PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
IBIS RIPLEY AF
A precision weapon.
Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Tom Richards
We're wrapping up the full-suspension bikes in the Field Trip value bike series
with the Ibis Ripley AF, a 29" aluminum trail bike with 120mm of rear travel and a 130mm fork. The more affordable aluminum Ripley AF looks a lot like the pricier carbon version and uses an identical DW link suspension layout, but of course, it weighs a bit more than its sibling. Ibis says the Ripley AF frame weighs 7.45 lb with the Fox Float shock that it comes with, or about 1.45 lb more than the carbon frame and shock.
But you know what’s more important than the weight? The geometry, of course, and Ibis has made some changes here compared to the carbon Ripley. This new aluminum Ripley AF is actually a degree slacker, sitting at 65.5 degrees, instead of the carbon bike’s 66.5 front end.
Ibis Ripley AF
Travel: 120mm (rear) / 130mm (fork)
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: aluminum
Head angle: 65.5 degrees
Chainstay length: 432mm
Reach: 475mm (large)
Weight: 32.6lb / 14.8kg
Price: $2,999 USD
More info: www.ibiscycles.com
The seat angle and reach are the same on the aluminum Ripley AF as the carbon model, at 76 degrees and 475mm respectively. The 432mm chainstays are also the same, but that slacker front end does add a bit of wheelbase. I do need to point out that Mike Levy and I both rode the Ripley AF in a size large rather than a medium. I do prefer a size medium bike, but Ibis couldn't get us a medium-sized Ripley AF in time for our trip to the Sunshine Coast. They could get us a large, however, and since we think this a pretty important bike, we decided to include it.
As for frame details, there’s room for a water bottle under the shock, internal cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket, ISCG 05 chain guide tabs, and Boost spacing. There's also room for a 200mm rear rotor and 2.6 wide tires, and there’s a bunch of frame protection.
The Deore-spec Ripley AF that we tested goes for $2,999 USD, which is actually the most expensive bike on test. But it's not the most expensive Ripley AF. You can get the NX/GX spec version for $3,299 USD. If you only want the frame and shock, it’ll cost you $1,800 USD. For comparison’s sake, the carbon Ripley starts at $4,200 USD, while the carbon frame costs $2,833 USD.Climbing
The Ripley AF feels like a value-minded rocket ship when you point it uphill. Stamp down on the pedals and the bike jumps forward with more urgency than the others, which only encourages you to push down even harder. That blue pedal assist switch is easy enough to reach on the rear shock, but you’re not doing yourself any favours by switching the Fox shock to its firm mode. Just leave it alone and let the suspension do its job.
That being said, the Ripley AF's sporty personality has been de-tuned a bit with the one-degree slacker head angle compared to the carbon Ripley. It's a bit less pointy and less ultra-responsive than the carbon bike, but it’s still the sharp handling trail bike that it's always been.
But don't worry, the slightly slacker head angle and longer front-center won't keep you from cleaning something you’re currently not dabbing on. It still loves the slow speed wiggles, the odd trackstand or wheel pivot as required, and the grippy Schwalbe rubber will scrabble up almost anything you have the ponies to get up. Descending
While many trail bikes seem to be in a race to see who can have the most travel while still being called a trail bike, the Ripley AF retains that responsive, lively personality that it’s always been known for. No surprises there, really, as it continues to use the same suspension layout and only slightly modified geometry.
If you’ve ridden the Ripley before, you’ll know what I mean by that. But for those who haven’t, this 120mm travel trail bike isn’t the one that you go straight through the rocks and chunder with. Instead, it's a bike that comes into its own if you ride it with precision. That doesn’t mean you can’t take chances on it, it’s just that those chances are different. Rather than sending it blindly into a mess of rocks and roots, you’ll be better served by dancing over or through that stuff. On smoother, less chunky trails, the Ripley AF is an absolute weapon.
The Ripley AF only has 120mm of travel and in no way does it feel like more than that, it isn’t that kind of bike. It does however offer a good mix of suppleness, support, and enough ramp-up for most riders.
The Ripley AF will make a great partner for a rider who wants to cover a lot of ground, possibly while pedaling hard, and have a hoot on the way back down. What more do you want from your trail bike?
Classic trail bike is still around, more capable than ever+
Super efficient climber
Not the rowdiest of trail bikes
The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.
Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Devan Francis