After Chris McNally put this early test production version of the all-new Ibis Hakka MX through its paces in the New Belgium Ramble Ride in Asheville, we picked it up for long term testing. A few rides in under two different riders, early impressions are very positive. Considering it came to us after hauling a full bikepacking load in a multi-day event, the bike looks and rides perfect, barely a scratch on it, and nothing’s creaking. In fact, it’s almost perfectly quiet, which is a huge accomplishment considering we’re riding flat out across root sections, gravel trails, and curb drops. Sure, there aren’t many cables and hoses running on the bike, but still, it’s off to a good start.
Up front, things look very normal. No oddly shaped tubes, just the slightest bump at the bottom of the headtube, and mostly round tubes. It’s not until you get to the super-dropped chainstay that it starts showing a personality. Riding it is much the same – hop aboard and it’s straightforward. Pedal and it goes, rather efficiently. Drop into some dirt and the personality starts to show there, too. In a good way – nothing weird. It just likes the dirt. And the road. I sprinted up our neighborhood hill intervals and it obliged. I flicked it onto the grass paths that skirt residential parks, and it held the line. Basically, it just did what it was told in a totally predictable manner.
A size 58 built in stock configuration with Ibis’ 733 alloy wheels, Schwalbe Thunder Burt tires set up tubeless, a SRAM Rival1 group on Praxis Zayante Hollow Forged M30 alloy cranks, Ibis’ alloy cockpit (bar, stem and saddle) and house-brand saddle comes in at an even 19.00lbs (8.62kg).
This is the first “gravel” bike I’ve ridden with 27.5″ mountain bike tires, and I’m impressed. The Cannondale Slate I reviewed also had 650B (aka 27.5″) wheels and tires, but nothing with the (slightly) extra tread used here. The extra traction and buoyancy made the rougher rows of roots far more manageable. And I didn’t feel any slower. To be totally honest, I just assumed they were 29er tires until I got the spec sheet in from Ibis days after receiving the bike, at which point I double checked the sidewalls. Sure enough, 27.5×2.1. It seemed to roll along just as quick as my other gravel bikes with 700×40 tires. If you’re riding a rigid hardtail mountain bike, this could easily replace it…and make you faster.
So far, first impressions are good. This is a bike I could see myself grabbing almost any time I wasn’t riding my full suspension mountain bikes. Trip to the store? Yes. Gravel ride? Definitely. Cyclocross training? Sure, with 700×33 wheels and tires. Group rides? Why not…Barring a straight up race bike, the new Ibis Hakka MX might just be the only bike you need with drop bars.
Check out full tech specs and details in our launch coverage here.