There's a lot to like about this German direct-sales rig, but to get the most from it, you must go mullet.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 7

Propain Rage 3 CF 29 Highend


  • • Good straight line speed and square edge performance
  • • Adjustable chainstay length and geometry
  • • Fox Factory suspension is first rate
  • • Magura MT7 brakes were best in test


  • • We couldn’t get the geometry and suspension to sync
  • • Lots of chain slap and cable noise
  • • Schwalbe’s Magic Mary isn’t good as a rear tyre
  • • Not close to race ready out of the box


Propain’s Rage 3 CF DH race bike has 215mm of travel and can be built around 29in or MX wheels – just don’t pick the wrong wheel size


Price as reviewed:


As raced by Phil Atwill and his Propain Positive World Cup team mates, and ridden by YouTube star, Remi Metailler, the Propain Rage is built for the roughest tracks, gnarliest features, and biggest jumps. So how does it stack up against other big-hitting direct sales downhill bikes? Such as the YT Tues and Canyon Sender that we’ve brought together for this test? Buckle up to find out; it’s going to be a wild ride!

Instead of having a fixed model range, Propain takes a slightly different approach with the Rage 3 CF downhill bike. You start with the basic build at £3,999, then if you want to spend more money on a higher specification, you simply customise the bike with the Performance or Highend parts packages. You can also choose your preferred frame colour, graphics colour and MX or full 29in wheel options. There’s even a full custom option if you want to mix and match all three build kits.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

The Propain Rage CF 3 is available in three stock builds, or you can customise it

Given the £6k target price point of our direct sales 29er DH bike group test, we went with the Rage 3 CF 29 Highend build.  With Fox Factory suspension and 29in wheels the spec closely matches the YT Tues Core 4 and Canyon Sender CFR 29 which are in the same test.

Propain Rage 3 CF 29 Highend need to know

  • Carbon frame DH bike with 215mm travel
  • Flip chips for 29in or MX wheels
  • Three frame sizes, M, L, XL
  • Chainstay length adjustment: 445mm and 460mm
  • Highend build gets Fox Factory suspension
  • Fox 40 fork has 203mm travel
  • SRAM X0 DH 7-speed drivetrain
  • Magura MT7 brakes
  • Stans rims, Schwalbe tyres
  • Entry-level bike for £3,999

Frame and geometry

We’ve already mentioned that the Rage 3 CF comes in 29in and MX options, and Propain accommodates both wheel sizes with flip chips in the swingarm where it connects to the upper suspension link. The key takeaway here though, is that the flip chips do not correct the geometry 100% for the MX option, resulting in a slightly lower BB height and marginally slacker head angle when running the 27.5in rear wheel. Keep that in mind, because we are going to come back to it later.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Propain offers the Rage CF 3 with MX or 29in wheels. We’d go MX for sure

DH bikes are highly evolved and highly focused machines, so it should come as no surprise that the static geometry of the Rage 3 CF in full 29in is pretty much identical to the YT and Canyon in almost every way. With a whopping 215mm rear travel though, the dynamic geometry of the Propain should sit slightly lower and slacker with the same percentage of sag. Again, keep that in mind.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

The Propain Rage CF 3 looks short, but it’s right in line with the Canyon and YT

The sizing spread on the Proapin is slightly different to the YT and Canyon. Again the carbon frame comes in three sizes, this time M, L and XL. And to match the reach with the smallest options from Canyon and YT we went with the size L Propain. That put us dead centre in the sizing recommendation for Rage 3 CF frame and it also meant that the Propain had the longest reach in test. But just by a hair.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Flip chips in the carbon swingarm provide two chainstay settings

To make the bike adaptable to different terrain, the rear dropouts have flip chips that enable you to swap between a pretty standard 445mm chainstay length to a relatively long 460mm setting. The brake adapter has two mounting positions to accommodate both settings, but you need to fit the corresponding derailleur hanger for each chainstay length, so the derailleur moves in step with the rear axle. The problem with this approach is you need to remember where you put the one you’re not currently using.


Propain used its twin-link suspension design on the Rage 3 CF to deliver a whopping 215mm rear travel. It’s a counter-rotating configuration, so it shares more in common with Santa Cruz’s VPP design than the more traditional 4-bar layouts on the YT and Canyon. As such, the carbon rear end of the Rage is fully triangulated and suspended by two alloy links. The Fox DHX2 Factory shock is then sandwiched between the upper and lower link, which means the shock is not anchored directly to the carbon front triangle.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Propain’s twin-link suspension design delivers 215mm of travel

Large cartridge bearings help distribute the load, and additional dust seals have been added to extend the life of the bearings. Well, that’s the theory. In practice, the dust seals on the lower link are too loose and move on the bearings, which makes them useless. Thankfully they are not preloaded by the pivot hardware, so you can remove them if they bug you.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Dyfi Bike Park has the pace and roughness to challenge any DH bike

Getting the rear suspension on the Propain just so, felt like an absolute mission and even after two weeks of testing in Morzine we still never really got it to feel exactly how we wanted it to. We tried three different spring rates, with both chainstay lengths, and tweaked the 4-way adjustable damping on the Fox DHX2 shock, all to no avail.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Look at the crowns! We ran the Fox 40 fork on Propain at full extension

Now, contrast that with the 203mm travel Fox 40 Factory fork where we simply plugged in the baseline spring pressure and damping settings from the YT and Canyon. One change we did make to the Propain was to drop the fork legs through the crowns to raise the front end up a hair to help get our weight further back on steeper tracks. A higher rise handlebar would have also helped here.


The Magura MT7 brakes on the Propain were absolutely standout. They have a light, smooth lever action that’s backed up with stacks of stopping power and great modulation. Best of all, the two-peice MDR-P semi-floating rotors meant that no matter how steep it was we could drag the rear brake like an anchor with complete confidence in our ability to stop. No squealing from the brakes either, even when the riders were getting vocal.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

The Magura MT7 brakes were simply amazing

Not that you could hear the rider’s screams over the sound of cable rattle and chain slap. It was deafening. Our solution was to zip-tie the cables directly to the frame where they exited the downtube. This also stopped the cables from migrating through the frame as the suspension cycled through its travel.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Zip ties are your beat friend on the Propain Rage CF 3

Now to address the chain slap. We found an old piece of rubber gym flooring and zip-tied it directly to the rock-hard plastic chainstay protector. This helped, but it did not eliminate the clatter of the chain completely. So we also removed the lower section of the Sixpack Millenium chain guide. Again it was an improvement, rather than a fix. The solution?  Proapin is currently working on an updated chainstay protector, but in the meantime we’d instantly swap out the stock chain guide for one from e13 or MRP.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

Rubber gym matting helped reduce chain noise, but it did not eliminate it

Our test bike came with Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres front and rear, as Propain offers this combo as one of the build options. The tyres were 2.4in wide in DH casing with the excellent Addix Ultra Soft compound. It was a great combination for some of the sneaky loamers we found, but on the sunbaked bike park trails of Morzine and Les Gets, the Magic Mary on the back made the Propain feel like it had rear wheel steering. Yes, it makes a great front tyre, but if you’re ordering a Propain online, make sure you get the Magic Mary/Big Betty combo instead.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

The Schwalbe Magic Mary makes a great front tyre, it’s not so good on the rear though


Okay. Let’s ignore the cable rattle and chain noise for just a minute and focus on the ride quality of the Propain Rage 3 CF. Which was actually really hard to do when testing it. In a straight line the rear suspension feels very fluid. Square edge hits don’t seem to phase it one jot, so the bike carries speed really well and does a good job of isolating the rider from fatiguing impacts. In fact, even when we hit a hidden rock hard enough to put a massive flat spot in the Stans ZTR Flow rear rim, the bike just kept on trucking like nothing had happened.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

A brief moment of silence, as the Propain Rage CF 3 glides through the air

Try to ride the Propain more dynamically though, and things start to come unstuck. With the correct spring rate and sag the bike feels short and tall, even though the geometry clearly indicates that it’s neither. And so the daily tweaking started. Running a lighter spring helped put our feet where we want them relative to the handlebar and the ground, but then the rear suspension would blast through the travel too easily. Which just made the bike feel really unpredictable, especially on bigger jumps.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

The long 460mm chainstay setting adds stability, but can make it harder to get your weight back

After running three different spring rates, in both chainstay settings, we found the best compromise to be the firmer spring for support, paired with the longer rear end to stretch out the bike for stability and help offset the high BB sensation. In fact, the only thing we didn’t try was a 27.5in rear wheel, which is exactly what the race team has settled on. So if you’re hell bent on buying a Propain Rage 3 CF, be sure to hit the MX option before check out, because the 29in bike will probably frustrate you just as much as it frustrated us.

Propain Rage CF 3 Highend

We never found the optimum setting for the Rage CF 3 29, and we tried everything bar a 27.5in rear wheel


As bike testers, it’s our job to tweak and adjust the test bikes to get the most out of them. But never have we spent so much time on one bike as the Propain Rage 3 CF Highend. Fundamentals like chain noise and cable rattle needed addressing straight out the box, which is super frustrating because in the modern era of DH bikes most manufacturers have these basics completely dialled. The baseline geometry and sizing of the Rage 4 CF is right in the ballpark, but we never managed to touch base with a suspension setup that synced 100% with geometry and handling. Set the spring rate so the geometry felt good, and the suspension was too soft. Flip it around, and the opposite was true. The only thing we didn’t try was to fit a 27.5in rear wheel. And given that is what all of the team riders have settled on, we can only assume it is the best solution.


Frame : Full carbon
Frame travel :215mm
Shock :Fox DHX2 Factory
Fork :Fox 40 Factory Grip 2
Fork travel :203mm (46mm offset)
Hubs :110/157mm Stans
Rims :Stans ZTR Flow EX3
Front tyre :Schwalbe Magic Mary DH Addiix Ultra Soft 29x2.4in
Rear tyre :Schwalbe Magic Mary DH Addiix Ultra Soft 29x2.4in
Chainset :SRAM X01 DH 36t, 165mm
Shifter :SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
Derailleur :SRAM X01 DH
Cassette :SRAM XG-795 DH 10-24t
Chain guide :Sixpack Millenium
Brakes :Magura MT7 4-piston
Rotor sizes :MDR-P 220mm/203mm
Handlebar:Sixpack Millenium 805mm
Stem :Sixpack Millenium 45mm
Seat post :Alloy
Saddle :Sixpack
Weight :16.92kg (37.3lb)
Sizes :M, L, XL
Size ridden:L
Rider height :180cm
Head angle :62.4º
Seat angle  :68.4º
Effective SA :80.6º
Head tube :110mm
BB height :349mm
Chainstay :445mm
Front centre :842mm
Wheelbase :1,287mm
Down tube :745mm
Seat tube :450mm
Top tube :585mm
Reach :470mm