From the Top: Hans Heim - CEO of Ibis Cycles

Feb 21, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  

Hans Heim Ibis Cycles
FROM THE TOP
HANS HEIM
CEO and co-owner of Ibis Cycles

By R. Cunningham
Hans poses with the original prototype of Ibis' flagship Mojo Carbon frame. - Saris Mercanti photo


Hans Heim is best known for re-establishing Ibis Cycles in 2004, but his career in the cycling industry dates back to early '80s, where he worked his way up from a bike shop rat to the CEO of some of the sport's most notable brands. Hans was on the ground as mountain bikes progressed from steel hardtails through carbon dual-suspension bikes, but you'll rarely hear him revel in the past. His inquisitive mind is most often consumed by what's happening at the moment, or puzzling the details of some future project. Hans is a good listener, and a vociferous reader and researcher who conveys his ideas in simple, understandable language, all of which has earned him much respect from those who have worked alongside him.

Ibis Santa Cruz HQ
Ibis Cycles' modest headquarters is a quarter-mile from some of the best surf breaks in Santa Cruz, California. - Saris Mercanti photo

At present, Hans is 56 years old and the CEO of Ibis, which is co-owned by Hans and four others, including the company's founder, Scot Nicol. He lives near the Ibis factory in Aptos, California, with his wife, Carol (they met in a bike shop) and 17-year-old twins, Lili and Cole. Lili is a local shredder and a prominent NICA High-School racer, while Cole is a cross-country runner. According to Hans, who is a force to be reckoned with on and off the bike, both have begun to eclipse his abilities. But, after interviewing the man and spending time with the people at Ibis, that comes as no surprise.




Where did you enter the bike business?


When I was in high school, I worked in a bike shop, helping to assemble bikes for a while, but when it really happened, I was 20 and I needed a job. My friend Wade managed a bike shop in San Jose and he was dealing with Specialized in the early days. Mike Sinyard was making sales calls and he asked Wade if he knew anybody who needed a job.

I got a call from Mike and he asked me, “Hey, do you know anything about bikes?” I told him I had an MKM six days bike that I converted into a road racer and he said: “You’re hired!” That was, I think, 1980 and Specialized had 12 people.
Hans Heim
As a youth, Hans was an avid road racer.
.

What did you do at Specialized?


I started at the bottom of the food chain, working in the warehouse. I first learned how to pull orders and then moved up to packing orders. I was the shipping guy after that, and was briefly in charge of the warehouse. Then I went into sales and just kept doing all the different jobs there.

I’d get freaked out after a couple of months (it was incredibly boring) then I’d walk into Mike’s office and say, “Come on, let me do something else. I’m going to lose it.” So, I got to do all kinds of jobs. It was what I call, “my adult education.”
Specialized Bicycle crew circa 1986
The entire crew of Specialized Bicycle, circa 1981. Hans is between the bikes on the right. - Ibis archives


How did you get from working at Specialized to making mountain bikes?


I always worked in the bike industry. I raced, and I was always trying to mess with things on my bikes. I worked at Specialized twice. And, (this is funny), I lived in a room in a house, so my expenses were really low. I saved my money working at Specialized and paid off my rent a year in advance. And then I took a year off, and I just was training, practicing music and reading. I realized that there was still most of the day left after I was done doing those things. So, the whole premise of getting a bunch of money, winning the lottery, getting an inheritance, or getting rich, and being able to have this life of leisure – that whole bubble got burst when I was 21 or 22, because I tried it and it really wasn’t all that great. I learned that I really enjoyed working. (Which explains a bunch of stuff that came afterwards.)

I really wanted to start my own business, so I tried working at Vigorelli, who used to make cycling clothing. I worked for them for a couple of months, because I was thinking of investing in it. I soon realized that it was an incredibly difficult business and I wasn’t confident that I could make it work. I went back into the regular job thing.

I always thought that Kestrel was the ideal. They had this incredibly beautiful product that was made in the most high-tech way possible. They were like 20 years ahead of their time. I wanted to work there, so I did. That's how I got into making bikes.

Keith Bontrager was working at Kestrel, and I started having some interaction with him, because I was asking him to make custom parts for my bike. He made me this aerodynamic stem with the cables all routed inside so everything was super clean.
Kestrel 4000
Kestrel 4000,circa 1987: The first modern carbon fiber frame. - Kestrel image


Wait a second. Keith Bontrager is known to be one of the angriest men in the world when it comes to people asking him for favors…


That’s true. He has that reputation, but, he was really cool and he helped me with my bike. He was fun to talk to. He was really intelligent. He figured out how to make nice, lightweight steel frames that didn’t break. He had figured out a bunch of stuff that I thought should have been brought to the world. Eventually, I asked him, “Hey, do you want to go into business together and make Bontrager cycles a bigger thing?"

He was a little skeptical, because he’s that way, which is probably good overall. Eventually, he said "Yes." I put money in and we moved to a bigger location, hired more people, and started making production frames. In the past, he had been making his forks and had been rolling down rims and stuff – I think it was a four-person operation. We expanded and eventually we were making 2,000 frames a year. We had 33 people and had licensed out a bunch of his ideas to other companies. So, we had had Titec, Weinmann, and Sella San Marcos, all making products with Keith’s designs. His name became really well known and it became synonymous with his innovative ideas.

Bontrager Race Lite
Bontrager's Race Lite was one of the most respected steel hardtails when mountain bikes were exploding in the '80s. - Bontrager graphic


Were you there when Bontrager sold to Trek?


No, I had left by then. Keith and I got a divorce (laughs). Basically, I thought that we were doomed as is. Making steel hardtails was not a long-term strategy that was going to work. I wanted us to make full-suspension bikes, and I wanted us to at least add aluminum, and it was such a jarring transition in everyone’s minds there that they just sort of went into denial. Even though I was 45-percent owner of the company, I was not able to get everyone to switch over or even realize that it was something that we had to do. So I left, and I started up with Santa Cruz, who were doing everything that I thought we should have been doing at Bontrager.

Santa Cruz crew at Anaheim Interbike
Santa Cruz at the 1996 Interbike Expo in Anaheim, California. (Left to right) Rob Roskopp, Mariano Gon, Mike Marquez, Hans Heim, and Charlie Wu. - Ibis archives
.

Were you one of the founders of Santa Cruz?


No. I went there shortly afterwards. They had gotten the design from a guy [Tom Morris] who was a local motorcycle and cycling enthusiast, and an amateur engineer. He had come up with a design and Santa Cruz had fine-tuned it, and then brought it up to Control Tech to have it made. That was the Tazmon.

So, I came in before they had actually made any bikes. They had prototypes, maybe one or two that they had been riding and taking photographs of, but production hadn’t started yet. There were no sales or anything. After a handful of months into the project, I came in. They had been asking me for like a year to do it, and I kept saying, “I’d love to. I know what you are doing.” But, I was in deep with Bontrager and I wanted to do Bontrager for the rest of my life, but when it became apparent that I was not going to get them to do what I thought was necessary, I went over to the Santa Cruz guys and said, “Okay, I’ll take you up on it.”

Tazmon 1994
Santa Cruz's first bike was the dual-suspension Tazmon, developed in 1992. - Santa Cruz photo


So I got to be one of the partners at Santa Cruz, but I didn’t have any money, so I was able to trade Shimano XT groups [I got as severance payment from Bontrager] as a cash equivalent. So, yeah, it was a very scrappy beginning, but it all worked out. We got it going pretty well. I was CEO and nearly half owner at Santa Cruz for the first ten years.


Let’s back up a little. How did you grow from bike shop rat to become a chief executive? What kind of education did you have to be able to make that transition?


I just had a high school education, and then I went into the Navy as a machinist’s mate on the nuke program, where I learned mechanical engineering skills.

I guess I should qualify CEO as maybe used a little bit loosely, because in these situations, it’s more a matter of, “Hey, do you want to do this” - “No” – “Well, how about you?” – “Well, okay.” So, sometimes it’s just who has the capacity to keep a good overview and juggle all the different stuff.
Tazmon brochure Hans Heim getting rad
Hans, getting rad in the Santa Cruz Tazmon brochure.

In the case of Bontrager, I didn’t know much. I was learning on the fly. I didn’t know about accounting or purchasing. I knew about sales and had an intuitional capacity for marketing, I guess. When I was at Bontrager I started filling in some of the other stuff: I knew something about engineering and I learned a lot from Keith too, and I learned from his wife Laura and various people about all the different things that go together to make up a business. So, at Santa Cruz, I already knew how to put together a system to make a small business like that work. Some of the systems I learned at Bontrager and, indeed, some of their employees, as they shed people when they began to wind down, got carried over to Santa Cruz.

With Rob Roskopp, I think pretty early on I asked, “Do you want to be in charge, or should I be?” He said something like, “Oh, you should be in charge, you’ve been doing this longer.” So I was the CEO. I was not so typical. I always tried to find consensus and work with everybody. It was not so much like a top-down thing, we were very collaborative.

Then, as Santa Cruz got bigger, I kept bringing in people who knew what they were doing and they would do each thing better than I was doing it. I’d hand it off and just keep in touch: “How’s it going. How are you doing?” Maybe it was a little different than bringing in someone who had a formal education, but the thing was, I had done every single job in the business. So, when somebody new came, I could show them how to do it.

Santa Cruz Blur
The Santa Cruz Blur, with its VPP suspension was a big success for the brand. Hans said orders wildly outstripped Santa Cruz's production. - Santa Cruz photo


There is something really cool about that. You have a sense of the entire system. You know if you change something over here, it’s going to mess that guy up over there. You gotta go talk with him first. It works pretty well to come up having done all the front line duties, because you can relate to everyone and there’s a mutual respect. You don’t make decisions that wreck somebody’s life because you didn’t know that was going to make things harder for them – because you do know.


So, now Santa Cruz has matured somewhat, the company is enjoying massive growth and popularity, and suddenly, you leave the company. Can you shed some light on that?


Everything was going fantastic. There were no serious problems outwardly and so I don’t really have an explanation as to why we split, other than the two other partners decided that they wanted to be in control and wanted me to leave. At that moment, were growing really well. We had really good profits. Everyone was getting along well – we had good attitudes and a functional team. The reputation of the company was good. I felt we were on a really nice path. So, without explanation, they told me they wanted me to split and Rob was going to run the company.

So, I said, “Okay. Are you going to buy me out?” And, they said “No.” Then I said, “Okay. So, I can see you wouldn’t want to buy me out, so I would still have my shares and I would have a portion of the profits?” “No.”


This isn’t looking good so far…


No, it was horrible. You have to, at some point, change attitudes from being teammates to, “Okay, I have to look out for my own interests here and not get totally screwed over.” I had to play that part for a couple of months and hire attorneys, and I got them to buy me out for what I would say was a “modest valuation.” Then, I basically went on with my work.

The team that re-founded the Ibis brand From left CEO Hans Heim Head of Engineering Colin Hughes President Tom Morgan Designer Roxy Lo and Founder Scot Nicol. For the first year the five owners did everything from designing to disinfecting. - Elisa Cicinelli photo
The team that re-founded the Ibis brand: (From left) CEO Hans Heim, Head of Engineering Colin Hughes, President Tom Morgan, Designer Roxy Lo, and Founder Scot Nicol. For the first year, the five owners did everything from designing to disinfecting. - Elisa Cicinelli photo


What exactly was “my work?


I was kind of in the middle of stuff. I wanted to develop a carbon suspension bike that was more free-form, and I was going to do that with the Blur at the time. Nobody knew that – it was all in my head at the moment, but basically, the split happened. I have a compulsion to complete these projects, you know, so I still wanted to do the same thing and finish this bike.

I needed a company to do it with, and I didn’t have one. I started thinking about Ibis. I hadn’t heard what was going on with them lately, so I called Scot Nicol and Scot told me this story that was gruesome.

He had the company for 20 years and decided that was long enough. He wanted to do some other things. So, he sold the company to an investor and one of the managers and they pretty much immediately ran Ibis out of business by moving the production and having it fail. Evidently, they got quotes to do the bikes and then the guys who were building the bikes said, “We can’t do it.” So, within 18 months, they had no production and basically, no company.
Scot Nicol
Ibis Founder Scot Nicol - Ibis Archive
The really bad punch line is that Scot never got paid for the company. Basically, he gave these guys Ibis. They crashed the car and he never got paid.

Ibis museum at Ibis
Some of Scot Nicol's creations on display at in the photo studio at the new Ibis. - Saris Mercanti photo

So, I told Scot that we needed to come up with a better end to this movie than that. Ibis was such a cool company. It had this sense of humor and interesting products, and that’s not an okay end. At first, he was burnt on the whole thing. It was such a bad experience and he was reluctant. I kept calling him and he agreed to do it. He’s like the DNA of the company, being the founder that first 20 years. I chased down the remnants of Ibis, which was basically the trademark. It was owned by these attorneys and I wrangled with them for a little bit and I bought it.

I got Scot involved and then I got Tom Morgan who is the president currently. He is a smart guy who has been in the business for a long time. Tom came from Giant, and Answer before that, and Titec was where I first knew him from. I thought he could definitely help us relaunch the company.

Roxy Lo at Ibis
Roxy Lo was given the freedom to design Ibis' Mojo Carbon frame, restricted only by the frame's suspension coordinates, basic geometry, and a few key clearance points. - Saris Mercanti photo


How did Roxy Lo fit in?


I crossed paths with Roxy at Santa Cruz and I saw her industrial designs. I always revered good industrial design and architecture, but kind of from a distance, because that kind of stuff is an exclusive realm. Everything really nice like that costs a lot of money and the people who are involved in it – you really don’t get a chance to talk to a top architect or industrial designer as a regular civilian.

I ran across Roxy because one of the guys at Santa Cruz was dating her. She did all kinds of things, from ceramics to cabinets and computer related stuff, but the common thread was that every time I looked at her stuff I thought, “man, that looks cool.” Roxy
Ibis Mojo Carbon
The original Ibis Mojo was intended to be functional art. - Ibis archives
was more accessible. She was someone that I could actually talk to and learn and share my enthusiasm for design. She didn’t know about bikes. First, you never know how well you can work with someone, so I asked her, “Hey, can you design a business card?” She did a really good job, and I said, “Okay, let’s do a bike now.” (laughs)

We got along well, so we dove into this project of Ibis restarting. The bike was really a daunting project. At the time, doing a lot of compound shapes in 3D was difficult for the computers that most engineers used, and when you added linkages with compound curves, it would often cause them to crash – or be so slow that we would go to lunch while the computers were regenerating the shapes.

I quickly realized that, at the 100 dollars per hour we were paying for engineering time, we could afford to buy them new, more powerful computers – one a week – and still save money. So, I offered to do that, but when the firm realized our dilemma, they upgraded their processing power. I sat next to the engineers for a lot of the 1800 hours it took to design the Mojo.


This was an engineering firm you were working with, if I remember correctly…


Yeah, a design and engineering firm, and Roxy was working on the gestural – the way it was going to look. And then these guys, who had designed bikes before, but just road bikes for the most part – they were working on the 3D, and I was trying to help interpret what Roxy meant. We were going back and forth and at the same time, trying to flesh out all of the mechanical concerns.

At some point, I got in so deep that I couldn’t quit. It didn’t necessarily look like it was going to work out. We had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested – you could have bought multiple houses in most parts of the country for how much we had invested in this design – and we’re not done yet… and we’re not done yet. And then, we hadn’t even tried to make it yet. Yeah, it was scary, but at some point, you’re in it so deep that you have to finish. Otherwise it’s guaranteed to be a huge loss.

Hans Heim and Colin Hughes
Hans and Colin Hughes go over the design of a new mold for a carbon front section. Ibis's engineering and design are in-house now, but the first time around, Ibis contracted with an engineering firm to develop the Mojo - which cost the start-up bike brand a small fortune. - Saris Mercanti photo


So, did you run into any production issues?


Once we got the design ready, the factory worked on it for a while and they actually pulled the plug on it – something like two or three weeks before the trade show. I got an email at three in the morning from the factory and they said, “Thank you for this opportunity, but we have decided not to proceed with your project.” I was like: “Excuse me?” And, they said that it was just too difficult. My wife said that I looked like my best friend had died. I was grey, and in shock.

I had a plan though. I was going to start nice and write a very respectful and pleasant letter to them, asking them to please reconsider and get going, because there was a lot riding on this. But, I already had the second and third letters written - which escalated into we are going to sue you, we are going to ask everyone in the industry not to do business with you ever again… You know, that kind of thing.

Ibis Mojo Carbon
Within weeks of its heralded debut at the Las Vegas Interbike Expo, Ibis' vendor canceled production of the Mojo, claiming that the curvaceous frame was impossible to make. Everything was on the line. - Ibis photo


Did you have to scramble to find another vendor? There were not many choices back then.


Well, we got to the second letter to put the pressure on them and meanwhile, I had started to ask other people in the industry if there was anything that they could do to help us. It was really cool. Our factory started getting contacted by their customers, saying things like, “You realize that this is not the kind of decision you can make in a vacuum – and that your reputation, personally and corporately, will be affected permanently if you don’t do this.”

By the time we got to the third letter, along with all this outside pressure, we were contacted by them and they came back with: “Ibis is our number one customer.” So, we were able to pull it off, and people had no idea at the show that the two frames we had were the only ones in the world, and it was a miracle that we had them at all. But you know, through consistency and fairness, we are still good friends with that company now.


The original Ibis was so organically grounded with its customers. Scot Nicol, and the way he ran things – he kept it real. To your credit, the new Ibis has maintained that vibe. So, what’s the magic?


That’s an interesting observation. That is part of the reason I bought Ibis and wanted to be associated with it again. There’s this culture of being more human and less concerned with all the corporate stuff. You do a good job and treat everybody well, you’ll be able to pay your bills and you’ll all have a good time. That, to me, is probably a more desirable way to go through life.
Ibis Cycles
- Saris Mercanti photo

Scot got his start in Mendocino and then Sebastopol and then Santa Rosa, and now we are in Santa Cruz. This whole region – in the ‘60s it was hippies and it’s very much artisanal and focused on more soulful things. The word “corporation” is almost like, “Eeew, what is THAT?’


So, it seems like Ibis has grown to an ideal size. You have 26 employees, the brand is international, and the business seems to have grown to the point where you can survive the industry’s inevitable ups and downs. Still, you’re not so huge that you’ve lost the family vibe. How did you get to this place and how big do you want to take Ibis from here?


I agree. I really enjoy the current state. It’s a feeling of mutual respect and understanding between the employees. It’s not like we are striving for it to get better in some ways to solve some problem. It’s quite good, and that does get harder as you grow bigger, so we grow reluctantly in a way. If you have a hundred people working, a lot of energy is spent on keeping everybody on the same page. When you are smaller, you just overhear everything – you don’t have to have a lot of meetings. Everybody just knows what’s going on.

We want to do more of what we are doing without adding a lot more people, and there is another reason for that. The numbers have just come out and Santa Cruz is the fourth least affordable place to live in the entire world – number one in the USA. So, as a strategy (if you want to call it that), we need to be really good with all of our systems and organization, so we can keep a decent amount of sales per person, so we can pay people enough, so they can survive here.

So far, so good – we have been able to do that, but it is quite different having a business located here compared to almost anywhere else. It’s spectacularly expensive. We have to watch out for each other so we make sure we don’t have lay-offs. It’s serious. We really try hard to do things better so we aren’t hiring ten more people in the busy time of the year and then laying them off in the slow time.

That sucks. We want the same crew all year, and maybe that means we have to work fast all summer and maybe take more bike rides in the winter, but we keep the same crew, so everybody knows where stuff is and how to do it and you’re not always trying to bring some new person up to speed on the culture of Ibis.


At your size, you can’t and probably shouldn’t make every kind of bike. How do you choose which models you will concentrate upon? Which genres best express the brand?


We get tugged in different ways depending upon what we’ve been riding lately. Primarily we’ve made variations on a theme of different travel and wheel-size trail bikes. Our customers and some of our dealers have need for different terrain and fit considerations – but for us, we need to be interested in it to do it authentically, and you can see that in our current line. Each of the bikes we make has a big champion within the company. Most of us ride Ripleys, and if we are going to be in the mountains
Roxy Lo was the driving force for Ibis to produce an XS Ripley
Co-owner Roxy's desire to ride a 29er drove Ibis's decision to manufacture an extra-small frame. - Saris Mercanti photo
and riding steep terrain, then maybe the HD4. Some people have more sway than others. Sometimes the engineers simply refuse to make a bike that we want because they are not into it.


Do you have the last word?


More and more I realize that putting things out for discussion can have too much ambiguity, and sometimes you need someone to come in and go, “Okay, here’s what we’re doing.” Especially if you are confident that it is going to be a good result, and if it rings true, you’ll get a great response – and maybe a week or two later, the program will be happening. I’ve been doing more of that lately because I am realizing that a good, solid and early decision goes a long way towards the company’s success. Sometimes we are earlier to market than we would have been if we had discussed it for six months first. We are making it part of the company culture to be decisive and quick.


When you relaunched Ibis, you assembled a team of specialists. You had Tom to oversee the big picture, Scott to keep Ibis real, Colin the engineer, Roxy the designer, Dave Weagle produced the kinematics - which suggests that you are a hands-off type of manager. But that isn’t the case, is it?


I feel like if it have been given the chance, (which usually means the time), that I can come up with things that are really helpful. I‘ve been deliberately handing off some of my duties to guys, some of whom are qualified for it and it’s a no-brainer: “Can you do this?” - “Sure” – boom! Others are guys who are coming up in the business who, like me, have had no formal training. I’ll show them how to do something like purchasing or book keeping, and I’ll answer their questions as we go along and they grow into a whole new job that is a positive thing for them – and for me too. That frees me up to work in other parts of the business and be more creative, which is good for Ibis and fun for me.


Do you have any big projects ahead?


Working with all of our factories, and having the mentality of always looking at things and asking, “How could you do that better? How could you make it less bad? I wanted to look at the process of making carbon frames and go from tip to tail to reduce the amount of energy it takes, make the quality easier to achieve, take some of the time out of it, and make it less labor intensive – because right now, making one of our dual-suspension frames takes about 40 hours. At Bontrager, we could make a steel hardtail in nine and a half hours total: handmade, powder-coated, prepped and decaled.

Carbon production
Ibis is moving ahead with in-house carbon production, beginning with one frame size and a handful of new ideas. - Saris Mercanti photo


So, we have an in-house carbon research and development facility where we have been making carbon parts and trying all these theories and trying to bring them into reality. With a lot of these things, you look at the fundamentals (the physics of it) and think, “It should be possible.” And, then you go try and do it and sometimes it totally works out and you say, “I knew it!” And other ideas are just a pain in the ass and you think, “Okay, this might take years to figure out."

We have been going through the carbon process stuff for about three years now, and we are about five or six years into a finishing project. I haven’t been working on that full time, but I usually make good progress when I get a chance to. We’ve manage to figure out a couple of things. The frames that we are making here right now don’t actually require finishing, so we can put stickers on them and wax them and they look great. That’s huge. You’ve cut out an immense amount of weight and work and pollution, and you’ve got something that has advantages in some way.

The other alternative was that we figured out how to powder coat carbon fiber, which I still haven’t heard of anybody doing. You use powdered polyester, electrostatic spray it, and there’s no solvents and no pollution. We solved the problems that were keeping us from doing that – and they were pretty gnarly problems, but it worked. The ultimate is not having to paint it at all, but if we do have to paint the frames, we will powder coat them and not have to use solvent-based spray paint.

Hans Heim at Ibis
Hans was told that it was not possible to use the electrostatic process to paint carbon frames. It took him over five years of experimenting, but he successfully worked out a method. - Saris Mercanti photo


On the process side, we’ve changed to a much lower amount of energy required to cure the carbon. We’ve got much better controls on the cure cycles – the heat and pressures – than the typical factories. Very little work has to be done after molding. We’ve also figured out how to use larger and fewer pieces in the layup – one third the number of pieces.

Thinking that we want to be able to make some frames here, in the most expensive town in the US, it’s one of those puzzles. We like hard puzzles and the satisfaction you get from solving a hard puzzle is better than the satisfaction you get solving an easy puzzle. It’s thrilling and we love it, and so far, we usually figure out how to do it. It’s not easy, but that’s why we like it.


Do you foresee a time when you will shift more of your production in-house, or will you take what you have learned and use it to increase the efficiency of the factories you are currently using?


I’m currently thinking of it as both. We’re going to make a small production – one size of the Ripley. That’s like our pilot and it allows us to keep things under control as we grow this. We’ll learn a lot doing that and we’ll smooth things out, and then the next thing we’re going to do is one entire model. It will be one that can really benefit from what we are doing. We can make it really light – push the limits of a very light structure that is as strong and tough as it needs to be, because we have control over the entire process.


Having control of your carbon process also gives you the opportunity to make your manufacturing more earth-friendly. How does Ibis fit in there?


We’ve got in-house carbon as well and we can’t recycle it ourselves, so we store it. When we have a defective part or something that has been crashed or decommissioned, we save all those parts. For seven or eight years we couldn’t find someone who would recycle it. So we put them on boxes and pallets. Here were a couple of places that were recycling leftover composites from aerospace companies like Boeing, and I was like, “Great! I’m going to call these guys and get in on this.” I could never get them to engage with us. Basically, they were too busy with the big stuff to deal with some small company calling. It wasn’t for lack of trying.

Eventually, we knew one of the guys at Specialized who was in charge of a corporate responsibility program that involved recycling – and recycling carbon. They had gotten through and had a program in place. We were able to piggyback on that. A semi from Specialized would stop here on the way to the recycler and pick up our stuff. We’ve done that repeatedly now and we’ve managed not to send a bunch of our carbon stuff to the land-fill.

working at Ibis

layup process at Ibis Cycles
Ibis R amp D

working at Ibis
- Saris Mercanti photos


You look back at Ibis 20 years from now, what will you be most proud of?


Switching from Ibis to all the different companies, which are Bontrager, Santa Cruz, and I had a bike shop for a year, and now Ibis – the thing I hope I will be proudest of and currently, really proud of is that we never had layoffs. Through the Iraq war, no layoffs. Through the big 2008 – 2009 meltdown, we never had layoffs. We just never got ourselves into that situation.

There’s an observation that I read and now I realize that it is actually very important: “You never get credit for the things that didn’t happen.” So, something that doesn’t happen like: nobody got hurt on your product or, you didn’t go out of business or, you didn’t have a big layoff. You didn’t have to sell the company because it got out of balance. Those sorts of things, you don’t get credit for, they just don’t exist on people’s radar. To me, that is actually a big accomplishment – something I am really happy about.

As far as Ibis goes, I am most proud of the culture that we have built and that it is such a positive thing. All the way from our customers (the bike riders themselves), the dealers, to us, and to our vendors, everybody is on the same team and having a good time, and that’s a really special situation. It doesn’t happen all the time. To be able to work in that situation and with the people I’m working with, and have a good time each day, and do these bikes… I feel really lucky.




More images in the feature gallery. Learn more about Ibis Cycles.




210 Comments

  • + 173
 What an interesting read on a man who's been part of it all. I've always liked the Ibis bikes, but I have way more respect for the company now.
  • + 0
 agreed.
  • + 8
 I want that "made in house" Ripley! I hope they continue their successful path! Great read.
  • + 94
 I have to say IBIS bicycles produces on of the sexiest frames out there ... !!!
  • + 5
 I visited Santa Cruz back in October (the town and the other bicycle factory of the same name), the last day I got drunk at a bar with all mountain bikers and workers of the other factory, they told me Ibis was not that far, but did not have enough time to pay them a visit. The Mojo is a sexy frame! But damn this place is super expensive, a basic wooden house with one floor is a million bucks, people there commute to the other side of the mountain where it is San Jose and silicon valley.
  • - 13
flag MikerJ (Feb 21, 2018 at 15:27) (Below Threshold)
 Yes, and when you ride them hard they also make a lot of noise.
  • + 12
 @MikerJ: Hey Miker - I'm sure other bikes creak too, but the good thing was when I had a creak on my Hd3 I got in touch with 'Chuck Ibis' via email and within 8hrs I had an email back telling me which particular interface was the likely culprit and where to apply grease/carbon paste. I live in a different time zone so that was fast. Plus their suggestion worked. All bikes develop creaks, but the way they sorted the situation from a customer service point of view was in my opinion exemplary. It's been quiet since despite regularly riding in wet sandy conditions with the odd bit of preventative maintenance...
  • + 5
 @MikerJ: Compared to my Tracer (which I also love, btw) my HD4 is ultraquiet. Just the trail beneath my tires, and the comforting buzz of the freehub.
  • + 1
 @slimboyjim: IMHO, Ibis has the best customer service in the business. They've gone above and beyond to help me several times in the past. They even sent me a $35 titanium part for free after I told them I'd accidentally dropped (and lost) the original in the grass while servicing the bike. Totally my fault, totally awesome customer service!
  • + 93
 26 employees!! #26aintdead
  • - 7
flag EngineerOn2Wheels (Feb 21, 2018 at 8:36) (Below Threshold)
 I really how they don't die too
  • + 21
 Yeah, what a magic number... Not 29 employees, also not 27 and half of employee. Just 26! Smile
  • + 33
 Or 28.99 (cuz, you know, that guy in the back who isn't quite "all there", making it 29)
  • + 4
 You keep saying that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
  • + 4
 @EngineerOn2Wheels: I really that too
  • + 3
 26 in the business? Yeah, and another 24 partying in the back yard Smile !
  • + 54
 That's disappointing to hear about the Santa Cruz (non)buy-out. I'd be interested to hear their perspective. For a guy who otherwise seems really introspective, his "I dunno what happened" shrug feels a bit hollow.
  • + 11
 I agree
  • + 25
 Probably a non-disclosure clause lurking somewhere...
  • + 5
 Im guessing the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It seems really weird that SC would just be like "youre fired and you get no equity and basically eff you".
  • + 7
 @sooner518: Does seem weird. But if you have to involve lawyers to get your compensation, there is some manner of dickery going on.
  • + 50
 Super interesting story. I had no idea he was with SC so early. I don't know the whole story, but Santa Cruz Bicycles comes off as dicks.
  • - 1
 good thing we can ignore SC and shred on our Capras!
  • + 17
 But it would be to hear their side of the story before passing judgement.
  • + 45
 I think these are some of the most beautiful bikes on the market. The flowing lines remind me of a musical instrument. Mount some guitar strings horizontally and I can see Mr. Spock laying down a vulcan ditty. Gorgeous... A piece of art you can actually ride.
  • + 37
 Honestly I have to say that until reading this I’ve been ignorant of Ibis. I never liked their designs aesthetically, the geometry never excited me and I’m just plain priced out of owning a carbon bike whether I want one or not so I largely just ignored them. If I’m perfectly honest I will continue to do so but this was the most interesting read I’ve had here lately and I leave with a great sense of admiration and respect for everyone at the company past and present. Cool story.
  • + 5
 You should at least demo one, the way they ride is just amazing.
  • + 31
 im a very Proud Ibis owner and this guys get it, I like riding my bike but I love what the company stands for, I feel like a part of something bigger a bunch of passionate people who love bikes not a faceless corporation.
  • + 15
 Couldn't agree more. I've had a Ripley for three years and it's the best bike I've ridden and when it comes to replacing it it will probably be another Ripley. And I love how if I email Ibis with a question Scott will reply within 24hrs. Classy company!
  • + 18
 @bhein: 24 hours? I was e-mailing about sizing on a Hakka MX and was getting responses in seconds! Some of the best customer service I have ever had in any industry.
  • + 13
 @bhein: You mean Chuck Ibis will respond. Wink
  • + 3
 @fercho25 Love my Ibis! I does mean something to be proud of the company making the bike you're riding.
  • + 26
 Pretty interesting to read about the drive and hustle this guy has. He also has some good, innate business sense. I think everyone thinks the road to CEO is this primrose path, and everything is just handed to these guys, but he really had to work to make things happen, with a lot of ups and downs. (Severance payment in XT groups? Woohoo!)
  • + 20
 Really a cool article, thanks PB. Seems like a really grounded guy and I enjoyed the story. Never knew that Santa Cruz bikes tried to dick him over, really changes my opinion of them.
  • + 21
 Yeah Hans! It was amazing working with you for almost 7 years, and I’m honored to still be rocking an Ibis! Excellent article!
  • + 19
 Interesting story, sounds like a cool guy and a great company to work for. Makes sense why Jeff Kendall-Weed is such a great fit as ambassador for the company. I'll have to demo an Ibis this summer...
  • + 15
 Caution. If you demo one, you will buy one. If you demo more than one, you will buy more than one. At least that's what has happened to me.
  • + 1
 @maddslacker: not me, the rep steered me towards the plus bike "best thing ever, just try it" . . . . . . Not a plus bike fan.
I even told him too! ! !
  • + 2
 @MX298: Mojo3 on 2.6" tires. FUN. But everyone has their own tasty recipe.
  • + 6
 Thanks Barry!!!
  • + 15
 Dang, he sounds like a really nice guy. Thanks for the article. I hope Ibis is around for a long, long time. I came really close to buying a vintage "Cousin It" MTB Tandem a couple of years ago. I still kinda kick myself for not grabbing it when I had the chance.
  • + 15
 Great interview! I love the photo of the computer monitor propped up by the McMaster catalog. Classic engineer move. I'm also really excited to hear about the possibility of stateside carbon production. Sounds like they're really planning ahead. Lastly, Roxy Lo, you're my hero.
  • + 14
 I used to finish the Downieville Classic and have a few recovery beverages at the Ibis tent. Amazing bikes and truly exceptional people. Scot, Tom, and Hans have always been incredibly generous with their time. My money goes to people that I'd like to ride with and Ibis is always near the top when I'm looking for a new steed.
  • + 14
 Kirk is pretty chill too. One time at Outerbike I wanted to demo a Tranny and there were none available, so they sent me out on his personal rig. (set up as a single speed belt drive)

Another Outerbike I needed a shorter stem for my daughter's Ripley. Scot said they weren't technically set up to sell anything at the trade booth, but that if I could donate some beer money they could probably find a spare one in the trailer. All I can say is, Scot I hope you enjoyed your beer as much as she likes her shorter stem ...
  • + 2
 @maddslacker: thats the way!!!
  • + 2
 @maddslacker: Are you're talking about the one with blue i9 wheels? beautiful rig! It rode amazing, Kirk is super cool for letting people ride it.
  • + 1
 @dedmann: That's the one, and yeah he is super chill!
  • + 11
 I think Ibis' bikes are great and are some of the best pedaling bikes out there. IMHO, their employ of the DW-link blows every other one out of the water. I am glad to see with the release of the HD-4 they finally became less conservative with their geometry choices as well. Now lets see a HD-4-esque 29er.
  • + 6
 Rumor has it you may get your wish at Sea Otter.
  • + 4
 @leifgren: ouch. I guess rumor has it I might be buying a bike this Spring..
  • + 13
 The stem on that Tazmon almost makes me feel inadequate.
  • + 9
 The "design and engineering firm" was IDE Inc., Scotts Valley CA. Behind-the-scenes this was the team that made the Mojo frame a reality. Not sure why they aren't credited by name in this piece. The Mojo and other Ibis bikes are on their website.
  • + 6
 Yes, my bad... IDE was key and in particular, Niall Macken kicked ass for us.
  • + 7
 It's gotta be stated that for me at least, Ibis Mojo is the best in so many ways full suss I've ever ridden.

Much more infinitely sweeter suspension feel both up and down and across aswell in open mode all the way baby!

Seriously would like an hd4 in the future if my riding goes that way and fitness lol.

So lucky we are to be riding bikes like this currently. It's never been a better time.

Just please don't go all E on us Ibis as that'll ruin your street cred.

I've even seen complete HD3 with their excellent wheels and 36s for £2700 ! Bargain absolbloodylutely!
  • + 6
 Great read. Now thats how bosses of companies should treat their employees...here you get someone fresh from uni and straight into a manager's job where they have no idea what so ever if the process. In my eyes you have to work from the bottom up
  • + 28
 Speaking from direct experience working for Hans, I can wholeheartedly agree. I had the pleasure of working for Hans at Bontrager as well as at Santa Cruz. He truly took the time to not only teach, but to simply take the time to talk. At the time I was 16 years old and it meant a lot to me to have someone like Hans take the time. I now strive to care for those who work for me and with me the way Hans did. Thank you Hans. You are one of a kind sir!
  • + 6
 I know silence is "golden" but the last couple of days watching my husband, Rob Roskopp, super upset about how one "recollects a story....." has had me even shaking my head. I am sorry Hans.....I was the one living with Rob through a 'nightmare" during the time you speak of .... your version is completely different from our version and it upsetting you would stoop to this level at our age and it feel it is ok. I am saddened that your "truth" is so far from the "TRUTH."

And Richard..... you could have least asked Rob if he wanted to respond to such an egregious statement/storytelling by Hans.... SAD!

BTW- Rob is going to be so mad at me... but my nature is such... that sometimes the f'n truth needs to come out!!! And embellishing in lies does not serve anyone justice or speak to magnitude of what SCB has accomplished with their talent- brains-ambition- and foresight.
  • + 14
 Hi Lepa,
Of course, we all see things from our own perspective. I still have no real clue what happened. If someone wants to make it more clear, that's great. I was never competitive with Rob, always supportive. I have nothing but admiration for what SC has accomplished after the split and as someone who put so much into it before the split, I am actually STILL proud when SC nails a killer new product etc, even though we are now competitors. I also have a lot of friends there. PMs from here on out would be pro ; )
  • - 4
flag kmg0 (Feb 25, 2018 at 8:54) (Below Threshold)
 OHHH SHOTS FIRED!!!!!
  • + 5
 Great story about a great company. I worked with Scot at the original Ibis (was 1/3 of the Ti/Steel fab) and have met Hans in passing. They are legit Good People and I've always felt that Ibis made proper "Mountain Bikes", meaning bikes that worked all over the place on a wide range of terrain. Haven't tried the HD4, but my current HD3 is one of the most fun bikes I've ever ridden. Brings a smile every time. They're doing something right.
  • + 8
 "...claiming that the curvaceous frame was impossible to make. Everything was on the line"

I love redaction's puns
  • + 6
 This is freaking sweet news! I really can't wait to get a us made ibis mojo! My first real sweet bike was a ibis mojo in 2009 its crazy to see the impact that one frame had on the whole industry this past decade.
  • + 9
 Not sure how much respect I have for Rob Roskopp??
  • + 40
 @Beez177 Rob is also a good man. I know both men well. There are always two sides to every story. Business partnerships are tough journeys in the best sense.
  • + 5
 @RichardCunningham: I'm more interested to hear the story of Scot Nicol and Ibis' swan dive into the concrete. I'd love to know what the investors promised him to get him to hand over the keys to the company before he got paid.
  • + 4
 @Fix-the-Spade: Honestly, it sounded like both Scot and Hans made some "interesting" handshake business deals that didn't go their way. I guess that is why lawyers are still in business.
  • + 6
 The guy comes across really well in a stereotypical charismatic US CEO way and it is easy to get lost in the storytelling
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham: I believe you, but this isn't the first questionable business decision I've heard about Rob
  • + 0
 @Beez177: I know I am getting old but my instant reflex when reading such stuff is “I wonder what the other part of the story has to say about this”. Especially when this doesn’t affect me since I’ll highly possibly never buy a Santa Cruz Bike or Ibis, so there is no point for me to get excited about this. I wouldn’t like to be like that bunch of sissies who started throwing crap at Niner or that case with POC after this story with Jenny Rissveds and her World Champs attendance. That was a really shit move from Scott and Pinkbike giving the other parties no possibility to defend themselves. But a bunch of snowflakes did feel like heroes on that day, swearing loyalty and sympathy to a girl they have never met and throwing crap at the company, having no clue on how was it involved in the whole thing.
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: This is story about Hans journey in the bike industry and obviously from his biased point of view. I don't view this as article on what happened during the Bontrager or Santa Cruz break-up. I'm sure, someone would pursue Keith Bontragers and Rob Roskopp's stories as well if they wanted to share.
  • + 2
 @smoothmoose: nah, I just meant there’s little to care for. It’s between them. We are talking bicycles not precission bombing of an orphanage
  • + 5
 @RichardCunningham: Very true. First day of business school and the very first thing the professor said was "partnerships do not work". That has always stuck in my head.

Obviously I don't know all the particulars, but I'd bet Roskopp wasn't the problem - Novak was. But it's all water under the bridge now.
  • + 2
 @kwapik: partnerships do not work? Holy Jesus... your professor must have been as experienced as mine who said that long buildings don’t work. Evidence of compromise driven variety of forms is in front of him, but it doesn’t fit his ego impregnated vision, so he intellectualizes it. Problem of many Academics in social sciences: boys and girls who are too scared to grow up and leave school, as a result they lose touch with reality. I know, I live with one.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Funny $hit. Business partnerships are like marriages - most end in a divorce.
  • - 1
 @kwapik: yes, you still need them so that world goes round...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Pretty sure that the world will continue to turn regardless of us and our insignificant plans.
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: oh jesus... a guy saying that business partnerships are bad or marriage is bad should also say that rain is bad and it is also bad that Earth is the only easily habitable planet in 100k years of space travel. Really? Fkng really? What’s good then. Shooting massive loads?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: That depends who you're shooting them with Smile
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: Rome wasn’t built in one day. It’s like saying to a Neanderthal - oh these clubs are worthless, why don’t you sit for a few weeks and invent a machine gun?
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Nah, I'm saying that anyone who thinks they make the world go round is a self important ass. By all means do your job and get better at it, but never for a second think you're so important that the world won't carry on without you.
  • + 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: oh well all contributions make a big contribution. Just because 40% of marriages fail doesn’t mean than they don’t bring children to this world which make the humanity be here. Same with partnerships in business, well you need them. It is irrelevant if they are less efficient than full on companies. I’m also not affraid to think that I make the world go around that my existence is fundamemtal, just like yours. For instance I value our cleaning staff more than pro DH racers. I don’t give a fk if Gwinnie quits. But I do if Johanna does
  • + 5
 and this right here, is why I own multiple Ibis bikes. RAD!

Sidenote: do this article style that blends history with more owners/companies/builders, This was an awesome read.
  • + 3
 Agreed! I had to scroll up to see which writer to thank... Nicely written Richard! Pinkbike, more articles like this please.
  • + 8
 "A vociferous reader" really? I'm no english major, but... LoL
  • + 4
 *Voracious
  • + 16
 Go easy on Richard Cunningham he came to PB from Mountain Bike Fiction.....
  • + 2
 vo·cif·er·ous
vōˈsifərəs/Submit
adjective
(especially of a person or speech) vehement or clamorous.
  • + 2
 I thought the same...he always reads out loud? "Voracious" I'm sure...but a great interview.
  • + 6
 @m1dg3t Shout reading? Fixed
  • - 2
 Not a common use of the word, but it's used appropriately in this instance. A vociferous reader would know that.
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: CAPSLOCK ALL THE THINGS! HeHeHe

Cheers Smile
  • + 3
 or: with great energy, stridently, or insistently. Nevermind. I'm wasting my time.
  • + 1
 @bvd453: In this instance it doesn't maintain subject/verb agreement, and is out of context with the dialogue. Something along those lines... I, however, became a vociferous reader in pointing it out and discussing it. HaHaHa

A voracious reader would know that Wink :p

Some tuna m.youtube.com/watch?v=ohguwyFECHI
  • + 1
 @bvd453: you're in deep, you might need deconditioning. I believe it's a syndrome that causes the user to believe that two long words with the same first letter are interchangeable. It happens a lot. One of Google's several thousand examples:

www.google.fr/amp/s/languagetips.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/weekly-language-usage-tips-voracious-or-vociferous-and-veracious/amp
  • + 2
 @BenPea: Cut him some slack, English isn't his first language LoL

American gets spoken in America. They did win that war after all Smile
  • + 4
 Very cool story...almost a privilege to own an Ibis. Hope they continue to bring out cool bikes including a long-travel 29er most people are drooling over. Still surprised how much wild-wild-west the the MTB business was back in the day. Some real personalities in this business.
  • + 3
 Sounds like a cool company.
The name is a branding/marketing nightmare in Australia though!
Our cities are being invaded by White Ibis displaced from wetlands being destroyed and everybody hates them.
They stink and feed on garbage and have been nicknamed "bin chickens" over here!
  • + 14
 Maybe don't destroy wetlands.
  • + 3
 @GeorgeHayduke @JamesR2026: The ibis have found that urban areas are a permanent and easy source of food, water and nesting. Their population has increased because of this and they are no longer migratory. There are major wetlands that still exist and were once popular with the white ibis, but have been rejected by them in favour of urban life. The currawong (a large crow-like bird) is a bird that does not need wetlands but now has permanent urban populations like the ibis. If every city in the world was dozed, pigeons would be a threatened species. Some birds just prefer the city life.
  • + 6
 @iamamodel: Quote from Dr John Martin, wildlife ecologist with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney "The number of ibis seen breeding in the Macquarie Marshes in NSW has declined severely over the last 30 years, and the story is similar along the vast inland waterways of NSW and Queensland that the ibis used to call home.

'All of those wetlands that are controlled, so river regulation, [have] shown declines in the abundance of a raft of bird species,' says Martin."

It's not that they prefer city life. We ruined their wetlands, so they live in the city now.

But why are we discussing stinky bin chickens in an article about sweet carbon bikes??!! Hahaha
  • + 3
 I was lucky to meet Hans in a random pizza joint back in the 90s - saw his Santa Cruz shirt and struck up a conversation. he was as open, engaging and positive as this interview makes him look, a real pleasure to talk to. When I ran into him again almost a year later at Sea Otter, he remembered who I was. Class act.
  • + 3
 Went to buy either a 5010 or tall boy and walked away with an order for a Ripley LS at a demo day. Had to wait sooooo long as it was just when the Ripley 1 stopped but I’m told I got the 1st Ripley 2 LS into the UK????. Well worth the wait. Best bike I’ve ever riden and owned. 120mm travel copes with anything I can throw at it. Eccentric DW design is a masterpiece. Even in Scottish mud and gloop copes well. Love the small company ethos. Keep up the good work guys and gals????????????????????????????
  • + 3
 I was down in Santa Cruz last month and stopped by their HQ. Very cool and mellow vibe and super friendly people. Just love my Ripley LS and how they focus on small number of products but do them all really well. I was surprized no mention of Preston Sandusky there who ran Kestrel for a while. They have a ton of talent at that company.
  • + 1
 To the best of my knowledge Preston had no involvement with the Ibis relaunch. About that time frame the original Kestrel founders were getting out of the bike industry and facilitating the sale of the brand to ASI. Very smart guy though.
  • + 3
 Awesome stories from Hans.
Guess I can be considered a ibis hardcore fan, not that I intended to be one. But mojo is just plain awesome.

I have had ridden many bikes (used, new, demo) starting about 2010... Intense spider, intense tracer, foes fxr, ibis sl, ibis HD, Santa Cruz high tower, niner rip, yeti sb5c, ibis HD3

My favorite is #1 mojo hd3...#2 mojo sl
  • + 3
 Seems indeed a nice company to work for. Every business talking about this idea of "family" (too often sounds like some marketing BS) but in the case of Ibis sounds genuine.
And I like the idea that they are trying to mitigate the effects of using carbon fiber on the environment.
Now I will have to demo the Hakkalügi MX
  • + 4
 Interesting cars in the parking lot: Toyota FRS, Audi wagon (all road?), BMW 2002, Mustang with a hitch rack and a Sprinter Van. I wonder who drives what...
  • + 5
 that bontrager race lite is such a race machine. id ride that today no problem.
  • + 2
 Won my first race ever aboard one! Loved that bike! Smile
  • + 3
 @Nagrom77: love the angles,thin tubes and paint job. Still looks modern. Just looks fast.
  • + 6
 Mojo Two Nyne in da werks?......
  • + 5
 In an adult-sized XL please thanks.
  • + 2
 Isn’t that what the Ripley is?
  • + 2
 @WasatchEnduro hoping so too... "Ripley LT" would have me hyped.
  • + 2
 heard this.
  • + 3
 @speed10:

Ten speed -> Ripley is a ripping trail bike. I’m talking moar travel, moar betterer, moar enduro. 150mm twenty nyner yo so I can be a true endurobro.
  • + 3
 @WasatchEnduro: ahhh moar of a 29mojoHD then
  • + 2
 @alexsin: + a Thousand this! I'd be all over one if they were to size up. Had a Mojo HD and loved the bike, just too short for my gangly 6'4" body and ape arms Smile
  • + 5
 I must say I am more of a fan of Ibis than I ever was after reading this article. Great read!
  • + 2
 Love the irony of "The Big Bad S" being a good guy, picking up Ibis' carbon refuse on the way to the dump, while Santa Cruz screwed him royally (and Mike Marquez too, who last I heard works at Fox Shocks).

How quickly we forget. Though that stuff happened (and Trek suing a wine tour company in Napa Valley for having 'trek' in their name) before social media, where one fat dude in a basement can get his word out there and amplified within 10 seconds.
  • + 1
 That was my first reaction as well- still won't buy any of their products.
  • + 6
 That was one of the most interesting things I read in a while. Thanks!
  • + 3
 Hans, mind running for high office? Maybe VP to Bernie or Warren? You guys can still make the bike stuff too. Thanks.

But seriously, taking on the production process is an admirable step on a greater scale.
  • + 2
 Ibis makes nice bikes for sure. Personally I love their wheels. I’ve been riding the aluminum 938s for few years now. Bashed them at bike parks regularly and they are still true. I’m getting a carbon pair next. Best wheels out there in my opinion.
  • + 3
 I love reading these types of articles! It's so interesting to read about the dedication and effort it takes to make a bike company a reality.

Anyone with a bunch of $$$ want to help me start a company??
  • + 2
 I was emailing back and forth with Scot Nicols back last December when I was thinking of making a trip up to Santa Cruz. I love their designs and the staff seem to be real genuine people. Would love to ride with them. Have to keep saving money for an Ibis!
  • + 5
 Great story and great bikes! Always look forward to seeing what ibis has to offer!
  • + 4
 Massive shout out to Roxy for doing what she does so well. Just so damn impressive how it all came together.
  • + 2
 I bought my first Ibis last year. When I opened the box of the frame I ve got ibis handbook was imazing love first sight. Big respect Hans.I do not want to buy other brands any more.
  • + 1
 One of the better interviews ive read on pinkbike. Makes me appreciate the the company in a new light. Saving pallets of broken carbon to recycle, figuring out the electro static powdercoating and taking care of their employees through tough times showcases their commitment to doing the right thing. Ibis's integrity is refreshing and gives me a new perspective on the brand. Now wheres their Ripley lt?
  • + 1
 I'm no bicycle scientist, but that sure doesn't look like much carbon to support the seat-tube pivots on that Ridley frame Hans is painting (without a respirator).

Any armchair engineers want to take a crack at explaining how such minimal material can support the stresses of the entire rear swingarm there??
  • + 3
 Not gonna speculate on the structural integrity of the frame but he's not painting. He's powder coating so no nasty solvents. Just polyester powder. Probably should be wearing a dust mask though.
  • + 2
 He is shooting powder, not paint, and that Ripley is missing the eccentric bearings and also looks to be missing the supporting internal structure for them. Probably a test frame, being used to test their carbon molding and finish innovations as described in the article. But otherwise, that's pretty much all the seat tube a Ripley needs to be sturdy.
  • + 2
 @VonFalkenhausen: Whatever he is shooting, it's incredible that he ins't wearing a respirator. If OSHA saw that picture I guarantee they'd be paying them a visit post haste. Not to mention that it is just plain dumb to not wear one these days, knowing the dangers of industrial lung cancer.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: Respirators are not generally used when shooting powder as there is no vapor threat, a simple dust mask is adequate. Powders are vastly less toxic than paint, most are classified as non-toxic and are just an irritant if inhaled. Yeah, minimizing any sort of dust inhalation is a good idea but shooting small amounts into a setup like that, he is in no significant danger.
  • + 4
 Pretty crappy business deal by Santa Cruz forcing him out... I wonder what the real story is?
  • + 3
 I'm trying not to buy an HD4 while keeping my Ripley, now this article comes out? SMH, take all my money...
  • + 1
 Long read but great interview about his journey thru the industry. Been on an Ibis HD** since 2009 and love their culture and customer service. I hope to stay on their bikes for a long time.
  • + 3
 In Australia, the Ibis is a bird that drinks bin juice all day
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO-OpFjHRbE
  • + 1
 Haha, I'm now only gonna think of that when I see an ibis on the trails
  • + 1
 Great read, thanks Richard and Hans for spending the time on it. I have a newfound respect for Ibis. They've always been a "cool" brand in my book, and this story helps cement their reputation.
  • + 2
 Happy owner of the first Mojo and user of Ripley..I miss a front, when the new Tranny? ???? Proud to be part of the Ibis world, a company with a human face!
  • + 2
 Good read. They also have their company story on their website. Lots of facts for any Ibis fan. ☺️

www.ibiscycles.com/info/303030
  • + 4
 i want the little bmw2002 in the 1st photo
  • + 1
 Amen.
  • + 2
 Great interview! Finally got to meet Hans and the crew on the headquarters on 2016! Good vibes there!
  • + 2
 Interesting read. I just ordered a new Ibis Ripley LS which should arrive any day now. Beautiful bikes!
  • - 1
 not a big fan of Ibis frame design...looks like it has a hump ;-)
as much as I love bike aesthetics, I really think that people get over the top on that front...All frames these days look very similar...rear triangle, top tube etc. Can't help but think that all this pretentious talk about countless hours of designing and involving "artists" and "engineers" in the process is to make us believe that £10k for a bike is a fair price. No, it is not! Bikes shouldn't cost more than £2k
  • + 2
 That specialized "recycling" truck - picking up, doing a U-turn and heading back to spesh with Ibis off cuts Wink
  • + 2
 Just waiting for the HD29 to get my first Ibis, come on Ibis bring it to the market.
  • + 3
 are they threaded bb? i could go for one of these
  • + 6
 Yes, threaded.. Ripley and Mojo. So I got them both.
  • + 2
 Great read! Their bikes are outside of my budget but it doesn't keep me from lusting after them
  • + 2
 Fantastic read and excellent piece of journalism. Would love more content like this!
  • + 1
 Great interesting read!
I remember seeing a few good vids from Scot Nicol / Ibis on Youtube also..
And yes, love my Mojo 3..!!
  • + 2
 Great read. I love how open, and matter of fact Hans is. Business is business but the Santa Cruz guys seem to be dicks.
  • + 2
 I knew Rob Roskopp was supposed to be a dick, but seriously, that part sucked. What an A hole.
  • + 0
 I’ve heard this too over the years and kinda didn’t want to believe it. The whole Rennie getting kicked off syndicate deal in the 2000s plus a bit of other heresay and conjecture over the years is pretty comprehensive. Might be time to put that original sc roskopp deck I bought in the 90s on eBay...
  • + 1
 Great article! Been a serious consideration to pick up a mojo this year. Tested them at Fruita and locally. Very fun bikes that yes, also look great.
  • + 3
 I'm on my 5th Ibis (Ripley LS). I might have a problem!
  • + 3
 Interesting read
  • + 2
 Still love that Citrus Ano Blur
  • + 1
 A blast from the past, thanks for this!

(that blue singlespeed ibis on the wall... wow!)
  • + 3
 Totally great history!
  • + 3
 Keep it up IBIS.
  • + 2
 Thanks RC - fascinating story.
  • + 2
 A 29in Mojo HD coming up?
  • + 1
 I raced with his daughter Lili Heim on the Santa Cruz Composite jr development XC team. That warehouse is freakin awesome.
  • + 1
 What a great read! It reminded me a lot of Microsoft back in the day, or F1 teams in the 70s.
  • + 1
 Great interview, made me proud that I had HD3 what a great bike it was!
  • + 2
 Excellent story.
  • + 1
 He’s like the Steve Jobs of bikes...
  • + 1
 Great article. Good people. Well done.
  • + 1
 Truly inspiring! Makes me want to start something of my own.
  • - 3
 As someone who has shed blood, sweat, and tears to be a part of the industry that has been my greatest passion and life long love. For someone/anyone who has worked tiressly long hours threw the night to get racers ready and making sure everything is just right and dialed and knows every end and out on a bicycle, it infuriates me every time when one of these "college grad computer geeks" gets to be at the forefront of bicycle design and engineering and most of them dont even ride or cant ride at an upper novices level. Scour your local bike shops for the true supporters of this industry. I do it for a very measly wage and have for twenty years bc its a passion, a true love, not just a job. Its a life. A life style. Pay one of these yahoos 40,000 grand a year and see if they walk away... Bet they'd all go work for jenson or amazon. The other 2 companys that are destroying this industry.

Put more Real bike people into these positions. Teach them bc they already know a hell of a lot more about bikes than someone whos studied cad or engineering. I talk to engineers every day that talk the talk, but cant ride the ride...
  • + 1
 @hans-heim
Looks like the ripley on the picture is made out of UD, only ?
  • + 1
 From experience making some Ripley dust, they seem to only have some twill on the inside layers and be mostly UD layups.
  • + 1
 Awesome dude, Had a sick v70r as well!
  • + 1
 Great read, neat guy, cool company.
  • + 1
 Ah, designed by an artist. That explains why no waterbottle cage.
  • + 1
 I always new Santa Cruz and Rob were a-holes.
  • + 1
 just made me proud of owning one! siick
  • + 1
 Fantastic and fascinating article.
  • + 1
 good story and beautiful rides.
  • + 1
 Back when CEO's actually knew how to do something real.
  • + 1
 Nice interview, thanks RC!
  • + 1
 great read!
  • + 1
 DW link....love the HD4.
  • - 3
 "Making steel hardtails was not a long-term strategy that was going to work"

Rebuttal, @Chromagbikes ?
  • + 4
 That's probably why they got into making carbon components?
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