We are a group of biking fanatics that love to ride, and we think we should give something back to our sport.
Hardcore Bikes has carried Ibis bikes since late 2008 so we have been a dealer for over a decade. Despite that we have never made a visit to the home of such a great brand and a great partner. On April 23 that oversight was remedied when myself, and a bunch of other Canadian dealers, travelled to Santa Cruz California to visit Ibis Cycles HQ to see the All-New Ripley 4.
The occasion was the launch of Ibis’ new Ripley 4 carbon mountain bike. Ibis are one of the original mountain bike brands founded in 1981 by Scot Nicol. Ibis became known for titanium and steel bikes including the innovative BowTi softtail. Nicol sold the company in 2000 to an investment group who managed to run Ibis into the ground within 20 months. Nicol partnered with some other industry veterans including Hans Heim, Tom Morgan and Roxy Lo to re-launch the brand in 2005. Their first bike, the carbon monocoque Mojo full-suspension was not only ahead of its time but a sign of the direction the new company intended to take.
Fast forward through many iterations and variations on that original Mojo design…which back then was a long-travel carbon design very much in keeping with today’s trend…and Ibis now has 4 full-suspension mountain bike models in the Mojo HD4, the Mojo 3, the Ripmo and, the topic of this article, the 4th generation Ripley. They also have an excellent hardtail mountain bike, the DV9, and a gravel bike called the Hakka MX but those are a topic for another day.
Day one of our trip consisted of a tour of Ibis HQ including the cool “museum” room with some of Ibis’ pre-carbon era models. We got to meet some of the crew, though it was a skeleton crew due to the fact most of the staff were helping with an earlier batch of visiting dealers. Our turn to try the new bike would come the next day but on this day we had a chance to do a proper 3 hour ride on the Ripmo; a model Ibis introduced to great reviews and sales in 2018. The Ripmo would have been better named the “Backorder” since they were almost impossible to get last year. Thankfully Ibis has caught up on orders and the long-travel 29er Ripmo is easier to get now.
Ibis staffer John was kind enough to guide us on some amazing trails which first involved climbing way more than my pathetic fitness probably could handle but the ride down was worth it. The Ripmo is so confidence inspiring; the six inches of travel, progressive long/low/slack/steep geometry and burly 29 inch rubber all combined to compensate for my rusty skills. The bike was stable and predictable on trails that went from dusty and smooth to “is there really a line there?” rock gardens. Of course with all of that new-school geometry, Fox Factory Suspension and wide grippy tires you expect the bike to descend well. What was more striking was how well it climbed and how well it dealt with tight switchbacks. The climbing is a testament to the steep seat angle and efficient DW Link suspension. The maneuverability around switchbacks was less expected as these slack long-travel 29ers are just physically longer bikes; there’s no getting around it. Yet I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get it around tight corners. Undoubtedly the 44 mm offset which is becoming standard on long-travel 29ers contributed to both the better turning and climbing.
Riding the Ripmo and then the next day trying the new Ripley 4 allowed us to compare and contrast what are in may ways quite similar bikes. The Ripley 4 being substantially lighter and with less travel but otherwise is a “mini Ripmo.”
Day 2 saw us getting up early, hitting the coffee probably a bit too hard and then driving up one of the twistiest roads I’ve ever been on. The Ripley launch was at a rustic resort in the hills above Santa Cruz that is rumoured to have hosted secret peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the 1970’s. After a great breakfast (thanks Ibis!) we had a tech presentation on the new bike. In a nutshell here is how the new Ripley compares to the LS version it is replacing:
“The new Ripley retains the 130mm of front travel and 120mm of ultra efficient dw-link rear travel as the original, but has been given a fresh dose of the longer, slacker and steeper treatment.
This Mini’Mo has been slackened out by one degree, to 66.5º. The seat tube has moved forward by three degrees, to 76º, which has pushed the reach out by ~45mm across all four sizes (S, M, L, & XL). We’ve also lopped 12mm from the chainstays, bringing them to a manual-happy 432mm. To go with its shreddy new style, the Ripley also receives more progressive suspension kinematics.”
One thing Ibis noted in the presentation is that carbon frames are getting heavier. Many manufacturer’s frames are well over 6 lbs now without the rear shock. The new Ripley is a svelte 5 lbs without shock and yet retains the same stiffness as the Ripmo. The Ripley also allows 185 mm dropper posts on all sizes except the small.
Another big change on the Ripley was a switch to the Ripmo-style suspension linkage; gone are the eccentrics of the old model. This allowed Ibis to shed half a pound out of the frame.
Colours for the new bike are “Blue Steel” and “Matte Braaap” and look really good. Similar to other Ibis full-suspension models the Ripley is available in 6 build kits (NX Eagle, GX Eagle, XT, XO1 Eagle, XX1 Eagle and XTR). Carbon wheel and handlebar options are available as is the ability to choose your dropper length and stem length.
After the presentation we got our riding gear on and went back down said insanely twisty road to a trailhead where the new bikes were waiting. Ibis has set the bikes up extremely well; after setting my seat height I didn’t have to touch any of the suspension settings. We divided into groups that included “Bagged Milk” and mine, “Maple Syrup.” Note the Canadian references–maple syrup is obvious but bagged milk? Apparently that is a Canadian thing.
The first part of the ride entailed riding down a rail bed which was a good test of the suspension and then we started the climbing. Immediately the differences between the new Ripley and the Ripmo were evident. The Ripley felt lighter and turned much quicker; feeling overall much more agile and responsive. That quickness would be a benefit on the tight single track here in Edmonton. The bike accelerates and climbs extremely well. Where the Ripmo had the upper hand was where you would expect; on the descents. With its Fox 36 fork and meatier tires the bigger bike made me feel more confident on the downs. The Ripley was no pushover on the descents however; far from it. The 130 mm travel Fox 34 and 66.5 degree head angle made the front end feel very predictable and planted.
My demo Ripley was equipped with the new XTR components (sans cranks of course, instead equipped with Raceface Next R cranks). The shifting is excellent as you would expect from Shimano’s flagship parts kit. What impressed me the most was the brakes; they were progressive and had no fade on extended descents. Also helping on the descents was the Bike Yoke Revive 185mm dropper post. Overall I really like the handling. Between this bike and the Ripmo it was my first proper rides on bikes with the slacker/longer/steeper/lower new-school geometry.
Shimano has had production issues with the above-mentioned cranks but also with their new XTR hubs. Ibis instead spec’d Industry 9 hubs which are fast-engaging–and also quite loud; the group of us sounding like a swarm of bees coming down the mountain. If I had to nitpick I might swap out the Schwalbe tires for some Maxxis or Bontrager but other than that the spec here is as good as it gets. SRAM fans might opt for one of the Eagle groups. Personally I’m agnostic as far as component preference go; I’d be happy with either.
The Ripley comes stock with a 130 mm travel fork but it is designed to work with a 120mm fork for a more cross-country feel or if you want a light enduro bike, it can handle a 140mm fork.
We have a Ripley 4 in stock; drop by and see this amazing trail bike. To check out the detailed specs on the new Ibis Ripley 4 head over to the Ibis website.
Thanks to everyone at Ibis Cycles as well as Louis and the crew from Mountain-X, the Canadian Ibis distributor, for showing us a great time on some great bikes.