We gave away an R80 000 Ibis Mojo in our first ever subscriber competition back in 2009. We also test rode one and still have fond memories of that bike, which was the first carbon fibre full-suss trail bike and easily one of the best bikes we’d ridden at the time. We recently got sent the much spoken of Ibis Ripley, a 29-inch wheel, dual-suss trail bike to test.
– Photos: Dino Lloyd
Six years in the making, the Ibis Ripley is impressive just to look at. Seriously. It’s a bike but it’s also art. There’s not enough space here to go into the detail of the technology in this frame design. Ibis didn’t accept any barriers and have delivered a full carbon monocoque style frame that’s built around a very small, dual eccentric DW-Link that is hidden in the base of the seattube. It all looks so simple and elegant and therein lies the aesthetic beauty of this bike. Ibis engineered relatively short chainstays (445mm) without having to curve the seattube to accommodate the rear wheel clearance and kept the head tube short (94mm on the Medium/19-inch frame), which makes for a 29er frame that’s optimally compact to deliver confidence in the tight stuff. Ibis changed manufacturing factories during the development of the Ripley in order to be able to include foam glass technology, which is lighter than traditional aluminium and carbon fibre for bits like the wishbone attaching the swingarm to the shock as well as the swingarm uprights. The size of the frame bearings are standard BB30 and while our test bike didn’t have a front derailleur, the mount for it is on the actual swingarm, allowing the chain to follow the swingarm for more precise shifting. There’s 120mm of rear wheel travel delivered through a Fox Float CTD shock and Ibis have enabled the use of either a 120mm fork or a 140mm fork (Ibis strongly recommends a 51mm rake). Our test rig came with the remarkable Rock Shox Pike fork, which is adjustable from 120-150mm, giving us the chance to test the bike at both ends of the travel options. The cables, with full-length outers, are channeled through the headtube and beneath the seattube for additional neatness and there’s space for a bottle cage on the downtube (only really a side-entry cage will work). Also on our test bike was a SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheelset with Schwalbe tyres (Nobby Nic rear and Hans Dampf up front), SRAM XX 1×11 Gripshift and Avid X0 Trail brakes with Hope 180mm rotors. Oh, and a Rock Shox Reverb dropper seatpost and Answer Pro Taper 720mm wide bars. Note: The Ripley is only sold as a frame and shock (Fox Float CTD Kashima), but you can arrange a complete build for R60000–R78000.
With 120mm/140mm of travel you’re never really expecting to describe the bike as snappy. But man did the Ripley change our thinking on that. Even with the Fox shock in Descend mode (which we used most of the time), the Ripley was truly snappy, confirmed by animated crown when we set a new Strava KOM on the Karkloof XC course’s 300-metre, twisty-descent Supertubes segment. By two seconds. In muddy conditions. The Ripley accelerates out of turns with sublime accuracy, giving the rider a very high level of trust in the bike’s ability in tight stuff. But that’s not where it ended . We also set a number of Strava top-10 times on long climbs against riders that either ride hardtails or short-travel XC bikes. We put this down to the pedalling efficiency offered by the DW Link because we experienced similar climbing prowess on a Pivot Mach 429 Carbon that also uses the a DW-Link. There’s just so little, if any, energy loss and plenty of traction on climbs. And this is with a 68.5-degree headtube angle that’s more suited to descending prowess. Speaking of which, the Ripley was on point on descents of any kind, but especially comfortable on rough, rocky terrain. We did most of our testing on the 140mm fork setting and found a next level of confidence on descents that had scared us a little at higher speeds before. Cornering was superb, and we felt that the tyre combo and the wide bars certainly played their role in this consistent stability and poise.
The Ibis Ripley is quite simply the best allround mountain bike we have ridden. The only type of riding it won’t be 100% suited to are pure XC racing and pure DH racing. Everything else in between isn’t only possible, it’s pleasurable. It is most suited to serious trail riding and a superb choice for Enduro racing at the 140mm fork option. At the 120mm fork option it’s a plush, but nimble bike for marathons and stage races.
(WITH 140MM FORK – 552.8MM AXLE TO CROWN)
SIZES: S (15-inch); M (17-inch – tested); L (19-inch); XL (21-inch)
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 589mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 432mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 68.5-degrees (70 degrees with 120mm fork)
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 71.5-degrees (73 degrees with 120mm fork)
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 445mm
PRICE: R95 000 – R36 500 (Frame & shock only)
COLOURS: Matt carbon black with green graphics
FRAME: Carbon fibre
WEIGHT: 12.55kg (incl pedals)
FORK: Rock Shox Pike with adjustable 120-140mm travel and through-axle
REAR SHOCK: Fox CTD Kashima with 120mm travel
SHIFTERS: SRAM XX1 (Gripshift)
FRONT DERAILLER: N/A
REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM XX1
CRANKSET: SRAM XX1
BRAKESET: Avid XO Trail hydraulic disc with 180mm Hope rotors
WHEELS: SRAM Rise 60 carbon
TYRES: Schwalbe Nobby Nic (rear); Schwalbe Hans Dampf (front)
OTHERS: Answer Pro Taper 720mm bars, Rock Shox Reverb dropper seatpost, Fizik Gobi saddle, Chris King headset
CONTACT: www.ibiscycles.com; 041 3721418
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 28, 2014 – All rights reserved