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Hardcore hardtail for less than a grand? With big boy specs and componentry?

With the massive range of push bikes for sale in today’s market, looking to buy a bicycle that could easily perform with the hard hitting full suspension MTBs for sale out there,  whilst maintaining the high end touches but with low budget price, then the Ragley Marley shouldn’t be overlooked .

The Ragley Marley shouldn’t be overlooked if you are looking to buy a bicycle with capabilities beyond its budget

Now it’s been a few years, I will admit since I’ve ridden a hardtail mountain bike. So when I was asked to review the 2017 Ragley Marley I was a little unsure of what to expect. I know Ragley have always had a fantastic reputation for hardcore MTBs for sale at wallet friendly prices, and I also knew that the Ragley Marley had been awarded hardtail of the year.

Many other push bikes for sale in the same price bracket lack the finesse touches

The test bike may have been the cheapest push bike for sale in the Ragley range but there is a level of detailing that matches the more boutique manufacturers. Tapered head tube with a neat metal badge and the 6061 alloy tubes are externally braced giving you a nod to the capabilities of the bike.


Neatly tucked away under the top tube are the controls adding to the sleek and clean look of the frame, another nod to the ASBO tendencies of the Ragley Marley is the ISG mount on the BB shell. A curved chainstay and clever bridge plate behind the crankset gives the option of running 2.4in tyres should you wish, even the seat clamps quick release cam gets a nifty brass insert for maintenance free smoothness, little touches rarely seen of a MTB for sale in this price range.

The geometry rethink of the design matches the current trend of aggressive push bikes for sale, following the slack, low, flat out and fun style. The Ragley Marley comes with a 65.5 degree head angle, which seems mega slack for a hardtail, but this all makes sense when you sit the bike into its sag steepening the head angle. Complementing the geometry with a 50mm stem it gives the Ragley Marley the feel of confidence that you could really push you luck when the trails get technical. The only thing I would consider changing would be the width of the handle bars, the Marley comes with 740mm bars, which is handy for squeezing down the back trails in your local woods, but coming from a downhill background I would be looking to maximise the potential of the geometry. Besides, who doesn’t buy a bicycle without planning personal changes!

When you buy a mountain bike performance is key, and the Manitou Minutes don’t disappoint

Backing up the brutish geometry the Ragley Marley comes with 130mm Manitou Minute forks, with a 15mm through axle adding to the stiffness upfront, WTB rims fitted with a combination of sticky front and fast rolling rear tyres, Shimano Deore group set includes a clutch fitted rear derailleur, and despite the Deore brakes feeling a little basic, Ragleys own brand steering and seating components are all quality kit.  

On the whole the out of the box spec of this bike is definitely up there with push bikes for sale in the next price bracket up.

So the reason most of us buy a mountain a bike is to hit the trails, and the Ragley Marley hits them hard! We dropped into a flowing yet progressively more technical and steep downhill trail, and the very first thing I noticed is that the Ragley Marley loves getting in the air. It feels easy and confident off the ground. The short chainstay means the bike rips and rails corners like a crazy thing, and also makes the Marley a master of manuals, being so well balanced getting the front wheel up is a piece of cake, I’m beginning to realise why hardtails are becoming a popular choice for people looking to buy a mountain bike or maybe even to buy a bicycle to complement their downhill bikes.

Even with the sketchy conditions worsening through the day the WTB Vigilante tyre up front with its high grip compound gives you superhero confidence when pointing over roots and rocks, remembering the lack of rear suspension means line choice is critical when pointing this thing downhill, ensuring there is nothing too big to buck the back wheel out of line when you’re on the limit, which is somewhere I think Ragley wanted you when they released this MTB for sale!

The fast rolling WTB trail boss tyre give the Ragely Marley a playful rear end, but it will also allow you to pedal efficiently back up the fire road ready to drop in again and I must admit  this bike climbs remarkably well.

1x drivetrain is almost the standard on push bikes for sale now, and the setup on the Ragley Marley doesn’t disappoint

Now I always try to look for negatives with any MTB for sale, and especially push bikes for sale within the price range of the Ragley Marley, and there are a few downsides, with it being such a downhill focused design particularly if you are more of an XC rider or looking to buy a bicycle to start off in the sport, The low bottom bracket could mean regular pedal strikes, and if your trying hard enough bash guard strikes on rocky, rooty and uneven terrain, and the super slack head angle could feel a little lazy on steep climbs, but you will adapt to both of these very quickly.

The Shimano Deore brakes were struggling a little towards the end of the day with a hint of brake fade and the choice of Manitou fork did give a little flex and occasionally hesitated a little, but in fairness we were pushing the limits of the bike on some mental trails, but isn’t that why you buy a bicycle with such aggressive specs.

So to summarise, if you are looking to buy a bicycle that will bring out the nutter in you then this is one of the best options of MTB for sale today. It reminded me that hardtail mountain bikes encourage you to keep it pinned and have fun.