Ragley’s Blue Pig steel frame has been a huge success and now they've launched a refined version for those who don’t mind paying for a higher-class of ride and extra versatility. The Blue Pig X isn’t ideal for everyone. However, if you want an astonishingly surefooted, ultra-conﬁdent, downhill-orientated hardtail with massive setup versatility and all the enthusiastic spring and shock absorption of a top-quality steel hardtail then it’s got no equal, at any price.
Ride & handling: Quality steel ride with technical conﬁdence and setup versatility
Ragley supply frames not complete bikes, but UK distributors Hotlines have put together a strong but cost-effective look for our test sample. For a start there’s £700 worth of RockShox Revelation XX fork up front. The hydraulic lockout might be fancier than most steel hardtail fans will go for, but when it comes to hammering down the steepest, twistiest steps and rooty descents there isn’t a lightweight trail fork that can match it.
A 20mm Maxle axle, BlackBox damping control, external butted frame accuracy and slack head angle give the Pig X astonishing mental-moment control. The long top tube and long wheelbase make it surefooted. Despite the steep seat angle the layback post puts the saddle clamp halfway back along the chainstays in vertical terms. We switched to an inline post for a more positive connection with the front wheel.
A decent width bar, short stem, shock-absorbing steel feel and Maxxis tyres add to its advantage on technical test rides and it got to the bottom of every descent ﬁrst by a big margin. It shamed a lot of full-suspension bikes that tagged along too. Initial reservations about whether it needed a chain device were soon answered by the way it keeps you off the brakes and on the attack even with your back wheel in the air and front wheel scrabbling.
The long top tube gives plenty of breathing space for climbs and the Ragley feels solid under maximum power. It tracks well too, so you spend more time torquing than trying to balance traction and direction. It’s smoother than most alloy bikes so you can stay in the saddle rather than dance about to limit lumbar damage. But it’s not as sharp as some alloy bikes when it comes to snappy sprints and short climbs.
It will chase other riders, but you need to provide the enthusiasm if the terrain isn’t steep enough to excite it naturally. The extra-long wheelbase and slack front end needs a lot more room to swing through the tight stuff than more compact bikes but you’ll soon get used to the chasing-a-wheelbarrow feeling. If you want something more conventional there’s a new Piglet frame, which shares a lot of the same excellent features but in a more conventional, shorter-travel fork format.
Frame: True Temper tubeset puts stiffness where it matters, without losing whip and ﬂex
UK trail hardtail designer Brant Richards has produced a seriously detailed frame. The True Temper OX Platinum ‘Fathead’ top/down tubes are formed to his specs, using an external butting proﬁle to support the head tube better. There’s a small box gusset between the main tubes, reinforcing the 44mm head tube to allow use of standard, tapered or full 1.5in steerer tube, 6in-travel forks.
Chainstays are externally butted, while the rear disc mount sits on the chainstay to remove braking stress from the skinny, curved seatstays. The seat tube top is 30.9mm for compatibility with dropper seatposts, but swells to 34.9mm to increase resistance to pedalling twist. The three-ﬁnger bridge gives vast tyre and chainring clearance. It's tidied up and cast on the Blue Pig X rather than made out of cut plate as on the original Blue Pig.
The Blue Big X borrows the ‘swap-out’ dropout system from DMR for multi rear axle compatibility. Bolt-on/off cable clips allow various cable and hose routing strategies, and the powder coated frame is anti-corrosion treated inside. These features and the frame tubing add signiﬁcant cost over the basic Blue Pig frame at £260, which remains available.