Ragley Mmmbop 27.5 review£1,150.00

Aggressive brawler of a hardtail with the fork to match

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Ragley is a UK brand with a penchant for hard-riding hardtails. Allegedly named after an infamous Yorkshire trail, rather than the catchy late-90s pop number, the Mmmbop is aimed at trail pinners who care more about descending than climbing.

Tasty alloy mainframe and supple fork

The beautifully finished frame uses a custom-butted tubeset (rather than bought-in and welded-together tubes) formed from heat-treated 6061-T6 alloy. This is done to provide stiffness where it’s needed most.

The distinctive three-pronged chainstay-to-BB interface is claimed to improve pedalling stiffness, while beefy seatstays prioritise strength over comfort. Mud clearance is ample, with room for bigger, comfier rubber than the 2.25in WTB Trail Boss fitted.

There's ample clearance for rubber wider than the stock wtb trail boss:
There's ample clearance for rubber wider than the stock wtb trail boss:

There's ample clearance for rubber wider than the stock WTB Trail Boss

Interchangeable dropouts allow you to swap out the 142x12mm rear end and fit a quick-release wheel. ISCG mounts are present and correct, along with internal routing for a dropper post.

Manitou’s 150mm (5.9in) travel Mattoc fork is a spec highlight, offering supple performance and intuitive damping control, which is a real boon on a long-travel hardtail like this. A suite of own-brand finishing kit keeps costs down but performs well too – the comfortable saddle, stiff stem and helpfully height-marked seatpost are the pick of the crop.

Shimano’s stalwart Deore groupset provides the bombproof transmission and braking kit, while 23mm wide WTB rims on Novatec hubs keep things light and responsive, and the mixed tyre combo – a WTB Vigilante up front, with a Trail Boss out back – gives a good balance of cornering grip and speed.

A brutal ride, but a total blast

We tested the Mmmbop along with a small herd of other aggro hardtails set up with identical tyre pressures (25psi front, 28psi rear). Part of our testing then involved riding each bike over a rough, rocky traverse, while seated.

Here, the Ragley offered a seriously bumpy ride. The frame’s beefy back end transmits a lot of jarring feedback to the rider’s back end, and this isn’t helped by the way the slack seat angle (72 degrees) and fairly short chainstays (420mm on the large frame) feel like they sit you directly over the rear axle rather than between the wheels.

Manitou's supple 150mm mattoc fork is a spec highlight:
Manitou's supple 150mm mattoc fork is a spec highlight:

Manitou's supple 150mm Mattoc fork is a spec highlight

This rearward position means you also have to take care to avoid the front end lifting on seated climbs, where we found ourselves straining on the bar and perching on the nose of the saddle.

It’s when you get out of the saddle that the Mmmbop comes to life though. The stiff Ragley bar and stem combine with the stout frame to allow you to wrench the bike forwards with punchy standing efforts, and the fork’s on-the-fly low-speed compression dial makes it easy to firm up the damping to resist bob under power.

Fork-fettling rewards

When things get gnarly, the Mattoc can be left in ‘open’ mode to help the tenacious WTB Vigilante front tyre dig up every bit of traction. This setting felt a little too wallowy for our tastes though, removing too much feedback and feeling from the trail. Switching to a middle position on the compression adjuster meant the fork still had plenty of terrain-taming suppleness but remained supportive enough that we could smash into catch berms and G-outs without it diving too much.

The 64-degree static head angle would look more at home on a downhill bike than your average hardtail, but when sag is taken into account (bearing in mind that there’s no rear suspension to also sag) it results in a dynamic head angle of around 66 degrees – still slack enough for bags of high-speed calmness and corner-carving stability, without feeling too lazy in tighter turns. Combine this with the rear-slides-first rubber pairing and the Mmmbop is a riot in the bends.

This is a bike that prefers to be pointed in one direction (can you guess what it is?):
This is a bike that prefers to be pointed in one direction (can you guess what it is?):

This is a bike that prefers to be pointed in one direction

The slack head angle and luxuriously supple fork lead the bike confidently down the burliest terrain, but the brutally stiff back end is always ready to remind you sharply when you start to get a bit silly. Combined with the fast-rolling but slippery low-profile rear tyre, this means it can be a real handful to keep things in a straight line through the chop.

On smoother, less rocky and rooty trails, though, the Ragley’s short, stiff back end makes it feel poppy and playful, while the stable-steering geometry and planted front end keep things fast and fun, especially when blowing through leafy catch berms or nailing high-speed jumps, drops and corners.

If you’re looking for a bike to sit down on and cover lots of ground, the Ragley is uncomfortable and slow. But if you like to stand up and grab the bull by the horns, it’s an absolute blast!

Also consider:

Commencal Meta HT AM

Sporting a 160mm travel fork and a dropper post, the Meta HT AM is billed as a 'semi-rigid enduro bike,'and wants to get rowdy when the trail points down. Read our full Commencal Meta HT AM review.

Bird Zero AM2

With a long, low and slack geometry, supple, supportive and adjustable fork and great stock spec, this Bird is definitely a hardcore hardtail that'll take on full-suss machines when the going gets gnarly. Read our full Bird Zero AM2 review.

Vitus Sentier VRS

Get rowdy without the rear shock on Vitus's remarkably sorted and well-equipped, ready-to-riot hardtail. It's for those who like to really connect with the trail. Read our full Vitus Sentier VRS review.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Seb Stott

Technical writer, Tech hub, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Age: 23
  • Height: 192cm/6'3"
  • Weight: 85Kg/187 lbs
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 107cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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