BTR Ranger review

A rad trail bike that’s still no bruiser when covering miles

GBP £1,350.00 RRP
Frame only
Pack shot of the steel framed BTR Ranger hardtail mountain bike

Our review

Ready to go off-the-shelf, with a playful yet utterly stable demeanour
Pros: Wide range of customisation options, with pricing displayed up front; stock geometry is ideal for the aggressive trail rider; short-travel fork limits dynamic geometry changes through its travel
Cons: Base price isn’t cheap, and the cost of custom options quickly adds up
Skip to view product specifications

Hailing from Frome in Somerset, BTR’s first bike back in 2011, the downhill-focused Belter, came with an extreme (certainly for the time!) 61-degree head angle, a super-low 295mm bottom bracket (BB) height and a 1,270mm wheelbase.

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These days the range of bikes that Paul ‘Burf’ Burford will build you has expanded and includes the full-sus Pinner, the DH-ready Ripper and this slightly more trail-focused Ranger.

BTR says the Ranger is designed to take you “up hill, down dale, through the jumps and probably to the pub too” – pretty much everything a trail bike should be good at, then.

BTR Ranger frame

The Ranger is designed around a 120mm- to 130mm-travel fork, but don’t assume from this that it’s an upright, nervous cross-country-style trail hardtail.

I tested the stock 650b build (frames designed around 26in and 29in wheels are also available), which has a super-slack 63.5-degree head angle, along with a long 1,210mm wheelbase on the large size.

These are paired with a 75-degree seat angle and 460mm reach as standard, but BTR can adjust the geometry to suit your preferences, for a fee (which depends on what it is that you want to change).

Angled pack shot of the steel framed BTR Ranger hardtail mountain bike
The 415mm chainstays are incredibly short, meaning direction changes feel almost instantaneous.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

You can also specify frame details you’d like, such as internal cable routing for the rear brake, rear mech and/or a stealth dropper seatpost; bottle cage bosses; and ISCG-05 mounts, with the pricing clearly indicated.

There’s a broad selection of RAL paint colours to choose from included in the price, as well as special paint finishes (such as fluorescent) for a little extra too.

The frame is largely constructed from Reynolds steel, with 853 and 631 used for the front triangle. Dedacciai steel takes care of the stays, which are ovalised towards the top. A brace joins the top tube to the down tube and head tube junction, and there’s a chainstay bridge plate, as well as a brace supporting the non-driveside seatstay near the bottom.

The head tube is finished with a customisable head badge that leaves space for your own text.

BTR Ranger geometry

XSSMLXLXXL
Seat angle (degrees)757575757575
Head angle (degrees)63.563.563.563.563.563.5
Chainstay (cm)414141.541.54242.5
Seat tube (cm)3840424445.545.5
Top tube (cm)56.7358.7360.7362.9765.2167.1
Head tube (cm)131313141515
Fork offset (cm)4.24.24.24.24.24.2
Bottom bracket drop (cm)5.45.45.45.45.45
Wheelbase (mm)1,1411,1611,1861,2111,2401,265
Stack (cm)62.462.462.463.364.263.8
Reach (cm)404244464850

BTR Ranger kit

BTR offers a full build on the Ranger, with a 120 or 130mm air or coil-sprung Cane Creek HELM fork, as well as a Shimano XT drivetrain, Hope-hubbed wheels and Maxxis tyres. My build was a Burf edition (from £3,500), with kit that he uses for his regular woodland laps.

I’d recommend building this bike with a stout fork and wheelset. While the frame is designed around 120 to 130mm of front travel, if you stick on a lightweight XC/trail fork with a flexy chassis, you likely won’t get the most out of the bike.

You can also buy the Ranger as a frame kit, including your choice of fork and headset, from £1,810.

BTR Ranger ride impressions

Two things were immediately apparent when jumping on the BTR – the slack head angle and the super-short 415mm chainstays.

While the reach isn’t the longest we’ve ridden, the 63.5-degree head angle puts the front wheel way ahead of the handlebar, giving the bike incredibly dependable handling in steep chutes and fast, loose corners. It also makes square-edged impacts less demanding on both fork and body, smoothing the ride as much as can be expected.

I never found the fork’s limited travel slowed me down, and the shorter stroke means there’s less change in the bike’s dynamic geometry as it compresses.

Cyclist in blue top riding the steel framed BTR Ranger hardtail mountain bike through woodland
The 63.5-degree head angle gives the bike incredibly dependable handling in steep chutes and fast, loose corners.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Back to those super-short chainstays, they ensure that the front wheel pops up into the air the moment you shift your weight back. This gives the Ranger, in its standard geometry, a radically playful feel. The BTR bike actively wants to change direction, and snaps from side to side with absolute tenacity.

The frame’s two halves play off each other nicely, with the raked-out front end providing stability and steadfast cornering confidence, while the rear gives the Ranger an unmistakably flickable feel. Ideas about slack bikes not climbing well are pushed into the long grass.

While I wouldn’t mind a slightly longer reach, which I think would boost high-speed performance a touch, I never found myself cramped on long climbs nor unable to control the front wheel on steep ascents.

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BTR strikes the right balance with the Ranger’s frame feel, too. While it’s not the most forgiving of steel chassis I’ve ridden, it manages to not feel too harsh. I happily spent many hours tearing up the woods on the Ranger.

How we tested

The UK has a rich heritage of building some of the most beautiful bespoke steel bikes in the world and we wanted to celebrate that history by getting our hands on some of the most lust-worthy British-built boutique hardtails around.

Normally, we’d give each of them a score based on geometry, kit and ride quality. However, with three of the four brands offering complete customisation (and the fourth offering a choice of frames and finishing touches), we didn’t think it fair to be too critical of a bike’s shape or smoothness because these are things that you, as the customer, have the option to modify.

Instead, we’ve spent our time putting in the miles on these bikes to get to grips with the way they ride, while also discovering the options available to you and suggesting what we might keep, or change, were we lucky enough to be in the market for such a machine. 

Also on test

All of the test bikes have the brands’ stock geometry. Some came with standard build kits, while others had custom specs.

  • Curtis AM7
  • Shand Shug
  • Stanton Slack

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £1350.00
Weight 13.5kg (L) – without pedals
Brand Btr

Features

Available sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Headset Hope
Tyres Schwalbe Nobby Nic EVO ADDIX Speedgrip 27.5x2.35in
Stem Renthal Apex, 33mm
Shifter Shimano SLX
Seatpost Fox Transfer dropper
Saddle Ergon SME3-S
Rear derailleur Shimano SLX (1x11)
Handlebar Renthal Fatbar Lite, 780mm
Brakes Magura MT Trail, 180mm rotors
Grips/Tape Renthal
Frame Reynolds 853/631 and Dedaccai steel
Fork Cane Creek HELM Air, 130mm (5.1in) travel
Cranks Shimano SLX, 32t with MRP chain guide
Chain Shimano SLX
Cassette Shimano SLX, 11-46t
Wheels Hope Tech Enduro rims on Hope Pro 4 hubs