Twelve years ago, Propain Bikes decided to build their first enduro bike. Without great expectations at the time, it not only marked a turning point for the brand in terms of recognition but led to the Tyee becoming their best-selling model to date. The 2023 Tyee, the eighth version, looks quite familiar at first look but offers a barrage of improvements in detail.
Situated between the Hugene and Spindrift, Propain didn't set out to reinvent the Tyee but to optimize in the right places. It's still meant to be a bike that doesn't turn climbs into a struggle – the aluminum version as much as the carbon one – but can take on challenging terrain with ease.
Propain Tyee CF Details
• Wheel size: 29"/Mix or 27.5"
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm
• Blend Carbon frame
• 64.5° head angle (160mm fork), 64.1° (170mm fork)
• Chain stays: 430mm (27.5" XS-M), 445mm (29"/Mix M-XL)
• Frame weight (w/o shock): 2,900g (size M)
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: XS-M (27.5"), M-XL (29"/Mix)
• Colors: Deep Forest, Carbon Raw, Safari
• Price: from €3,599 to €8,244 (same for EUR and GBP)
Tyee AL DetailsFrame Details
• Blend Aluminum frame
• Frame weight (w/o shock): 3,400g (size M)
• Colors: Olive, Aluminum Raw, Venomblack
• Price: from $2,999 to $7,644 (same for EUR and GBP)
Available as a full carbon or aluminum version, the Tyee's rear wheel travel still sits at 160mm. Propain is also holding true to their Blend Carbon and Blend Alloy material concepts.
For the CF version, they are mixing different kinds of carbon fibers at different locations on the frame to achieve various characteristics or address requirements for stiffness, flexibility, impact resistance, weight, strength or stress direction. One of the few points of criticism from the last generation's frame characteristics – a rather soft rear end – was countered by adding more tensile strength fibers, mainly in the chainstay area close to the bottom bracket. Since Propain designs their bikes with compliance in mind, they made sure that the rear end got about 10% stiffer laterally without affecting comfort too much.
With Blend Alloy on the AL versions, different alloys are combined in a single frame. For example, parts that don't need to be welded are made from 7075-T6 aluminum, which is difficult to weld but offers very high strength.
Looking at the frame's silhouette, the top tube is much thinner and provides more standover clearance. The down tube has decreased in volume somewhat, and is shaped in a trapezoid profile.
With added tire clearance at the rear triangle and the additional stiffness, the carbon frame actually gained about 100 grams in weight, depending on size, coming to 2,900g for size M 29". The story is different with the aluminum version, where they were able to save 300 grams, cutting the weight down to about 3,400g for size M 29".
Overall, the frames got stronger, featuring category 5 rating with unrestricted bike park use and they have survived even more load cycles – going further beyond 500,000 – on their own test machine than the older generation before. Depending on spec, full bike weights start at 13.8 kg (30.4 lb) for CF and 14.3 kg (31.5 lb) for AL.
Love it, or more likely hate it, the new Tyee features integrated cable routing through the headset. Carbon frames exclusively so; the aluminum versions still also feature regular cable openings to have the option to route cables into the down tube on the side just behind the head tube.
Propain wasn't shy about mentioning that their first impression was that they hated the headset routing idea. But once they spent time with the system they couldn't help but notice the benefits: it looked clean, and because of the way the cables were routed ended up making no noise on the trail even without having to tie cables together, which was an aspect that they couldn't ignore.
In order to get rid of most of the disadvantages, Propain developed a special stem together with Sixpack to route the cables underneath through an exactly fitting molded composite spacer, as they wanted to avoid a solution that would have routed the cables through the stem. Available with 35 or 50mm length, it's CNC-machined in Germany and utilizes special spacers underneath that can be clamped from the sides, so you don't have to mess with the cables when altering ride height.
The entire unit is sealed as much as possible, and even if moisture should creep in Propain exclusively uses Acros stainless steel headset bearings for maximum longevity to try and counteract the one negative that's simply unavoidable – the hassle that if the bearing should need to be replaced you will have to take everything apart.
The stem/headset assembly with internal routing builds about 5mm higher than a version with regular headset top cap – if you prefer, you do have the option to use a regular stem in combination with an Acros headset top cap. The fork is equipped with plastic protection on the steerer so cables can’t damage the fork.
Cable routing throughout the rest of the frame has been thoroughly improved with the cables not being routed underneath the bottom bracket anymore but being neatly tucked away along the lower linkage. Attached to the linkage with some extra tabs, the cable doesn't kink or move much during suspension movement. Inside the frames, the cables are surrounded by foam covers to eliminate any possible noise.
In that same regard, their chain and seat stay protectors feature a new softer TPR plastic material with better damping properties as well as air-filled nubs with an outward tilt to reduce chain vibrations and noise further.
Also new: the post mount brake mount has been tucked away into the rear triangle – mostly due to aesthetic reasons but leading to better transfer of braking forces into the frame as well. Plus, the custom adapter, which is attached to the frame via two rivets, can be simply adjusted for 180 or 200mm rotors.
Propain, at least at the moment, is the only company that uses stainless steel bearings from Acros throughout the entire frame. That's apart from their proven Dirt Shield – an extra seal on top of the bearings to shield them from dust, water, and dirt.
Nice detail: a Sixpack seat clamp with seal (also available aftermarket) further protects the inside of the frame. On the bottom side of the top tube you can now find mounting brackets for tools. Propain equipped an Acros Knockblock headset to limit the turning circle to 120 degrees and avoid possible damage to the bike in terms of a crash. Three new colors each for CF or AL are available. Logo and badge colors can be individualized.
Orders are open on April 20, 2023, and delivery takes place about six weeks after launch.Geometry
Frame sizing has been shuffled up, and an XS size has been added to the range for smaller riders. Sizes XS, S, and M come with 27.5" wheels front and rear. Optionally, M is also available as a full 29er or mixed-wheel setup, same as L and XL. A flip chip connecting the seat stays and upper link makes the switch possible without affecting geometry.
The bigger the frame, the more the reach has grown. Size S has grown by only 1mm, size XL sees an additional 14mm. The head angle has been slackened by 0.4 degrees. The seat angle for 27.5" has steepened from 76.6 to 77.5 degrees. 29"/Mix remains the same at 77.1. With the shorter 160mm travel fork, all angles steepen by 0.3 or 0.4 degrees, depending on frame size. BB drop for 29"/Mix has lowered by 1mm (27mm offset), 27.5" by 0.5mm (11mm offset).
The seat tube length for the XS frame is a short 380mm. Except for the XL frame, the seat tube length for the rest has been shortened slightly (S -20mm, M -15mm, L -10mm). The insertion depth is about 10mm lower than it used to be. This improves the ability to size up to a larger frame, although the kink in the seat tube does still limit the max insertion depth.Suspension Design
Relying on Propain's PRO10 suspension system – a virtual pivot layout with two counter-rotating links that activates a floating shock from both sides – the kinematics for the 2023 Tyee version with 160mm travel have been tweaked ever so slightly.
The recommended sag for the 2023 Tyee is 30%. As far as the progression goes, it has been lowered a bit from about 25.5% to 21.9% for easier use of travel. Propain says that the system still works equally well with air and coil shocks and that test riders like Rémy Métailler did not recognize a negative effect in the bike's handling. The leverage ratio follows a similar curve to the 2020 model but starts lower at 3.17:1 and only drops to 2.48:1. The average leverage ratio with a 210 x 55mm stroke shock is 2.9:1.
Anti-squat at sag has come down slightly from 115% to 113%, with the curve dropping off more quickly once it passes about half of the travel used.Specifications
Propain's online ordering system is one of the best out there, making it possible to either choose from a wide assortment of components on your own, or pick from predefined packages. Of course, you can also swap out single parts from the packages.
There used to be three preexisting packages, now there are four. The cheapest possible build starts at $2,999 for the Tyee AL and $3,599 for the CF. The Price2Ride package with Formula suspension and brakes comes to $3,599 for AL and $4,199 for CF. Shred2 with RockShox ZEB Ultimate, Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil and GX drivetrain can be had for $4,484 for AL and $5,084 for CF.
Phantom brings the new SRAM X0 AXS T-Type transmission into play, with RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2 and Super Deluxe Ultimate Air suspension, bringing the tag for AL up to $6,109 and $6,709 for CF. Goldrush hints at Fox's Kashima coated Factory suspension. With Crankbrothers Synthesis LRS carbon wheels and SRAM XX AXS T-Type shifting price moves to $7,644 for AL and $8,244 for CF.
With their own saddle quite literally having felt like a pain in the ass for most riders, it's a most welcome option to see SQlab saddles as an optional upgrade in the future.
At first look, the new Tyee looks quite familiar. Understandably so, having won multiple shootouts and user awards around the globe over the last few years. Refinement is the name of the game. The new 160mm travel Tyee CF immediately feels very similar to its predecessor out on the trail, building on its strengths and eliminating a few weaknesses.
Like the model before, even on steeper climbs the Tyee doesn't feel like a heavyweight. Its suspension doesn't wallow much under load, efficiently moving along smooth or rough surfaces. I’ll never complain about steep seat angles, so the slightly steeper angle by almost a degree for the 27.5" models is welcome. Sitting above 77-degrees for all frame sizes allows for a comfortable pedaling position throughout the day.
Although the overall progression came down by a few percent, I’d be hard-pressed to remember if it’s enough to make a noticeable difference on the trail. Different shock models probably have a bigger effect on suspension feel. With an air shock installed, the suspension was still very predictable and able to absorb bigger hits without any issues. The Tyee is one of those bikes that you don't get distracted by what the suspension is doing, it's just doing what it's supposed to. Staying planted when plowing through rock sections is as much possible as popping off little obstacles on the trail in a playful manner.
In that regard, the all-round capabilities of the Tyee are still impressive, from mellow flow trail to full-on downhill track – especially with the longer 170mm fork option – the bike never really feels out of place. As an isolated incident, there was one especially nasty section of brake ruts on a bike-park-style trail that the suspension seemed to have a hard time with, but I doubt that any other enduro bike would have had an easier time with it.
The rear end indeed has gained some extra stiffness, one of the few things that even I as a lightweight rider could notice with the old model, and if I had to put a number on it judging from feel, it would have been higher than the claimed 10%. The new Tyee is still plenty compliant to track the ground nicely without feeling harsh, but the extra bit of support delivering a snappy response when pushing out of berms or tight corners is positively noted.
The words agile and light-footed come to mind quite often when navigating tight spaces, helped by a not-too-extreme head angle of 64.5 degrees with the 160mm fork setup. Having spent about half my time of riding on a size M frame, I did feel my level of confidence dropping a notch in high-speed sections and much preferred the size L's handling with longer wheelbase in that regard, without sacrificing much of its perceived playfulness on the bigger size.
Overall, I was very happy with the size L's handling and would gravitate towards that choice, if I had to make one. While slightly shorter seat tube lengths on most sizes do help with stepping up to a larger frame size somewhat, it could still be better, especially with the kink in the seat tube limiting the seatpost's insertion depth.
It's something that is easy to overlook, but I applaud the PRO10's suspension design for using a shock with regular mounts, it can only be of benefit in the long run compared to higher stresses that clevis or even trunnion mount designs put on the shock.
Most of the time I was riding the Tyee with a mixed-wheel setup, which caters to my personal preference. But I felt similarly at home doing some laps on a full 29er setup, feeling nicely balanced and well-rounded. Of course, when I'm presented with the option to achieve a slacker head angle down to a certain value, I have to go for it. While it's not advertised or recommended, by keeping the wheel-size adjustment flip chip in the 29" setting with a 27.5" rear wheel the head angle drops about 0.7 degrees. Of course, the bottom bracket then drops quite low into the range of about 335mm, so that would require more finessing in technical sections to avoid pedal strikes. Personally, I'd still most likely remain with that setup, enjoying the slacked-out variant, but that's just me.
Trying to eliminate noises worked out well, there’s no rattling to get distracted by. While quite a few haters probably stopped reading at the phrase 'cable routing through the headset', Propain's way of integration seems to at least try to address some issues in a coherent way – no cables rubbing, nicely sealed and using quality hardware for longevity. Plus, the option on the aluminum frames to lead cables into the down tube will make a lot of people happy.
Overall, and thinking about the older design, the new Tyee is still very much a Tyee, and that's a good thing. Headset routing discussion aside, at first look it will most likely continue to bring plenty of joy to riders in the years to come.