BY Richard Cunningham
Harold Preston puts the Mojo HD's suspension to task down the boulders of Circus Circus. Greg Lambert photoThe sculpted carbon fiber frame of the Ibis Mojo is among the most recognizable profiles in the mountain bike world. The 160-millimeter-travel Mojo HD is Ibis’ most recent addition and while it looks almost identical to the original Mojo, the HD chassis is produced from entirely different molds, has different dw-link suspension geometry and a vastly different carbon layup schedule. The Mojo HD came to life when Ibis signed Brian Lopes, who assisted Ibis in dialing in the metrics of the new design to suit his powerful and precise technical riding style. The match could not have been better, as Lopes would immediately put it on the podium in dual slalom, 4X and enduro events, and for an unprecedented stretch, ruled the Air DH at Whistler’s annual Crankworx festival. By accident or design, Ibis’ Mojo HD emerged from the mold as one of the best do-it-all AM/trailbikes.
About the Mojo HD
| Ibis offers the Mojo HD with 160 or 180-millimeter fork travel options and in a range of builds from XC to freeride. Ibis furnishes two geometry charts to depict the metrics created by the different-length forks. Our test model features the 160-millimeter Fox Float 36 RLC option. Greg Lambert photo|
Ibis Sells the Mojo HD as a fame and shock only, or built up in one of six component options (Shimano SLX, XT or XTR, or SRAM X.9 X.0 or XX) that range in price from $4721 to $7538. There are a number of optional component upgrades available also, and to sort that out. Ibis offers a 'bike builder'
on its extensive website that instantly updates your imaginary Mojo HD with colors, components and prices. For those who need a more gravity oriented build, Ibis decks out the SRAM X.9 version with beefier components and offers an upgrade to a coil-over Fox DHX RC4 Kashima shock. The price of our Shimano XT Mojo, upgraded with a KS remote dropper post, and XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur and a Fox 36 RC2 160 fork is $6100 USD.
| (Clockwise) Cast in bronze, the Ibis head-badge accents the Mojo HD's tapered head tube. A look between the crankset and the frame shows the large upper pivot boss where the HD's chainguide mounts. Ibis routes the rear derailleur housing and brake hose under the Mojo's polycarbonate down tube protector. Ibis was a first adopter of the dw-link rear suspension.|
Mojo HD frames are made in four sizes (small, medium, large and X-large)
and in black/natural, white or ‘Vitamin-P’ green. Ibis chose a 67-degree head angle, but because the frame is optimized a 160 fork. If you need a more DH friendly HD, adding the optional 180-millimeter fork slackens the head tube angle to 66 degrees and raises the bottom bracket slightly. The tapered head tube is a must on bikes in this category as is its provision for a dropper seatpost. Ibis wisely chose easily serviceable external, full-run shift housings and they tuck alongside the brake hoses behind a nice-looking molded-plastic down-tube guard. The HD frame is made in Taiwan by a factory that Ibis has been working with since the first Mojo, so its construction has been optimized and the workmanship is beautiful from every angle. The HD frame weighs only 6.3 pounds with a Fox Float CTD shock. The MSRP for the frame and shock is $2699 USD.
| Three forms of suspension: The addition of the Fox 36 fork made the Mojo HD virtually immune to the imbedded rocks that litter trails in Southern California. The triangulated carbon fiber swingarm of the HD rocks on an overbuilt pair of aluminum links. The short flanges of Stan's ZTR Flow rims free the side-walls of the tire to form a more circular profile - which also adds volume to the tubeless 2.2-inch tires.|
Ibis was one of the first bike makers to adopt dw-link rear suspension, which is a patented technical domain that, in the case of the Mojo HD, is applied to a dual-link rear suspension to keep it from compressing with each pedal stroke. Much of the Mojo HD’s magic sprouts from its combination of well-balanced frame geometry and the full-time pedaling efficiency of its rear suspension design. Carbon fiber frames are a living document, and Ibis is constantly revising the sequence and orientation of each layer of carbon fiber to extract more performance at the lowest possible weight. In the case of the Mojo HD, the goal is to make a frame that can withstand downhill punishment, at a weight that results in a bike that can climb happily all day. No small order, but time and persistence have successfully mated those divergent goals into one chassis.
Longevity of the 160-millimeter-travel Ibis rear suspension is enhanced by beefed up links and the addition of doubled-up angular contact bearings in the highly stressed lower link. Ibis makes upkeep easy when the time comes to service the bearings. They sell the complete link with bearings installed for about the price that you’d pay for the bearings over the counter - so it's remove, replace and ride. The rear axle fits 142/12-millimeter options and there is a sturdy, direct-mount option for Shimano Shadow-type rear derailleurs. With its all-mountain and racing intentions, we would expect ISCG tabs at the bottom bracket. Ibis instead furnishes its own MRP design that encircles the bottom bracket cup and securely bolts to the frame through the lower link’s pivot point. The reason for the custom guide is that the placement of the Mojo HD’s lower rocker is dictated by the dw-link metrics, which cause it to interfere with the three-bolt ISCG location. History has proven that the Ibis/MRP guide fares well, but for those who wish for a second option, there is word at e.Thirteen that a Mojo HD guide is in the works there.
| (From left) Ibis upgraded the Mojo HD to Shimano's Shadow Plus rear derailleur to secure the chain from dropping from the Mojo's unguided triple crankset. We were impressed by the power and feel of the Formula RXO oval-piston brakes. The Mojo's optional five-inch-stroke KS Supernatural dropper post (Ibis normally specs the LEV) was a blessing - most of the time. |
Ibis set up our test bike with its mid-priced Shimano XT kit, which results a build that leans toward the trail-riding side of the Mojo HD’s all-mountain DNA. Wheels were built around Stan's NoTubes ZTR Flow rims
that were converted to tubeless. ZTR Flow rims measure only 22.5 millimeters inside-to-inside, which is on the narrow end of AM-width rims, but the ultra-low flanges gave the 2.2-inch Specialized Purgatory tires a rounder profile and a more tactile feel on the dirt. One upgrade to the XT build was its 160-millimeter-stroke Fox 36 RLC fork (The 34 is standard), the second was a KS Remote dropper post – both extras were to be well appreciated during testing.
Odd for a 160-millimeter-travel all-mountain bike like the HD, was its triple crankset. Ibis founder Scott Nicol maintains that, since the Mojo HD used a friction-clutch-equipped Shimano XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur, there was almost no situation that could derail the chain, so Ibis prefers the lower gearing options of the triple crankset to give riders a leg up on super-steep climbs. The final shout-out goes to the HD’s oval-piston Formula RXO brakes with a 160/180mm rotor combination. The Italian-made stoppers are as powerful as they are beautiful. All said and done, the XT build added to the Mojo’s 6.3-pound frame with its Fox Kashima Factory Float CTD shock comes in one ounce shy of 29 pounds (13.14kg).
Riding the Mojo HD
We tested the Ibis Mojo HD on a variety of terrain, from gravity intensive shuttle sessions to epic trail rides in the mountains. We usually have three to five bikes to choose from and all are pretty sweet rides, but the Ibis was usually the first one missing from the rack when the clock hands pointed to ride thirty. Much of the HD’s popularity is attributable to its easy-mannered handling, which came as a surprise. Usually, when a pro racer like Brian Lopes has a hand in designing a bike, the end result handles more like a highly specific tool than the versatile performer that he helped the Mojo HD become. Riding with Brian, however, and one quickly learns that Lopes is versatile as a mountain bike racer has ever been – and he is a master of the corners. It should then come as no surprise that the Mojo HD mirrors those attributes.
| Harold Preston sends a step-down directly out of a fast left-hander for the first time on the Ibis. The HD required only a few minutes to familiarize with, after which, the only recurring complaint was the narrow 680-millimeter handlebar (Ibis has since upgraded the HD with a 711mm wide handebar). Greg Lambert photo|
Fox’s 36 RLC fork and Float shock are well understood and easy to get right. We found that setting the shock at 30-percent sag and the fork at 25-percent returned the most balanced suspension feel between climbing and descending. We also discovered that its ample, 160-millimeter suspension allowed us to use a bit faster rebound setting on both ends for technical trail rides. Pedaling:
No big surprise here; Ibis chose the dw-link suspension configuration specifically because of its anti-bob pedaling action. The Mojo HD can scramble uphill quite well, and it gets going quickly from both a seated and a standing position. While purist XC geeks may protest that the HD’s shock still moves around under power, we think that is a triumph. Ibis mellowed the HD’s ‘anti-squat’ function a bit, which translates to a deeper feeling, more capable rear suspension. By contrast, most dw-link designs we’ve tested feel as if they have less suspension travel than their numbers suggest.Suspension:
We have already mentioned that the Mojo’s rear suspension can soak up a good deal of pounding, but the Float CTD shock was developed for trailbike applications and it will go through its travel with a hard landing or G-out. Those who want true all-mountain/enduro performance may want to take Ibis up on the optional DHX RC4 coil-over shock option. That said; the HD is an easy jumper that can recover from a bad landing like a cat.
While we have not yet had the chance to ride the Mojo HD with its standard 160mm Fox Float 34 CTD fork, we would proffer that the 36 is the better match. The 36 RLC is a relatively lightweight fork, and it is designed to plow through technical rock gardens and suck up nose first landings - and that contributes to the HD’s courage-enhancing manners. If there is no apparent route down a technical section, although it won’t be pretty, a straight line will furnish acceptable results.Technical handling:
With its 67-degree head angle, the Mojo HD is one degree steeper than many of its 2013 competitors. Those who like to carve corners, however, will appreciate the HD’s numbers as they are. Hit the turns hard and the medium-sized chassis tends to carve a tight line. The bike drifts easily when pushed beyond traction and its secure feel at the handlebars encourages its rider to experiment with alternative lines. Braking is powerful and while Formula’s oval-piston calipers deliver a monstrous amount of clamp, the feel at the levers is quite easy to modulate. We liked Formula’s integrated reach adjustment, which can be manipulated with gloved fingers. Configured as a trailbike, the Mojo HD rolls fast and can get enough grip from its Specialized Purgatory Control tires to put in a good performance, but there was always a sense that the bike was limited by its rubber. Switching to more aggressive tires made a pronounced improvement in ultimate turning and braking situations when we were shuttling.
Component Report: • Wider handlebar:
| The Mojo HD is easy around the corners, as one may expect from a bike that was co-designed by the lord of gate racing. Greg Lambert photo|
The Mojo HD is spec’ed with a 685-millimeter Easton EA 70 low-rise handlebar, which feels like an XC racing bar by today’s standards. We’d like to see a bar in the 750-millimeter range The HD can be pushed harder than its wimpy bars will allow. • Two-by crankset:
Shimano’s XT triple crankset? Really? After riding a number of quick-reacting two-by and one-by-ten drivetrains, hacking through 30 gear options makes the Mojo feel more like a truck. • Derailleur clutches:
We appreciated the upgrade to Shimano’s Shadow Plus rear derailleur, we only dropped a chain twice throughout six months of testing, so it could be argued that its friction clutch can be used in lieu of a proper chain guide – but we still dropped the chain. • Dropper blues:
The KS Supernatural remote dropper seatpost operated perfectly for three months, after which, it randomly failed to reach full extension. We should note that a poor-performing dropper post may be better than none at all, but the spotty performance of most droppers, including the popularly priced KS, is inexcusable this late in the game.Pinkbike's take:
| As a hard-driving technical trailbike, the Mojo HD is such a standout performer in the Ibis range that we wonder how or what they will have to come up with to supersede it? The Mojo HD chassis feels far more rigid and precise than its XC predecessor and regardless of the resemblance, it feels from the outset like a completely new design. The HD weighs a couple of pounds more than the original Mojo in similar trim, but it accelerates much faster out of the turns and climbs nearly as well. Like all of the most desired bikes in the AM/trail category, the Mojo HD is centrally balanced and it always seems to have enough handling in reserve to encourage its rider to push harder or to try a new line. If you are a 26-inch-wheel devotee seeking the mythical 'one bike to rule them all,' the Mojo HD certainly has earned the credentials. We'd recommend the HD to anyone who is taking a serious look at Enduro racing as well.- RC|