Ibis Cycles is a different breed of bike maker. The owners have all been successful in their earlier pursuits, but none of that seems to matter to them. You don’t get the feeling that they are driven by sold unit growth or balance sheets—it just doesn’t seem to be how they measure their business. I am convinced that success or failure is determined by how well they can create a new toy that they like more than their last one. So, when you get invited to one of their bike launches you know it will be different than the normal “sales meeting” atmosphere. There won’t be discussions about program commitments, and you won’t be “viewing the new range”—instead, the owners and the product team are going to invite a small group into the family for a day, and you are going to hear a story (the whole story) about how the one bike on the pedestal in front of you came to be.

Employee Rating:

We don’t often give products 5-star reviews, but we have so little to grip about in our short time with this bike that we didn’t feel like we could knock it down… yet.  We will be putting in more time to see what our long term thoughts on this rig are. 

Ibis Ripmo—Lovechild, Ripper, And Killer of Quivers

I was very much looking forward to this latest Ibis show-and-tell. Not just because I hadn’t ridden the sweet singletrack in Santa Cruz for nearly a year; but also, because long-legged 29ers are my favorite flavor. All we knew about the new Ripmo is that it would pair 29” wheels with 145 mm of travel (and a 160 mm fork), feature modern geometry, and likely involve some sort of “what if they mated?” pairing of the Ripley and Mojo HD4 models. As with Ibis models past, their slow and deliberate development process led them to change course a bit along the way, and finally deliver the bike they were dreaming of riding—oh, and a few of us might want to buy one as well…

Photo Credit: Studio photos by Ibis Cycles, and action shots by Ian Colins, Ibis Cycles

Design and Features

If “long and slack” is good, then “longer and slacker” must be better, right? Well… when trends come along in this industry we tend to push them until we have gone too far, and then we take a step back. I personally feel like this is the happy medium for a modern trail bike.

The Ripmo has a properly slack 65.9 degree head tube angle and Ibis has chosen to pair that with a 44 mm offset fork—creating the same trail measurement that is found on the Mojo HD4. What this means to you on the trail is that it is going to devour technical descents, but you aren’t going to pay the price by having to arm-wrestle the bike to keep it in a straight line on the next climb.

All kinds of modern in a a classically Ibis package.

And climb it will… Ibis has already proven that they have a winning formula for tweaking the anti-squat properties on their DW-Link suspension. Their bikes are efficient pedaling machines, but this 76 degree seat tube angle makes the Ripmo perfectly suited for getting you back to the top quickly for another lap—not only are you on top of the pedals and taking stress off your lower back, but moving your weight forward reduces the sag in the rear suspension when the going gets steep.

The forward position also changes the personality of the bike. When you are putting down power on the flat or transitioning between turns, you are in attack position—it feels aggressive and fast. Contributing to the Ripmo’s nimble feel are the tidy 435 mm chainstays—this keeps the wheelbase in check and balances your weight between the wheels.

This is the happy medium for a modern trail bike.

 

There are a lot of features to list on the Ripmo. To keep the classicly-Ibis swoopy frame uncluttered, all the shift and brake lines are run internally; to keep mechanics sane, Ibis has employed molded cable tunnels (finally) that allow you to just push the cable housing in one end and it pops right out the other end. ISCG tabs—check. Threaded bottom bracket shell—check. 34T chainring compatibility—check. 29×2.6 tire clearance—check.

There are two more design aspects that deserve some attention… The one downside that I have found to running a steep seat tube angle is that you really want to get your saddle low and out of the way when descending steep stuff. Ibis shares that sentiment, they use an abbreviated seat tube mast that will allow even a short-legged fella like myself to run a 170 mm dropper post. And lastly, bushings are back—well kinda. The Ripmo will still use cartridge bearing for the upper link, where there can be as much as 90 degrees of rotation. But the lower link only sees 8 and 20 degrees of rotation at each end. Ibis claims that their new IGUS bushing solution on the lower link will reduce flex, cut friction, and lower weight—while at the same time improving mud clearance and serviceability. Time will tell, but during my soggy ride through the redwoods I never noticed the new pivot strategy, and Ibis is so confident in the performance of these bushings that they have given them a lifetime guarantee with free replacements should you have any issues.

Photo Credit: Studio photos by Ibis Cycles, and action shots by Ian Colins, Ibis Cycles

Performance and Ride Impressions

What I DID notice though, is that Ibis has once again created a bike that kind of defies classification. Is it an enduro race bike? Well, their EWS team seems plenty stoked to prove that it is. Is it a rowdy all-mountain bike that won’t let you down at the bike park? Mostly–it has capable geometry and a sturdy feel that most of us will be perfectly happy using for shuttle laps all summer, but it would be missing the point a bit. This bike is an all-day ripper that will pedal almost as well as a Ripley and shred like a Mojo HD4. When I first heard the name, I made a few jokes at Ripmo’s expense—but it is starting to grow on me, and it really is the perfect descriptor for what it is. It’s not exactly an enduro bike, it’s not exactly an all-mountain bike, it’s not exactly a trail bike… hey man, it’s a Ripmo! And like the crew at Ibis joked, “if you could Ripmo, why would you want to rip less?”

Our short time aboard the Ripmo was made even shorter by the onslaught of some heavy rain storms hitting California, so it could be argued that I don’t have nearly enough time to give a thorough ride review of this latest whip from Ibis.  But, my short stint on the trails left me thoroughly impressed, and didn’t give me much to find issue with.  I’m sure if I spent more time on various types of trails that some quibbles and gripes would come up, but as of now I find myself “wowed” by this bike, it’s confident composure, and it’s efficiency.  God forbid that I my n+1 equation every has to be n=1, but if it did, I would be hard pressed not to make the Ripmo my #1.

The Final Spin

Photo Credit: Studio photos by Ibis Cycles, and action shots by Ian Colins, Ibis Cycles

Recommended rider:

If straight XC is your thing, then this is not your bike.  For everyone else, it just might be.  It’s hard to argue with the efficiency of this semi-long legged 29er, and those very same legs allow it to crush the downhill sections with cool composure.  We will never claim a bike like this will claim the title as king or queen of both XC or DH, but the range of high-performing capability continues to broaden, and that makes the Ripmo a good choice for a large proportion of riders who’s riding style spans the range of disciplines.  If you’re more at home pedaling and staying on the ground the Ripley is likely a better fit, and if you are looking to push the limits of all-mountain style riding, the HD4 may still take the win.  But, the Ripmo is as dang close to the secret recipe for a quiver killer as we think a bike has come to date.

What we loved:

  • Uncompromised geometry—the right mix of climbing and descending prowess.
  • A medium frame is a hair under six pounds with a DPX2 shock!
  • Up to 175mm dropper compatibility on Med-XL
  • Fully sleeved internal routing.
  • Threaded BB and a proper bottle mount.
  • All the right features in all the right places.

What we didn’t like:

  • Bikes like this are making it harder to justify the “n+1” strategy.
  • I am withholding judgement on the IGUS bushings.
  • I’m not crazy about the grips—your mileage may vary.

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