Fanatik’s videographer Doug and I were lucky enough to attend the Ibis Ripmo dealer launch at their world headquarters in Santa Cruz, California. With the likes of Ibis founder Scott Nicol, mountain bike legend Brian Lopes, and many of the industry’s leading retailers in attendance, the factory was buzzing with the anticipation. of throwing a leg over this highly top secret bike. I’ve always loved Ibis’ bikes, but often had to size up to get the length that I’ve become accustomed to.
Enter the Ripmo. Almost an inch longer than it’s smaller wheeled brother the Mojo HD4, the Ripmo seemed to be everything I had been looking for in a 29er. I couldn’t wait to throw a leg over and spend a couple of days testing prior to its debut.
The Quick'n Dirty
- Carbon front and rear frame build w/ 145mm rear wheel travel
- 160mm reduced offset front fork
- Metric rear shock
- Boost 12x148mm rear dropout spacing
- Compatible with 29” x 2.6” tires
- 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell
- Newly designed lower link utilizes bushing w/ lifetime replacement policy
- Internal cable tunnels for hassle free housing installation
- Large water bottle compatible with all frame sizes
Mountain bike geometry has been trending longer, lower, and slacker for a few years, but until now Ibis has been treading those waters lightly. The Ripmo marks a dramatic shift in the approach they have historically taken when designing their bikes. With 145mm of rear wheel travel and a 160mm reduced offset fork, you can immediately tell that it was made to be pointed downhill. That fact was made clear at the recent Enduro World Series race in Chile, where Ibis team rider Robin Wallner rode the Ripmo to a third place finish.
So what is so special about the Ripmo besides its new styling and longer reach?
Like the new line of Transition SBG bikes, the Ripmo utilizes a reduced, 44mm offset fork rather than the more common 51mm. This concept has become more and more popular as manufacturers look for ways to lengthen front-centers while still maintaining good turning characteristics and stability at high speeds. This new reduced fork offset changes a measurement known as “trail,” a geometry figure that affects the steering and stability of your bike. In a very simplified model, and all else equal, a reduced offset fork gives a bike more trail. This results in greater stability and a less nervous feeling while steering at high speed, as well as allowing bike to track more effectively through corners. The addition of this reduced offset fork combined with the bike’s 65.9 degree head tube angle and 435mm chain stays give the Ripmo a snappy feeling through corners while still making it extremely stable through high speed chunder or while in the air.
It rips on the downs, but Ibis is all about well-rounded bikes. The Ripmo is not a one trick pony. Its 76 degree seat tube angle combined with a 447mm reach (size M) had me in an aggressive yet comfortable position while climbing. The steep seat angle and wide stays also make room for up to a 29x2.6” tire. That’s a combination not seen on many other 29’ers, and will give riders a great deal of traction on both the ups and downs. The DW Link suspension design, known for pedaling well, combined with the bikes forward climbing position and short 435mm chainstays allows the rider to readily transfer power to the pedals. I found it an easy matter to maintain rear end traction on even the loosest climbs.
What do all these numbers add up to? A mountain bike that has the ability to tackle just about any terrain that you could throw at it, up or down.
Another change that has me excited is the the use of bushings in the lower link of the rear suspension. Bushings are not only lighter and stiffer, but when used in the right application, require less maintenance than bearings. Where they really make a difference is in high load applications where minimal rotation is happening, two things that bearings do not like. Ibis is so confident in this design that they are offering free lifetime replacement of bushings on all Ripmos sold. The re-designed link looses about 80g, which is impressive considering it's stiffer than the previous version.
Lastly, while all of Ibis’s bikes have had internally routed cables for quite some time now, the Ripmo has received internal cable tunnels. This should have you home mechanics out there jumping for joy, since it will make cable and housing replacement a complete breeze. Other welcome features include a 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell and the ability to install an ISCG spacer.
So what's really up?
The Ripmo is most comfortable at high speed. Period. Admittedly there were a couple of instances where I found myself going a bit faster than I would have liked, but the Ripmo seemed to handle the situation as if asking me to go even faster. On smooth flowy sections of trail the bike accelerates easily and tracks effortlessly through long sweeping turns. When confronted with steeper, tighter turns, the bike took a little bit of getting used to. I felt that it took a bit more initial effort to initiate tight turns, but once turning the bike held it’s line very well. I’ve heard the same thing from Dan regarding the SBG Transition bikes, and we think it has a lot to do with the long front center and reduced offset forks.
Taking the Ripmo to the skies was a breeze. It felt composed and stable off of Santa Cruz’s fast, long, and low jumps, but did lack a little bit of the pop I had grown accustom to while riding the Mojo HD4. I am confident this was just a result of the shock set up, which I didn’t have a ton of time to dial in before hitting the trails.
The Ripmo isn’t the slackest of the long travel 29’ers, but I think this makes it much more usable to the majority of people. With many companies pushing the limits of geometry, the Ripmo stays true to Ibis’ core tenets, and remains a bike that is fun and usable. As technology and trends change, it can be hard to not get sucked up in the hype and marketing. Ibis has always made well thought out choices, and I think the Ripmo is a glowing example of their commitment to creating only the most well thought out bikes.