Propain sells direct to the consumer and is renowned for offering decent value for money. The Tyee is the enduro offering from the German brand, which gave it a makeover back in 2020. It’s offered with either 27.5in or 29in wheels, as seen here. This model of Tyee AL 29 comes complete with Propain’s ‘Performance’ package of parts, along with some unrequested wheel and brake upgrades. Without these additions, the Tyee AL 29 would have cost £4,610. According to Propain’s PR, the Tyee is designed to be “a versatile and balanced mountain bike that sets new standards on the climbs and descents”. Can it live up to such big claims?
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance frame and suspension details
The rear shock gets a new position in order to accommodate larger wheels. Propain builds the Tyee AL frame from its ‘Blend Alloy’. This consists of at least three different alloys, which are used in different areas of the frame, depending on the property – strength, stiffness, impact resistance, flexibility and so on – required of it. This latest version of the Tyee sees the rear shock migrate from behind the seat tube into the front triangle and in front of the seat tube. This is simply to make room for the bigger wheel sizes now commonly used across the mountain bike industry.
At the Tyee’s heart is Propain’s PR010 suspension system. This consists of two counter-rotating links that compress the floating shock to deliver the bike’s 160mm of rear-wheel travel. There’s a decent amount of progression (I calculated progression to be around 27 per cent, going by the leverage ratio graphs Propain provides on its website), which means the Tyee should be capable of working with both air- and coil-sprung shocks. Compared with the older Tyee, Propain says it has upped anti-squat levels, in a bid to make the Tyee more pedal-friendly and easier going on the climbs, and limit suspension-induced pedal bob.
There’s ample protection against chain slap. Propain’s dirt shield bearing covers provide an additional layer of protection between the Acros pivot bearings and the elements, which is great if you live and ride somewhere soggy, such as the UK. Another nice touch is the uninterrupted internal cable channels, which run inside the frame and should make threading hoses or cables through that bit easier. There’s also a decent amount of integrated frame protection, with rubber guards fixed to the underbelly of the down tube and across the top of the driveside chainstay to help quieten down chain slap.
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance geometry
Cables are routed internally near the junction of the top and down tubes. Propain offers the Tyee AL 29 (and the carbon version, for that matter) in medium, large and extra-large sizes. There’s no small, unless you drop down to the smaller 27.5in wheel size. The proportions on offer here might be a few years old now since the Tyee’s last overhaul, but they’re still on the money compared with its closest rivals. The head angle of our medium test bike was a little more relaxed than stated, at 63.8 degrees. A reach of 451mm is in line with many of the Tyee’s competitors, with the front centre a reasonable 785mm.
The lack of bar height adjustability was a frustration.
That’s matched to a rear centre (otherwise known as the effective chainstay length) of 445mm in a bid to place rider weight centrally between the 29in wheels. At 345mm, the bottom bracket sits a few millimetres higher than some of the longer-travel bikes that I back-to-back tested the Tyee with. I measured the effective seat angle as 77.5 degrees with the saddle set to my preferred pedalling height, which should help to create a really comfy seated position.
|Seat angle (degrees)||77.1||77.1||77.1|
|Head angle (degrees)||64.5||64.5||64.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||440||460||480|
|Top tube (mm)||595||618||640|
|Head tube (mm)||105||115||125|
|Fork offset (mm)||42||42||42|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||26||26||26|
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance specifications
The RockShox Lyrik Ultimate front fork that’s part of the Performance parts package has 170mm of travel. I originally ordered the Tyee AL 29 with the Performance parts package because it’s seriously impressive. That equates to a 170mm travel RockShox Lyrik Ultimate complete with Charge 2.1 RC2 damper (with high- and low-speed compression damping adjustment, and rebound adjustment, too), along with a Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate RCT rear shock. I assumed I’d be getting an air shock originally, but Propain bolted on a coil shock. When I asked about the extra cost the coil shock incurred, I was pleased to hear that there’s no up-charge for it – which is nice.
The Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate RCT impressed throughout testing. The Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate RCT is a nice bit of kit too, with low-speed compression and rebound-damping adjustment. There’s a low-speed compression lever to firm up the shock on climbs if you need it too. Propain sent the bike over with the 400lb spring fitted, which gave me just over 30 per cent sag for my 68kg weight and felt spot-on for my riding style. Alongside the impressive dampers, you also get SRAM’s X01 Eagle gearing, complete with the fancy 12-speed, 10-52t cassette. Unbeknown to me, Propain added upgraded Newmen Evolution SL A.30 wheels and Formula Cura 4 brakes. While they’re lovely to have, the parts package without these would still be more than up to the job.
Cura 4 brakes are also included in the parts package. The Cura 4 brakes are impressive stoppers, but the pads sit quite close to the rotors, meaning careful caliper alignment is required. The lever reach adjusters are really stiff and hard to turn (there’s a fitting for an Allen key to do the same job, though, which helps). Schwalbe provides the rubber here. In this case, it’s the formidable Magic Mary up front and a Big Betty at the rear. Both come in the brand’s Addix Soft compound and SuperTrail carcass. If I’m being picky, I’d have preferred to see the tougher SuperGravity casing used at the rear, just for that extra peace of mind. Having said that, I never once struggled with punctures throughout testing. All in, my Tyee AL 29 Performance test bike weighed 15.33kg in size medium without pedals.
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance ride impressions
The Tyee was put through its paces over a broad range of terrain. I did my best to get a grip on what the Tyee was capable of and where it might shine brightest by riding a real mix of terrain. This varied from smoother jump lines through to steep, natural wooded singletrack, with some high-speed bike park runs thrown into the mix for good measure.
Setting up the Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance
The 400lb spring that came as standard felt spot-on for my weight, so I didn’t need to do any other tinkering with that. In terms of shock settings, I ran the rebound damping fully open and eight clicks of low-speed compression (from fully closed). The 170mm-travel Lyrik fork came with one volume spacer fitted, which I left inside, pumping the spring up to 79psi. I set the rebound at 12 clicks from fully closed, left the high-speed compression damping fully open and twiddled the low-speed compression 14 clicks out from fully closed.
This gave the bike a good balance, no matter what trail I was riding. One other note on setup: the Tyee came with the fork steerer cut quite short. This limited how much I could alter bar height, which was a little frustrating. I’d have liked to shift the bar height up a little simply by moving the stem on the steerer (and shifting spacers from above to below it), but a higher-rise bar was required to enable this.
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance climbing performance
The Tyee gets a Truvativ Descendant Carbon crankset. With the Tyee AL 29 pointed uphill, it’s clear from the get-go that it’s not sluggish or lethargic when you get the cranks turning. It feels calm as you wind the power on, with little in the way of unwanted suspension bob. It helps that, of the eight bikes in our Enduro Bike of the Year category, the Tyee was one of the lightest. That’s partly because of those upgraded Newmen wheels, but also down to the fact that the Schwalbe rubber seems to roll pretty well. If pedal bob was an issue, though, taming it wouldn’t have been as easy as on some bikes, simply down to where the shock’s low-speed compression lever is positioned. As the shock sits with the piggyback end anchored lower in the frame, the lever is right down by the bottom bracket junction.
SRAM’s X01 Eagle rear derailleur takes care of shifting. Reaching it was possible, but not comfortable, or by any means as easy as it could have been. Luckily, I never once needed it and always appreciated the extra traction this has afforded. Thanks to the steep seat angle, I felt my hips were well-positioned over the bottom bracket and had enough room when seated thanks to the 595mm effective top tube, coupled with the 40mm stem. Overall, whether the climb was smooth and mellow or steep and chunky, the Tyee always felt relatively eager to keep moving upwards and find traction, and left me with nothing to worry about other than keeping the pedals turning, no matter how tricky things became.
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance descending performance
Support from suspension is impressive as the Tyee navigates turns with aplomb.
As you hit the first turn and really drive your weight down through your hands and feet and into the bike, the support through the suspension is apparent straightaway. The Tyee AL 29 offers plenty to push against, which really enables you to load it accurately through the apex of a berm or up the lip of a jump. This trait helps to make the Tyee AL 29 feel more nimble than its geometry may suggest. When faced with tight, technical turns, it’ll duck and dive like a champion. And while there’s no shortage of support, thanks to the coil shock at the rear, the initial part of the 160mm of travel remains nice and supple and certainly helps to eke out traction when you need it most.
Schwalbe provides the tyres – Magic Mary up front and Big Betty at the rear. It doesn’t hurt that the Schwalbe tyres do an admirable job of digging into just about every trail surface and provide enviable levels of predictable grip in the process. They also really lock into the ground under braking, making awkward moves through steep, tight switchbacks a more confident affair. Thankfully, the ramp up as you reach the final few millimetres of travel on really heavy hits or landings never feels harsh or uncontrolled, and I was always impressed with how composed and progressive the Tyee felt in these instances.
Hop, skip and jump
There’s plenty of playfulness and pop over jumps. While there’s no doubt the Tyee AL 29 is more than capable when it gets tight and twisty, how does it fare when the speeds increase, and the bumps get bigger? Over harsh, successive hits, there’s certainly more feedback through the bike when compared with the best in category. It’s not a bike that’ll reward a really lazy, hang-off-the-back-and-drop-your-heels riding style.
Sure, you can ride like that, but you’ll not get the most out of the Tyee. While it’s still forgiving enough to take on seriously challenging terrain, the Tyee feels as though it wants to skim over the tops of the bumps rather than consume each and every one of them, so calculated and committed line choice is arguably the better way forward. This engaging, supportive ride feel, aside from being a serious amount of fun, also helps you to feel what’s going on beneath the tyres.
The brakes provide formidable stopping power, but the lever reach adjusters were stiff to turn. That means you can really work the Tyee through the trail undulations to boost speed or easily loft the bike up and off lips with very little in the way of effort. At really high speeds through nasty rock sections, the Tyee AL 29 doesn’t feel quite as composed as the best out there and isn’t quite as easy to ride at pace. There’s a little less in the way of separation between the rider and the trail, which in turn, means a bit more feedback. That’s not to say it’s harsh in any way, though, as the feedback is decently muted, helped by the forgiving, active nature of the RockShox Lyrik fork up front.
The forgiving RockShox Lyrik ensures the ride never becomes overly harsh through tricky rock sections. There’s no doubt that the Tyee AL 29er can dip, duck, dodge and dive with the best of them and while it might not be the most steadfast in certain situations, it’s still incredibly capable when the speeds pick up.
But what makes it stand out for me and justify the high score is its all-round ability. It’s no slouch – for an enduro bike – on the climbs, a quality that goes a long way when it comes to helping you feel fresher at the top of the hill. There’s no shortage of pop and playfulness on jump-riddled trails and its agility means you can switch between lines and skip over obstacles without too much effort. The fact that Propain offers such a decent parts package at this price is certainly appealing, too.
How does Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance compare?
Steep, natural terrain is the Propain’s home territory. While the Whyte, Nukeproof, Marin and Cannondale bikes in this category arguably trump the Propain when it comes to outright high-speed stability, its closest rival within this test, and a bike that also scored an impressive four stars, is the Canyon Torque.
Like the Tyee, the Torque offers a slightly more communicative feel when tackling rocky sections, but really comes alive when the trail requires you to throw the bike around from line to line in order to stay on the fastest, most direct route. The Canyon feels slightly better balanced and sucks up the big hits that little bit better, but the Tyee may just have the edge when it comes to navigating steep, natural terrain.
Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance bottom line
The Tyee Al 29 Performance is a thrillingly fast and fun bike to ride. The Tyee AL 29 Performance really proved itself on tight, technical natural terrain, where its agile nature, supportive suspension and dependable tyres really help it feel fast and nimble. While others might have an advantage over the Tyee on faster, rougher trails, the Tyee can still hold its own, though there’s more in the way of rider feedback in the process.
That makes for a more engaging ride at times, and one that benefits more calculated line choice when the trail gets really nasty under the tyres. Although that might sound a little negative, the Tyee is still an incredibly fast bike and one that has more all-round capabilities than many others. It helps that it’s no slouch up the climbs and seriously fun to chuck about the trail, no matter how steep the gradient.