Let's be real here: I doubt anyone who bought one of the previous versions of the Ripley did so because of the bike's descending prowess. Sure, they've always been fun short-travel bikes, but if the terrain was rowdy or the rider wanted to be in the air fairly often, they probably ended up on a Kona or Transition or the like. And especially if they cared a lot more about coming back down than going up. You know, something a bit less, er, dentist-y.
But has that changed now that Ibis' trail bike has more contemporary numbers? You betcha.
If you've ever spent a Saturday night practicing e-brake turns at the local roundabout, you might already know that your little two-door hatchback is far more likely to spin than a big ol' boat. The same thing applies to bikes, but minus the e-brake and roundabout and likely the police. The new Ripley's longer wheelbase gives it a sense of calmness that the old bike never had, especially when traction is iffy and you're just trying to keep the back of the bike behind you. It's also much more at home in the steeps for the same reason. A bit less e-brake might help, too, but that'd be less fun.
It might have lost some of its playfulness, but the fresh Ripley is much faster on the descents.
That stability hasn't taken a ton away from the Ripley's fun-loving attitude - this bike is still far more jetski than ocean liner - but there has certainly has been a price. It still wants to hunt down those silly lines and natural gaps that add time rather than save it, but it's a bit more subdued about it while also being more capable, if that makes any sense. You're probably a bit less likely to be pulling a long, smooth manual through a set of compressions, but that's only because you're probably jumping over all them on the new bike. Different, but still fun.
I know that bro-science has proven how anything newer has to be stiffer, but I have to admit that I couldn't feel much of a difference on that front between the new and old bikes. They've never been the stiffest feeling things, but that's not what I'd want anyway. It sure does corner with less drama, though; more wheelbase and better suspension will do that.
Where the old bike felt like it wanted to 'tuck' under you sometimes, the new one is happy to help you through corners that you've come into with far too much heat.
Speaking of suspension, the Ripley's 120mm doesn't offer the ego-stroking smoothness of a long-travel bike, but Ibis has done well with their updates. I wouldn't say that the old bike was overly harsh, but you knew you were on an XC-biased 120mm bike. Now, it's as if the suspension is a bit more willing to help you out, especially on those smaller to mid-sized impacts where the back of the new Ripley felt like a big improvement over previous versions. Don't expect gooey, ground-hugging travel, of course, but the increased sensitivity and bottom-out resistance have the Ripley's 120mm feeling better than ever.
The new geometry and tweaked suspension make this Ripley far easier to ride at your limits than the previous versions, and it just feels far less nervous and on edge anywhere and everywhere. Just as importantly, it doesn't have that overgrown, over-slacked trail bike vibe to it that's becoming more and more prevalent. The package is more capable on the descents, though, and the very large majority of potential Ripley owners will be very happy about that.
The latest XTR group (right) hasn't been trouble-free, but Industry Nine's Hydra rear hub (right) sure has. If you like loud hubs, you'll love the noise this one makes.