The folks at Ibis have been hard at work over the last year or so year, releasing four new models. I’ve been lucky enough to throw a leg over the Mojo 3, Ripley LS and the Mojo HD4 this year. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on the Mojo 3 and it’s longer legged big brother the Mojo HD4. Earlier in the year I shared my long-term thoughts on the Mojo 3. This time I’m turning my attention to the silver and lime green [insert quiver-killer/one bike to rule them all synonym here.]
I think very highly of the Mojo 3. It's fast, snappy and quick to accelerate. It was incredibly easy to lean over and keep speed through the corners. It handled some of the rougher trails with surprisingly good composure. In my review I said it was the perfect bike for the trails I rode most of the time. This season however, I spent the majority of my time riding trails that pushed the Mojo 3 to its limits — at least its limits with me as captain. On a daily basis, I found myself riding trails with a -20 to -30% average grade with even steeper sections mixed in. That’s where the Mojo 3 got in over its head. Enter the Mojo HD4.
When Ibis released the HD4 earlier this year, I was very surprised by the numbers. Ibis bikes have been known for being much shorter than the rest of the pack. To their credit, a shorter bike can feel much more playful and easier to corner, jump and get creative. Most folks probably appreciate a bike with quick and easy handling. The HD4 broke that mold. They went long with this one. To give you an idea, I ride an XL frame in most brands, including Ibis. The reach on the Mojo 3 comes in at 455mm and the wheelbase measures 1180mm. At 6’3” I didn’t feel cramped on the bike, but I didn’t feel like there was much room to move around. The HD4 measures 480mm and 1251mm respectively. That’s on the long end of bikes in the category. A slack head angle of 64.9 degrees puts the front wheel way out in front of you. Just standing over the bike it looks like it would be impossible to be ejected out the front door (don’t worry, I ran the experiment. It’s still very possible.) That head angle combined with the longer reach measurement is what gives the bike its planted and stable feel. More on that to come. My favorite thing about the numbers with this bike is that Ibis didn’t go whole hog on the long travel thing. With a plenty of bikes popping up these days in the 170-180mm travel range, it was nice to see Ibis reign it in and keep the travel pretty moderate. With 153 rear and 160 front travel, you don’t feel over biked on every trail that doesn’t look like Red Bull Hardline. The ride still feels responsive and snappy, even on tamer trails.
There must be something in the water in Santa Cruz, CA. Ibis knows how to make a bike climb with the best of them. The HD4 is no exception. It’s got to be the way they incorporate the DW Link into their frames. Every Ibis bike I’ve ridden springs forward the second you hit the gas. Before actually riding the HD4, I assumed it would climb a bit like a pig stuck in mud. It’s not the lightest bike out there — especially with a build that’s ready to stand up to race pace on some of the toughest tracks around. I thought the slack head angle would pose a problem. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty damn surprised with how well this bike climbs.
Like I said earlier, you lay down the power and the bike scoots forward. It’s very, very efficient. The geo actually feels pretty good while climbing too. The steep seat angle gets your weight forward and over the cranks. It helps that DW Link bikes tend to sit pretty high in their travel. This keeps the back end from getting even slacker while putting down the power while seated. Even on the steep ups I’ve never really felt as if the front wheel was coming off the ground. It stays nice and planted. The bike gets a little more unwieldy in technical terrain and tight switchbacks. The front wheel does seem to get bounced off line when climbing through the technical stuff, at least compared to the Mojo 3 and Ripley. That’s not to say it can’t climb in technical terrain. It just takes a little more finesse. Tight switchbacks might be the place where the HD4 struggles the most. With a bike that long, it’s like watching a city bus make a tight turn at an intersection. It can be done though; lean her over, keep your balance, and you’re golden.
To give you an idea of how well the HD4 climbs, I haven’t lost time on any climbs on my local trails. In fact, on a climb I do nearly 3-4 times a week, I’ve set a personal best while riding the HD4.
I’ve been on a broad range of trail/all-mountain bikes this year. From short travel, sprightly bikes to trail destroying monster trucks, I’ve ridden both extremes. I’m going to have to say the HD4 takes the cake, if not the entire bakery. That would be a given considering that Ibis designed this bike with EWS racers in mind. It’s quick, nimble and easy to maneuver, but it doesn’t shy away from monster trucking over the nasty bits — perfect for EWS tracks. The slack head angle makes it feel like you can roll over just about anything. It has gotten me into trouble a few times. 64.9 degrees is slack, but burying your front wheel in a three foot hole is always going to see you out the front door. The HD4 gives you major confidence when things get rough. It begs you to take the reigns and charge ahead. It’s not the kind of bike you ride by hanging off the back dragging your ass on the tire. Get over the bars and actively ride the thing — that’s when it really comes alive. The traction from the wide 2.6” stock Maxxis Minions make unsavory trail conditions a problem of the past. Wet, sloppy, marbles over hardpack — there seems to be endless traction.
My favorite thing about the HD4 is that it doesn’t feel like a huge bike — until you need it to. I’m going to guess that’s due to the DW link sitting higher in its travel combined with relatively tame travel. The short chainstays must come into play here too. The bike is easy to lay over and doesn’t take too much wrestling to get through tight corners despite the loooong wheelbase. But when the going gets tough just point her mostly downhill, close your eyes, and you’ll make it out just fine. It seems like an oxymoron to call a bike agile yet stable, but that’s exactly how it feels. I’ve ridden other bikes that are supposed to be the same way, the only difference is, the HD4 actually makes good on the claim. It’s not the most agile bike out there, but I feel that Ibis has made all the right compromises with the bike design. It’s agile, has a high “plowability” factor and gives you the confidence of a drunk frat boy.
DPX2 vs X2.
My HD4 came with fox’s new Performance Float DPX2 (read my thought on that in the gripes section below.) The DPX2 was super simple and easy to set up. Honestly all I did was set the sag and then set the rebound to the manufacturer’s setting — no extra tuning involved. The shock is great. I put about 300 miles on it in some pretty rough terrain. The DPX2 is decently plush yet has incredible mid stroke support. The HD4 is really poppy and quick with it installed. I did feel that the back end didn’t quite track like I would want, especially for a bike that’s designed for enduro racing. I ended up buying a Float X2— what a game changer. The X2 fits the bike’s intentions so much better than the DPX2. The back end tracks really well through the chunk and gives copious amounts of traction. With other bikes, I’ve felt that the X2 deadens the feel of the ride — it almost steals all of your pop. With the HD4’s great pedaling platform and mid stroke support I didn’t get any of those negatives from running the X2. The bike is still very playful and pops really well. I might still hang onto the DPX2 as a backup or for more XC style rides.
See 99% of the words above.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why the XO1 build comes with a Performance DPX2. Not even Performance Elite. For a 7K build you would think they’d put a Factory shock on this thing. Every other full suspension Ibis in the XO1 build comes with a Factory shock. The standard fork is Fox’s Factory 36 RC2. The fork comes with both high and low speed compression adjustments, yet the Performance shock only has a rebound adjustment — no compression adjustments other than the open/lockout switch. The shock does come with a custom tune for the HD4 but not every rider weighs or rides the same. That one baffles me. Do yourself a favor and just get the Float X2 upgrade. As always, you can use the Fanatik Bike Builder to spec out your HD4 part-by-part, including the rear shock.
This one is superficial, but the paint chips like brittle teeth. After two rides my chainstays looked like an acne scarred teenager. As of right now, Ibis doesn’t sell touch up paint either. Best to invest in some frame protection on this one.
The Mojo HD4 in 30 words (for kids who can’t read good)
Ibis made one of the best enduro bikes of the year. Don’t believe me? Just look at which team took home the EWS win. It’s fast, fun and looks damn (I ran out of words, but I was going to say good).
Hey, I'm Conor. I’m a photographer by trade and the kind of mountain biker that spends more time in the dirt than most. Half of the time, I'm lucky enough to call that "work." I get to live in the amazing mountain town of Salt Lake City, UT, literally surrounded by mountains, forests and lakes — not to rub it in or anything. I've got a thing for being outside, getting dirty and spending time with good people. Most of my mountain biking photos have been shot on either the Sony a7s or the a6000. Both of these cameras do an amazing job, especially considering their size and weight. You can reach me or see more of my work at conorbarry.com or on my Instagram account.
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