There are no surprises here, folks: The fourth-gen Ripley is a bit of a rocketship on the climbs, especially with the relatively light Schwalbe trail bike rubber and carbon wheels that it showed up with. Of course, Ibis would have to have been smoking from the pipe to sacrifice the Ripley's well-known ascending abilities to gain some descending prowess, right? Actually, not so much, with most company's newest trail bikes doing exactly that in recent years.
And as they should - modern short-travel bikes are insanely capable - but ya'll are the ones smoking something if you think it hasn't come at a (usually worthwhile) price.
So yeah, the new Ripley climbs, but let's parse this down to see what the changes mean on the trail. First up, is it still an ultra-efficient climber?
Yes... Ish. Mostly yes. With 120mm of travel and dw-link suspension, it's still fast and full of life. But it took precisely one ride to note that the bike feels more forgiving, and maybe just a hint more active, than the previous version. While the suspension curve went from progressive (ramping up) to regressive in the middle before going back to progressive on the old bike, the new bike's curve is consistently progressive through all of its travel. I suspect that what I'm not
feeling is that bump up in progressivity that the old bike had. Either way, there's been a change; seated climbing is smoother and while it's still efficient and quick, the bike doesn't feel quite as tense and ready to jump forward at the slightest quiver of a quad muscle.
The handling on climbs has changed as well, but it's not as drastic as you might think 45mm and a full degree would feel due to 12mm coming off the back of the bike and Ibis going with a 44mm offset fork. The 76-degree seat angle helps, and while it won't ever fit into some of the places the old bike could, this thing is still a wizard when it's steep and tricky.
The kind of uphill corners that require planning and careful positioning on other bikes have two or three lines through them when you're on the Ripley, and those who enjoy a good game of foot-down on technical climbs will get on well with the bike. No? Maybe it's just me, then.
The geometry has changed drastically, but the bike still delivers gobs of traction and a front-end that doesn't feel light regardless of how steep the pitch might be. It makes for a bike that wants you to drop one more cog so you can drop your buddies, or to try that seemingly impossible climb a few times because, well, you never know.
Bottom line time: is the new Ripley a better climber than its predecessor? That's a 'no' from me, but don't get me wrong—it's still a weapon on the ups, especially compared to many of today's bloated and overbuilt trail bikes. In fact, this very rig just finished the BC Bike Race under PB's Content Manager, Sarah Moore. That said, the changes definitely give the Ripley more of an all-around bike persona, and it'll likely appeal to more riders than ever because of that fact.
The new geo has transformed the Ripley from a fun but sometimes on-edge descender to a bike that can be ridden nearly anywhere. It's still fun, too.