Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumping down the singletrack.
Ibis has done many things really well with the Mojo 3. But, they only did okay naming it. They could have done better. Jack would have been the most fitting name. Jack is nimble, Jack is quick, Jack jumps over the candlestick — rocks, roots and a whole slew of other shi… er, stuff. Jack is also the name of my nephew who can’t sit still. He’s the kid out in right field throwing his mitt in the air while simultaneously doing jumping jacks and windmilling his arms in opposite directions. He’s energetic, wild and never stops moving. The Mojo 3 has a lot of the same energetic qualities. We can take this Jack analogy one step further. Jack Black is a little chunky. The Mojo 3 runs plus tires. Alright, that one was a bit of a stretch, but you get the point. You could even call the Mojo 3 a jack-of-all-trades. It’s a balanced trail bike that does most everything very well. It’s the perfect daily driver that doesn’t mind getting after it when the pucker factor nears 11.
After my first 200 miles on the bike here’s how it stacks up.
The Mojo 3 is quick. There’s no arguing that. It’s quick going up, down, left, right and backwards. You give it some gas and it just goes. It’s quick to change lines, pop off rocks, navigate tight turns, manual and lay into berms. What it’s not, however, is fast. Confusing? A little. When I think of fast, I think of a drag racer on the racetrack. It has great straight line speed but if you try to take a corner in that thing, the proverbial fecal matter is going to hit the fan. When I think of quick, I think of a bullet bike splitting lanes on a California freeway. They’re both fast in their own right. The Mojo 3 doesn’t carry the straight line speed of a 29er. It doesn’t have the rock-smashing, ground-shaking personality of a monster truck enduro bike. It doesn’t have the wheelbase for that. It’s not fast in those regards. But, it sure is quick. You’ll be able to carry more speed through corners, you’ll be quicker to accelerate and you’ll be much quicker uphill. Put that all together and you have yourself one hell of a trail bike. Strava PRs beware, you might even get a little faster.
What makes the Mojo so nimble and quick?
It’s race car red, duh. Can we just talk about that red for a minute? Has there ever been such a sexy, candy red bike to hit the trails? Plus, the frame has curves for days. But on a more practical note, it’s quick because of the geometry. Ibis has done a great job of making this bike very useable for most people. What I mean by that is it’s not so extreme that you have to be riding like a bat out of hell to take advantage of the design. On the other hand, if you want to be rowdy and get after it, you can do that too. The geo is very neutral and balanced. The reach is pretty middle of the road, the head tube angle isn’t super slack, the chainstays are short, but I’ve seen shorter. I think that by making the numbers pretty average, they were able to make an outstanding ride. The geometry finds that delicate middle ground between maneuverability and stability.
The average-ish head tube angle, shorter wheelbase, and efficient suspension all help the bike climb as well as it descends. You won’t have to say “The bike climbs really well considering what it is” or “insert enduro bike cliche here.” The bike just climbs really well, period. Let’s face it, you probably spend more time climbing than descending anyway — may as well enjoy the ups while you’re at it. You’ll certainly get through them faster. The balanced geo and light build with the plus tires make the Mojo 3 a mountain goat. I’ve been not only faster on all of my climbs, I’ve cleaned most techy sections without any trouble. Just to give you a quick example, there’s a quick 1 mile, 300 foot climb near my house. On the Mojo 3 I’ve dropped a whole minute and a half off my previous time. Keep in mind that’s early season fitness (read: out of shape) compared to mid/late season fitness. Dropping 4 pounds off my previous build certainly helps with that.
The Mojo 3 is no slouch on the downhills. With 130mm rear travel paired to a 140mm Fox 34 fork, it packs a punch. It’s an aggro little trail bike that will get you down your local trails without a fuss. It even has enough monster truck built in that when you do get lazy with your lines you can keep from going over the bars — not that I would recommend it. The Mojo 3 is pretty confident when the grade turns negative. It handles far steeper terrain than the numbers might suggest. The DW Link suspension keeps the back wheel planted, the playful attitude lets you quickly change lines and the plus tires eat up a little bit of the chunder. You can’t have it all, however. The bike is very nimble and playful because of its geometry. It’s also a little less stable and confident for the same reason. The ragged edge feels a little closer most of the time. That’s to be expected; Ibis didn’t intend the Mojo 3 to be a mini DH bike. It falls squarely in the trail bike category, even if it does punch above its class.
I did notice the suspension took a little more finagling to get just right. A month and a half later I’m still making tweaks, trying to find the best setup. This is my first DW Link bike. It’s far more efficient than my other bikes. There’s a ton of mid stroke support but it’s not as supple off the top as some other suspension designs I’ve tried, namely the DELTA link on Evil’s bikes. I tend to go through most of the rear travel pretty quick on the Mojo 3. Although, I’ve yet to feel a harsh bottom out, even on some bigger 4-5 foot drops. Ibis recommends a 25% sag on the stock Fox Float DPS shock. At that recommendation, the bike pedals very well and feels plush enough. A little more give in the top stroke would be nice, but any softer, and it I blow through the rear travel way too quickly. I’ll play around with some volume spacers to see if I can find the Goldilocks of suspension.
Biking isn’t all about speed. At some point it’s about having fun. That’s why we all got on bikes in the first place, right? The Mojo 3 maximizes the fun factor. The shorter wheelbase and overall geometry lends to a quick, playful ride. The low bottom bracket combined with short chainstays makes cornering fast and snappy. I’ve never felt more confident laying a bike over in a corner. That could also have something to do with the plus tires. The traction provided by the wide 2.8” meat is pretty impressive. I’ve never been the guy who could really lay the bike over or cut into a berm, until I hopped on the Mojo 3. Just a quick note on the plus tires. I’ve been running the 2.8” Schwalbe Nobby Nics. After 200 miles of rocks, drops, high speed descents, the tires are still in great shape. I haven’t noticed any of the major complaints a lot of folks seem to have with plus tires — no durability issues, no weird gyroscopic effects, no weird bouncing and bobbing and certainly no issues with the tires giving up the ghost while cornering hard. That said, I did have to spend a little time and effort to get my tire pressures just right. I’m about 195 lbs all loaded up and I’m running about 15-16psi (front/rear) to 17-18psi depending on the trail. Do yourself a favor and get an actual tire pressure gauge. My floor pump was wildly inaccurate at low pressures like this.
The Mojo 3 requires you to be a little more sniper with your lines. You have to give the bike some input. Hell, you might even have to learn how to actually ride a bike if you want to tackle some tough terrain — no relying on a 65 degree head angle and 40mm too much squish here. You could argue that the bike wasn’t designed for rough downhill descents. But, that’s a stupid thing to say. What good is a mountain bike that only goes uphill on a sidewalk? The Mojo 3 is plenty capable. The balanced geometry is going to make for a better ride for the average rider, and yes, you most likely are an average rider. I used to think I was pretty rad on a bike. I thought I required long and slack because I rode so fast and rowdy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the definition of average, I’d say the majority of us fall into that category as well.
The final verdict after the first 200 miles: If you’re looking for an energetic, fun and involving ride, the Ibis Jack Mojo 3 should be on your list. It’s as close as I’ve come to the one-bike-to-rule-them-all fantasy. I was worried when I bought it that I’d be outgunned on rowdier trails. While that has only been the case once, I would be curious to see what an extra 15mm of wheelbase and reach would do to the bike. I wouldn’t mind a little more gun, but I’d be worried it would take away from the best qualities of the ride. If you’re in the same category, let me assure you, it’s plenty capable (bike review buzzword.) As is, Ibis has made one impressive mountain bike. The Mojo 3 is a keeper. It’s quick, fun and plenty of bike for 98% of my local trails. It’s sexy as hell to boot. I can’t wait for the next 200, hell, 2,000 miles.
Notes about reviewer/photographer.
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