The Tyee has been in the Propain lineup for around 6 years and has been Propain’s go to enduro bike. Based around 27.5 wheels, the Tyee was designed as a 160mm travel big-hitting enduro bike, capable of hitting the roughest of race tracks, yet efficient enough to pedal back up. Today Propain announces the brand new updated Tyee, and for the first time, it’s rolling on 29in wheels.
Rather than just updating the existing Tyee model, the 2020 version is a fully ‘re-designed from the ground up’ new bike. Earlier last year Propain launched their first 29in bike – The Hugene (read our review here) – and Propain has taken what it learned with that bike, along with several years of suspension research and input from World Cup DH racers, and brought it all together in the 2020 Tyee.
Designed to be Propain’s definition of the ultimate enduro bike, the new Tyee utilises their tried and tested PRO10 suspension system to deliver 160mm of rear travel, paired with a 170mm fork upfront. Add to that a slack 64.5° head angle and steep 77° seat angle, combined with decent length reach numbers and the Tyee starts to look the business on paper.
With the previous version of the Tyee, Propain had developed the suspension characteristics over numerous years to a point that they felt completely happy with the way the suspension rode on both and air and coil shocks. So happy in fact, that they’ve kept the same kinematics and suspension progression for the new model. Where they have altered the characteristics though is with regard to climbing. While the previous version of the PRO10 climbed well, Propain has increased the anti-squat value from around 70% to 100% to further increase climbing efficiency and reduce perceived suspension movement.
While the 2020 Tyee is the first 29in enduro bike Propain has made, they still have a big following for their 27.5 bikes and realise that some people prefer the manoeuvrability and feel of smaller wheels. With this in mind, Propain has also produced a 27.5in version of the Tyee as well. Based around the same suspension properties as the 29in version, the 27.5in wheel Tyee uses its own unique frame with wheel size-specific geometry – such as shorter chainstays – for smaller wheels. The 27.5 version is available in sizes S, M & L, while the 29 version is available in sizes M, L & XL.
As well as offering the new Tyee in both wheel sizes, Propain also offers the Tyee in two frame materials – Blend Carbon and Blend Alloy. The term Blend was coined as Propain uses different prepreg carbon layers to create a unique blend of carbon layup for specific areas of the frame. This allows them to engineer specific characteristics into precise areas of the frame depending on the location and forces that it is likely to encounter – flex, stiffness, impact resistance etc.
This is also the case with the aluminium frames, with Propain using no less than three different alloys in their metal frames. As with the carbon frame, the alloy frames have different materials for different purposes, so for example, the tubes are usually made from a more fatigue-resistant alloy than parts that are CNC machined or forged letting them combine the different properties of materials for the best strength to weight ratios.
On top of using several different flavours of carbon and alloy, Propain has packed the new Tyee frame full of features. Look under the downtube and on the seat stays and chainstays and you’ll see custom moulded protectors to ward off rock strikes and chain slap. The chainstay protector also benefits from a raised ‘bridge’ profile to help keep the noise down when ploughing through the rough stuff.
Cable routing is fully internal, with the hoses entering near the headtube in neatly moulded ports and existing under the BB before re-entering the underneath of the chainstays. The carbon frame also benefits from full-length hose guides to make re-cabling and swapping hoses nice and simple.
Propain uses durable Acros bearings throughout the frame including the headset. On top of those bearings, Propain has also designed an extra seal – the Propain Dirt Seal – which gives extra protection from day to day grime and keeps the bearings running smoothly. Inside the front triangle, you’ll also find bottle cage mounts with space for a full-size bottle.
As with all its models, Propain will be offering the Tyee in three pre-specced builds to suit all budgets – Start, Performance and Highend. Where Propain differs from other brands though is in its customisation. Everything from the suspension to the wheels is customisable. You can even pick the colour of your decals and head badge. While the pre-specced builds are designed to offer the direct buy customer a well thought out, well priced package, Propain also realise that some customers will know exactly what they want and will want and offer the option to spec their dream build from the start.
The bike I rode for the test period was carbon-framed, 29in wheeled Performance build. Unlike some other brands which may offer a ‘cheaper’ carbon weave option, Propain only offers one spec for the frame meaning that whichever level build kit you go for, the frame remains the same.
While the build may not have been classed as the Highend offering by Propain, it certainly ticked all the boxes for a big travel enduro bike and there wasn’t anything that I’d be looking to change for a bike of this purpose.
Keeping things controlled and precise up front was a top-end, stout stanchioned, RockShox Lyrik Ultimate giving 170mm of class-leading, trail-taming bounce. This was matched out back with a RockShox Super Deluxe coil giving 160mm of super supple rear suspension fitted with a 500lb spring.
Stop and go on the Tyee were both taken of by SRAM. The drivetrain was a high-end mix of Truvativ Descendant 175mm cranks for maximum stiffness to weight, coupled to an SRAM Eagle X01 shifter and rear mech. Upfront was a 32 tooth chainring with a 50 tooth cassette out back giving loads of range for grinding up hills then cranking into trails.
Taking care of stopping was a set of SRAM Code RSC brakes, with individual reach and bite point adjustment for dialling them in, paired with big 200mm rotors front and back for dropping anchor when things start getting rowdy.
As you’d expect on a bike of this nature, the wheels are spec’d to take a beating and our test bike was running on a set of super tough Stans Flow rims laced to own brand Propain hubs. Those rims are wrapped in a pair of aggressively treaded Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres in grippy Addix Soft compound.
Bars, stem and saddle were all from Sixpack racing with an 805mm wide Millenium 20mm rise bar clamped in place with a 50mm Leader stem. Rounding out the components was a Sixpack Kamikaze saddle on top of Bikeyoke Revive dropper.
Testing was done over a couple of days riding trails on the Canary Island of La Palma. With a mix of steep, loose, sandy ruts, and rough, lumpy volcanic rock the trails provided a good mix of terrain to put the new Tyee through its paces.
I’m about 183cm tall and rode a size large for the test. With a reach of 470mm and 445mm chainstays, coupled with a slack head angle and steep seat tube angle, the Tyee immediately felt familiar.
Swinging a leg over the Tyee for the first time, the steep seat angle and decent reach numbers gave a good, upright seating position. Giving the bike a pre-ride bounce I initially thought that the 500lb spring might be a bit on the soft side for my 86kg weight but once riding this wasn’t the case.
The nature of the riding on La Palma (long winding roads to access the mountains) means that the majority of the climbing is shuttled as opposed to pedal-powered. Although there wasn’t a huge amount of sustained climbing, we did manage to include one 20 minute climb that included a mix of steep concrete mountain road onto gravelly access track, topped off with steep and twisty singletrack covered with a layer of pine needles.
Initial climbing impressions were good. Sitting down and spinning along access roads, climbing was unremarkable in the best way possible, with no noticeable pedal bob, or other weird traits. The decent length reach and chainstays put you in the centre of the bike and distribute your weight well between the wheels adding grip, while the high anti-squat adds a firmness to the suspension, while still tracking well on small bumps.
Once things start to get steeper, the centred position lets you get weight over the front end to avoid front end lift, while the combination of good length chainstays and grippy tyres keep the wheels spinning and momentum up. The high anti-squat adds a tautness to the suspension letting you get the power down without wasting energy, whether seated and grinding or stood up mashing. Claimed weight for similar build was 34lb with pedals so the lightweight (for a coil equipped enduro bike) definitely plays a part.
The first descent we rode on the Tyee was an alien mix of deep dust, covered in moving pine needles, followed by sand-filled ruts. Getting down was more a case of surfing than riding the bike, but one thing that was noticeable was the geometry. The bike felt good for my size, with good angles and a good amount of grip (where available!), while remaining nimble enough to move and slide around tight turns and ruts.
Once the deep sand gave way to more hardpack rockier trails I started to get a better feel for the bike. The combination of stiff cranks and lack of pedal bob give a directness to the pedalling making it easy to get the power down and sprint into trails.
Once up to speed, and working the bike, the Tyee feels nice and stable. The suspension feels really plush off the top, aided by the coil shock, yet also really supportive. Where some longer travel bikes feel like they soak every last bit of trail up, the Tyee has a tighter, more direct feel to it, giving plenty of feedback and letting you know what’s going on under the tyres.
While the Tyee may not be as plush as some bikes through its full range of travel, you can certainly use all the available 160mm. The Tyee feels like it uses its suspension sparingly, giving a lively feel to the ride, always feeling like it has plenty in reserve for when you need it.
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On fast rocky trails, with repeated hits, the Tyee takes it all in its stride. The clever geometry and sorted suspension let you get off the brakes and let the bike work, while the suspension allows you to load the back end up and hop over trail obstacles. Having a 170mm Lyrik, at a raked out 64.5, let’s you pick a line through rough choppy sections and just hold on.
The front end also gives loads of confidence on steeper trails and chutes. The slack head angle allows you to stay centred on the bike, weighing the wheels evenly and letting you concentrate on making the turn rather than hanging off the back. And when that confidence starts to exceed your skill, the big fork and powerful brakes do a good job of getting you out of trouble.
Once you’re on smoother, more built trails, the supportive back end lets you really work the trail, pumping the backside of every slope looking for free speed. The Tyee carries speed well, and the evenly matched front and back help you push hard into fast bermed turns, trusting the tyres for grip. Then when the back end does break free, all it takes is a shift in body weight to bring things back under control.
Two days riding unfamiliar trails blind certainly isn’t enough time to do a full in-depth review, but it was long enough to get a good idea of the new Tyee. Propain has made a bike that should appeal to a lot of people. It’s light and efficient enough to pedal all day yet still a capable descender. Add to that a choice of wheel size, two different frame materials, the ability to custom spec, along with keen pricing and they’re onto a winner.
For a long travel, coil equipped, enduro bike the Tyee pedalled really well with no issues whether sat down grinding your way up an access road or out of the saddle sprinting out of turns, there’s a noticeable efficiency and distinct lack of pedal bob.
Once gravity is on your side, the Tyee is a good all-rounder and handled everything it was tasked with – from loose as a goose volcanic sand, to fast bermy, jumpy, woodland tracks, to rugged lava rock – the Tyee impressed and took it all in its stride. It’s decent weight and quick acceleration let you get up to speed quickly on flowing trails and maintain speed, and the balanced handling and sorted suspension let you push on on steep rough tracks.
The geometry on the Tyee is on the right side of progressive without being too extreme and the suspension works really well, giving the bike a lively feel, something I liked, rather than being an out and about plough machine making it fun and engaging to ride on all tracks, not just something that feels like an EWS stage.
If you’re looking for a longer travel enduro bike that can be raced at the weekend, yet will still be fun round the local then the Propain Tyee could well be the bike for you.