Ram HT3 £650

Solid base for upgrading

BikeRadar score 2.5/5

This tough Eastern European hardtail looks a good alternative option for more aggressive riders. If you’re after a tough frame with an individual style and custom paint options to match, the Ram should certainly be on your list. As a complete package though, compromises in the spec – particularly the fork – leave it lagging on performance until you upgrade.

Ride & handling: Potentially a tough, hardcore trail bike, but fork lets side down

While the seat is comfy and forgiving, there’s no doubting that this is a tough and solid bike as soon as you sling a leg over it, and the broad Truvativ bars give plenty of steering authority when things get rough.

The short fork gives fast cross-country style angles though, and the 100mm stem is better suited to keeping a straight line than flicking through super-tight singletrack at speed. The skinny fork legs twist and twang as soon as you start working them hard too.

The suspension action of the basic RockShox Dart fork is much less smooth and control-enhancing than that of the Tora and Recon models found on other bikes at this pricepoint. While there are certainly worse performers from other brands, the skinny structure, flex and basic suspension control is a definite downside.

On the plus side, the reinforced frame and steep geometry would have no trouble handling a longer through-axle fork if you’re planning to upgrade it into a tough, hardcore bike.

While it’s one of the heavier bikes in this price bracket, the rigid back end translates to a real snap under power, reafirming its suitability for stronger, more aggressive riders. Yet the amount of shock and clatter coming through to the rider means it’s not comfortable on longer rides.

Frame: Tough chassis with a pro-level pedigree and custom paintjobs

The HT3 frame is the same one used by legendarily aggressive 4X/dual slalom hard man Martin “Oggy” Ogden, and it looks as tough as it obviously is.

The rectangular down tube with big flared head end supports the whole back of the big barrel-chested head tube. The triangulated, hydroformed top tube then locks into the back of it all for huge front-end strength.

Massive triangular seatstay tops and flat welds onto the cowled, cutout dropouts ensure an equally solid rear end. Tyre space is tall rather than wide, and the unused V-brake mounts look awkward.

Ram’s ‘CFF’ Custom Factory Finish option is a unique bonus on a mid-price bike, however. You choose mainframe paint and decal panel colours to create a genuinely standout ride.

Equipment: Decent wheelset and brakes, but we've seen better specs at this price

Apart from the handlebars, the supplied Truvativ, RockShox and SRAM kit is a notch below what we’d expect on mail order bikes at this price.

The brakes are decent though, and the tough Mavic-rimmed handbuilt wheelset is wrapped in grippy Maxxis High Roller rubber. The 27.2mm diameter seatpost adds seating flex under the soft-nosed saddle.

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