Ragley’s radical Blue Pig frame has been around for over two years, but its ridiculous chaos composure and technical terrain capability still blows our doors off every time we ride it. This complete bike is a totally weak-link-free package for wilder riders.
Ride & handling: Enormously entertaining, confident steel play bike for progressive trail fiends
With its wide bar, front wheel kicked out way in front and precision steering assured by the Maxle axle RockShox Revelation fork the Blue Pig screams ‘come on’ as soon as you’re aboard. While it’s got a long front end for high-speed stability the steep seat angle means it’s never too far away from you for control in sketchy traction situations.
That said, it’s certainly a bike designed for aggressive downhill-style riders who get forward and put their weight and their authority through their feet, rather than clinging on for grim death from behind the seat. Leading from the front is exactly how you should ride a hardcore hardtail though, and whatever you’re prepared to square up to, the Blue Pig has your back.
The steel Fathead tubing never feels twangy or twisted out of shape in the belly of berms or landing off big drops. It sucks up sharp edges and rock faces noticeably better than alloy rivals, stopping you being flung off line and letting you get on the power quicker and stay on it longer too. Not only does the super-slack angle add tram-like stability at high speeds, it also stops the front end getting too fidgety even at full compression of the 150mm fork.
Consistently controlled damping from the Revelation means you can press home the attack on troublesome trail sections without worrying about anything nasty coming back through your hands. The Maxxis tyres are a superb ally for being really silly on, and basically there’s nothing holding you back from making a mockery of many full-suspension bikes on descents. The chain guide mounts are useful if you’re determined to reach its limits on hard and fast descents though.
While radical riders will ‘get’ the Blue Pig straight away, it took our more traditional hardtail testers a while to adapt to its ‘in your face’ handling character and tall ride height, which can feel precarious if you’re already nervous. However, while its weight and wide bar, short stem ride position mean it trudges long flat trail sections with a truculent teenager attitude, it’s more than stiff enough through the pedals to stomp up to speed when you need to.
The frame smoothness also helps you keep hooked up and hammering hard on rollercoaster, mostly downhill trail sections. While it’s not a natural speed machine, the Blue Pig’s tenacious traction and forgiving ride make it a friendly form of transport between technical treat sections if you’re patient with your pedalling.
Frame & equipment: Excellent geometry and impact absorbing steel feel; great value kit selection
The CEN frame strength standards introduced a couple of years ago saw many steel hardtails bite the dust. At a seriously sturdy 2.5kg though, the Blue Pig frame is more than bombproof enough to pass any trail or lab test. The 44mm head tube can be used with an oversized bottom cup for tapered forks, and the box-section gusset between the main tubes mean even a 150mm fork won’t cause it any concern.
The MK2 frame has ISCG tabs on the bottom bracket shell to make it chain device compatible and the rear disc brake sits well protected on the chainstay. An innovative split plate ‘three-finger’ chainstay bridge and a small web between the seatstays removes the needs for bridges and makes room for tyres up to 2.5in. The frame is corrosion-proofed inside and the cable guides can be unbolted and moved to suit your routing preferences.
The Blue Pig is available as a frame, in blue or orange, for £299.99. Alternatively, two complete bikes are available – a SRAM X7 based build for £1,249.99 and the X9 version seen here for £1,674.99. The Blue Pig X9’s fork is the rock solid, predictably damped RockShox Revelation RL in a 150mm travel, 20mm Maxle axle version. Transmission is all SRAM X9 apart from the S1400 double ring crankset and a slightly downgraded cassette and chain. Avid Elixir 5 brakes add precise fingertip control.
Where Ragley really score is the contact points. Maxxis High Rollers are benchmark tyres that benefit from the wide stance Ragley AM rims. The combination of 710mm bar and 60mm stem gives great power steering assistance without catching on many trees too. Considering the steel frame weight, complete bike weight of 12.57kg/27.71lb (without pedals) is also surprisingly competitive.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.