At A Glance
The UK is the home of hardcore hardtails, and Ragley’s offering in the form of the Blue Pig stays faithful to that with this beast of a steel hardtail. For those that don’t know them, Ragley Bikes are a UK company who specialise in the gnarlier end of the hardtail market, and the Blue Pig sits at the top of their range as the burliest.Buy Hard Tails on
Ragley has made some bold claims regarding this bike, suggesting that it's an “All Mountain/Enduro Race friendly bike' and, \'is built for those who want to go faster, jump bigger or play harder'. The sales pitch here is that this is a true do-it-all hardtail, which can take you anywhere and whatever you can throw at it!
With a super slack 64-degree head angle, long top tube, low bottom bracket, short chainstays and 650b wheels they seem to be on the right track to back that up! These numbers are becoming quite common in today’s bike geometry, and if you didn’t know any better you’d think I was describing a modern full suspension bike! Even if I was, I was describing a full bounce enduro bike; some might still believe that the Ragley's 64-degree head angle could be a touch extreme!
Fitted with a Rockshox Yari 150mm Fork, a 50mm stem and 760mm wide bars you have the feeling that this is a bike that’s going to want to be pushed hard.
The drivetrain comes in the form of the super dependable Shimano SLX eleven speed, and with Shimano SLX brakes you know you’ve got the stopping power. Interestingly we once again see a Brand X Ascend 120mm dropper seat post in there, which is fast becoming a common sight in 2017. The wheels are WTB ASYM IP23 TCS Rims, laced to secure, bolt thru axle Novatac hubs and paired with WTB rubber. The 2.3 Vigilante High Grip Compound on the front and a faster rolling 2.25 Trail Boss Fast Compound on the rear give a solid and proven connection to the ground
Aesthetically the Blue Pig has some beautiful, classic, clean lines from the head tube down to the chain stays, and while the paint job might not be everyone’s cup of tea it certainly stands out from the crowd, and you're unlikely to get lost in the woods.
On The Trail
In theory, this bike is made for my kind of riding, which is generally charging through the woods. I was keen to see if this was indeed an enduro sled and would compete with my full suspension machine! My first surprise when riding the Pig was how well it climbs given the numbers, it’s by no means an XC racer but this thing can shift, and as nearly all my riding starts with a climb, it's a good start!
Having not ridden a hardtail for some time, when it came to the first descent it took me a little while to adjust. The 150mm fork, slack head angle and low bottom bracket meant the bike stayed stable in steep and rough conditions despite the lack of bounce. One thing I noticed though was that with winter in full effect here there was a lot of sideways action in the muddy trails in the woods – perhaps too much.
For an experiment, I swapped out the stock tyres for something more fitting of winter conditions and with the new tyres fitted I headed out into the woods, which is where the bike felt most at home. It handled steep rooty descents with ease, but while you can’t take your brain out and descend like on a full-suspension bike, it was quite remarkable just how hard and fast you could push the Blue Pig.
Having tested the Blue Pig on a variety of terrain this bike was certainly at its best in my local woods where it wasn’t intimidated in the slightest by the steep stuff. If anything, I actually rode the steep and more technical trails smoother than when on my full suspension bike – go figure? It was only on long, relentless rocky descents did I actually think that I would rather be on a full suspension bike, but even then it was enjoyable to try and carve the smoothest and safest line possible.
Making sure you get your weight over the front of the bike to make the most of the long slack geometry when cornering is key, which allowed me to feed the front end into corners and let the rear skip through. Line choice is critical when riding a hardtail and it certainly makes you lean towards the smoother line, but when called upon the Blue Pig can batter its way through a rock garden if needed!
The SLX groupset was as reliable as ever, with shifting being smooth and braking consistent at all times. The Brand X Ascend Dropper was a nice addition, with its sleek under bar lever and almost friction-free action – my only complaint is that I’d like a 150mm drop as opposed to the 120mm fitted.
As mentioned earlier I swapped over the tyres, which are always a personal choice but for a bike like this, I’d always opt for a more aggressive and larger volume tyre on the rear to add a bit more traction up and down.
As for the Rockshox Yari, it was incredibly consistent throughout the test and although it doesn’t have the same amount of dampening as a Pike it certainly felt stiffer and more stable in the chunky stuff. Setting up the Yari was a walk in the park, all you have to do is set the sag, and away you go. Also, I didn’t find a need to use any tokens with the fork, unlike the Pike where I run two.
The Blue Pig pushes the boundaries of what a modern hardtail can do; in fact, it made me question whether I even need a full suspension rig at all! Ragley have outdone themselves with this all-mountain/enduro hardtail which seems to climb better the harder and faster you go, and when it comes to descending the only thing holding it back is indeed the pilot.
This review was in Issue 47 of IMB.For more information visit Ragley Bikes
By Danny O'CallaghanDanny is a lover of trails! He has explored these trails worldwide but the trails he loves the most are on his doorstep in the English Lake District and he's made it his personal mission to ride them all! Always keen to push the limits, he has an impressive list of injuries and adventures in equal measure.