The swap from a BFe to a Blue Pig X was agonised over, with way too long spent checking on geometry, frame sizes, fork and axle options. The list started pretty long: another BFe (although this time in Large, as my old one was a Medium, bought when Cotic only made them in Small and Medium), a Blue Pig X, Evil Sovereign, Dialled Alpine and a Transition Trans-am.
So, after weighing everything up, I plumped for the Pig X, and after taking advice from quite a few decided on a 20", rather than the 18 that I was sure would be right. I was really concerned about it being 'gate-like', too stretched out and, I guess, too XC-like, rather than fun and slack.
First off, when it arrived I was pretty sceptical of whether I'd done the right thing. It looked huge, and not at all what the pictures of the frame look like in any website review, or on the Ragley website. The stock pictures are probably all 16" frames, and there is quite a difference. The top tube is massive and doesn't drop too much from headtube to seat tube. The bent seat stays are quite different and DMR swapouts are very tidy, and look like they'll give me a few options, should I want to run it SS or swap in a 12mm bolt through. I was pretty quizzical over the cable/hose clamps, as most modern frames just have little guides allowing you to zip-tie everything in place. These are much more accomplished, allowing you to swap in a dropper seatpost, or change cables without having to clip off all the zip-ties and then scrabble around for another handful or so to secure everything again.
After building it up, I was getting even more worried. There really didn't appear to be a huge amount of seatpost showing, certainly compared to the BFe, or the Soul or pretty much every other bike I'd ever owned. It just looked wrong, as if to compound my worries, I compared built dimensions with my Roadrat commuter, and found that the top tube/standover was actually greater on the Roadrat.
And, so to the first couple of test rides, with more than a little apprehension that it would be finding itself on the Classifieds within a couple of days, with me feeling an idiot at buying a bike that was clearly not what I wanted. Manualling, the front pops up nicely, and powered-manuals are really snappy, yet climbing it felt nimble and with a longer TT than I have ridden previously, loads easier to transfer weight where its needed to keep things turning. The scientific weigh-in (when I was lifting it over a few, ahem, stiles) was quite impressive, it felt surprisingly light, certainly noticeably lighter than the (smaller) BFe, although all the kit was a straight swap.
Its first descent was the San Marino/Belmont descent followed by climbing all the way back up, then Two Lads/Kennels descent. Its a fair test of any bike, as the drops, jumps, speed and roughness keep you working, plus its an area I know very well, and have ridden it on a wide range of bikes, so know roughly what I should be able to do on it.
The bike continued to display its nimbleness, easily popping off edges and lips, and hopping easily across ruts. The back end has miles more give than the BFe, but never noodly. Even straight-lining through a few rougher sections posed no problems. The size of the frame was never apparent, and it just made me grin and whoop all the way back home.
So, in summary, sometimes I think its best not to worry too much about how something looks, and actually measure it purely on how it rides. I think this frame will be with me for quite a while yet!