Phillimon Sebona’s Euro Steel Pyga Stage
Hailing from Middelburg in Mpumalanga, and resident in Mamelodi, north-east of the Pretoria metro, Phillimon Sebona combines his training with his daily commute to Trailwolf Cycles, where he works. No stranger to racing, 25-year-old Sebona has produced some impressive results over the last six years. With a string of Cape Epic Exxaro jerseys, and a top 50 at this year’s Cape Epic with teammate William Mokgopo, Sebona is rapidly gaining in experience.
Pyga Euro Steel picked him up for 2017, and he took wins at the Magalies Monster and Sabie Experience, while placing in the top five at Berg & Bush and fourth at the Spioenkop Hill Climb. Not bad for a guy who bought his first bike by selling peanuts!
Sebona’s current bike, on the other hand, is a fully kitted Pyga Stage: a full Toray carbon frame specced with a mix of in-house Deed components and team race-proven parts, for a balance between reliability and light weight.
With no computer sponsor, team riders use their own choice of product. Sebona uses a Bryton Rider 530, on a forward offset mount, that syncs with a Quarq power meter. With support for up to 85 functions and a 2.5-inch display for 12 fields, it has an ample range of data for both training and racing.
A graphical summary displays such key info as power, speed, cadence, altitude and so forth. Turn-by-turn navigation is viewable alongside ride data – useful in a stage race. Mapping is often zoomed at either 30% or 80% between riders; this enables clear communication between the two when navigating at race pace.
Like most devices at this level, the Rider 530 syncs to Training Peaks and Strava with automated FIT file formats. A key feature is the generous 33-hour battery life.
Wheels and Tyres
Pyga’s in-house component brand Deed supplies the carbon rims and alloy hubs. Pyga are transparent about the Deed parts being open-sourced. Their expertise comes from their experience in design and carbon manufacture processes; this allows Pyga to set a quality assurance standard against any open-source-manufactured parts.
Maxxis tyres are the rubber of choice, and 2.25-inch Aspens are typical of the fast-rolling profile that the pros favour. Tyre pressures vary according to terrain and rider weight. Considering that pros often weigh not much more than a greyhound, tyre pressures can sometimes be as low as 1.3 bar.
Look pedals have been a staple for the team over the last six years. The general consensus was to move from the older S-Track to the new X-Track Race Carbon, which features bindings and cleats compatible with Shimano’s popular SPD. The bindings are near-identical to Shimano’s, and even have similar tension adjustments. According to the mechanics there’s no difference visually, and they’re effective with Shimano cleats.
Weight is comparable to previous models, at around 346 grams a pair, and the extra platform space provides greater contact, for improved power transfer. At least, that’s the theory; but it also translates to more stability and comfort – perfect for marathon and stage racing.
Standard Eagle XX1 takes up the shifting duties, but no drivetrain is any good if the chain comes off. In the typically rough terrain of many mountain-bike races it’s a real risk, and can undo an entire race or stage. Pyga designer Patrick Morewood designed a simple yet effective solution, proprietary to the Stage.
The Pyga Chain Guard is 3D-printed in Howick by Rapid 3D. Connected to the main pivot, the guard is adjustable to different chainring sizes. The outboard of the chain guard is open, so in the event that a chain does drop, it can be remounted on the chainring with ease. According to team manager Ruan Lochner, there have been zero drops since they began using the chain guard.
Made from Toray carbon, the Pyga Stage hasn’t seen many revisions, bar some refinements. A longer-travel version is also available, in the Stage Max. While some bigger brands are only coming around to a longer, slacker geometry now, designer Patrick Morewood has long been a proponent of the concept.
The Stage comes standard with a RockShox Monarch rear shock, and has 110mm of rear travel – which can be reduced to 97mm with a fitted collar while keeping the same shock length, without affecting geometry. Except for one rider, the entire team opts to run the rear with 110mm travel.
The geometry, with a longer reach, and slacker head angle and rear travel, can run 100mm to 120mm suspension travel up front. The team have been on test rides with a 120mm fork – the consensus being that with a carbon steerer, they would consider racing with a 120mm World Cup Sid fork.
Ritchey World Championship Series components are the cockpit spec of choice, and are known as a standard for light weight plus sufficient strength to withstand the rigours of racing. The lightweight carbon seatpost, stem and handlebars are in use on all the team’s bikes. Each rider is sized and fitted with the appropriate stem length and handlebar width.