The Blue Pig has the edge in terms of handling, and ultimately that’s what really matters.
With its sights firmly fixed on all-mountain riding and enduro racing, the Blue Pig has the most progressive geometry in this test.
Its sub-64° head angle sounds alarming but combined with the 150mm-travel fork the Blue Pig hits its sweetspot as the fork sags into its travel. It is also the only bike here with a steel frame — its slender 4130 cro-mo tubing giving it that classic hardcore hardtail profile.
Sizing on the Blue Pig has been updated for 2017, with the XS option dropped to make way for an XL. This isn’t a renaming exercise however, as the seat tube lengths have all been reduced by an inch, and the reach measurement on each size extended by 20mm. Even with that, the size Medium Blue Pig is by no means the longest frame here, but its slack head angle helps extend the wheelbase, bringing it in line with an Orange Crush in terms of stability. The final revision is that the seat angle has been steepened by one degree to 73° to improve its climbing capability.
With its steel frame helping to tip the scales at 13.98kg, it’s no surprise that the Ragley is the heaviest bike in this test. Still, it’s only 270g more than an Orange Crush, so the Blue Pig can hardly be considered a porker.
On paper, the Ragley has the shortest reach measurement, but again you shouldn’t let this alarm you. Because of the super-slack head angle there’s no need to run the 150mm RockShox Yari fork overly firm, and with the recommended 25 per cent sag, the frame pitches forward more than normal, which in turn increases the reach measurement.
The extra sag also lowers the bottom bracket height and ensures that the front end isn’t too high for efficient climbing. By far the biggest benefit however, is the improvement in front-end grip. This bike rails corners like no other hardtail we’ve tested and Ragley really has mimicked the ride quality of an enduro bike, albeit without the rear suspension.
The Ragley comes fitted with the narrowest tyres on test. At 2.3/2.25in, the WTB combo offers a less damped ride compared to the other bikes, all of which are sporting 2.4in rear tyres. However, there’s no lack of grip, and the tyres continue to roll as easily as their wider counterparts. Given how fast the Blue Pig can be ridden, we’d still welcome a larger volume rear just for a bit of extra cushioning.
Naturally, the main talking point with the Blue Pig is its super-slack head angle. We measured it at 63.6˚! You may think that’s far too slack; it isn’t. The sizing is spot-on too, giving the rider a perfectly balanced position between the contact patches. With this poise comes comfort and confidence, and an unmatched ability to ride flat out.
The Ragley simply loves being pointed downhill, making it the perfect hardtail for messing around in the woods. Its cornering ability is second to none, happy to be thrown in hard and come out even faster. Even with the slack head angle, the front end never feels like it pushes away from you, and it always gives you the right amount of feedback to really crank the bike over.
We’ve established that the Ragley slays descents and carves corners with ease, but can it handle the climbs? Thanks to its steep 73° seat angle and agile feel, even technical ascents are well within its reach. Sure, it’s never going to win an XC race, but it’s happy spinning up any gradient, so you can keep slapping turns all day long.
Even with the slender seatstays, the Ragley frame isn’t as forgiving as an Orange Crush, which somewhat contradicts the popular belief that ‘steel is real’. It’s not overly harsh though, and the rear end feels very similar to a Whyte 905 in terms of its ability to absorb vibrations, so it’s not going to destroy your lower back on longer rides.
The Blue Pig isn’t really about racking up the miles, however — its talents lie in having fun and generating big smiles.
Out of the box, the Ragley Blue Pig is dialled. With its super-slack head angle, sensible sizing and a very commanding cockpit, it had us instantly up to speed. Yes, the steel frame is a little heavy and harsh, but the Blue Pig has the edge in terms of handling, and ultimately that’s what really matters. As such, the only limiting factors here are your skill level and creativity on the bike. It’s hands down the best hardtail we’ve tested, and it’s the first bike of 2017 to get mbr’s perfect 10 seal of approval.