Over the years, events in Santa Cruz, CA, have sort of become the unofficial Sea Otter pre-game. With most of the bike industry headed to Monterey for the big show, Santa Cruz is just a short drive away – and the riding is spectacular. One of the big names in town, Ibis Cycles has been doing their own thing for 38 years now, and to celebrate, they’ve introduced the all new Ripley.
Wait, there’s a new Ripley?
Yes, and we covered all the tech details right here. But, nutshell: The Ripley 4.0 is an all new design that gets rid of the eccentric pivots, borrows from the Ripmo design for increased frame stiffness, and manages to get lighter in the process.
And having learned from past mistakes, the new bikes were already showing up in the warehouse in early April, so we met up with the team at Ibis to ride them. Directly below is Zach’s take on the bike, followed by Tyler’s first impressions.
They mostly come to ride…mostly
I’ve been able to ride the trails above Santa Cruz on a number of occasions now, but the 120mm travel Ripley (130mm fork) holds the title of the shortest travel bike that I’ve ridden them on. It also happened to be one of my best rides there yet. Now, there is a lot that goes into a great ride – weather, trails, company, but the bike plays a big part of it, and for me the Ripley was dialed.
Right away I was perfectly happy with the geometry which has gotten quite a bit longer with an average 45mm increase in reach across all four sizes. It also has a 3° steeper seat tube angle, 1° slacker head tube angle, a shorter 44mm offset fork, and 12mm shorter chainstays. It also has silly short seat tubes that allow for the biggest dropper posts possible – I think it’s the first bike for me that I could ever fit a 170mm post (assuming the tire won’t hit the back of the saddle when lowered at full suspension compression). The result is a bike that climbs the steep pitches around Santa Cruz with ease, but is way more confidence inspiring than it should be going down hill.
That seems to be a major theme of the new Ripley. The only time you would think it’s even close to 120mm of travel is when you’re climbing. Thanks to the legendary dw-link efficiency, it races uphill. But when you point it back down, the progressive suspension tune makes it feel nearly bottomless. At the same time, the frame has this infectious, playful, poppy nature that’s impossible to ride without a huge smile on your face.
I could go on, but that’s really all you need to know (ed. – maybe not everything, I have a few thoughts to add below). I often waffle between what my “ideal” travel length is, and on a normal day I would have to say it’s between 130-150mm, depending on the trails. But the Ripley makes me rethink that. On anything but the burliest days, I would have no problem ripping around on a Ripley – and that’s something I hope that I get to do again in the very near future!
How long was I out there?
Like regional dialects, a bike’s character can usually be defined somewhat by where it comes from. The new Ibis Ripley v4 heads in the same direction as many other modern trail bikes, but it’s personality is straight up Santa Cruz. Which is not to say surfer slacker 4:20 fan. Rather, a fast, flowy fun machine that’s at home on swooping trails that reward high speeds.
Our test ride took us on new-to-us trails that showed off a different side of Santa Cruz, with drier dirt, hard pack, and a few rocks. All before heading into the area’s signature canopied loam with endless traction. But to get there, Ibis’ team took us up a couple of wicked steep climbs. Which was good, because it proved that the steeper seat angle and forward rider positioning would do exactly what they claimed it would – provide billy goat traction on a slow spin in the bail out gear. It even seemed to keep me in the right spot when standing and grinding. But mostly, it was a real treat to plant myself on the saddle and not have to wrestle the bike up a hill, choosing between front end control or rear end traction – the Ripley offered both.
It also offered a playfulness that made popping off little jumps and logs fun, likely aided by the bike’s light weight. And it was easy to navigate the big berms and tight sections as well as the steep downward dirt slides that finish off many a Santa Cruz ride. In all, it made the 90-minute-ride-that-turned-into-3-hours super fun. So much so that I almost didn’t care that I’d only brought one water bottle.
We’re working on getting a long term review bike in to test on local trails. It’s one thing to see a bike shine on its home turf. While neither Zach nor I think our admiration for Ibis’ latest rig will decline when it sees East Coast dirt, it’s always a good thing to be sure. For science.