As a lifelong mountain biker, Fanatik’s owner Kyle Salisbury has experienced the evolution of mountain bike technology firsthand, having ridden everything from 26” DH bikes to modern 29” e-bikes. With a history of downhill racing, Salisbury has no issues getting a bike up to speed and has developed an intricate feel for how different bikes perform on the trail.
Having recently switched from a Specialized Stumpjumper Evo to an Ibis Ripley, I was intrigued by the decision to switch to a shorter travel bike and how he felt these two bikes compare. I was also curious about the finer details of his component selection, bike setup, and which one he’d choose if he had to do both an XC race and DH race on a single bike.
Frame: Ripley V4S, Large
Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate
Drivetrain: SRAM XX Transmission
Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet E 11
Brakes: Hayes Dominion T4
Seatpost: RockShox AXS Dropper, 180mm
Saddle: Specialized Power ARC
You are coming off a Stumpjumper Evo; what was the driving factor for trying a shorter travel bike?
I primarily ride the North Side of Galbraith Mountain and enjoy XC-style climbing. I rarely climb a fire road to the top of a mountain unless I have to. The shorter travel bike is more nimble on the climb and has a little more pep in its step on the XC trails than an Evo does.
How would you compare handling characteristics between the Stumpjumper Evo and Ibis Ripley?
The Stumpy Evo is incredibly capable, and I felt confident riding that bike on any trail, fast. After a couple of rides on the Evo, I realized I was going significantly faster than I ever had on the descents, and it felt natural. The bike rarely felt unstable or out of control, eating up high-speed terrain. If you got off your line, you had the confidence to handle the terrain. That bike paired with I9 system wheels, the rear end tracked very well and had no issues with lateral stiffness. The Evo was also a great climber. Coming off of a Ripmo before this, I felt that the Evo and Ripmo were comparable on the climbs.
The Ibis Ripley feels like a Ferrari with a little extra suspension. The bike really transfers power, and when you get on the pedals, it takes off. The shorter travel DW link platform also transfers pumping power to the trail very well, and you can carry speed on the bike. It is incredibly playful and poppy when descending, and you want to try to double the natural features on the trail. Line choice is critical on the Ripley; with the shorter travel and more trail-oriented geo, rough terrain at speed will rattle the body a bit. Overall the bike is incredibly capable, but you have to be more careful about getting through steeper or more technical trails.
If you had to race both an XC race and a DH race on a single bike, which would you choose, the Stumpy Evo or Ripley? Why?
Ripley: the extra speed on a multi-hour XC race would put you way ahead of the gains you would get on the stumpy in a DH Race that is only 3-5 minutes.
Which components did you make sure to carry over from your last build, and why were they worth sticking with?
Handlebars and grips, I run the same bar and grip on every bike, from gravel to E-bike. I also stuck with the 23’ Lyrik on the front. The buttercups are pretty buttery, and on a shorter travel bike, any bump you eliminate makes a difference.
What new component were you most excited to try on the Ripley; has that component performed up to expectations?
Sram Transmission, and yes, it has. The shifting under load ability is amazing, I can shift through the cassette under power, and Sram Transmission walks quietly and efficiently through the gears.
The Ripley has lots of great components, though. Hope Pro 5s to We Are One triads have been great, and the new Hope hubs are FAST and cost-effective. Coming off of Industry Nine system hubs, there is a reduction in engagement; however, it has not caused any issues. Hayes Dominion T4 levers feel great and have an incredible amount of power. They have no issue stopping me on long descents (205 LBS with gear). I have yet to have them fade. The ‘23 rock shox lineup gives the bike a slightly larger feel than it is. It does remind me it is still a light trail bike on hard hits and compressions.
Where did you ride the bike first and what were your initial impressions?
Galbraith, North Side, of course. I went for a general XC ride and descended on Dad Bod, Vitamin R, and SST. My initial impression was, “Damn, this is fun.” The bike powered up the climbs and made me feel like I was much more fit than I am! The descent went as expected. On the rough trails, I was slower than on my Stumpy Evo, but the bike was more playful and engaging. I am not going to be the fastest down any hill, so I was happy with how it did.
You’ve ridden a lot of different suspension designs over the years; how does the DW link design compare?
I really like DW-style dual pivot bikes. Besides the stumpy evo, I have been riding DW or VPP platforms since Intense launched the 5.5 around 2006/2007. With this style of bike, you definitely feel the smaller bumps on the trail more than you would on an FSR, but I really like the pedal platform and how the bikes react to input from your body. The FSR platform is faster, more forgiving, and smoother than the DW; however, the DW gains in pedal performance and input from the rider.
Which aspect of your setup are you most particular about?
The cockpit, bars, stem, and brakes have to look good. If they don’t look good, it messes with my head!
Do you think you’ve found “the bike,” or are there other frames you’d like to try?
I wish I could say I have found the bike, but they are all so fun, and every day at Fanatik is dangerous. So many great bikes and so many great trails that would be great for all different types of bikes. A longer travel bike is in my future for steeper terrain and the occasional park day. I just don’t know what it will be yet.
If you could ride any trail in the world right now, which would it be and why?
SST 15 years ago. SST is a great trail, but I am not much of a jumper. That was when the trail had all-natural jumps with some great technical off-camber sections. The current clear-cut was the trees, and the existing tree sections were clear-cut back then.
Moving into the summer season, Salisbury is happily content with the lively, do-it-all nature of the Ibis Ripley. With his racing days behind him, all-out speed isn’t his primary concern anymore, and if it were, the Stumpjumper Evo would still be the bike for him. However, the balanced nature of the Ibis Ripley is ideal for any single-track adventure of trail ride Salisbury can throw at it while still having the poise needed when the trail gets rough.
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