Review: BTR Ranger

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BTR (Burf and Tam Racing) is a two man team which has been designing and fabricating frames right here in the UK since 2011. Burf is as at home welding as you and I are with a knife and fork, and Tam is a ninja mouse mover and conjuror of ideas – although he also knows his way around a welding torch…

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In the company’s relatively short existence, Burf and Tam have taken BTR a long way by staying true to their initial idea of creating frames they want to ride (hard), out of steel.

The Ranger is BTR’s all-round frame. It’s designed to reach the top with a reasonable level of efficiency and then to hammer back down the trails, slathering a smile all over your face. First launched back in 2013, and available in 26in, 27.5in and 29in wheel options from size small to extra large, Burf and Tam have made a few changes to the Ranger to bring it bang up to date.

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There are two changes that caught my eye first. The X-shaped gusset, which once graced the top tube and downtube junction, has been replaced by a ovalized tubular one. Same job, slightly prettier. And the dropouts have also been updated to accommodate a 142x12mm axle. Geometry-wise the Ranger has pretty much stayed the same.

Now, £1,000 seems a lot to pay for a hardtail and, yes, you can buy a steel frame for a fraction of the price. But the guys at BTR tell me that it takes 24 dedicated man hours to produce just one frame. And each and every frame that comes out of the BTR work shop is handmade to order, meaning that materials need to be ordered and delivered before the build can start.

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The front end is made from Reynolds 853 and 631 tubes, which are generally more expensive than a standard cromoly but they offer greater strength – without a huge weight penalty. Our test bike was a medium and it weighs a very respectable 28.5 lbs – and for a bike like this I wouldn’t want anything lighter really. It’s built to withstand a beating, and get to the bottom in style – and without feeling nervous through rock gardens or slippery root section.

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I always find my first few rides back on a hardtail a challenge; it highlights your weaknesses and lazy habits. It is an experience that many of us have forgotten, and it’s easy to forget how much fun you can actually have on such a simple bike. With good full suspension bikes available relatively cheaply, newcomers to the sport often run straight in with suspension, and  miss out on essential skills, learning handling and line choosing ability on a hardtail first.

Riding the Ranger gave me a great sense of pride. I know that actual human hands have used proper tools to create the frame. And the Ranger works, and works well. The bike looks hand made – in a good way. I often had people coming up to me to chat about it.

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It’s designed around a 120mm fork for the 26in and 27.5in bikes and 100mm for the 29in one, which at first glance seem a little short for a hard hitting hardtail. The theory runs that a slightly shorter fork means there isn’t a feeling of being pushed over the front when it start to get rough, or in a large compression, a sensation you can often get this get from some longer forked hardtails. A longer fork would gobble up larger hits at the front end, but it would also mean more geometry adjustments, and a subsequently more unpredictable ride.

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And the Ranger is most definitely predictable and responsive. Pin-pointing your way through a boulder field or quickly changing lines is easy on the Ranger. The slack (for a hard tail) head angle helps provide a reasonably long wheel base and the confidence you need to charge. 415mm chainstays provide a snappy back end that loves to change direction on our steep, windy local tracks.

I haven’t found a trail in our local area that the Ranger couldn’t cope with. It has made me think about my riding in a different way, and it has highlighted to me that you don’t need big forks and the most expensive carbon enduro bike to go out and have fun. Yes, at points I couldn’t keep up with some friends on their full sus trail bikes – but on a lot of trails I really, really could.

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Our test bike didn’t have bottle cage mounts, which I thought was a crazy move, as there is obviously loads of room for them. So of to the BTR website I go, and it’s clear you can have them as a option. As are ISCG05 mounts, integrated seat clamp (ours had one of these and it is lovely), and (for oddballs) they will put cable routing for a front mech on there if you like.

Oh, and one last thing – you can also customise pretty much all of the geometry should you so desire. This adds a little extra cost, but if you do fancy customising your ride get in touch with the lads and they will organise a price.

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Overall:

The Ranger is a beautifully built frame, loving crafted from steel. The angles are designed for descending as fast and hard as you dare. No, it isn’t cheap but it will most definitely reward your outlay with hours of great riding.

Review Info

Brand:BTR
Product:Ranger Frame
From:BTR - www.btr-fabrications.com
Price:£1000
Tested:by Richard for

Comments (0)

    lovely looking bike, shame about the headtube badge.

    After riding round with a crackpot on one of these I’m dying to put an order in

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