Ibis Ripmo 29-inch Brawler
In the last two years, manufacturers have worked out the kinks with 29ers and coupled with the push toward single-chainring drivetrains, a surge of long-legged variations began to hit the market. From Trek to Evil, the brawlers have continued to impress with their lively personalities and incredibly capable descending prowess. Now there is yet another option to add to the mix thanks to the folks at Ibis Cycles in Santa Cruz, California, and with it comes another suspension option to choose from, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Welcome the Ripmo; a combination of the Ibis Ripley and Mojo – or should it be Ripjo? Maybe Moley… I digress. For those that don’t know the Ibis range, the Ripley is their snappy 29er focused on trail duties while their Mojo, in the latest incarnation as the HD4, is the brand’s burly 153mm/6-inch travel bike ridden by their EWS team, which were coincidentally the 2017 Team Champions.
What do you get when the Ripley and Mojo have a love child? Aside from a bike that has a clear resemblance of the two parents, we get a whip with 145mm rear wheel travel and 160mm up front with some sturdy components capable of taking on the world's best enduro tracks. For the regular rider that’s a bike that, on paper at least, is capable of inspiring confidence and will be a challenge for most to push to its limits. We’ll have to wait for the full review to see if it lives up to the expectations but initial impressions are promising.
A Closer Look
Across the range, the bikes are fitted with some proper sized tires in the way of Maxxis 2.5 wide-tracks front and rear, the front being a Minion DHF and the rear, the Aggressor. While some may complain that the EXO casing may not be sufficient enough, it’s a damn sight better than some specs out there – our test bike arrived with proper rubber too, none of that OE rubber compound, rather, the Maxx-Terra. The new frame is also capable of fitting 2.6-inch tires, for those that are interested in large volume options.
The full lineup, which features five options and a sixth if you include the frame only option, is fitted with Fox Shock’s latest suspenders, with the 36 up front starting from a Performance version on the 4,099 USD base model through to the Factory RC2 36 on the 9,399 USD flagship model. In the rear is a DPX2 of the 210 x 55 variety, providing the 145mm of smooth DW-Link travel and while the Ibis EWS team ran this shock over the weekend, there is the option to upgrade to a Float X2 for an additional 249 USD, should you want either more adjustability, a more DH focused rear shock, or both.
There is only one option in the range that is fitted with a Shimano drivetrain and that’s the mid-tier, 6,199 USD option. For that money, you get full Shimano running gear (brakes and drivetrain) while all of the other bikes are fitted with SRAM drivetrains and aside from the base model, all are shod with Shimano stoppers. While we’re talking about SRAM drivetrains, for 4,799 USD you can get into the Ripmo with a GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain – the base model features SRAM NX 11-speed.
In addition to the shock upgrade, there are a number of other ways that Ibis allow you to bling out the Ripmo model of your choosing. Want carbon bars? Easy, for 68 USD you can fit a set of Ibis carbon bars. Keen on carbon wheels but don’t want to fork over for the top end model – the only one spec’ed with plastic hoops – you’re in luck, you can get the Ripmo with Ibis carbon wheels for an additional 800 USD or Industry Nine’s wheels for 1,300 USD.
The model shown here and that will be tested for the next while is the X01 Ripmo, which will retail for 7,099 USD. However, Ibis surprised me with some updates for the test. Fitted with a Float X2 and Ibis carbon wheels, this bike would end up costing 8,169 USD and while the DPX2 is a good shock that the bike is no doubt very capable with, I have not ridden it with it just yet. it will be great to test the bike on the aggressive gravity oriented trails of the PNW with the X2 – extra damper control is also very welcomed. To round out the full review we will look to spend time on the DPX as well.
Peering down at the drive side of the bottom bracket I was surprised to see a lack of ISCG tabs, especially on such a bike. Little did I know that Ibis offers a separate ISCG mount that is optional – if you want to run a chain device of any kind and this bike is looking of interest to you, it can be done with the extra part. It’s also pleasing to see a brand continue to use a threaded bb in their bikes and the Ripmo is one such bike.
New Improved Features
New for Ibis are “in-frame molded cable tunnels”, making it easier than previously to run cables through Ibis's carbon frame. The ends aren’t sealed in any way leaving the internals open to easy water access but water finds a way into all frames anyway. With no fixtures anywhere, the cables are able to move freely as the suspension moves through its travel; however, a possible downside could be excess shifting of the cables, or cable creep, something that we’ll keep an eye on as testing progresses. There haven’t been any downsides thus far and the routing is clean throughout.
The Ripmo also features Igus bushings in the lower pivots, something that has been done due to the lower link featuring “high loads and minimal rotation”, two points that bushings are ideal for. As a result, it also means that the link is lighter but thanks to an airtight seal Ibis claim that the bushings should last a long time. They’re also backing the move with lifetime replacements of the bushings when they do wear out.
Ibis also say that they designed the new bike around a 175mm dropper, with the exception of the small which was designed with a 150mm dropper in mind. The only model to come stock with a 175mm dropper is the top end*, which is a shame given how awesome it would be to have a 175mm dropper on this XL. Space would be tight for me personally, though (I’m about 190cm). Ibis claim to have worked on flexibility in the sizing so that riders can focus on reach more than standover height and the XL comes with an 18.5-inch seat tube length. It isn’t crazy, but it’s an improvement in the right direction. Some riders will be able to take advantage of the lower seat masts, sizing up or down, depending on where they fall.
*Correction: The only model spec'ed in the supplied documentation with a 175mm dropper is the XX1 model, but you can in fact opt to for either a 100, 125, 150, 175mm dropper across the range while the 175 mm post is an upgrade at the NX and GX level due to the fact that there aren't any suitably priced droppers offered at that travel.
When the Mojo HD4 was developed Ibis pushed the size of their bikes considerably, noting that prior to the HD4 they had seen an increase of customers buying up a size to get the fit that they wanted. That growth has continued with the Ripmo, though not quite as drastically, with the XL being tested coming in with a reach of 495mm – the XL Mojo HD4 had a reach of 483mm. On a size large the shift is more pronounced, with a move from 455mm on the HD4 to 471 on the Ripmo. The rest of the sizes are more in line to that of the XL; just above the 10mm mark.
2018 Ibis Ripmo Geometry
|Seat Tube Length:||14"/356mm||14.5"/368mm||16.5"/419mm||18.5"/470mm|
|Seat Tube Angle (Effective):||77º on small, 76º throughout other sizes|
|BB Height (w/ 2.5" Maxxis Minions):||341mm|
|Head Tube Length:||90mm||100mm||110mm||120mm|
It’s obvious when viewing the numbers that Ibis has been paying attention to what’s happening in the industry. In addition to the extension in reach, the seat tube angle has been tilted forward to 76 degrees and they’ve incorporated a shorter, custom 44mm offset on the fork – the stock offset for a 29er fork from Fox is 51mm – to work with the bikes 66-degree head tube angle. Generally, the shorter offset is used to improve handling characteristics at the front wheel when pushing things slacker. In that sense, it’s interesting to see the shorter offset incorporated on something that many likely won’t feel is overly aggressive in terms of head angle. So is it necessary? Will it improve the bike's handling? More on that in the initial ride impressions below.
The chainstays remain about average at 435mm and wheelbases, despite the extra reach, aren’t massive with the XL here measuring in at 1,256mm. The cockpit feels adequately roomy despite the steep 76-degree seat tube angle thanks to a reasonably slacker actual seat tube angle, the result of a fairly significant offset – the difference from the center of the BB to where the center of the seat tube connects with the lower frame. It’s an uninterrupted mast aside from where the stealth cable routing for the dropper enters, making seatpost insertion less of an issue and hence the ability to run rather long droppers.
Initial Riding Observations
Once set up the cockpit and bike felt comfortable. Slacker than the effective angle given, the actual seat tube angle resulted in a need to push the saddle forward on its rails in order to move rider weight away from the rear hub, which it was easy to be out over at 190cm tall, especially with the average 435mm chainstays. With that change, seated climbing was improved significantly, with less aggressive weight shifts required to hold traction and keep the front end planted on steeper sections.
Out front, the shorter offset with the 66-degree head angle creates a sense of the front wheel being really close to the rider and coupled with the stock 50mm stem, gave a feeling akin to riding a bike with a 70mm–100mm stem. Through tight turns the front wheel seems to want to tuck under earlier than experienced on similarly angled bikes on the same sections of trail. It’s a sensation experienced during both climbs and on descents and it’s a little unnerving. It has never tucked to this point, however, it’s not a feeling that inspires confidence in those scenarios.
Where the shorter offset in this circumstance feels best so far is in open corners, allowing the rider to dig in more aggressively. It’s more forgiving to sloppy technique and when getting weight placement wrong. Where a traditional offset would have resulted in the front wheel pushing less predictably and likely resulting in ending up on your head, the shorter offset has instead allowed for more time to correct with the wheel hanging onto traction for longer.
There’s plenty more testing to be done before any of this is conclusive, but the feeling at the bars will be tackled first, with a shorter stem going on to see how it will affect the ride, and particularly the sense of where the hands are in relation to the front hub. Suspension setup is in need of further assessment also but as expected the DW-Link is responsive, offering good feedback when pushing into the bike. The 2018 Fox 36 RC2 is a great fork leaving little need to assess its merits.
The Ripmo will be shipping worldwide March 26th (today). If the bike sounds like you, get down to your local Ibis dealer and find out what and when theirs will be in. We’ll have a full review of the bike later this spring for those looking for more details on the ride qualities. You can also check out the Ibis website for more details.