If we had to design and build a trail bike, it would be very similar to the Propain Hugene: 140 mm of travel, 29″ wheels and a potent, yet efficient rear linkage. Read on to find out whether the Hugene really is “huge”.
High on the list of a well-functioning rear linkage is small-bump sensitivity, good traction, sufficient progression and neutrality under both pedalling and braking forces. The new Propain Hugene, using the tried and tested PRO10 rear linkage, supposedly delivers on all fronts. 29″ wheels are new to the Propain range, and the Hugene is the first to try them.
The componentry of the Propain Hugene in detail
At first glance, the Propain Hugene comes in three different versions. The entry-level “Start” model comes with a Formula Selva fork, which can be set to offer either 140 or 150 mm of travel, and a RockShox Deluxe RT shock at the rear. The brakes on it are Formula Curas, and the drivetrain is a SRAM GX Eagle. Apart from this, there are two further models available as complete bikes, but you can mix and match with their online configurator. Our test bike was a combination of all three, running Reynolds Black Label Enduro Carbon wheels, Magura MT7 brakes and a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, which comes standard on the most expensive of the three basic configurations. The suspension consisted of a Formula Selva fork and a RockShox Super Deluxe shock.
|Components/Model||Start € 3.099||Bestseller € 4.099||Highend € 6.399|
|Fork||Formula Selva 140 mm or 150 mm||RockShox PIKE RCT3 140 mm||FOX 36 FLOAT Factory RC2 150 mm|
|Rear shock||RockShox Deluxe RT||RockShox Super Deluxe RC3||FOX DPX2 Factory|
|Drivetrain||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM X01 Eagle||SRAM XX1 Eagle|
|Crank||Truvativ Descendant||Truvativ Descendant Carbon||SRAM XX1 Carbon|
|Brake||Formula Cura||SRAM Guide RSC||Magura MT7|
|Wheels||Stan’s Flow S1||Stan’s Flow MK3||Reynolds Black Label Enduro Carbon|
|Seat post||Sixpack Menace||Bikeyoke Revive||FOX Transfer Factory|
|Handelbar||Sixpack Millenium 785 mm||Sixpack Millenium 785 mm||Sixpack Millenium Carbon 785 mm|
|Stem||Sixpack Leader 50||Sixpack Leader 50||Sixpack Skywalker 50|
|Tires||Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf||Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf||Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf|
Right at the top they’ve got the “Highend” configuration, featuring the undisputed champions of their class, a 150 mm travel FOX 36 Float Factory fork and a FOX DPX2 shock. The Magura MT7 provides maximum stopping power. Of course, carbon being synonymous with “Highend” these days, the cranks, the handlebars and the rims are all carbon. Speaking of carbon: the Hugene frame will not be available in any other material for the time being.
If it were up to us, our Hugene would have had the RockShox suspension and STANS Flow MK3 wheels of the “Bestseller” model. Also, we would have taken the SRAM GX-Eagle drivetrain, since it is in no way inferior to the performance of the X01 Eagle. We would keep the Magura MT7 brakes, of course, as well as the Sixpack Millenium Carbon, because it simply looks damn good.
The geometry of the Propain Hugene in detail
In black and white, the Propain Hugene is rather simple. With a 460 mm reach and a 621 mm stack in size L, it is neither very long nor tall. The steering angle of 67.5° isn’t particularly slack either. The longer you look at the geometry table, the less spectacular the Hugene seems, but that is by no means bad a thing.
|Travel: 140 mm/150 mm||S||M||L||XL|
|Seat tube||410 mm||440 mm||470 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||571 mm/573 mm||599 mm/601 mm||626 mm/628 mm||654 mm/656 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||105 mm||115 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstayshe||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm|
|BB Drop||30 mm/28 mm||30 mm/28 mm||30 mm/28 mm||30 mm/28 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.146 mm/1.150 mm||1.175 mm/1.179 mm||1.204 mm/1.208 mm||1.132 mm/1.136 mm|
|Reach||410 mm/407 mm||435 mm/432 mm||460 mm/457 mm||485 mm/482 mm|
|Stack||602 mm/605 mm||612 mm/615 mm||621 mm/624 mm||630 mm/633 mm|
The Propain Hugene on the trail
The Propain Hugene makes a good impression on the very first few meters. Instead of being sluggish and cumbersome, it leaps forward joyfully and constantly invites you to put in a few more pedal strokes. This is in part due to the light and stiff Reynolds Black Label Enduro carbon wheels, but certainly also to the bikes excellent anti-squat kinematics. Together with the wheels, the kinematics also make a positive impact on the Hugene’s climbing capabilities, not only getting you to the top in a relaxed manner, but quickly too. Although the seat tube angle could have been a bit steeper for a more upright sitting position. The 445 mm chainstays and the relatively low front allow the Hugene to get up steep and technical climbs without you having to constantly fight the front wheel to keep it on the ground. In short: the bike can climb, and after climbing you’ll be itching for the descent, and here too the Hugene presents itself from a side that won’t only leave a lasting impression on your mother-in-law.
If a trail bike should be one thing, it’s a lot of fun to ride, and that’s exactly what the Hugene is like few other bikes we’ve ridden. In spite of the large 29″ wheels, the Hugene playfully bombs through tight berms. The low standover height in combination with the low bb provides a high degree of confidence because instead of sitting on the bike, you feel like you’re sitting in it. The Schwalbe Magic-Mary tyres provided plenty of grip on wet or loose surfaces, but as soon as the trails became hard packed and dry, the tyres lacked precision. The relatively steep head angle and the short 50 mm stem provide direct and precise handling. The Propain Hugene shoots from one corner into the other with the reflexes of a kitten, readily going where the rider points it. For beginners, however, the very direct handling can seem nervous. Especially on high-speed sections or very rough trails, the Hugene quickly reaches its limits.
The 140 mm of travel fits the character of the bike perfectly and in only very few situations did we wish for more. In fact, it turned out that the Hugene is a little more balanced when set up with 140 mm of travel at the front, rather than 150 mm. The compact geometry demands that you actively throw you weight around on the bike, and in steep terrain, you might occasionally acquaint yourself with the rear tyre. 10 mm less on the fork could be 10 mm less of your pants being eaten. On the other hand, the 150 mm fork provides a little more confidence when things get steep. The Magura MT7s worked perfectly during our review and proved once again who is the king of the jungle. Thanks to the floating suspension, the Hugene responds very sensitively to smallest of bumps. Also, the kinematics have been made more progressive, so you won’t have to worry about bottoming out.
Who is the Propain Hugene for?
The nice thing about the possibility of customisation is that everyone can build their dream Hugene. But even if the spec is freely configurable, the character of the bike can’t be changed. For all of you who regularly go to the bike park, looking for maximum composure and endless speed, you won’t find it here. Those who like to ride long tours should look elsewhere, for something with less direct handling. For those who want to pop off every root, playing around and having as much fun on the trail as possible, enthusiastic fans of the “Canadian Flick”, be warned: the Propain Hugene could be your next bike!
Pricing and availability
The Propain Hugene will be available online in all possible configurations from June 2018. Pricing should start at € 3,099. Colours are limited to Lime, Silver and Carbon Raw.
Propain did a great job on the rear linkage of the Hugene; they integrated the PRO10 concept perfectly. The bike climbs very efficiently and won’t shy away from any ascent. As soon as things go downhill, the Hugene shows its full potential and convinces with fun-filled and direct handling. Clever details and the high-quality workmanship shouldn’t go unmentioned either. Riders who are looking for a bike for the really rough stuff, we’d recommend the Hugene’s bigger brother with smaller wheels!
– playful handling
– balanced geometry
– customisable spec
– nervous on high speed
Uphill | Downhill | Stability | Agility | Value
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Words & Photos: Valentin Rühl