Ragley’s Bluepig has been a boundary stretcher since 2008, and the latest version literally stretches hardcore hardtail performance to a whole new level of big grin, full-gas fun.
Triple-butted chromoly steel tubes are reinforced with a throat gusset behind the 44mm head tube. There’s a bracing strut from the super-sloped top tube to the extended seat tube, while the skinny seatstays extend directly inline, with a small plate brace.
The Bluepig still uses a cunning ‘Three Finger’ split plate on the driveside for chainring and 2.4in tyre clearance, while the non-driveside chainstay is a conventional curved tube. Forged-plate stay ends carry big dropout sections for the 142x12mm bolt-through axle (QR versions are also available if you’re building up from a £549 frame).
You get a ‘stealth’-routed Brand-X dropper — my current budget fave — as standard and Ragley’s own-brand cockpit kit, which always scores well in tests too.
Smooth operation of the Shimano SLX gears is helped by the Pig’s clean cable routing, and the cranks are tough and light. The SLX brakes are control rich too, though I’d prefer bigger rotors. While the lightweight wheel/rubber pack boosts acceleration and agility, the rims are quite narrow and the rear tyre is relatively fragile.
Ragley Bluepig ride impression
With the ‘slack as a DH bike’ 64-degree (static) head angle and huge 1,200mm wheelbase accentuated by the slim steel stays and eye-burning neon paintwork, the Bluepig looks borderline ridiculous if you see someone else riding it.
Ragley has nailed the holistic fit and kit though, so it somehow seems totally dialled as soon as you sit on it and take a couple of lazy, tyre-scrubbing loops of the car park. Tee it up into the first trail section — red is good, black even better — and the way it places its sticky front tyre with totally unshakable gravitas is a gravity-fuelled rider’s dream.
It doesn’t take long to prove that steel is still an excellent material choice for hardcore bikes either. Because the geometry lets you carry a huge amount of speed through smooth trails and berms, you’ll inevitably slam into rock sections a lot faster than normal.
It’s a sign of just how sweetly it rides that I didn’t feel under-barred or lacking in tyre volume or rim width on the Ragley most of the time either, although adding more power-steering leverage and some max support, max grip rubber to its already cocksure character would take its corner-exploding potential to the unreasonable limit.
The lighter wheelset is what keeps it alive and enjoyable on rolling trail rides or proper days out, though, and switching tyres to heavier-duty rubber muted its more playful character.
It’s also worth noting that even sprung steel stays can’t mimic the steamroller speed sustain of a 2.8–3.0in plus tyre on staccato trails. As far as the capability of a conventional 650b-tyred hardcore hardtail goes, though, the Bluepig pushes the fast and furious fun limits of double-black or day ride missions further than ever before.