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Long Term Review: Ibis Ripley Is A Solid Cross Country & Trail 29er

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Ibis-Ripley-Front

The Ripley might be one of the most anticipated bikes in recent memory, first being leaked at Eurobike in 2010, and finally making it to market after some unfortunate setbacks the company faced. Embracing the extra time they had, they spent it on testing and R&D, also making some changes to the construction, travel, geometry and moving parts of the suspension during this time.

Finally hitting the market in 2013, Ibis was still ahead of the competition, delivering the first suspension bike that used two eccentrics for links, and no linkages at all. This makes the bike look elegantly simple from the outside, even provoking a person met on the trail to ask “why does that single pivot bike have DW-Link stickers on it?”

The DW-Link 2XC dual eccentric design makes the bike complex to manufacture, so the question is whether it and all the delays pay off…

Ibis-Ripley-Full-Bike

RIDE

To put the Ripley to the test, it was ridden on the tight, bermed singletrack trails of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Most riding in this area is fast, with hard braking into tight corners, and then hard acceleration out of the corner. Climbs and descents are typically IMBA-spec grades in very short, but very constant cycles. Amongst all of this are often short, but difficult sections of rocks or roots where you want the suspension ready to take the hits.

Suspension bikes designed by Dave Weagle typically have a lot of anti-squat built into the design, and they are intended to be used with the shock wide open. This suspension trait is intended to eliminate the need to use Climb or Trail settings, and ride continuously in an open shock setting such as Descend. This is important on the midwestern trails since we do not settle into a climb for an hour where we can switch the shock, and then put it back when we are ready for the long descent.  The rapid back and forth between climbing and descending would lead to a lot of shock level flicking, and DW-Link eliminates the need for all that. With this in mind, the entire test was conducted with the Fox Float Factory CTD shock in the Descend position.

FRAME CONSTRUCTION

The carbon fiber Ripley frame weighs just 5.2lbs, but is built solid. Throughout the test, the bike remained very quiet, something we were paying close attention to with the unique eccentric pivot design and clevis-style shock link. With that many moving parts riding on 8 bearings and 4 bushings, we expected some noise, but were pleasantly surprised that it stayed quiet.

Ibis-Ripley-Dropout

The front end of the bike is nice and stiff, without any wandering, even with a smaller 32mm legged fork. The rear end, held tight with a 12×142 Rockshox Maxle, did have a slight tendency to allow the wheel to flex side to side when pushed hard into a hairpin corner, but not terrible. At once instance of noticing the flex, one of the pivots was found to be slightly loose, and tightening it up took care of the issue. Keeping a close eye on the pivot hardware from then on, we found no further instances of loosening. One downside of 2XC is that a lot of force is going into one small area on the seat tube, possibly allowing a bit of rear end movement as the seat tube flexes.

Ibis-Ripley-Headtube

DESIGN

It goes without saying, the frame is beautiful. When Ibis first released the Mojo with designer Roxy Lo, they changed the thoughts of the entire industry about how industrial design could be used on a bicycle. This idea carries forward in the Ripley, with extremely well placed lines and curves that are hard to explain, but please the eye. Ibis had a lot on the line after the Mojo, as high expectations were set for the re-imagined brand, and the long period of silence until the Ripley only magnified that.

The Ripley has a real metal head badge that is riveted on. A small detail, but it shows Ibis cares about where they have come from, and the quality they present. The art of the headbadge is slowly being lost, so the presence of this detail reminds us that Ibis has been to this party before.

ripley-IBIS2891

There is not a simple round tube anywhere on the bike. Even the seat tube, while round inside to take a seatpost, takes on a pointed oval shape to blend into the top tube. As expected, every surface has been evaluated for appearance and performance, making for a very visually complex structure up close, yet appearing simple when standing a few feet away.

Ibis-Ripley-Mud-Depository-and-Storage-System

The only fault with the design is that as the swingarm comes together up near the eccentric pivots, it creates a shelf. The tire is spinning right behind this shelf, and it liked to collect mud, leaves and rocks.

Ibis-Ripley-DW-Link-X2

DW-Link 2XC

For the Ripley, Ibis spent years in development with Dave Weagle to bring out a new version of his famed DW-Link. Utilizing two eccentrics instead of two short links, Dave was able to finely tune the kinematics of the design, and the small stature of the parts reduces overall weight.  DW-Link is all about handling mass transfer through proper kinematic design, and the 2XC version does this just as well as regular DW-Link

Ripley_Exploded_web-(1)

GEOMETRY

Geometry is where a lot of the talk of the Ripley has been. While the Ripley took a long time to come to market, 29er geometry was changing fast, and even when it was finally released, some said the geometry was already outdated. Even Ibis has said that one of the updates they made when switching factories mid-project was to change the head tube angle.

Ibis is one of the few companies to come out and explain it in depth, and do it well, so like they say mechanical trail is one of the most important numbers to determining how a bike rides.  The Ripley has 80mm of trail, which is a bit behind the trends as even XC bikes have been venturing into the 85mm territory recently, and 120mm travel bikes are more commonly in the 90mm range. The Ripley with a 140mm fork gets to 90mm of trail, but all testing on this one was done at 120mm.

Our test bike is a size Large, which has a 605mm effective top tube length. Again, changes and trends in 29ers have brought most 29ers in size Large into the 620-630mm range.  Ibis does not provide a recommended stem length, so the test bike was built with a 90mm stem, already a bit longer than normal for a trail bike. Altogether, this made for a cockpit almost an inch and a half shorter than a similar bike.

One very impressive number is the chainstay length. 442mm is shorter than the majority of 29er suspension bikes out there. The overall wheelbase ends up over 2″ shorter than a competing 120mm 29er.

Geometry numbers don’t mean much until you get them on the trail. Thankfully, the short top tube length and short trail numbers meant nothing on the trail. This bike absolutely slays IMBA-spec flowy singletrack. It does not ride at all like the numbers suggest, or it could be just that no matter how much you scrutinize the numbers, they don’t mean anything until you get on the dirt. There is always a balance between all points of the geometry chart, and Ibis has found that balance.

Clevis_blue

FINDINGS

Ibis-Ripley-Actual-WeightWhen you spend $2,900 on a frame, everything is expected to be perfect. Visually, the frame must be stunning and exciting. At this price point, we are talking way beyond simple functionality, the bike must appeal to the buyer in every possible way. The Ripley is this bike, it can actually be enjoyed by simply looking at it. Getting to ride it is just a bonus on top of that. Or vice versa.

This review is of the Ripley as a frame, since our test bike was not one of Ibis’ offerings. Built quite high-end, it came in at a very impressive 25lbs even, without pedals.

The feel of the Ripley on trail is superb. The small bit of rear end flex was not any concern during normal riding. The test bike with a 32mm legged fork at 120mm of travel made for an excellent balanced midwest singletrack bike. Some companies may take that as a backhanded compliment, but if you really dig into what most riders want, it’s a balanced, confident bike that can be used for more than one purpose. Most bikes intended for western trails are slacker and have more travel at the front, being a bit more biased for descending. The Ibis could definitely be this, when set up with a 140mm travel fork as they allow, but in the mode of this test bike, we found an excellent bike intended for equal amounts of climbing, descending, flow trail and tight singletrack.

The Ripley has been accused of being outdated. For instance, it lacks ISCG tabs. Look at it differently, and see an XC bike that pedals better than bikes with less travel, but has 120mm ready and waiting when it’s time to get rad. The quicker geometry made it a perfect bike for the groomed flow trail that is popping up all over the nation, and the overall balance of the various geometry points made for a bike with a short wheelbase that is extremely easy to handle. If you are a one-bike sort of person, look very hard at the Ripley, it would be the top of the list if the choice were to have one bike to slay all.

ripley-IBIS3037

IbisCycles.com

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19 Comments
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CJ
CJ
8 years ago

Good review. I just ordered one this weekend 🙂

Dingo
Dingo
8 years ago

ISCG mounts? No one uses chain guides any longer. If anything, lacking ISCG mounts made it ahead of it’s time.

Heffe
Heffe
8 years ago

Sweet ride

JBikes
JBikes
8 years ago

Nice bike. Sounds like what I wish Turner could do with my Sultan rear end (CS length wise).

Trail Notzi
Trail Notzi
8 years ago

“…making some changes to the construction, travel, geometry and moving parts of the suspension.”

Isn’t that, like, an entirely new bike?

jd1072
jd1072
8 years ago

Dingo; not true. I have XX1 on my 429c and now use a chain guide because I did actually lose the chain a few times, and some of those times were in an enduro race (super annoying). The chain guide is mounted on my direct mount front derailleur port. Then why do I need the ISCG tabs you ask? I mount a bash guard on there to protect the $110 chain ring from all the ledgy uphill features we have in the Austin area. The bottom bracket mounted bash guards and chain guides don’t work very well over the long haul as they tend to bend themselves into precarious and disruptive positions. My point is ISCG mounts are still relevant and being used by folks.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

You really want to get a DBInline and Pike for the Ripley. Really turns it into a magical machine.

Tom
Tom
8 years ago

Ripley + Pike 120 = Happy Medium as far as forking goes.

I think its great that Ibis basically made an xc slaying machine with a bit of extra travel. Not every 120 mm 29er needs to be a slacked out enduro wannabe machine. Variety in the marketplace is good.

Now stiffen up that rear end!

Nick
Nick
8 years ago

90mm stem?? Surely you’re riding the wrong size then?

chasejj
chasejj
8 years ago

Again- TT length is a deal breaker on the Ibis.
Ibis checks every box I have on a new bike, even did with the Mojo’s but lack of XXL size and/or available 25.5+ TT is a deal killer for me. I know what I like and many others do as well.
I am sure Yeti or Turner will have a 29er Quiver killers in CF soon.

dead
dead
8 years ago

Mine is not quiet. Dust gets between the rear shock and frame and creaks like crazy. The internal cables are always making noise even with their recommended zip tie tricks.

MBR
MBR
8 years ago

Would like to know more about:
Bottom bracket – press fit? issues, creaking, etc.
Pivot(s) adjustment – how hard was it to adjust? Special tools needed? Was your loosening experience typical or rare?

Cameron
Cameron
8 years ago

100mm stem. Wrong size? Read the article again. This bike is two characters. It can be set up to be a pretty badass FS race machine with Fox front and rear, or put a Pike and a DB Inline (and a shorter stem) and it is magically a trail eating machine. I have ridden it both ways and it is amazing how well it performs as each character.

Fattylocks
Fattylocks
8 years ago

Looks like the tire is a tight fit in the chainstays.

SB
SB
8 years ago

I’ve also never heard a quiet one. BR’s bike must have got the quiet dope.

Brumos
Brumos
8 years ago

How I roll with ‘One-Bike to Slay it all’:

Santa Cruz TallboyC + Pike 120 + DB Inline.

CeeJay
CeeJay
8 years ago

Is it just me or is the reach on all this bike’s frame sizes just tiny?

TacoDave
TacoDave
7 years ago

Bought my Ripley this winter/spring and have ridden it 300 miles now. I live in Denver, and ride mostly singletrack, with its share of technical ups and downs. Most rides are between 1200ft and 3000ft+ in elevation gain. I am running a 140mm Pike up front and the Cane Creek db inline on the rear. I’m also running a 1X11, 28T up front and 10X42 in the rear. I went with the Ibis lo-rise (flat) handlebar, the WIDE Ibis 941 wheels with DT Swiss rear hub, and a Thomson dropper post as well. I am coming off an ’08 Stumpjumper FSR 26er. Wow what a difference! But, the bigger 29er wheels don’t feel big! I was running a 3X9 on the Stumpy, which has taken going to the 1X a while to get used to. Otherwise, the Ripley is a great climbing and awesome descending machine. Switchbacks up and down, nooo problem! A great platform, there when it counts. I test rode the Ripley for one weekend and that sold me on the bike. No regrets. Cheers!

Zachariah
Zachariah
7 years ago

Unreal ride, with 120mm Pike and DB – but that rear end flex does make this bike squirm more than my Superfly, with 120mm SID XX and RT3.

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