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
- Shimano brakes
As opposed to SRAM? LOL
Honest question though....if PB is knocking the Shimano brakes for the bite point concern...whats the alternative at this price point? I certainly wouldn't sacrifice power for consistency as that would be a safety issue.
Caveat: Rating brakes (or any other bike part) is always hard since there is so much anecdotal evidence out there and a lot of people cant bleed their brakes properly and then blame the brake. I have bleed brakes from various manufacturers and archieved good results on all but one with a blown O-ring.
To contribute some more anecdotal evidence: The last 2 pairs of Guide R's Ive bleed have been working extraordinarily well for the last 1.5 years while Ive encountered 3 leaking current gen. XT levers.
I don't have enough experience with SRAM brakes to give them a negative comment other than I prefer the feel of Shimano levers. I ran Hayes brakes (sponsored) for a number of years prior to switching to Shimano a few years ago. I had high hopes for the Dominion brakes, but they still don't match Shimano for power and feel.
I'll take Shimano brakes over most.
I wonder if shuttling the bikes with the front wheel up has something to do with this problem. Maybe bleeding the brake after that would get the air out of the lever?
$20, 3 minutes, never have an issue with your Shimano brakes ever again.
However, good bleeds, clean pistons, splayed out pad spring (also fixes the terrible pad rattle on the 4pots) make it a slight annoyance. I have a set of hayes dominions I planned to put on one of my bikes but I am generally quite happy with the SLX sets despite the occasional wandering and haven't felt the need to switch out brake sets.
So yeah wandering bite point is 100% a real thing, but with proper brake maintenance it is a minor annoyance not a major issue for me
I totally get having your personal preferences in brakes, but I think listing any of the major manufacturers as a pure "con" just shows some inherent bias. I personally don't like SRAM brakes, but I would never list them as a con when recommending a bike to someone if they came stock. Also, they are just brakes. Frankly, as long as they are decent and stop the bike, that's all you really need if you are going for a somewhat budget bike like this. If you end up really disliking them and want something different, changing brakes is pretty simple.
@mikelevy Levy>> are the problems on the new stuff only maybe?
braking performance is much better with Sram(code R's and up) and many people who used to ride guide's now just hate on sram in general.
also mineral oil is not a brake fluid and is why shimanos also suck when they get hot... they are not even brakes when they get hot.
Not the most precise enduro bike
No Belt drive option
How dare they not spec a gearbox on an economy bike?!?
Not 210mm travel.
The regular SRAM brakes are nothing special as far as bleeding but BE brakes are a breeze.
In my LBS the other day, a guy came in saying he was looking for a size L trailbike, happy with anything between 120 and 160mm of suspension, and had been sent by another store to see if this one might have a bike, any bike, left.
Signed the father of a former 14-year old.
I like Shimano as much as anyone and currently run the MT501/Mt520s and they're great after a really thorough bleed, but couldn't see going through the trouble/expense to swap to them from another 4-pot brake unless it started to fail...to each their own I guess.
i bought the shimanos solely because i like to try new things, i haven't ridden shimano in a couple years (and only ever rode their 2 pots), and i wanted to compare shimano to codes back to back (feel, bleed process, etc). they were cheap so i picked them up, and if i end up not liking them i can resell them for no/little loss.
as far as the mt501/mt520 go, everything i read said they're basically the same as deore, slx, and xt just with fewer adjustments and maybe a tad less power, so they might be low end but they work just as well as the higher end versions from what i can tell.
that being said, you hit the nail on the head. so far after a few rides, they are so similar in power and i got used to the the shimano on/off feel after 2-3 runs that i would not go out of my way to change 4 pots that come on a bike. the lever bleed on shimano is really nice and easy, but after bleeding a couple sets of codes they're also a walk in the park. time will tell which ones i end up sticking with!
Plus, these days it's good to have a few spare parts on hand if nothing else.
the codes definitely have more modulation, but you get used to shimano relatively quickly and then ride quality is the same. if you're comfortable bleeding brakes your own brakes, it really just comes down to which bleed process you like better (both are relatively easy, SRAM just requires a few more tools/parts when compared to a shimano gravity bleed), at which point its "to each their own". can't really go wrong with either IMO
I agree that you don't need all the dials. I like the Grip damper a lot. I run no compression. Just set air and rebound. Perfect.
Lighter than most 2-pot brakes, but DH-level power and good modulation too.
Cheap as well, at least in Europe: paid 155 Euro for front & rear. (without discs)
Tires I am debating either F/R Schwalbe Hans Dampf or Maxxis: Disector F/R or Disector F Rekon R.
That said, I really liked the way the Pivot Firebird 29 felt. Beast of a bike, but that’s what I expected with the Turner but didn’t get. The Pivot Switchblade, though, didn’t like quite as much. So with the Pivot, my preference would be to go big.
Deore 4 pot brakes that so many people (and other reviews) recognize as amazing bang for buck performance, not far off SLX and XT only less adjustments. If these brakes are a con, PLEASE let us know what brakes would have been better / preferable in this price range.
Aesthetics are weighted very heavily in the decision making process simply because almost all bikes these days are amazing, so I feel I might as well have one I love looking at. I won't deny Ibis makes great bikes, they just don't appeal to my personal design preferences and when I'm spending thousands of dollars living that privateer life, I might as well ride and race a bike that both performs well and looks good (to me).
The downtube is angular. The rear triangle is angular. Why have a swoopy top tube?
But the main reason they didn't change it, is the ID was nailed down with the first carbon models of the Ripley and Ripmo years ago, and these bikes are just iterations of that. Ibis does what they do, and part of that is to be different.
How is the best solution to water bottle carrying swooping the whole downtube to a point way in front of the BB?
It's like a Hyundai mid-life facelift
A couple generations back, Shimano brakes were notorious for collecting tiny bubbles on the spring in the master cylinder (which could spontaneously combine to change brake feel). The solution was to tap on that with a tire lever during a bleed to persuade them into the reservoir and then to the bleed funnel. The tap had to be strong enough to shake them loose but not so much as to break them up. Is this still the same problem?
The direct hose routing and simpler levers bleed easier, and all-steel rotors don’t have as much thermal expansion as the ice-tech ones.
Honestly, Deore 4 Pots with steel 203 rotors are the best Shimano setup.
This article states: "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."
However, on the Ibis website under "Build your Ripley AF, the cheapest Deore build is $3199. What gives???
I mean-not rowdy enough? Shimano brakes?!
Just say no real cons!!
Magura ok but plastic levers and tight pad clearance, good power
Formula cura ok look nice but didn't have so much power, Same for Hope
Shimano, bite point issue & sticking lever pistons + always need bleeding. good power but modulation lacking a bit.
Trp Gspec not much power
Nice bike though. Wanted the Ripmo AF early in COVID but due to availability went with a Troy, but quite happy nonetheless.
My concern is why outlets like PB drum up demand or excitement (while normally we all love to lap up) quite a bit after the fact that availability has been exhausted? I’d prefer transparency in the reviews about current market availability or just bring in to review available bikes regardless of brand as long as they loosely fit categories.
Because I have 27.5 bike that weighs 27 pounds. Admittedly, I got a screaming deal on that bike, so maybe my sense of value is skewed. Last year I test rode the new Trance X and the new Stumpjumper in aluminum and both bikes felt a little heavy. Seems like I would have to pony up to a super expensive build in 29.
The Ripley AF would be a fairer comparison. I purchased a Ripley AF NGX build, and I can tell you that a used Fuel EX 9.8 within my budget isn't even something I would have considered.
It's a Ripley
GTFO. It is a less expensive Ripley with a decent build spec!
@tommynator sorry for hijacking your message, I did not manage to address sarah directly in my own comment.
I can see every comment that you've ever made on this website and the very large majority of them are horrible, insulting, and not constructive. Why bother coming here to post your negative garbage? Why not just, you know, say it in a nice-ish way? Because it's the internet and you get to use your free a*shole pass that you know you can't redeem in real life. Let me help you out: "I'm not a fan of Levy or Sarah but I've always liked Shimano brakes." Or maybe: "I've had a bad day and like to be mean on the internet, but I do like Shimano's wandering bite points because it makes braking really exciting... who knows what's gonna happen when I pull the levers!"
That said this douchbag ripping you and Sara has no clue keep up the solid work and impossible climbs. I built one in Jamaica only 4 people have slain..... one day maybe
And additional negative points for them sponsoring the worst group of YouTubers in the industry.
Have you ever met Brian Lopes? I have, he set up my front fork for me. That’s what the good guys do in my book.
Also, ACC won a lot of bike races on an Ibis.
More importantly, dude go ride your bike...
Your mileage may vary.