike seems to be the definition of the “only bike in the garage” the only cons as a shimano fanboy is that is not possible to spec it on propain’s configurator. Comparing apples with apples how would @mikekazimer compare it to the other German direct sale canyon spectral he as the chance to test? Looking forward to hear something about it on the podcast Smile
  • 1 0
 My Hugène is 13.9 kg with almost the same setting except GX derailleur and Truvativ Descendant Eagle Carbon crankset. Stange yours is heavier (but mine is size M). I paid it 4600 euro Smile
For travel, you can get off a 2.5 spacer (there are 2 of them up to 55mm) in the Float X and add 7mm rear travel to obtain a 150/147mm bike.
I have a Tyee too and the Tyee is less fun in my opinion, but it delivers more and is more forgetting in steep and at the same time rocky sections.
This bike made me realise i was overbiked most of the time, now i only use the Tyee for big enduro against the clock.
  • 1 0
 That's really light! I'm guessing the difference between yours and PB's is the size.

I saw that the frame itself weighs 2.3kg in S according to Propain which IMHO is impressive for a capable 140/150mm bike that doesn't break the bank.
  • 1 0
 Looks like my dream bike. Thanks for the great review. @alexialegget, @mikekazimer, your fellow journalist at enduro-mtb found it to be very loud and with an overly stiff front end. Listening to you review, looks like you didn't, did you?
  • 1 0
 Oups, @alicialeggett , sorry for the mispelling.
  • 1 0
 I have one and a friend of mine too. Neither one is loud. I did read the review from enduro-mtb and i don't understand it. If i remind correctly, they also say it's too stiff, i don't think so (i'am 70kg and i had too stiff bikes (with carbon rims) but not this one. I've Newmen SLA wheels)
  • 1 0
 @kegron: Thank's ! All I wanted to konw.
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: Hi! We actually found it to be very quiet. I'm not sure where enduro-mtb got the impression that it's a loud bike or what was going on with their test bike, since ours was almost silent!
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett: They had the same con listed for Tyee, but mine is dead silent. It's incredible. Those Newmen Fade hubs are insane! They are so quiet that I initially thought that something was off - but nope, that's just how they roll... Like a ninja.
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett: Thanks for the answer (and for the cool review as well, you made me want to ride this bike so badly). What about the front end being over stiff?
  • 1 0
 @grotesquesque: thanks. Like the ninja ride !
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: I didn't find the front end to be overly stiff either, but if you start riding it and feel that it's not compliant enough, swapping out the bars for some aluminum ones should dampen it down!
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett: Thanks for the answer and the good tip Alicia !
  • 1 0
 Similar rear suspension setup to the mondraker zero / Astro engineering frames isn't it? Have seen so many varying opinions on the floating shock twin link style not sure what to think.
  • 43 0
 I really encourage not getting too dogmatic about specific suspension systems. Yes, there are some reasonable generalizations about high pivots vs short dual links vs traditional four bar, etc., but the reality is that most systems can be tuned for a wide range of performance.

I don't think FSR or VPP or whatever should be a reason to buy or not buy a bike these days—the question is, did the designers tune the system correctly? In this case it seems like it.
  • 6 1
 @brianpark: the real question is did they package the suspension to let you fit a water bottle in?
  • 1 1
 Concerning the rear sus, something Alicia said about the bike maybe being to light and skiddish in some instances made me think it might be about the rear sus. It made me think about a bad experience I had with different bike brand with a similar suspension design. I wonder if they tested this down more loose descents with continuos hits rather than the just the slabs and bermed descents that we see on the video.
  • 1 1
Very true
Still makes little difference irrespective of rear suspension design, they all lock up to a degree on braking, a quick view of slowmos on Instagram will prove it !!
  • 4 0
 these trail bikes.. yesterdays enduro bikes, tomorrows dh bikes.
  • 4 0
 Taste the meat, not the heat.
  • 1 1
 For the reasons mentioned, alloy wheels like tested here seem to be the much better choice than carbon. Carbon wheels seem to make it too stiff with the 36 up front. But you could also put a 34 fit4 with 140mm and turn it into a down down country bike. Strange that nobody mentioned the hard plastic chainstay protector. That and the cable clamping need updates.
  • 2 0
 I agree on the cable routing grommets. They do my feckin head in. I haven’t had any issues with the chainstay protection.
  • 5 1
 This bike looks amazing but I'm most excited for that Starling review!
  • 1 0
 It's up now
  • 2 1
 Woah @alicialeggett , I just found out I got to ride with pinkbike royalty at the st George bike park, did you figure out that middle jump line?

I’ve been itching to go back and ride there again, that place is so fun.
  • 1 0
 I don’t remember if they changed out the tires on these like the testers did before.
I’d almost like to see the reviews with the tires the manufacturer specd, since thats how you will get the bike.

  • 2 0
 I really like what propain are doing atm. I am currently trying to acquire a spindrift and hugene.
  • 2 1
 those Propains seem to be so chattery because I think their AS value doesn't drop all that much trough the travel. At least that's what the graphs show on the Tyee page.
  • 2 0
 Saving my money for the high pivot Norco Optic coming out after having ridden the new Norco Range.
  • 1 0
 That would be sweet
  • 2 0
 @Habaden: It is coming, heard it direct from one of their World Cup XC riders and Rep of theirs. The Range felt so bottomless that I immediately knew the potential for a short travel bike with the same suspension platform and I can't wait to try it.
  • 3 0
 Everyone knows that you put HOCKEY cards in the spokes.
  • 8 0
 Hey now, Kaz and I aren't Canadian enough for that.
  • 2 1
 Decent geometry mid-travel bike. And it’s good for actual mountain biking (vs Flatcountry).

Seems about right. Wonder how it would ride with the fork bumped to 160.
  • 3 0
 Just get the Tyee if you want to make it a longer travel bike.
  • 2 1
 They might make some good bikes, i haven't ridden any yet. But... that brand name is horrible. Are they owned by Hank Hill?
  • 3 1
 does Propain mean something in German? it's a strange name for a bike brand.
  • 1 0
 Great looking bike! This review reads very similar to the Yeti SB 5.5, one of my all time favorite bikes. I bet it rips with a coil!
  • 1 0
 Spot on for me. Excellent geo, climbs well which I like to do, and capable overall. Good pricing too. I do second the need for about 1 degree steeper seat angle.
  • 1 0
 That climbing efficiency test seems like a waste of time, never seems to match what riders expect despite what they say in this video
  • 1 0
 Cons: no clue about customization options if you're not in Europe or the USA.
  • 4 6
 Wish a coil would have fit it! Would have bought it. Instead ended up with a coiled Tallboy! That Hugene sure is a sweet bike though! Much respect towards the longer 445mm chainstay. Beautiful thing seeing bikes for the taller folks having more balance and thus riding so much better
  • 3 0
 agreed! nice seeing balance in bikes
  • 3 4
 @andraperrella27: yeah being tall it helps SO much having longer chainstays especially on these huge XLs and XXLs that I ride

That’s why I ended up with the Tallboy as well because for a short travel bike you can at least get the chainstay to 440
  • 5 7
 The only Propains I have seen in real life have been under teenager/early twenties park rats (and absolutely shredding them - I've never seen one ridden badly).
I dont think I've ever seen one under a racer of any age, or in the rad-dad demographic which describes most of my riding frineds and aquaintances.
I had the impression that they were mail order and reasonable mid range spec for a low price, but being hidden off the radar meant they were only for experienced riders "in the know".
$6700 implies I was incorrect.
  • 3 0
 Well, all brands have gone up massively... Until recently they were pretty much on par with Canyon/YT for pricing, but had the added benefit of customisability during purchase.
  • 9 0
 The midrange build kit on this bike goes for about $5300 and still has an X01 drivetrain. That's a pretty good price these days - on par with other DTC brands.
  • 5 0
 I mean, the full bling build still undercuts the other brands by $2-$3k. And the GX build is still "only" $4200.

What's the "rad dad" bike of choice in the UK. Around these parts Ibis Ripmo seems to be the sled of choice, though I could see Stumpy Evo make a push.
  • 1 0
 base model spindrift in used to. 3000 USD ish with some upgrades
  • 1 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: At least here in the south of the UK, rad dads steed of choice/object of desire is probably the Santa Cruz Hightower or Bronson.
But also a number of Birds, Oranges, Stumpys (the carbon non-evo version, dont think I've ever seen an evo IRL), Canyons and YTs.
  • 1 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: One of the shreddiest dads I know is on a Hightower, so checks out. I'm on a YT, so also checks out Smile

On a side note, a local shop recently became an Orange dealer and has a few bikes in stock. Really hope they start doing some demos, the bikes look rad!
  • 1 0
 Try their configurator maybe?
I bought my 2021 Tyee CF with Ultimate, x01, code rsc etc for about €4500.
At that time you could get an alu one for less than €3000 with gx, code r and select level sus.
  • 2 1
 What's up with suspension designs that make a PITA to wipe the rear stanchion off after each ride?
  • 3 0
 445mm chainstays ftw!
  • 1 0
 Propain Hugene is what the Banshee Spitfire V3 should have been, now the Spitfire is a castrated trail bike.
  • 1 0
 Currently the only brand I really want to test ride. Too bad it only seems like Remy can get his hands on one in Canada.
  • 2 1
 Is Propain the mtb branch of S&M bmx bikes?
  • 1 0
 Not even close
  • 10 2
 @nyhc00: It was just a cheesy joke. A masochist is someone who is in favor of pain, i.e. pro-pain.
  • 1 0
 I grease my hydra hub every month to keep it silent so I feel you Alicia
  • 1 0
 Propain bikes in Canada please
  • 1 0
 They are...
  • 1 1
 Five year warranty on a carbon frame at that price is not reasonable compared to competitors lifetime
  • 1 0
 Yep, get a Pivot and get a 10 year warranty. Geo isn't getting any better so there's no reason to sell every two years.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: no one paying $8000+ for a Pivot is keeping their bike for five years.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: an equivalently specced pivot is $10k+. If the propain breaks in year 6, I could just buy a brand new frame with the $3500 I saved.
  • 1 0
 How does it compare to a Hightower?
  • 1 0
 be nice is it was 27 still 29" no thanks
  • 1 0
 Anyone know what saddle is on this bike?
  • 1 0
 @pursuitofnow: hey yeah it's the Selle Italia SLR Boost TM I believe - us.selleitalia.com/en/saddles/slr-boost-tm
  • 16 17
 31.25 pounds is a light 'trail' bike now. i know it doesn't matter much, but it seems like a lot
  • 5 10
flag bman33 (Dec 13, 2021 at 9:14) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly. My Enduro bike (Ibis Mojo HD5) is 30lbs
  • 26 0
 @twonsarelli, that's with a DoubleDown rear tire and an EXO+ front. I'd say its on the lighter side out of the bikes we had in for this category.
  • 17 0
 Remember we have big meats on there for control tires.
  • 4 1
 My Hugene is 29lbs without pedals. exos+cushxc f/r
  • 1 0
Combined, that’s good for about a pound over EXO f/r, I’d guess. Also, it doesn’t matter, does it? (My highlander is 38 in riding mode and is still fast as hell going up)
  • 1 0
 @PhoS: that sounds awesome
  • 6 3
 weight is a construct
  • 3 1
 @bman33: And every Enduro bike I've ever owned has been around the 35-36 pound mark. It's all relative to how you build your bikes. Spend more money, but save weight. Or a burly and/or more budget friendly build. Everyone's priorities are different.
  • 1 1
 @bman33: yeah, that's what we call a trail bike
  • 1 0
 @eugenux: That is with EXO + tires on it. Add DD or DH tire and it's 153mm rear travel 160 or 170 front depending on spacers....fits just fine and it's been in several Rocky Mountain (Colorado) Enduros. AKA an Enduro bike. Ibis even billed it that way, but who am I? bottom line, a 'trail bike' should be considered 'light' at 31+ lbs/14.18kgs.
  • 2 1
 @bman33: you are a man that has a very light bike. My 170/180 x2, '38, oneup, shigura, exo+/dd, xm481s, 300 grams cockpit and asx drivetrain is a hair unde 36lbs/16.3 kgs...and not for the lack of trying to make it as light as possible. My alu nuke reactor with lyrik, flow mkes with tune, saints and x01 drivetrain as 15.2 kgs/33.5lbs. My gnarly built alu 180mm Sanction was 16.2 kgs..so you can understand why I am amazed and at the point of disbelieving on how a relatively modern bike still has such a low weight. Cheers and enjoy your light bike..while I cry in my dh bike weights corner.
  • 4 4
 65.1° HTA.... why not 65.2?
  • 4 4
 I'm sorry, but the Nukeproof Reactor is the one bike to rule them all.
  • 2 2
 The price of Propain, like all gasses has gone up a lot recently!
  • 1 1
 Crazy that 31+ pounds on a pretty blingy build is considered light.
  • 1 0
  • 3 5
 Overpriced, but handsome with good geo numbers. Would ride this machine.
  • 2 5
 With a 445mm chainstay, this is far from being a one bike quiver. Canfield Tilt, Guerilla Gravity Smash, etc...
  • 5 0
 Yes. Because a single number says everything about how bike rides.
  • 2 1
 Curious what you mean. Too long? Too short? Why dos this one number disqualify it for you and from doing what?

My only problem with the Hugene's CS is same length for all sizes - the 445 is only really ideal for size L.

I can see the Tilt has super short 425mm CS across all sizes so not sure how that would be any better as "the one bike" (assuming again that this one dimension makes or breaks a bike). It will probably be fine for size S.

It also has (probably because of that short CS mated to 29" wheels) a super slack seat angle (69 degrees, nice Wink ) meaning their claimed effective 77 is a big fat lie. If anything, the Canfield looks like the more specialized and less versatile bike.

The Smash has 440mm CS, again, across all sizes. That's very close to the Hugene although more biased towards size M than L (or size 2 for GG). 5mm makes the Smash a "one bike" and the Hugene not for all sizes in your opinion?

To sum up, all 3 brands are lazy with their same-length CS. No idea why any customer accepts that in 2021 when other bikes are available with CS adjusted for size. GG and Propain are so close in geo you can choose one based on looks, seriously. The Tilt frankly has a bit shit geo for a 29" trail bike. Would work better as a 27.5" more aimed at jumping and hooning around.
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