The original Ragley Piglet was an instant hit. Its slack angles and stretched-out riding position allowed it to turn its hand to aggressive woodsy ragging as well as all-day mountain adventures. Sure, the 4130 steel frame erred on the side of durability rather than low weight, but it was a fun and confidence-inspiring ride. So how does this updated version fare?
Ride & handling: Good value low-fi thrills
The positive edge on the tyres certainly encourages you to lean the bike over in the corners and, combined with a precise but not painful smidge of compliance in the back end, mid-sized roots and rocky chatter are dispatched with ease.
That said, if you’re coming from riding a longer-travel full suspension bike, you’d better keep your focus on reading the trail ahead and picking smoother lines rather than flat out blasting.
It might not teach you new skills, but the Piglet has such a rugged yet planted feel that you’ll be encouraged to hit velocities where forgetting the basics will teach you a painful lesson.
Keep your eye on the ball and this capable and entertaining bike keeps you on the trail, though, aided by the rapid reactions of Ragley’s own neat 50mm stem and the helpful leverage of the 740mm Wiser bar. It’s carbon, which also helps to mute the rough edges in the trail.
Even when pushing hard into corners, the front of the bike is highly resistant to the tucking-under feel that steeper angled bikes exhibit. Yes, 67 degrees isn’t insanely slack – try looking at the Piglet’s angrier brother, the Blue Pig, if you want that – but it balances being steep enough to make turning an instantaneous affair rather than something needing advance notice and relaxed enough to let you build up some serious speed without getting nervous.
Proper mounts make a chain device easy. speed makes it vital: Seb Rogers/Future Publishing
Proper mounts make a chain device easy. Speed makes it vital
The 140mm Sektor RL fork fitted here is an unsung hero of mid-range trail suspension. Its chassis is plenty stiff enough, and helped further by the 15mm quick-release Maxle thru axle. It’s bravely resistant to diving, even when trouble circles overhead, and suits the rough ’n’ ready character and style of the Piglet; you can hardly complain about the ultimate lack of subtlety over extended rough ground, because by that point you’re hanging on to the bike for dear life anyway.
It’s a very well-balanced ride. The Piglet 2 is willing to pop the front wheel up with little effort, yet the top tube is good and long – spacious enough for easy weight shifting while descending and for plenty of breathing room when you’re climbing back up.
There’s no doubt its steel heft works against you when you’re pointing uphill, though – it weighs the same as a 140mm full-suspension trail bike, though admittedly one that costs twice as much.
The lack of suspension means smoother climbs are dispatched with ease, but flat pedal mashers in particular will find it much harder to keep the power down on more stuttery, technical climbs.
Indeed, jump on the Piglet blindfolded and the basic shape feels just like any of the modern, well sorted, fully-suspended trail machines out there – the only difference being the lack of rear movement and the price. Impressive.
Just don’t expect to ride this bike in the same way or at the same speed over rough terrain, though, as you will arrive at one of three outcomes; a massive crash, shattered wrists and ankles or the sound of your inner tubes exploding…
Play to its strengths and the Piglet reminds you just how much sheer giggle-inducing fun sliding and slapping about the woods on a hardtail can be. It pumps and pops through corners with an immediacy unknown to anything with a rear suspension unit and, by and large, rewards rather than punishes you if you get on and attack the trail.
Frame & equipment: Influential tweaks and Sektor RL fork
The tweaks to the frame are small but significant. Compatibility for a full range of steerer standards has been added with a versatile 44mm internal diameter head tube that happily takes everything from a full 1.5in steerer to 1.125in.
Depending on whether you fit internal or external cups, the frame can also cope with anything from 120-150mm of travel without messing up the handling. Our frame came with a straight-steerer RockShox Sektor SL fork running 140mm of travel and an internal cup, which Ragley reckon is the Goldilocks serving of suspension.
The seriously chunky, wraparound head tube gusset of the original has been replaced with a series of three smaller gussets, and it’s a much neater solution. The head angle has stayed the same at 67 degrees, but the bottom bracket height has been dropped to improve stability.
Around that BB are a set of ISCG 05 chainguide tabs and, combined with the double-and-bash crankset and chain device setup on our bike, provided reassuring security no matter how hard we rattled down the trails.
The bolt-on hose guides are very neat, and the 31.6mm seatpost means you have your pick of dropper posts. If we were building a bike like this, a dropper would be one part high up on the list.
The fitted carbon fibre Ragley post is lighter and helps to mute sharp jolts when sat down, but we worry about how the more delicate outer layers of a composite post will fare on a diet of constant height adjustment – especially when you throw gritty British weather into the mix.
The 2.3in wtb bronsons suited us but there’s room to go bigger: Seb Rogers/Future Publishing
The 2.3in WTB Bronsons suited us but there’s room to go bigger
The plated rather than tubular ‘Three Finger bridge’ chainstay junction to the bottom bracket is a very neat solution, and offers a mass of mud clearance as well as removing chain suck from the equation. You can quite easily stick a set of proper 2.5in tyres in there without worrying, although there’s little real need; the voluminous WTB Bronson 2.3in rubber fitted to our test sample managed to walk the fine line of cushioning and grip against rolling speed and weight rather well.
The Piglet has been polished to near perfection. The lowered bottom bracket aids the overall feeling of stable confidence, but it’s no slow-handling barge when you get in among the twisty bits or need to hammer along the flat.
The heft won’t trouble lightweight rivals, but it’s keenly priced and can put up with serious abuse, day in, day out. If you like your thrills hardwired directly to your body, you could do a lot worse than sit on a Piglet. So to speak.
Wheels: Mavic XM319 32H rims, SRAM X7 135x9mm hub (R), unbranded 15×110 hub (R)
Fork: RockShox Sektor RL Solo Air, 140mm
Gears: SRAM X7, 10-speed
Cranks: SRAM S1000, 36/22T
Brakes: Avid Elixir 1, 180/160mm rotors
Tyres: WTB Bronson Race FR, 2.3in
Other stuff: Ragley Wiser Carbon bars, Stubbing stem, Cheeky saddle, Spike post
Weight: 12.7kg (28lb)
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.