Free Agent reveals the Ratio 24

6 12 2011

As I’ve said before, Free Agent doesn’t get a lot of hype for its freestyle/trails-oriented 24inchers.

Which is a bit of shame really because for around $400 (US) you get a full cro-mo frame, fork and handlebar along with a pretty respectable parts package on the new Free Agent Ratio 24.

Geometry

In terms of geometry, Free Agent has pretty much stuck with what they used in last year’s Devil 24.

That being:

  • 74 degree head angle
  • 72 degree seat angle
  • 21.5″ top tube
  • 15.2″ chainstay

All in all, not too far out from what you would expect on a bike like this (although they could’ve gone a little shorter on the chainstay).

What they could’ve done better

Given that most companies have adopted the new “standard” of a higher bottom bracket height, it’s a bit surprising that Free Agent stuck with the more race-oriented 12″ bottom bracket height for this year’s model.

Furthermore, the stock handlebar is a sub-6inch offering. While I give them points for spec’ing it in full cro-mo, the trend is decidedly taller these days.

Who might be best suited to this bike

Given the more traditional, race-style geometry (and the full cro-mo construction) this might be a great trails bike for the racer who wants to have a strong bike he can thrash on while keeping his race machine in good shape for the track. The ride should be very similar to a race cruiser so switching back and forth would be a cinch.

Or, if you’re a rider that just prefers more traditional 24″ geometry, this bike is a great option for hitting the trails or skatepark.  A well-spec’ed full cro-mo bike at this price point is hard to beat.

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4 responses

6 12 2011
BobbyP

Agree to disagree on this one, Ed. 21t chainwheel? Getoudddaaa heeeeaaa! I like to go fast!!
Also worth bringing up the point that a frame being full cro-mo doesn’t hold the same meaning as what it used to. I rode a complete that had just the top tube, down tube, head tube and drop outs made from chromoly. Everything else was steel. The bike held up to 9+ months of riding trails with zero issues. I would prefer better componentry to come on a stock complete over a full chromo frame. Parts usually tend to fail before frames so I would rather start out with good solid parts and get a new frame someday as opposed to having to buy all new parts for my bike. But with that being said, just my opinion on what I look for in a complete bike.
Also, where is this bike made? If China, it brings up the point of quality of materials. Things are not regulated as much in the Chinese market which can sometimes result in a lesser grade chromoly. That is why certain brands who do their production in Taiwan or even in America make sure to tell you what type of cro-mo they use (Sanko will probably ring a bell to most people).
Usually pretty stoked on all the bikes you put up on here. This one didn’t tickle the old pickle as much, I guess.

7 12 2011
cruiserrevolution

Granted, I haven’t ridden this particular model but I did have the opportunity to ride a Free Agent Hellcat during the Sin City Ride in Las Vegas in September (Thanks Mike for letting me borrow it for the ride!). That thing seemed bombproof! If the Ratio is built like that I don’t think people have to worry about this bike. Parts-wise, sure it’s not top of the line but the components are at least somewhat respectable.

That being said, this particular model could use some updating in its next iteration…geometry, handlebars, the microdrive…as has been noted. I hope Free Agent takes the time to do it for the 2013 version.

In terms of where it’s made…that I’m not sure of.

In terms of bikes from China…well, I’ve had one in recent years from a major race brand that I was extremely disappointed with. And another that I was pleasantly surprised by…and which ultimately turned into one of the favorites in my collection. So I think a high-quality bike from China is possible…it just depends on who’s minding the store.

7 12 2011
Buddy

I have seen last years model the devil 24 in person and the welds looked pretty sloppy.This bike looks exactly the same but the colors and the name.I agree with Bobby on this cause I have tortured my old Sledgehammer for 2 years and cased many landings with a half steel frame and I bought it used,it is still super solid.I think that 21.5 tt is just to short for any cruiser nowadays too,this bike needs to be updated.The new model c complete would be worth the extra 200 or so bucks.The parts can’t be beat for the price and with 22 tt.Damn I wish it came out last year.

7 12 2011
BobbyP

I always say every bike has it’s purpose and place in life. If all you wanted to do was cruise around on social rides/bar cruises on a 24″ than this bike would be perfect. A reasonable cost and setting you up perfectly for what you need. Nothing wrong with that at all. But if you were trying to ride this bike in any sort of aggressive way, ie racing, dirt jumping etc…I would prefer to have a better drive train before I would prefer the 100% chromo frame.

I think we were all told in our youth to believe that chromoly is indignantly superior to steel. But something that I never knew in my youth is that there are different grades of chromoly as well as steel. I chose to ride a complete bike because the quality of completes has been steadily increasing for well over the past 5 years. The bike I rode retails for $600. It had a great wheel set and cranks. Some bike shops only want to stock completes with full chrome frame/fork/bars. Others try to stock bikes with affordable parts packages included. I just had to try one out for myself. And I had such a good experience riding the dirt jumping complete bike that I traded it out for the next model year.

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