Long Term Review
2018 Ibis Ripmo Reviewed
The Ibis Ripmo has had riders from far and wide lusting after it. The long-travel 29er, built around the DW-Link suspension platform and modern geometry is a looker. It’s no wonder riders peer inconspicuously through their tinted shades when they see one roll by. As mentioned in the first look, the Ripmo is the melding of the Ibis Mojo and Ripley, which explains the name. It seeks to balance the aggressive, capable demeanour of the Mojo with the enthusiastic ride qualities of the Ripley.
The model reviewed here is the X01 Ripmo which retails for 7,099 USD, but our example came with some upgrades. The addition of a Float X2 rear shock and Ibis carbon wheels boosts the price to 8,169 USD. I swapped in the Fox DPX2 for some rides but the carbon wheels remained for the duration.
Ibis 942 Carbon Wheels
Carbon wheels that I haven’t had any experience with can make me nervous. In the past it’s been easy to find a carbon wheel that rides like a piece of wood, deflecting off trail chatter and creating an unstable, unpredictable ride. This was definitely not the case with the Ibis 942 wheels.
At 35mm wide (internal), these are the widest rims I’ve ridden with tires in the 2.35—2.6-inch range. The rim width increased my concern leading into the first ride, with wider rims often providing a stiffer base. Thankfully I needn’t have worried and I’m pleasantly surprised by how they ride. These wheels tracked the ground wonderfully, leaving little concern with holding lines. They’re compliant and very comfortable regardless of the conditions. Though not as pronounced as others, the zip out of corners and compressions that comes with carbon wheels is there. An excellent balance of comfort and performance has been achieved.
Maxxis tires have become the obvious choice for aggressive long-travel bikes. Fitted to the front wheel of the Ripmo is a DHF 2.5 WT and the rear has an Aggressor 2.5 WT, each in an EXO casing. The new WT treads offer an excellent tire, with the larger, more spaced lugs on the DHF performing flawlessly. Minion fans will thoroughly enjoy the improved, larger tire. The Aggressor’s shape made for an excellent rear tire on the Ripmo, with braking kept clean and direct. Climbing traction with the Aggressor was good too.
The Ripmo’s suspension is really good. It’s great in fact and the platform is perfectly complemented by the 2018 Fox suspension. Up front, the 36 Factory RC2, ridden stock with one volume spacer, gave plenty of damper control. The Float X2 rear shock matched very well with the DW-Link suspension. More on the differences between the DPX2 and the X2 below.
Ibis Handlebar and Saddle.
An Ibis-branded saddle and bar adorned the bike. The carbon bar measured 800mm wide and had a very comfortable 5-degree up and 9-degree backsweep — my preferred dimensions. Clamp diameter is 31.8 and it results in a very comfortable bar on the trail.
Saddles are arguably the most personal piece of equipment on a bike and for me, the Ibis seat was very uncomfortable. The shape incorporates a longer nose and was relatively narrow. It’s a nicely finished piece with a good balance of padding.*
*Ibis have informed us that all of their bikes are now fitted with WTB's Silverado Saddle.
SRAM X01 Eagle
The drivetrain that broke the 2x camel’s back. SRAM’s Eagle gearing success has already been well documented and is well-deserved. There were no issues with shifts, zero dropped chains, and it remained quiet throughout testing.
Shimano XT Brakes
Including a mix of Shimano and SRAM running gear was welcomed. The Shimano XT brakes pack a punch for a set of trail stoppers and have been more reliable than the equivalent from SRAM. They weren’t perfect, though, and I did occasionally experience the shifting bite point. With the bike being such a brawler it would be nice to see a 203mm rotor on the front wheel.
On the Trail
Initially, the rear suspension was set to 30% sag with about 20% in the front. During setup the shape felt good and I was happy with the positioning but on the trail, it was a different story. The bike sat too deep for climbing, causing the front to unweight and wander on relatively average grade ascents. It also had a negative effect on the Ripmo’s attitude when putting down the hammer — it was relatively sluggish and slow to respond. It did, however, feel great in steep, rough terrain, with the rear being very compliant and soaking up hits well.
After a few rides, the rear suspension was adjusted to Ibis’ recommended settings, which I had since discovered. It’s advised to set the Ripmo up with 25% sag in the rear. I settled on 171psi to achieve the recommended in the standing, attack position. Damper settings were adjusted accordingly. The fork was left at 20% sag and with one volume spacer.
I didn't think 25% sag would be the magic bullet. Climbing, yup, but considering how well the suspension performed in steep, bony terrain, I anticipated the bike riding too harshly with less sag. How wrong I was! As expected, the change cleaned up the Ripmo’s climbing traits and provided more character when sprinting or smashing into berms. In rough terrain, the Ripmo’s DW-Link suspension continued to eat the hits, all in a composed manner. In such situations, the bike’s shape improved and there was more life to the ride, without the potential negative effects.
The second half of the Ripmo's rear travel is more linear and it greatly improves the ability to handle the extra pressure, removing harshness at the bottom end. On the pedals, progression felt through the first half of the stroke provided an excellent and supportive ride. It didn’t exhibit any of the pronounced spiking that some older DW-Links had when pedalling through square-edged trail features, at least not with the stock 32-tooth chainring.
In the First Impression piece I mentioned the shorter fork offset and how it felt nervous on the Ripmo with the stock 50mm stem. After fitting a 31mm Renthal stem, feel was greatly improved but it made the bike too cramped for my 191cm frame. A 40mm stem struck an excellent balance, leaving me room to move while tempering the nervous attitude.
The shorter offset calms the front wheel in a number of situations — climbing and cornering in smooth terrain being two noticeable areas. I still found it to exhibit a nervous demeanour when going for it in aggressive terrain. On flatter, bermed trails, the geometry complimented an energetic rider. It made time where it didn’t seem any existed and danced down the trail with ease. Tip it down a steep grade where comfort at speed is key, or put it through terrain with lots of root and rock, and the bike wasn’t as comfortable. Repeatedly I found it required more rider input in these situations, compared to similar bikes. As a tall rider, I found myself having to push the front of the bike further ahead when coming into rough sections, moving the front wheel further away from my mass.
We maintained the same trail measurement as the HD4 because we liked how it steered while descending. We didn't want to make the wheelbase longer because with the long reach and long 29er fork the wheelbase was already long enough. Much longer and it would turn into a sled that's only fun above 25 mph. If we had gone slacker we could have tilted the seat tube angle even further to keep the right weight balance but that also increases the wheelbase. With the current geo we felt we had struck a nice balance where the bike works well everywhere. – Ibis Cycles, Colin Hughes when asked why they used the shorter offset.
Ibis has noted a regular 51mm offset may benefit riders interested in taking the Ripmo down steeper, more aggressive terrain. Similar bikes like the 2019 Specialized Stumpjumper* and Santa Cruz’s Hightower LT come with ’regular’ 51mm fork offsets and in my experience, neither feel nervous in similarly aggressive conditions. For riders that think they’ll need a longer offset your options are a custom frame-only build or to work with your LBS to swap it or flip the fork for the larger offset.
*The regular Stumpy draws the most similarities to the Ripmo
Fox’s Float X2 shock is a great damper for the Ripmo and it allows you to get the most out of the very capable an efficient suspension. It comes stock with the max volume bands installed* and aside from one section of trail with a four–five-foot drop to a mostly flat landing, it worked great. The 2019 X2 with its new bottom out bumper will improve the Ripmo's ability to handle flat landings. If you are happy with more HSC that will work too, but I wasn’t happy with the performance elsewhere to leave it set for the one hit that unsettled it.
*The 210x55 Float X2 fits a max of two volume spacers
The DPX2 performed commendably in the same heavy situations. It was only let down slightly by fewer adjustments available. I also found it to feel harsher as it heated up toward the end of longer descents. If all-out traction and long runs are your jam, then save your pennies for the higher specification suspension package. Although the DPX2 performs very well, the Float X2 really allows the Ripmo’s 145mm of rear-wheel travel to shine.
The Ripmo is an excellent platform that makes use of the latest in technology and geometry. The suspension works sensationally and it’s an easy ride to get along with in many aspects. The carbon frame rides very comfortably and is impeccably put together. It’s fun and very dynamic but if riding or racing in aggressive terrain are your focus, consider fitting a regular 51mm fork offset (there are already custom builds doing this).
The Ripmo delivers relatively good value with the X01 Eagle model retailing for 7,099 USD. Toss on the Float X2 for an additional 270 USD and you’ve got one heck of a bike. If carbon wheels are your jam, an additional 800 USD buys you a set of Ibis 942 wheels, which are a very good wheel. That’s a carbonofied build with the best dampers for less than similar models from competing manufacturers..
Head to the Ibis website to play around with the build tool and learn more about the bike.