UK-based Ragley bikes has been making highly regarded steel mountain bikes since 2008. Now, it’s brought its extensive mountain-bike knowledge to the world of gravel with the Ragley Trig.
The low-slung steel frame is based around 650b wheels and huge 47c tyres with treads that are built to cope with soggy British conditions and take every advantage of the 2.1in tyre clearance on the frame. You can run the Trig 700c with a reduced clearance of 40c, too.
All of which adds up to a bike that promises huge off-road potential for UK gravel riders.
Ragley Trig geometry
Its slack 70-degree head angle and steep 74-degree seat angle are an interpretation of classic mountain-bike geometry. This aids control and boosts confidence when riding over rough terrain.
The 587mm stack on my XL bike is sportily low and the 402mm reach is long. Ditto the wheelbase at 1,052mm while the chainstays, at 425mm, add heaps of stability when the surface is slick.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||74||74|
|Head angle (degrees)||69.5||70||70||70|
|Seat tube (cm)||44||47||50||53|
|Top tube (cm)||54.3||55.5||57||59|
|Head tube (cm)||10.5||12.5||15.5||17.3|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.6||6.6||6.6||6.6|
Ragley Trig kit
Ragley has put together a good-value package with the complete Trig (if you’d prefer your own build, you can get the frameset for £599.99).
At its heart is Shimano’s gravel-specific GRX, here in a mixed build of 400- and 600-level equipment. The gearing of a 40-tooth chainset and broad 11-42t cassette brings a broad enough range for serious off-road duties.
Praise also goes to Ragley’s tyre choice of WTB’s Senderos. These wide-spaced block-patterned tyres are among the best I’ve tried when it comes to gravel tyres in wet, muddy conditions, while the tubeless setup means you can run lower pressures for more bite.
The trade-off is that on tarmac the Senderos squirm a little on road corners. That’s because the deep shoulder blocks that add so much bite off-road deform and spread on harder surfaces. The central strip of the tyre, however, is firm enough to allow you to hold onto road speeds of 18 to 20mph.
Ragley Trig ride impressions
The ride of the Trig is full of life. The double-butted chromoly frame may not have a branded tubeset but it does have a springy character that gives the Trig plenty of pep.
It accelerates with ease across rough surfaces; the supple tyres ease jars and knocks, so little of your energy is wasted reacting to the surface’s variance.
The long, low position combined with a wide bar that has plenty of flare allowed me to get down in the drops and push the pace when I wanted to hammer on the pedals. Even in this long, low position, the Trig’s lively, compliant ride made it comfortable.
The bladed carbon fork has excellent torsional stiffness so it tracks straight and true even when the surface you’re riding on isn’t. Compared to the svelte steel frame, it’s a little harder riding, but the great tyres and bar help even out the vibrations when things get jarring.
The WTB rims built up onto Nukeproof hubs are solid items, tubeless-ready and smooth-rolling with it. Scrubbing speed comes courtesy of Shimano’s GRX 400 hydraulic disc brakes. The lever shape is perfect for modulating your braking and the feel is excellent, though I was cursed with squeaky rotors when they got either wet or warm – so that’s pretty much all of the time.
The rotors are Shimano’s basic units, rather than the much less vocal IceTechs as found on the more expensive 600 and 800 variants of GRX, and that’s the one area where I’d look to change this Trig’s build.
Ragley Trig bottom line
The only other thing of note with the Trig is the use of 650b wheels. These are a brilliant choice when your gravel riding drifts more towards mountain-bike style off-road, technical trails and singletrack. The nimble wheels are easy to manoeuvre and the larger tyres add grip.
But if you ride less technical stuff, you’re going to be fighting to keep up with the higher speeds that those riding with much bigger hoops can easily hold.
How we tested
Gravel riding is more popular than ever and if you’re looking to have a gravel adventure and have a two-grand budget, we’d suggest searching beyond carbon and looking at some of the toughest rides around made of metal.
This quartet of versatile and durable bikes was selected from brands you may not be aware of or because of a unique point of difference, but all dispense with carbon for steel and aluminium.
Each bike was tested on a variety of terrain on our local gravel routes that included rocky tracks and byways, as well as tarmac roads.
Also on test
|Price||AUD $2900.00EUR €2700.00GBP £1700.00USD $2100.00|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Tyres||WTB Sendero 47 650b|
|Shifter||Shimano GRX RX600|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano GRX RX600|
|Cranks||Shimano GRX 400 40t|
|Cassette||Shimano GRX 400 11-42t|
|Brakes||Shimano GRX RX600|
|Wheels||WTB STI25 650b on Nukeproof Neutron hubs|