OBB Westshore: Ibis Ripley 29 Review
The Bio On Dave Jetz:
Dave Jetz and his wife Carrie are recent transplants from the prairies, and they are loving it in Canada’s cycling paradise. A former Cat 2 road and elite level XC racer, Dave’s fast days are long behind him. Nowadays he enjoys the local scene’s spirited group rides, the odd XC marathon, and figuring out how to ride the ‘real’ terrain of the west coast. When not on the bike, Dave spends most of his waking hours working, but when he gets the chance, he enjoys long dog walks on the beach, a good cup of coffee, and sampling as much of the local brewing scene as he can.
When it came time to replace to replace my old mountain bike, I wanted something that was hopefully just as racy feeling and efficient under acceleration and climbing, yet was a little more adept at aggressive descending and technical trail riding. I’m no amazing bike handler, so ideally I wanted something that would make technical riding easier without overly dampening my ability to keep up on brisk group rides, or compete in the odd marathon. Essentially, I wanted a raceable trail bike.
Upon researching the various options, word of mouth and several reviews all pointed towards the Ripley. Furthermore, a year prior my wife Carrie was searching for a new ride that had a little more downhill capability than her Tallboy, and was recommended the Ripley by a couple of our bike shop owner friends. Conveniently, Carrie and I ride the same size, so I had a demo.
My first impression was how incredibly efficient the Ripley felt. With the Fox CTD shock set in the fully open ‘descend’ mode, the bike seems to shoot forward quicker and easier out of corners and under hard accelerations than my old bike, the particularly racy Specialized Epic. Climbing is also fast and efficient, with a very similar feel to the Epic. The most remarkable difference however, is how much more rear wheel traction the Ripley seems to have when trying to clean rocky and rooty technical features. Sure, there’s 20mm more travel available than the Epic, but I didn’t expect this much of a difference. I ordered my Ripley two days after the test ride.
Ibis bikes are available with multiple factory build options, and in order to customize the ride characteristics for the Ripley, the buyer can choose either a 120mm Fox Float, or a 140mm Pike. Due to the minimal weight difference between the two, and great experiences I’ve had with my last two RS forks, I was leaning towards the Pike, but I was leery on whether a 140mm fork would climb well and feel efficient. Fortunately Carrie’s bike had the Pike too, and the test ride proved it as a great choice. With the low-speed compression damping set in a medium-high position, and the charger damper set wide open, the fork rides high in its travel, doesn’t bounce around excessively when hammering and climbing, and is still feels really plush on the downhills. The overall length of the Pike does result in a particularly tall front end, but running the stock stem in the downward position directly on top of the headset cap results in a handlebar height just low enough for heaving the front end up and over rock slabs, logs and other technical climbing moves. In terms of handling, the combination of the relatively slack 68.5 degree head angle with the increased fork offset of 51mm results in a very stable feel at speed, however tight terrain and switchbacks typical of the trails on Mt Work and the dump are manageable.
Rounding out the build, I went with the XX1 package, which includes XTR trail brakes, and the ridiculously light Raceface Next SL crank, all of which work flawlessly. For wheels I went with Ibis’s carbon 928, which after 2 months of heavy use are completely straight and tensioned. A bike like this of course needs a dropper, and as pleasant surprise a Thomson was shipped with the bike. Like all of the other parts, the Thomson has also been flawless. Overall, the bike tally’s up to just over 25lbs ready to ride, including XTR race pedals and a bottle cage.
Needless to say, I really like my Ripley. So far, it’s proved to be exactly the improvement I was looking for over my Epic, and IMHO the Ripley could be one of the best choices for general trail riding on Victoria’s rolling and tight technical terrain.