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?

Scot Nicol is the guy who founded Ibis Cycles and he still gets out and rides with his crew Ibis founder Scot Nicol still gets out and shreds.

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

first ride review of new ibis ripley 4 trail mountain bike Zach hits a loamy dirt chute that’s way steeper and tighter than this picture suggests.

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.

first ride review of new ibis ripley 4 trail mountain bike

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?

first ride review of new ibis ripley 4 trail mountain bike Tyler turns. Er, Tyler’s turn.

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.

first ride review of new ibis ripley 4 trail mountain bike

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.

IbisCycles.com

30 COMMENTS

  1. “assuming the tire won’t hit the back of the saddle when lowered at full suspension compression” Does this happen? Seems like a problem if it does.

    I’m also interested in how they spec 125, 160, or 185 mm drop SPs? Does the dealer choose this when they order?

    • During the ride I mentioned that I was excited that I could run a 170mm dropper post on this bike, and Ibis pointed out that there may be room in the seat tube to do so, but I would need to check the clearance on full bottom out just to be sure (rather than finding out on the trail on the first big hit). The seat tube on a medium is only 15″, so there is a potential of tire/seat contact – but it’s not just Ibis bikes, and it also depends on your saddle position/saddle choice/etc. Since the introduction of bigger wheel and tires and longer travel, some bikes have faced this which is why WTB created the High Tail saddle. The cut out on the back is there specifically to alleviate this issue if you run into it on any bike.

      • Awesome thanks for the great info. I just was curious because they shortened the chainstays 12mm from the previous version. Funny that this bike and the Evil Following both have 432mm chainstays. I wonder if both were shooting for 17in.

  2. Giant is calling, they want their Trance Advanced Pro 29er copycat frame back. Oh, and $4100 for an NX equipped Ripley with Level brakes and Float forks? Fail. Complete & utter fail. Don’t believe me? Check out the forums on Pinkbike, the internet is on fire about the shameful pricing scheme Ibis is attempting to justify…

    • Just a thought: Before considering the opinions in a forum, it’s helpful to consider the average age and income of the people in that forum…

      All of these brands are in business to *gasp* make a profit and grow their business, develop more killer new bikes and products, employ people, etc. There are plenty of less expensive options out there if you don’t care about what you ride, but our experience is that you typically get what you pay for.

      • “that” forum is filled with bottom feeders. And their reviews are utter crap. It’s tabloid drivel.
        Give a Ripley v4 and a DV9 and all bases are covered

      • Can you share the average age and income data that you possess on participants of Pinkbike forums? I’m genuinely interested as I find your comment ignorant. FWIW I’m >45 and my wife and I are in the high income bracket and I actively participate in Pinkbike forums. Easy to stereotype when bashing a competitor that clearly out performs you…

        • I’m not sure they’re direct competitors as Pinkbike clearly caters exclusively to the sick-edit-bro crowd rather than all around bicycle related things.

          • Wow. While I was expecting backlash and personal attacks from a few elitist BR snobs, I certainly was not expecting an extremely concerning aristocratic comment by the primary author of this site.

            However, you are correct in your statement that Pinkbike isn’t a direct competitor to BR as Pinkbike’s audience base far exceeds that of BR by a magnitude that would only make only the authors and defenders of BR green with envy.

            • Looks like someone wants to blame the rest of the world for not being able to afford a $4K+ bike. Take some responsibility for yourself. You life is what you made it.

              • And what makes you think i’m destitute, uneducated, uncivilized, or unfamiliar with the opportunities or choices we are given? Or unfamiliarity with bikes? Hypocrite much, you?

                Anyway, maybe I should have toned down my rant for the skyrocketing bike prices and the ‘compromises’ bike manufacturers make, which was my true intent.

                To each their own, huh? Peace out bro…

            • DeafDaddy, What Tyler was talking about is called Demographics – data such as sex, age range, general income levels and other information that is collected by all large websites and media outlets. I wouldn’t call it aristocratic it’s just business.

            • You were “expecting backlash and personal attacks” because your commentary was designed to create that rather than being insightful.

    • Don’t look up the price for my Mondraker Foxy 29er then! The people that want a boutique bike (like myself) know that you gotta pay to play.

  3. I dont know why people complain about pricing when the frame only is nearly 3K, $4100 for a complete bike with NX sounds like a great price to me. Look at all other bike companies pricing, it seems that the smaller companies ie; Ibis, Turner, Evil, Transition, Pivot, Santa Cruz, etc, offer better bikes and better pricing than say Specialized or Trek, whom should benefit from economy of scale, and offer much better pricing for similar builds.
    Personally, I’d pay $4100 all day for a bike from a builder above then from a huge builder that mostly offers inferior products.

    • Inferior products? Um, care to explain why the “Big Three” (Giant, Trek, and Specialized) are what they are, the largest bicycle manufacturers? Where is the “innovation” from the smaller companies? Most of the smaller bike manufacturers simply pay for licensing fees to use technology patented (or use expired patents) by larger bike manufacturers or certain individuals such a Dave Weagle or Tom Ritchey.

      You can disagree with me all you want, but the likes of Giant, Specialized, and Trek drive innovation and have the sales to back up their engineering expertise, sponsorships, and market influence whether you like it or not.

  4. Together with Pon Holdings, they own Santa Cruz, Focus etc and Merida, they own 40% of Specialized it’s refreshing to still see people such as Ibis continually develop their brand and introduce new bikes when it’s needed rather than just a yearly update which is quite often just a new colour, life is full of choices, so, you can choose to buy the new Ripley or not, it really is that simple, they cater for most budgets in my opinion and as an owner of 2, HD3 and HD4, I can’t fault the brand.

  5. All – if you appreciate Ibis’ innovation and stature, you will DEFINITELY want to listen to the latest Bikerumor Podcast…it’s an amazing narrative from the current owners of Ibis, Scot Nicol and Hans Heim. Guaranteed to entertain and inform!

  6. What would make a bike review like this very useful is posting the height of the riders and which size bike they were on and why. Ibis’ geo charts and rider recs for sizing are in question, in terms of recommending a LG for a 5’10” rider, which was true on their old geo, but now with this new geo I’m scratching my head wondering if they just haven’t updated the recommended rider chart for this new bike.

    • Good Point. For reference, I’m 5’8″ with a 690mm saddle to center of BB measurement. I was on a medium and it fit perfectly. I’m guessing at 5’10” you could go either Medium or Large.

      • And I’m 6’2” and ride an XL in most brands, Niner being one of few exceptions where their XLs are huge and I ride a Large. If you’re trying to figure it out, the number I find most helpful is ETT (Effective Top Tube).

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