You’ll know the name from his previous bike brand, but Patrick Morewood is now the main man behind Pyga Industries, designed and built in South Africa.
Pete had a chat with Pyga Industries’ Patrick Morewood to find out where the inspiration for the brand and the philosophy behind it came from.
What was the inspiration behind Pyga Industries?
To design and make bikes that I would want to ride and most importantly to build something amazing with my wife and good people so that our children would be able to enjoy the fruits of what we have all created. Importantly too was to make bikes that are as good to look as as they are to ride but with no gimmicks, only sound engineering.
Once you had made that decision, what happens next?
I was fortunate enough to be asked to assist a Taiwanese friend with a factory in China with designing and showing them how to manufacture a full suspension bike which they hadn’t done before. While there I discussed the possibility of making my own bike with them and so it began with our first bike, the ONETEN29.
What had you learned from running Morewood Bikes that you took to this brand?
After 11 years or so at Morewood Bikes, I feel the biggest thing I learned was self confidence. It’s never been a strong point of mine, but with so many ups and downs like in any business, I realised that I should believe in myself more. I didn’t leave in the best mind space but knew that up to that point I had created bikes that made people happy as had been successful under great athletes.
What did you know you did and didn’t want to do with Pyga?
I knew that I wanted to continue the same ethos and love for bikes as I did at Morewood, but what I didn’t want was to feel limited in what was possible and that I would always stick to what I believed was how things should be.
Was it an easy decision to make frames in South Africa?
Absolutely. It was always the plan to make our own bikes but when we started, it was not financially possible.
After some misfortune with a Taiwanese factory and warranty issues on a carbon model (since discontinued), we were put in the position where we needed to decide on whether or not to pursue local manufacturing. We were very fortunate that I knew exactly what was required to set up factory and we had all the contacts for the tubing supply, it was at this point that we engaged with Rich Crouse who became our new partner and equity holder. His financial knowledge and business savvy, enabled us to to take the next big step.
What are the challenges of producing frames domestically?
Right now the fact that our government, during the Covid pandemic, has banned the sale of alcohol, things are really tough. But seriously, we are quite far from many of our suppliers and we aren’t seen as a major shipping route, so shipping can be a bit slow and more expensive.
We have rather high taxes and South Africa doesn’t have the most advanced maintenance when it comes to roads, water and electricity when compared to Europe or the US, but we love it here and we have incredible people and places to ride.
How did you arrive at the frame layout?
After Morewood’s single pivot bikes I wanted to explore different layouts. I had learned a lot and realised that using a rocker in the design had big advantages when it came to the control of shock rate. We had a different take on our first generation of bikes which were a single pivot linkage, the brake was connected to the seatstay which had never been done. I discovered that it was possible to have the majority of the benefits of a Horst link without infringing on any patents.
Once the Horst link patent was open for use, this was what I felt to be the best available kinematic and we started with our current generation of bikes.
Regardless of the generation, they both seem to have a specific ride and feel to them.
I’ve always liked a vertical shock layout with a short rocker as it allows us to have a high progression in the shock rate. I’ve also been a fan of and seen the benefits of having a high anti-squat relative to other bike brands.
Was the suspension layout to achieve a certain ride quality?
Absolutely. I believe that there is no place for a lockout, by having a high anti-squat we are able to achieve really good traction as has been proven by our Pro riders at the 2019 Cape Epic winning the Queen Stage and finishing second on the last stage without using any form of lockout.
How did you nail down the geometry?
This is not easy to answer, I work on feeling more than numbers. I’ve never made a test mule and I don’t think I ever will, I guess it’s a bit like a painter who has an innate feeling as to how to mix the colours and where to use them.
I do try to take risk too with regards geometry as well as general design concepts. This as a small brand is not easy… trying to lead doesn’t always work out as people often don’t believe or trust what you’re doing unless you’re a big famous brand.
How did you choose the name for the brand?
The meaning came from a nickname I acquired while in China, it means Pat brother.
Was custom paint and decals an obvious choice when hand-making frames?
It was, and mainly because we had the ability to do so. I guess it’s a bit silly to make things more difficult, but after dealing with big factories and the associated complexity involved in just a change in decal or colour I thought why the hell not.
We don’t use water decals on our frames but stick to vinyl and powder coating. My feeling was that if one gets tired of a decal colour it would be great to have the option to change it easily. It also has that hands on appeal about it, as does our most popular RAW option which has no clear coat.
Many brands are trying to be more aware of their environmental impact, what’s the Pyga ethos and how do you go about implementing that?
Well making the majority of our bikes from alloy is a good start. There is literally no waste as everything is 100% recyclable, we use powder coating to finish the frames which is far more environmentally responsible than most liquid paint systems.
The amount of flying over to factories in the East is now a but non-existent which in turn plays a small part in reducing our carbon footprint on unnecessary travel.
We are busy with a new carbon frame made here in SA that will be a world first with regards to it manufacturing process. There is literally no waste, since we don’t use polystyrene, air bags an polyurethane formers, but re-use all the internal formers up to 100 times.
Riding the first bike I ever made in 1997, the fact that it broke in two is irrelevant.
The first bike I ever made.
Anyone to thank?
Everyone I know and don’t know who have been involved in any way during my life’s journey of making bikes that make people happy.