The brand new 2021 Ragley mountain bike range has just been launched. Rather than going for a full overhaul, the brand has stuck to what it knows and has introduced a few specification tweaks for the new year.
Ragley says it wanted to refrain from falling towards the 'longer, lower and slacker' norm that we see with many new releases these days. Instead, sticking to its guns and kitting the 2021 range with up to date components, remaining confident in the frames on offer.
As for the spec updates, the whole range now benefits from Shimano drivetrains and brakes with steel-framed bikes getting a four-pot caliper at the front. As per usual for Ragley, each bike comes tubeless-ready. All you need to shed the inner tubes is a pair of suitable valves and your favourite sealant.
On the subject of tyres, all of the mountain bikes now roll on Maxxis 3C EXO+ casing tyres. EXO+ is a fairly recent addition to Maxxis's carcass line-up and it balances the lighter weight of an EXO casing with the extra protection of the hefty Double Down casings. As such, it sits in the middle of the two in terms of weight and protection.
Finally, a plus for taller riders is that Large and Extra Large bikes come with 170mm dropper posts.
That's not all that's new with Ragley's 2021 range. In fact, there's a whole new Big Al build that has been introduced thanks to the popularity of the original. It's dubbed the Big Al 1.0. and it comes kitted with a dropper post, 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain, and a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork to make it even more trail-ready.
Gravellers, don't worry. The Trig is also graced with an update. It now gets a Shimano GRX groupset, wider tyres, and WTB rims.
Before we get onto our test bike, let's skim over Ragley's offerings for 2021.
Big Wig - £2,300 (Race) £2,000 (Standard)
The Big Wig is Ragley's enduro ready 29er and it's the only steel bike in the range that rolls on 29" wheels. There's both a Race spec with 160mm of travel coming from a RockShox Lyrik Select RC and a standard that drops the travel to 140mm with a RockShox Revelation. Both bikes get Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrains, four-piston brakes and Nukeproof wheelsets. As for the rubber, there's a Maxxis Assegai 2.5" up front and a Minion DHR II 2.4" at the rear on the Race spec, whereas the standard gets a Minion DHF 2.5" at the front instead. The dropper post comes from Brand-X with the Ascend.
Blue Pig - £2,300 (Race) £2,000 (Standard)
The Blue Pig fills the role as the brand's 650b enduro hardtail. Just like the Big Wig, there's a Race model (we tested 2020's model and it scored very well) and a standard. The Race spec gets a 160mm travel RockShox Lyrik Select RC while the standard gets 150mm of suspension from a RockShox Yari RC. The rest of the spec mirrors the Big Wigs' with 12-speed Shimano drivetrains, four-pot brakes, and the same selection of tyres. This bike also gets the Brand-X Ascend dropper.
Piglet - £2,000
The Piglet is designed more towards trail riding than its enduro focussed siblings. It gets a 140mm RockShox Revelation, Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain with four-piston brakes while the rest of the build mimics the Blue Pig and Big Wig, including the Brand-X dropper and 650b wheels.
Big Al 1.0 - £1,400
As mentioned before, the Big Al 1.0 is new for 2021. Ragley has taken note of the original Big Al's popularity and kitted it with a burlier Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail fork with 130mm of travel, a Shimano Deore M5100 11-speed drivetrain and the convenience of a Brand-X Ascend dropper post. Then its 29" hoops are Nukeproof Neutron hubs laced to WTB STi30 rims.
Big Al 2.0 - £1,100
The Big Al 2.0 sees a £300 saving from its younger range-mate. As such, it gets a rigid seat post, a RockShox Recon Silver with 140mm of travel, and a Shimano 10-speed drivetrain. Then the rest of the kit is the same as what you'll get on the 1.0 model.
Mmmbop - £1,400
Next up is the Mmmbop which is the alloy counterpart to the Blue Pig. It shares the same geometry, travel, and wheel size but it gets a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail with 150mm of travel and an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain. It's available as a frame only for £350.
Marley - £1,400 (1.0) £1,100 (2.0)
Then, of course, there's the Marley. As it's our test bike, we'll get onto the 1.0 a bit later but as for the cheaper 2.0, it comes with a RockShox Recon Silver with 130mm of travel, a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain, and a solid seat post. It rolls on a pair of WTB STi30 rims laced to Nukeproof Neutron hubs with a Maxxis Minion DHF up front and a DHR II at the rear.
Trig - £1,700
Finally, there's the Trig. It's Ragley's only gravel offering and it rolls on 650b wheels. It comes with a 1x Shimano GRX drivetrain, WTB STi25 rims, WTB Sendero tan wall tyres, and a carbon fork. You can buy the Trig's frame and fork for just £650 if you would like to build one up yourself.
If you would like to whack your own kit onto a Ragley frame, each bike in the range is available frame-only with steel frames priced at £600, and alloy at £350.
First Look - Ragley Marley 1.0
Onto our test bike. We have the Ragley Marley 1.0 which is the brand's shortest travel trail bike. It's built around an alloy frame with 130mm of suspension that comes from a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail.
For those who don't know, Marzocchi is owned by Fox and as such, the Bomber Z2 uses the same seal, bushing, and chassis tech as the much loved Fox 34. However, the Z2 gets Marzocchi's own damping features which are much simpler with just a rebound and compression dial. The fork legs are also a bit thicker to house the Rail damper which does mean a weight penalty, but that should also result in a comparatively stiffer fork.
The Marley 1.0's alloy frame is externally routed for the most part and it's rather tidy, running the cables along the underside of the top tube. However, the dropper post is internally routed, making for a frame that has a clean look while keeping brake maintenance simple.
On the bike, we get a Shimano M5100 11-speed drivetrain with a pair of Deore M6100 brakes. As this is one of the alloy bikes, it gets two-pot calipers.
As for the wheels, the Marley 1.0 rolls on a pair of WTB STi30 rims that are laced to Nukeproof Neutron hubs, and they're wrapped with a Maxxis Minion DHF at the front with a DHR II at the back. Of course, they get that EXO+ casing and 2.6" width.
Finally, like the rest of the range, the Marley 1.0 gets a Brand-X dropper post and our Large frame comes sorted with 170mm of drop.
Moving onto the geometry, this bike sees a 65.6° head angle, a 73° seat tube angle, and a 425mm chainstay. Our large frame gets a 455mm reach and that's a respectfully modern shape that firmly places the bike into its trail category.
With that, let's move on to how the bike rides. I've only had a couple of blasts on the Marley and already it's proving to be an excellent all-rounder that begs to be ridden harder than its looks might let you believe.
My personal bike is a 150mm full susser that comes with a pretty lengthy reach so the Marley is a very different animal. However, it didn't take long to feel at home, thanks to its wide bars and 50mm stem which gives some extra room over its reach.
The first thing that stood out about this bike is how well-composed it is over chattery sections. As a hardtail, I was expecting the rear end to be far lairier over the rough stuff but I was pleasantly surprised with how well the 2.6" rear tyre with the EXO+ casing dampens vibration.
This allows you to carry much more speed than what's usually allowed on a hardtail without your eyes rattling out of your face. It wasn't until I came across some serious chunk that I was reminded that I was missing rear suspension and I should calm down a little.
Already, it's clear that the Marley is built to be an agile playmate. The combination of 650b wheels and middle of the road reach makes the bike super fun in the corners. Changes of direction are zesty and come with ease. If you're looking for smiles for miles, the Marley is shaping up to be just the ticket.
Its reach is certainly shorter than what I'm used to, and what I prefer, to be honest, but it's low 315mm bottom bracket makes it feel as if there's much more bike in front of you than there actually is. This makes it nicely confident over the rough stuff and it didn't feel as if I had to adjust my riding too much to make up for the lack of rear suspension.
An 11-speed drivetrain might be a bit of a turn-off for some as it's missing the extra gear of the Eagle drivetrains, or Shimano's rangier offerings. However, the missing gear isn't noticeable at all. Ragley has made a great call in kitting the Marley 1.0 with Shimano's 11-51 11-speed cassette so you don't lose out on much of the range. The jumps between gears are just a little more noticeable when compared to 12-speed cassettes.
Granted, I've not spent more than a few hours on this bike but one downside that's cropped up is that the front wheel has a tendency to lift on steep climbs. This could be caused by its 73° seat tube angle and 425mm chainstay but hopefully, a better set-up will fix things.
The 65.5° head angle stretches the wheelbase to 1186mm which nicely balances stability at speed with agility when things get twisty. That head angle also adds heaps of confidence when the gradient pitches and trails get techier.
So far, the Marley 1.0 is proving itself to be an impressively capable hardtail that might just tick the box as a great all-rounder. Ragley has also done what looks to be a great job of speccing this bike with budget-friendly kit that actually performs really well.
Keep an eye peeled on the site for a full review coming soon.
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