Ibis's newest 29er was supposed to be a secret until today, but Robin Wallner blew that surprise by riding it to third place at round one of the EWS last weekend in Chile. It's called the Ripmo – an in-house reference to the fact that it characterized the best attributes of the 29-inch-wheeled Ripley trail bike, and the 27.5-inch-wheel HD4 enduro racer. "Ripmo" was only supposed to be a placeholder while the design was being vetted, but the name stuck, and after riding it for a couple of days, I can understand why. The Ripley is agile, efficient under power and an exceptional technical trail bike - but it can leave you hungry for more on the downs. The HD4 shreds the downs, but it can make you wonder how awesome it would be if it rolled and pedaled like the Ripley. The Ripmo addresses those wishes and in some ways, it exceeds them.
Break From Tradition About the Ripmo:
• Purpose: All-mountain, enduro racing
• Carbon construction
• 29-inch wheels and tires up to 2.6"
• 145mm rear and 160mm front travel
• Longer reach than the HD4
• Key Numbers: 65.9˚ head angle, 76˚ seat angle, 435 mm chainstays, 44 mm fork offset
• 150 mm or longer dropper posts on all sizes
• Large-sized bottles on all sizes
• 4 sizes: S–XL (fits riders from 5' to 6’6”)
• Weights: Frame - 6 lbs with Fox DPX2, bikes from 28.1 lbs
• MSRP: 5 builds
from $4099, to $9399 USD
• Contact: Ibis Cycles
Think "Ibis" and you'll probably conjure up a vision of a lightweight trail bike that blends technical handling skills with traditional frame numbers. The Ripmo breaks that longstanding Ibis tradition with a leap into the realm of rider-forward geometry – and it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction to the present trend. A tour of the inner sanctum at Ibis headquarters in Santa Cruz, California, revealed a number of well-worn test bikes made by vanguards of the long-low and slack movement. The official word was that the development crew spent the better part of a year evaluating the outliers of "long, low, and slack" before moving forward with a new design.
Cranking up the Ripmo's seat tube angle to 76 degrees provided additional benefits. With the rider forward and out of the path of the rear tire, a larger, 29-inch wheel could be tucked closer to the bottom bracket and the rear suspension could be increased. The result was a short, 435-millimeter chainstay length and 145 millimeters of rear-wheel travel - all with clearance for full-volume 2.6-inch tires. Inspect the seat tube's profile and it's clear that Ibis and company also shifted it forward of the bottom bracket centerline to further boost tire clearance.
Full Range of Sizes Custom Fork Offset
The final step in the vetting process may have led to the most important ingredient in the Ripmo's handling package. After some experiments with various head angles, the decision was made to use a slightly steeper head tube angle than some of the edgier designers are sporting, and then reduce the fork offset to from 51 millimeters (the suggested 29er offset) to 44 millimeters, which is more commonly used for 27.5-inch wheels. Reportedly, the increase in trail boosts steering stability, while the steeper head tube angle keeps steering forces lighter at the handlebars.
Ibis designer Roxy Lo is an avid rider who stands five feet, one inch tall - which offers up a design challenge for a long-travel 29er. on the opposite side of the Ibis spectrum, President Tom Morgan is six-foot, six inches tall. Ibis offers the Ripmo in four sizes from small to extra large, and the design team worked out the essential elements to ensure that neither end of that spectrum would get shortchanged for features or performance.
All sizes accept a large water bottle and reservoir shocks. The top tubes slope dramatically, and the seat tubes are straight, so full-length dropper posts can be used by nearly every body type. Even the small-sized frame is spec'd with a 150-millimeter post, while the mediums and upwards come with 175-millimeter-travel droppers. Suspension tunes and kinematics also change from small through extra large, so heavier, taller folks get more ramp up and lower leverage rates, while the small sizes have softer tunes and higher leverage rates.Roxy Lo Talks About Design Elements
The Ripmo is a departure from the curving lines of the Mojo HD4 that it competes with on many levels. The addition of a true size small was largely influenced by Roxy, and as such, it became ta key element of the Ripmo project, resulting in some breakthroughs to maintain the use of a 125-millimeter dropper post, while offering class-leading 29er stand-over height and size-corrected suspension kinematics. I asked Roxy a few questions about the elements of the design process:
Why deviate so far from the Mojo's frame design for the Ripmo?
Roxy: When we create a new bike, Dave Weagle sends over suspension points and seat and head tube angle points. From there, we added clearances for a fork, piggy back shock, and a 26-ounce water bottle. I sketched around those points for weeks trying to get the right gesture. I quickly realized this was a bike that could potentially blend both platforms (which it does performance-wise). The end result is strongly connected to the shock placement and suspension, as well as it's DNA.
To me, the Mojo focused on the successful swoopy, complex-spline aesthetic and did it in its own way. But the Ripley, T29, and Hakka MX, have given me freedom to explore angular and faceted shapes. I felt like the era of straight, aggressive and angular, mixed in with a little swoop, might just be a fun and efficient way to approach this new platform. A specific model shouldn't define our company aesthetic.
You are at the height which is considered by many to be outside the realm of 29ers, much less a long-travel version. How did you work the Ripmo design to fit you? Were there any major compromises?
Roxy: I am five-foot, one inch and I refuse to be an outlier in this sport. I was determined to ride the Ripmo, so I had to aim for a 27.75-inch stand-over on the size small. To do that, I had to compromise the "angular" look of the bike by introducing a swoop to the top tube. I also dug deep into my design arsenal of swoopy tricks to make sure the size small frame could accommodate a water bottle with a piggy back shock. It also allows most size small riders (including myself) to run a 150-millimeter dropper post.
Would you go back to 27.5?
Roxy: I never left the 27.5! I love my Mojo 3 and am currently running that size tire on my Hakka MX! I'm all about equal opportunity wheel size. First impressions
I rode the medium sized Ripmo with the SRAM X01 Eagle build (see all of the build options here)
with the Ibis crew in the redwood forests above their headquarters in Santa Cruz, California. It's one of those bikes that feels as if you've owned for a year after five pedal strokes. The steering is light and precise. The bike sets into corners and stays put. I can't recall an instance when the front tire pushed to the point where I was concerned, or the tail end drifted out more than six inches beyond the front. It helped that the dirt was perfect, but taking that into consideration, it was just point-and-shoot. What you won't feel is a lag in the steering or the sense that you need to exaggerate the lean to get it around a tight apex. It is remarkably agile without sacrificing the planted feeling that big wheels add to the experience.
Under power, it accelerated crisply, so I anticipated that the suspension would feel a bit notchy. Dw-link suspension with that much anti-squat usually does. Instead, the Ripmo clawed its way up the roots without an upset (some of that goodness may have been the work of its steeper seat angle). Most of the downhills there have repeat climbs, so I had a chance to try some of the key moves both in and out of the saddle. I was a tiny bit stretched on the medium frame's 23.7-inch top tube, but keep in mind that I am on the smaller side of a medium, so it's properly sized in modern terms. That extra length should have set me up for wheel-spin on the steeps when I was out of the saddle, but I never had to worry about grip. I'll chalk that up to short chainstays and fat tires.
You'll know it's a 29er because it pretty much ignores all the nuisance bumps and chatter, which gives the impression that the bike is going slower than it actually is (corners and jumps arrive sooner than expected). With a 160-millimeter fork and its long-for-Ibis front center, you'll be pretty light on the tail end at speed. There were points where I thought I ran out of rear suspension, but I can't make a judgement there because I did not spend the time to fine-tune the shock's damping and spring rate. (I'm sure we'll hear more on that after Mike Kazimer returns a long term verdict on the Ripmo.) What I can say for certain is that Ibis got it right. The Ripmo is calm and collected when you need it to be on the downs, and it gets it done without feeling that you are over-biked everywhere else. - RC