Ibis are known for building extremely capable trail bikes. SHAYNE DOWLING spent a few days shredding their latest Ripley LS
BIKE PORN! If ever there was a bike brand that epitomises this, for me it is Ibis. Always has been. Kind of like Pininfarina designed cars – think Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, you may not have driven one, but you can’t deny they are really good-looking motorcars. The Ibis Ripley LS, third generation of 29er eye candy is really a beautiful bit of MTB engineering and design. Not flawless but damn close to being perfect. So, we have established that their design is out of the top drawer but that doesn’t necessarily mean it performs well but when you look closer and even before you’ve got your leg over you start understanding that this is a high pedigree machine. The DW link is in my opinion one of the biggest positives of the bike. Dave Weagle is a suspension guru and lends his DW linkage systems to only a few bike brands, Turner and Pivot being the two other well-known brands. The linkage is spectacular at ensuring there is minimum suspension bob while ensuring maximum efficiency and traction.
This really is noticeable when riding the Ripley, its an amazing ride both on climb and descent. The generation 3 Ripley has been completely redesigned and as a trail bike is top of the class, find yourself on a vertical face and you will find that with 120mm behind and 130mm upfront, with the slacker 67.5-degree head angle Mr Ripley is right at home, Now throw in some serious rubber – try 2.6” Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s (Yes 2.6!) and the Vitamin P (the name Ibis gives to the lumo green colour) monster just eats up the terrain. The tyre’s size is an integral part of the new Ripley 3 so much, so Ibis redesigned the swingarm so that there is enough clearance for these bad boys.
Coupled with their 34mm inner width rims, you really are on a mean trail bike. After tackling the stunning but gnarly trails in Stellenbosch on Day One of the Origins of Trails event I can confirm the stiffness of the bike is insane and the tyres with the slack geometry, dropper post and stubby stem ensure tons of traction and just give you confidence to go for it. The bike is made for this! I am stating the obvious but once you have experienced it you will completely understand my enthusiasm. I have to, however, put in a little reality check at this stage so while the Ripley eats the trails and despite the suspension ensuring maximum power efficiency, climbing with these big tyres comes at a price – it’s tough! The Ripley is perfect for most types of terrain, but I highly recommend changing the tyres for longer rides (see stage races/rides) and personally I would go for a generally thinner tyre for easier climbing and better rolling if this was my full-time bike – probably defeating the object but Ibis are open about the design being able to take anything from 2.0 to the burly buggers.
My only other snag is the tight space for your water bottle, the cage has to be side entry and can’t take just any 750ml bottle – there is place for a second cage on the outside of the down tube but its not really practical. I found the bottle’s mouthpiece got in the way when changing shock settings. If, like me, you drink a lot then a hydration pack is the simple solution. The Ibis comes in a few different spec options and our test bike was with the XO1 Eagle build. I love the Eagle and used all of the gear options in and around Jonkers. This is a high-end bike and small things like Cane Creek headset, carbon bar and standard dropper make sure your experience is really of the highest quality. Boost hubs, Fox Float and 34 take care of the suspension requirements superbly and both are standard. The Ibis is the Aston Martin of trail bikes – beautiful, comfortably fast, high quality, unique but of course, it has the price-tag to match. This could quite easily be my next bike, I just got to start saving!