The pairing of Brant Richards as designer and Mark Lynskey on building duties created the ‘perfect 10’ On-One Ti456 last year. Their latest venture is the Ragley Ti and it’s even more radical and love-or-hate-it controversial than before. Richards brought us the first frame in the UK to try out.
Ride & handling: Kick-ass climber with downhill-style handling and firm ride feel
Even with a 70mm stem in place, the Ragley’s handling is an acquired taste. The slack head angle and long wheelbase mean you have to really swing the bike out and round turns at slower speeds. The steep seat angle and short head tube put a lot of weight forward on the fork when you’re in the saddle, and some testers wanted a higher rise bar.
The more you ride it though, the more you’ll realise the terrain advantage this radical position gives. With your body weight effectively in the ‘tip of the saddle’ position to begin with, and the potential to fit a massive 2.5in rear tyre, the Ragley can claw its way up seemingly impossible slopes.
The long top tube means plenty of breathing space with a short stem, and solid power transmission through the chainstays easily gives most riders trying to follow you a three-fingered salute.
When heading back down, the steep seat angle makes it easy to drop down behind the saddle onto the rear wheel. The slack head angle and short stem also keep steering light and accurate, even with all your body weight bearing down through them.
At higher speeds, the long wheelbase and high bottom bracket enable the bike to drive through the most mossy rock and root sections like an arrow. Despite the obvious shock absorption and sting reduction from the Ti frame, there’s no hint of twist threatening to tie the frame in knots.
Unshakeable front end confidence means counter-steering the bike into the apex and drifting it out sideways soon becomes addictive and the aim on every corner. In short, this bike pushes titanium trail hooliganism to a whole new level.
The level of aggression that it generates in your riding does need matching with kit though – something we found out rapidly when it repeatedly overwhelmed our initial Marzocchi forks and light wheelbuild.
Aggressive testers loved the Ragley, but there were some haters. The plated back end is stiff and solidly inert, and this cuts into long-haul comfort and the springy feel we expect from a titanium bike.
A few never got on with the demanding but rewarding handling either. Finally, the aesthetics of the holey frame and industrial sections didn’t universally appeal. Richards freely admits it’s an unashamedly extreme design though, so watch this space for future developments.
Frame: Radical geometry plus utilitarian looks won't please everyone
The front end is relatively conventional, with a machined, ring-reinforced head tube backing onto a bi-ovalised down tube. There’s no gusset due to welding process worries (it’s tricky to bathe a hidden seam in the inert gas that’s vital for a secure titanium joint) and the top tube on the new frame is straight, not curved.
All the tubes are cold worked in the US to increase strength and bare frame weight is a race-viable 1,610g (3.5lb).
Things get radical on the rear stays though – a ‘three-finger’ split plate design takes the place of the conventional chainstay tube. This provides serious stiffness and massive tyre and chainring clearance.
The dropouts are long extended plates, with the disc brake mounted on the chainstays. This leaves the seatstays free from brake load, so they can be made skinny to absorb shock. With only a tiny plate gusset at the top, mud clearance above the tyre is huge too.
The controls are routed through assorted threaded insets and bolt-on clips, and the frame comes with a sticker sheet, so you can logo it however you like.
Equipment: Pick your own – but you won't make the most of this bike with too light a build
We’ve been running the Ragley for a few months, so it’s worn a few different outfits. We think ‘chunky trail’ kit such as a RockShox Revelation Maxle fork and Hope SPAM4/Flow wheels is the optimum. Brant told us to run a 70-50mm stem, and having suffered a mixture of stubborn tramlining and sudden jackknifing when we tried a 90mm, we totally agree.