- Fun and enjoyable to ride
- Versatile design
- Wide gear range
- Thin bar tape
- Cable disc brakes
- 10 speed drivetrain
Updated from last year's debut model, the 2020 Ragley Trig is a steel-framed, carbon-forked gravel bike with confident geometry, a 2x Shimano drivetrain and broad 700c wheels. While tyre clearance could be better and the cable disc brakes are underwhelming, the Trig is well-specced for the price, host to plenty of thoughtful details, and extremely versatile.
- 2020 Giant Revolt 1 review
- NS Rag 2020 review
- The best gravel and adventure bikes you can buy for under £2,000
For clarity, there's another version of this bike, and while it uses the same 4130 Chro-mo steel frame and carbon fork it's not to be confused with this. The £1500 Trig Adventure takes a different tack with 650b wheels and a 1x SRAM Apex drivetrain.
The Trig is aimed more at riders than racers. Although there's no dropper fitted, the frame caters for both internal and external hose/cable routing should you fit one. The reasonably broad (23mm internal) rims of the WTB Serra wheels help plump out tyre profiles, and the frame has a mountain bike-like 44mm headtube for extra stiffness and strength.
With a steel frame you expect comfort, and the Trig delivers. On its 37mm tyres – certainly not massive compared to other gravel bikes – comfort is high, and it's rated up to 40mm should you need a little more. The completely unpadded bar tape is a disappointment, however, as it transmits whatever shocks do get through straight to your hands. It seems a curious oversight in an otherwise solid spec.
Weight is often a negative thrown at steel, but for the price the Trig is on par and lower than some regardless of frame material. At 11.6kg without pedals it's a strong, rugged frame capable of taking whatever your interpretation of riding gravel is.
Gearing may be personal, but while the majority of brands are sticking to a 1x drivetrain, there are still some who prefer a double chainset – it gets you either a wider gear range or a similar range with fewer gaps. The Trig's 48/32t chainset and 11-32t 10-speed cassette mean that prolonged road sections or gravel tracks can be taken without frantic leg speed.
One negative is that the lowest gear (a 1:1 ratio) may not be small enough for really changing routes, or when laden. You could switch to a wider-ratio cassette, although the Tiagra rear derailleur is a limiting factor with its 34t limit... Shimano can be conservative with their limits, mind you.
A more fundamental negative is the lack of a clutch rear mech. The chain can bounce around a lot on rougher terrain as a result, although functionally it isn't much of a problem and Ragley includes a neoprene chainstay guard for silencing and protection.
The 700x37mm WTB tyres fit with a decent amount of clearance, and we're very happy to see they're tubeless ready. That means the rims are taped, tubeless valves are provided and the tyres are airtight. Just add sealant and you're good.
Ragley claim a maximum of 700x40mm clearance, and our experiments showed the first thing to interfere with bigger tyres is the front mech – if you really must go wider, the Trig Adventure with its 1x drivetrain may be more suitable. It's worth saying that grip and comfort is plenty good on the Trig as it is, however.
The shallow tread of the stock WTB Riddlers grip dry trails better than you might expect, and even on loose or slightly muddy terrain they're decent. They're out of their depth in proper mud, inevitably, but for normal forest tracks the Riddlers are very good, rolling quickly and staying quiet and smooth on roads.
It's a confident bike downhill. The 70 degree head angle isn't wildly slack compared to some, but the front triangle is right for a good position on descents and putting a smile on your face.
The mechanical TRP Spyre-C brakes matched to Tiagra levers provide adequate stopping power, but they lack in feel and modulation. We found it a little too easy to lock a wheel. Of course at this price mechanical braking is common, if not ubiquitious, and the Spyres – with their simple setup, dual piston design and ease of pad wear adjustment – are probably the best cable discs to have.
The own-brand finishing kit is up to date, with an 80mm stem on our Medium/52cm and nicely-shaped 440mm bars that have a slight backwards sweep and a tight bend from tops to hoods. This makes the most of the flat top section, and the shallow drops create almost endless hand positions.
Riders looking for an adaptable bike will be happy with frame mounts for full mudguards and pannier racks, as well as the three-bolt Anything mount on the fork. One feature rarely seen (and perhaps only important to a few) is the routing for a dynamo hub. It takes the cable neatly through the fork leg and up through the steerer tube, making it almost invisible. Tidy.
The Ragley Trig is lots of fun, capable of delivering long days in the saddle and taking plenty of luggage if you're after big adventures. Smooth and comfortable, this is – with the exception of the bar tape – a very capable gravel bike with a spec that's on point for the money.
You might also like:
- Big Read: Can you spend a night in the hills and still make it into work on time?
- Buyer's guide: electric mountain bikes - all you need to know about e-bikes