Dedicated hardtail brand Ragley has all bases covered with the Ragley Blue Pig being the entry-level 27.5in steel offering with regular-size tyres.
There’s a Ragley Blue Pig Race above it with a higher specification. If 29in wheels are your thing, the Big Wigs share the same build kits and price structure but get dedicated 29in steel frames. Ragley also has the Piglet with 27.5in wheels and 2.6in tyres.
Ragley Blue Pig review
Independent of wheel or tyre size, all three bikes share a similar profile. The material of choice is 4130 cro-mo, where the slender rear triangle and clean front triangle give all the bikes a modern look. There are other features that unite all models too, like the bridge from the top tube to the seat tube, and the die-straight head tube. All frames also have ISCG tabs on the threaded BB shell for mounting a chain device. No bad thing on any bike with geometry to mirror a modern full-suspension mountain bike at sag – numbers that yield a slack 63.5° head angle, low 305mm BB height and short 425mm chainstays on the Blue Pig. At 452mm, the reach on the size large Blue Pig is positively short by full-suspension standards, but we need to remember that as the fork sags into its travel, the reach increases on a hardtail, so the Ragley isn’t as short as it seems on paper.
With a 150mm-travel RockShox Yari RC fork, the Blue Pig is at the upper end of the travel spectrum. The Yari is heavier than the Revelation on the Ribble but has a smooth, stiction-free action and does a great job at ironing out trail chatter. On rough, steep trails, however, you do notice the fork dive more than the Pike on the Canyon Stoic, and this is a direct result of it having more travel and a less-sophisticated damper. Running a couple of extra clicks of compression helps prop the front end up, but the best solution we found was to run the fork firmer and forgo the last 10mm of travel.
Ragley uses size-specific handlebars, so the small and medium bikes get 780mm- wide bars while those on the large and XL models span 800mm. Combined with the lock-on grips, we ended up with an 810mm bar width on our size large test bike. The seatpost drops are also specific to the frame size: small gets 125mm, medium 150mm, large and XL both have 170mm drop. Again, the Brand-X Ascend dropper post impressed us with its smooth operation, which makes it really easy to fine-tune your saddle height, like when lowering it a hair for technical climbing.
The SLX drivetrain worked faultlessly, and while the Deore chainset lacks the hollow arms found on Shimano’s more expensive units, we didn’t notice any loss of stiffness when standing up to sprint. We did notice the bite-point shifting continually on the Shimano Deore four-piston disc brakes though. We’ve heard rumours that Shimano’s brake fluid becomes more viscous as temperatures plummet, and we were testing the Ragley in freezing cold conditions. Could that be the cause of the issues we experienced? Probably not, as we experienced the exact same problem on other Shimano four-piston brakes in more temperate times.
With those slender stays, we expected the Ragley Blue Pig to offer a blissfully compliant ride. So we were somewhat disappointed when it felt much closer in feel to the alloy Canyon Stoic than the Ribble HT 275. It just proves you can’t make blanket statements about any frame material.
With the best geometry in test, the Ragley can be ridden to the very limit of the Maxxis tyres. And with your feet well below the axles, it feels reassuringly stable and composed on buff, fresh trails. Dive into rougher, steeper terrain, however, and the geometry screams go, but the jarring from the rear end says no. If steel’s lauded compliance isn’t present here, you have to ask what sense it makes to use the heavier material when it offers a similar feel to aluminium?
The Ragley Blue Pig has got the geometry and attitude to match the very best hardcore hardtails. And at a pound shy of two grand, it ticks most boxes. We say most, as the variable bite point on the Shimano Deore brakes was a major distraction, as was the relatively harsh ride quality of the 4130 steel frame. The extra roll-over of the 29in Big Wig would probably offer a superior ride quality, while still being able to send it. Alternatively, you could just up the tyre size from 2.4in to 2.6in on the back of the Blue Pig.