Believe it or not, the Ripley has now entered its fourth generation. Once described by Ibis founder Scot Nicol as “the best bike for most people,” the Ripley is a 120mm rear travel 29’er, long beloved by riders and testers around the world. Since it’s initial launch in 2011 it has undergone a number of changes, from a “long and slack” version that was introduced for self-explanatory reasons, to the more recent “boosted” version.
In that time, Ibis added a new bike to their line-up: the wildly popular Ripmo. That bike helped establish a number of new standards for the company - things like a much longer front center than their previous models, the use of reduced offset forks, steep seat angles, and mechanical changes like the use of bushings in the lower link. For the brand new Ripley, Ibis took all of these design cues and created what is essentially a baby Ripmo - and that’s a good thing.
I happen to live close to long time Ibis athlete Jeff Kendal-Weed, and was able to snag his new Ripley for a handful of days prior to the bike’s launch. True to its name, the Ripley is a ripper, and more so than it ever has been before… but before we get into how it rides, let’s take a look at everything Ibis has changed with the latest version.
Front end travel: More, less, or the same?
Under and over-forking the Ripley has been a common practice since the bike’s inception. People wanting a cross country mountain goat would opt for a 120mm fork, and those looking for a slightly more aggro trail machine would bump up to 140. But that had not been built into the design of the bike, and it caused a few issues that the folks at Ibis weren’t too keen on.
To accommodate the lower bottom bracket that under-forking the Ripley produces, the Gen 4 Ripley sports a BB height about half a centimeter higher than the previous model. This reduces the likely-hood of the accursed pedal strike, even on the rock strewn trails of the Colorado front-range.
On the flip side, running a 140mm fork used to reduce the seat-tube angle to such a degree that many riders, particularly taller ones, found their weight too far back, making the front end wander. The new Ripley has a seat-tube angle over 3 degrees steeper than the old, so go ahead and run that 140mm fork, you’ll be sitting happy when the trail turns down-hill.
Reduced Offset, Increased Capability
Ibis has also brought over the lower offset fork from the Ripmo, stocking the new Ripley with a 44mm offset Fox 34. We have our Visual Bike Builder loaded up with the new crop of 2021 Fox forks, including the 140mm Fox 36 option and the new GRIP2 34, for those of you looking for added stiffness and more adjustment capacity, as well as the new Pike Ultimate and options from Cane Creek and Marzocchi.
Ibis’s reasoning behind running the 44mm offset fork is that it “gives you the stability of a slacker head angle, while retaining the BMX like feel of, well, a Ripley.” They combine that with a 66.5 degree headtube angle, less than a degree steeper than the Ripmo’s 65.9 head angle. As someone who prioritizes the descent, I found that for this xc/trail bike, they’ve hit the nail right on the head with their set up. If you’re curious about how a reduced offset fork affects a bike’s handling, check out our recent blog post that delves into all those details.
Along with the familiar Ripmo styling we see similar geo numbers across the board. The Gen 4 Ripley has reach numbers that are up by about 45mm on each size. These bikes are meant to pedal though, so Ibis has kept very similar effective top tube numbers from the previous Ripley through use of the very steep seat-tube angle, which is now at 76 degrees (up from 73).
Another noteworthy change to the seat-tube is that it no longer sports the double eccentric bearing linkage that all the previous Ripleys had, opting for the same link system as the Ripmo. While the eccentric bearings are a proven and well recognized design, Ibis has gone a different direction for a couple of reasons. Firstly, using the double linkage is one of the ways Ibis has saved weight on the frame - about 0.65 lbs all said and done. Secondly, those bearings impede the seat-post, which means that fitting a longer dropper on the previous Ripley was often times not possible. With the new design, Roxy Lo, Ibis’ 5'1" tall designer, can now run a 150mm post on her small Ripley.
On the back of the bike, you’ll see the very shapely rear triangle, which has been tucked in by over a centimeter to a snappy 432m, and which uses 148 boost spacing. It is compatible with the wide rims that Ibis popularized years ago, and can run up to 2.6” wide tires. Internal cable tunnels make cable routing especially easy - no more fishing around for loose cables and housing.
The lighter weight, new geo, and more progressive suspension all add up to a bike that is exceptionally snappy to ride. Call your new Ripley a “trail scalpel,” because that’s what it is.
Is it Enough?
I often find myself waffling back and forth about how much travel I need on a bike. I love my downhill bike, and it’s pretty cool to get an experience approaching that on today’s Enduro bikes. But more often than not, the trails I’m riding are made less fun by those heavier, floppier bikes. It takes more effort to get moving, it takes more effort to have fun, and all in all, it detracts from the ride.
The fact of the matter is that I’m not always descending as fast as I can, and even when I am, most trails today are smooth enough that six inches of travel simply doesn’t add anything to the experience. And that’s where the Ripley absolutely shines.
It’s a bike meant for fun. It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh you down on the climb to the top. You can chat with your friends while you pedal, instead of huffing and puffing. You can race your kid up to the top of the hill, instead of telling her you’ll meet her at the top. You can get into your groove and lose yourself in your cadence, instead of drowning in it.
And then on the way down, instead of using everything you’ve got to feel alive, you can throw in a few pedal strokes and be airborne. You’ll find yourself jumping back and forth on the trail, pumping through bumps you never saw as rollers before, and launching off of roots and rocks the you always used to plow through.
So, to answer my question, yes, this 4.7” travel bike is enough. In fact, it’s just right, because everything about it will increase the size of your smile at the end of your ride. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?