With the new Propain Hugene 2021, the cult brand presents its reworked trail bike. With a new design, new kinematics, more travel and comprehensive individualisation options through Propain’s configurator, this stunning looking bike promises big things. We reveal in our test what the new Propain Hugene 2021 is capable of.

Propaine Hugene 2021 | 140/140 mm (f/r) | 13.18 kg (size L)
7,114 € | Manufacturer’s website

“One bike to rule them all!” Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? The guys at cult brand Propain know how to whet our appetite. With its new look and freshly reworked carbon frame, the new Hugene bears more than a passing resemblance to its big brothers the Tyee and Spindrift. With more reach, more travel and more aggressive geometry, the lightweight trail bike promises better performance both up- and downhill and is intended to be happy to have a go at anything, from day tours to alpine crossings. If you want, you can even choose an upgrade to 150 mm travel up front and can emblazon your own logo on the top tube.

The Propain Hugene 2021 in detail

Like its predecessor, the new Propain Hugene rolls on 29″ wheels and relies on Propain’s own Pro10 suspension platform. With 10 mm more travel at the rear and a reworked carbon frame, it promises to be both more capable downhill and more efficient uphill. The new, weight-optimised frame even has a carbon rocker to save extra weight.

Like many brands, Propain have designed a mount for additional tools.
Replaceable chainstay…
… and down tube protectors – great!
The upgraded cable routing looks better and provides more protection to cable runs.

All cables run internally through guides and now exit above the bottom bracket to prevent avoidable damage and create a clean look. Like the Tyee and Spindrift, the pivot bearings are fitted with Propain’s “Dirt-Shields” which offer additional protection from dust, dirt and moisture. Similarly, SRAM’s UDH derailleur hanger is used, making it easier to find and replace if required.

Propain’s “Dirt Shields” provide additional protection from mud and moisture.
A neat look thanks to the wireless SRAM AXS drivetrain.

The geometry of the Propain Hugene 2021

The updated carbon frame offers several updates in terms of geometry and suspension. The Hugene is available in four sizes from S–XL and rolls on 29″ wheels, with the reach, seat tube angle and chainstay length updated to match the expanded capabilities of the bike. With 20 mm more reach and a head tube angle of 65°, it’s supposed to provide more stability at speed without significant compromises on slower trails. All sizes have 445 mm chainstays which, combined with the 2.5° slacker head angle, promises good balance. Finally, the effective seat tube angle has been increased to 76.5°, allowing Propain to optimise the riding position for the uphills.

The geometry of the new Propain Hugene 2021 (140 mm travel):

Size S M L XL
Top tube 577 mm 604 mm 631 mm 659 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm
Head angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Seat angle 76.5° 76.5° 76.5° 76.5°
BB Drop 34 mm 34 mm 34 mm 34 mm
Chainstay 445 mm 445 mm 445 mm 445 mm
Wheelbase 1184 mm 1213 mm 1242 mm 1271 mm
Reach 430 mm 455 mm 480 mm 505 mm
Stack 612 mm 621 mm 630 mm 640 mm

What configuration options are there and how much does the new Hugene cost?

Custom bikes are a great thing and with their configurator, Propain offer everyone the opportunity to tailor the components and design to their preference. Nonetheless, three standard specs are offered, though these can also be modified. The entry-level “Start” model is available for € 3,399, followed by the “Performance” (€ 4,549) and “Highend” (€ 7,144). If you’re after more travel, Propain also offer the option of fitting a 150 mm FOX 36 GRIP2 on all models.

The “Start” model comes fitted with a RockShox Pike Select RC fork with low-speed rebound and damping adjustments. A RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT shock provides lockout even on the entry-level model. On the € 4,549 “Performance” model, Propain fit a RockShox Pike Ultimate RCT3, though this uses the less adjustable Charger damper in favour of offering an unnecessary lockout for the fork. Here, a RockShox Deluxe Ultimate RCT shock is fitted.

Our “Highend” test bike sees Propain choose FOX suspension. Our bike comes with a FOX 34 Factory GRIP2 fork combined with the capable FOX DPX2 Factory shock. Unfortunately, this specific fork can’t be selected in the online configurator. Like the other pre-configured builds, Propain fit SRAM G2 brakes. However, these are a little lacking in power and we would suggest an upgrade to Formula Cura 4 or Magura MT7 models instead. SRAM also provide the drivetrain parts, making mixing and matching individual shifting components easy. That also means the “Highend” build comes with the option of a wireless SRAM AXS X01 drivetrain. We found the 805 mm wide bars fitted across the range more of a hindrance than a help and recommend cutting them down immediately. Likewise, the Schwalbe Nobby Nic SuperTrail tires quickly reach their limits in rough terrain. Here we suggest making use of the free upgrade to a Schwalbe Magic Mary/Big Betty combination.
Propain give you free choice of the remaining parts, allowing you to select everything from the seatpost length to the colour of the decals on the top tube. Brilliant! The new Hugene will be available to order from 2 February 2021.

The Propain Hugene 2021 on the trail

Propain promise, “One bike to rule them all!” raising big expectations. We gathered our first impression in wintery conditions. Normally it’s all about work then play but the new Hugene is a lot of fun to ride uphill too. We rarely needed the lockout on the shock and the stable rear end hardly bobs, even with the shock open. Likewise, the steeper seat tube angle and low weight, in combination with the high anti-squat, tempt you to quick uphill blasts and extra climbing, while preventing the front wheel lifting annoyingly. Climbing? No problem!

The suspension stays calm even when pedalling out of the saddle.

Having reached the top, the Hugene shines with precise handling on the downhills. However, due to the wide bars on our test bike, lots of weight is shifted to the front and in wet, slippery conditions, the limited grip of the Schwalbe Nobby Nic is only tested further. We swapped out the tires giving us more control and braking traction despite the wintery conditions.

Our preferred way to exit corners.
Making use of every opportunity to catch some air.

With an active riding style and practised shifting of your weight, the bike can be manoeuvred quickly around tight corners and delivers a secure ride in rough terrain too. The sensitive rear end generates good grip yet provides enough support to play with the trail and catch air. The short rear end encourages you to tip the new Hugene onto the rear wheel frequently while maintaining enough balance for tough terrain. In direct comparison to the previous Hugene models, thanks to its slacker head tube angle the new bike feels significantly calmer, more precise and stiffer without being excessively hard.

Riding through rocks with precision.
The Hugene encourages you to play!

Propane Hugene 2021 conclusion

With the redesign of the Hugene, Propain haven’t just given it a smart look but have successfully updated the geometry and suspension. The already good climbing characteristics of its predecessor have been improved upon and the calm and precise handling combine to create a capable package. Unfortunately, the choice of tires and the overly wide bars limit the potential of the bike, though the configurator offers enough options to remedy those issues and tune the bike to your preferences and requirements.


  • precise steering
  • neutral-pedalling suspension
  • great look with cool features
  • easy to use configurator


  • tires limit the potential of the bike
  • overly wide bars

More information can be found at propain.com

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Jonas Müssig, Peter Walker

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!