Ragley M74 review

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£700

Long geometry and precise steering make for a fun ride at a low price

BikeRadar verdict

60.0 out of 5 stars

"It needs a muscular riding style to get the best from it, but this budget technical trail muncher is a bargain"

Friday, February 3, 2012 8.00am By

Borrowing its geometry from the popular mmmBop aluminium trail hardtail, the M74 swaps in some budget-conscious tubing to keep the price down and ends up ride-ready with its 1x9 transmission at a wallet-friendly £700. 

Although not quite the budget mmmBop that Ragley would like us to believe, the M74 is good enough – and cheap enough – to stand on its own two wheels. It has great handling and genuine hard-riding ability, at a price that should make the competition weep, making it well worth considering.

Ride & handling: Long geometry and precise steering make for a fun ride at a low price

The M74 we rode was an early production bike and some minor spec details may change but it’s very close to what will shortly be available. The frame sticks with Ragley's usual formula of slack angles and a long top tube – an unusual take on geometry that works well, particularly for riders who actively take on the trail. 

The laid-back angles are about all the M74 shares with the more costly mmmBop, though. The budget chassis build lacks the subtle fluidity of thinner tube walls and a more forgiving rear triangle – it’s not at its best when you’re drifting along admiring scenery. But largely all Ragleys seem to be at their best when ridden hard and the M74 wants to be told where to go by its rider.

Ragley’s decision to market the M74 with a 1x9 setup is a bold one but we think it suits the bike’s playful character. The single chainring setup keeps gear selection simple and the long top tube and slack angles work extremely well, to keep the rider’s weight centred between the wheels, making it easy to shuffle between front and rear wheel-biased grip. 

The fly in the ointment is the unique-to-Ragley RockShox Recon Silver R fork, which, despite offering great steering precision thanks to its Maxle through-axle, has the typical over-sprung and slightly cludgy feel of a budget coil-spring unit. Still, at this price it’d be churlish to make too much of it.

Frame & equipment: Rigid frame build verges on harsh; the fork doesn’t do the frame justice

Ragley’s current line of bikes was built for typical UK-based technical trail riding. The company's slack-and-long approach to frame design works well for a number of different end uses, from cross-country to technical trail riding, giving the M74 the same versatility as its more expensive counterparts elsewhere in the range.

To keep the price down, other Ragley-specific features have been replaced on the M74 with bog-standard stays and guides. There’s still enough room to run 2.35in tyres but the bridged chainstays mean there's considerably less room for the gloop to fall through. In other words, the M74 has sacrificed some of the UK-friendliness in a bid to shave costs.

Still, there’s plenty of good news. Rack mounts add a dose of real-world practicality to the otherwise unremarkable rear end, while a tapered head tube combines with the Maxle-equipped fork to provide a very stiff, stable and plantable front end offering up to 120mm of coil sprung travel.

A mixture of Ragley and branded finishing kit makes up the rider contact points, while the transmission is a 1x9 affair made up of SRAM X5 derailleurs and a Truvativ Blaze Howitzer 34-tooth single chainring with chainguide up front. If you want to add a wider range of gears you just need to remove the chain guide and add chainrings, a front mech and a shifter. The bike weighs in at a big boned 13.25kg (29.21lb).

Ragley m74: ragley m74

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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Specification

Name:
M74 (12)
Brand:
Ragley
Price:
£700

Description:
16, 18, 20in
Bottom Bracket:
Truvativ
Brakes:
Avid Elixir hydraulic discs, 180/160mm rotors
Cassette:
SRAM 11-34T, 9spd
Chain:
KMC
Cranks:
Truvativ Blaze Howitzer 34T w/guide
Fork:
RockShox Recon Silver R, coil, 120mm
Frame Material:
7046 T6 triple butted alu
Front Derailleur:
SRAM X5
Grips/Tape:
Ragley lock-on
Handlebar:
Truvativ Hussefelt alu riser, 680mm
Head Angle:
68
Rear Derailleur:
SRAM X5
Saddle:
X-Lite
Seat Angle:
72
Seatpost:
Unbranded
Shifters:
SRAM X5
Stem:
Unbranded, 70mm
Weight (kg):
13.25
Weight (lb):
29.2
Bottom Bracket Height (in):
13
Chainstays (in):
16.7
Seat Tube (in):
16
Standover Height (in):
30.25
Top Tube (in):
24
Wheelbase (in):
44.25
Tyres:
Maxxis High Roller, 2.35in
Front Wheel:
Jalco Disc X350 rim, unbranded hub, stainless spokes
Rear Wheel:
Jalco Disc X350 rim, SRaM MTH-306 hub, stainless spokes

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