Propain have really come out fighting the past few years. There serious hits in its range such as the Rage Carbon dh bike that is currently in the Dirt 100 and ridden by the Propain Dirt SixPack team. Also the Spindrift, that I still consider one of the best longer travel park bikes currently on the market.
The new Hugene has been aimed at the 29” side of things. With more and more people embracing the fact that this wheel size is cool and fast, there is no wonder Propain have joined in. The bike that we had weighed in at 14.21kg or 31.5 lbs (with tubes and pedals), so it may not be the lightest but weight in the correct places and stunning smooth lines means there is no doubt that this bike is here for business.
There will be three specifications for the new Hugene ranging from around €3,100 all the way up to around the €6,400 mark. What you get here for the money? This chart below gives the details on all of the builds that are available.
Suspension and chassis
Propain have totally redesigned the PRO10 rear works of the Hugene with the rear damper now finding itself in front of the seat tube. This has given more room to allow for the 29” wheels while keeping the mess and dirt away from the moving parts as best possible. This new design trail bike from Propain has been tuned for the best possible climbing efficiency with anti squat ratings of 100%.
The three different builds have some different damper options from the lower spec having a Formula Selva fork with 140-150mm upfront, the RockShox Pike fork on the midrange with 140mm of bounce, up to the top build having a set of 150mm travel Fox 36 forks. This is also the case for the rear damper. With the 130mm travel being dealt with by a RockShox Deluxe on the bottom build, Super Deluxe for the mid range and Fox drafted in for the top build again with the new DPX2 damper.
Shape and fit
A large frame on the first blast out on the new Propain meant there was no real lack of space. Even when all of the recent bikes that have been through the office are in XL form, the Propain Hugene measured up well with the 457mm reach giving plenty of room.
Propain have opted for a relatively steep head angle coming in at 67 degrees but remember this is a 29er short travel trail bike. So numbers that aren’t over the top. It’s the same story as the Intense Primer from the 100 that enamoured us with its nippy ride.
First ride Feeling
It did not take long to get to grips with the Propain Hugene. The mix of short travel and 29” wheels is something that is always super fun and fast to ride. The 130mm rear travel is driven by the same linkage system on bikes we love here at dirt such as the Rage and Spindrift so there is a good platform start from.
One thing that was apparent very quickly was the amount of grip on offer. You could attribute this off-hand to the Schwalbe Magic Mary rubber but look closer and it is also down to the chassis. Propain have really nailed the balance between a bike that is stiff enough to hold its shape whilst having enough flex to hold grip in the corners and be really forgiving on the body. This works well when talking about fatigue on a ride - with less feedback coming through the frame there is less abuse taken on the body and less energy is wasted.
When it comes to the climbs the Hugene holds its own on the suspension front with a good stiff ride without total lockout so the grip is still there - you'll be covering huge tracts of land with ease.
The Hugene is also super fun. The relatively steep head angle at 67 degrees offers a real playful aspect to the ride. With some more time on the bike it would be great to see what the limits are and how this bike holds up to some more abuse.
First impressions of the new Propain Hugene are definitely positive with some fast, fun riding and some real potential to clear to see. There are some minor changes that I would like to make but theses are all personal such as a bar change but this really is a bike to keep on the list for 2018. It is already on my list to get back in for a full shake down as soon as the time comes.