Back by popular demand, Pinkbike's 2020 Field Tests include four affordable trail bikes this year - two remarkably priced hardtails from Specialized and Marin reviewed by Daniel Sapp, and a pair of dual-suspension machines from Ibis and Canyon that you'll learn about here.
To earn a spot in this feature, our test bikes had to cost less than $3,000 USD, perform at a level that would impress experienced riders, and be equipped with components that could go the distance without requiring pricey upgrades. That's a lot to ask from a bike that retails for half the price of an elite-level trail bike, but last year's Field Test contenders managed to work that miracle - so we raised the bar for 2020.
We wanted a needs-nothing trail shredder, armed with aggressive numbers and spec'ed so well that it would make a convincing argument against spending a penny more in the quest for measurable performance. Two contenders stepped forward: the $2899 Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 and the $2,999 Ibis Ripmo AF. Let's find out who made the cut.
Canyon Spectral AL 6.0: $2899
Canyon's advantage in the affordable end of the marketplace comes from their direct sales business model. The German brand can (and does) redirect a substantial portion of the cash it saves from cutting out retailers from its expense column into better parts and frame construction.
Their Spectral AL 6.0 is a shining example, beginning with its SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, and DPX2 shock, its component selection is next level for this price point. Cockpit items are carefully selected from Canyon-branded items and established names like SDG, which gives the Spectral a pro feel the moment you step into the office.
Spectral AL 6.0 Details Construction:
aluminum, Horst-Link type suspension, 150mm travel .Wheel size:
(med.) Head angle: 66º, seat angle: 74.5º, reach: 440mm, chainstay: 430mmSizes:
XS,SM, Med, L, XLSuspension:
160mm Fox 36 Rhythm fork, DPX-2 Performance shockKey Components:
SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed, Guide R brakes (200mm rotors), 150mm dropper postContact: Canyon
Aluminum is the frame material of choice here, and for good reason. The Spectral is targeted at riders with the highest aspirations, so it's going see a lot of challenging terrain during its turn on earth. In the German tradition, the chassis is built stiff and sturdy, with a 150mm-travel Horst-Link type rear suspension that drives a downtube-mounted shock. There's plenty of room for a bottle in the frame, and Canyon designed in lots of standover clearance and room for longer travel dropper posts.
Canyon's numbers are good. The 74.5º seat tube is just steep enough to call modern, and it sports a 66º head tube angle. Reaches range from 400mm to 482mm between five sizes (XS through XL)
What it Does Best
SRAM's Eagle GX drivetrain is a huge plus at this MSRP.
...As is its Fox 36 Rhythm fork with the GRIP damper.
One ride and you'll understand the Spectral is all about attitude. Its suspension delivers more trail feedback than I would like, but the flip side is how precise it feels while jumping or setting up for corners. The rigid aluminum chassis keeps the bike on line when you are banging over roots and rubble too. That racey feel, however, can bite you when rain and sludge grease up trail features, which occasionally had me wishing for more sensitivity. That said, Canyon's Spectral AL 6.0 feels fast and aggressive - tailor-made for hard chargers who push and pump every trail feature. It's a massive amount of bike for $2,900.
Ibis Ripmo AF: $2,999
Ibis' Ripmo AF is the right bike at the right time - an affordable, needs-nothing trail shredder with front-line geometry that is an absolute blast to ride on anything from mild to wild. The original carbon-framed Ripmo was the breakthrough design that catapulted Ibis into the "long, low and slack" trail bike arena. The subsequent release of the aluminum-framed Ripmo AF broke the rules.
Metal versions of carbon super bikes are supposed to be affordable duplications. The Ripmo AF defies its predecessor with improved suspension kinematics, more aggressive geometry, and killer builds that start at under three grand - about what it would cost you to buy the carbon Ripmo's frame and shock.
Ripmo AF Details Construction:
Aluminum, dw-Link suspension, 147mm travel.Wheel size:
(medium) Head angle: 64.9º, seat angle: 76º, reach: 458mm, BB height: 341mm, chainstay: 435mmSizes:
S, Med, L, XLSuspension:
160mm DVO Diamond fork (44mm offset), DVO Topaz R3 shockKey Components:
SRAM NX Eagle 12-Speed, Ibis S35 aluminum wheels, Maxxis Assegai EXO2.5" tires, 150mm dropper postContact: Ibis Cycles
Did Ibis shoot itself in the foot? We don't think so. Accomplished bike-handlers need the elevated performance that elite-level mountain bikes provide, and if we won the lottery, we'd all be riding superbikes. Ibis made the Ripmo AF for the rest of us. Starting with a slightly overbuilt chassis (8 pounds they tell us), the AF's dw-Link four-bar suspension has been tweaked with a rising rate near the end-stoke to ease huck to flat episodes. Its top tube has been lengthened, and its head tube angle has dropped from 66- to 64.9-degrees. There's plenty of reach and the cockpit feel is balanced and aggressive.
Ibis and DVO collaborated on the suspension and it's next level anywhere near this price.
Maxxis' Assegai tires are a welcome site at this pricepoint.
Ibis took a left turn on the suspension, opting for DVO's butter smooth air-sprung 160mm-stroke Diamond fork and Topaz R3 reservoir shock - both of which bring next-level performance to the affordable realm. Reinforcing that decision are its ultra capable 2.5-inch Maxxis Assegai EXO+ tires, mounted to Ibis' new S35 aluminum wheels. It's clear that Ibis put its big money into the AF's critical performance items, so we assume they picked SRAM's Eagle NX drivetrain and Guide R brakes to bring proven, four-piston stoppers and a reliable 12-speed transmission to the table without breaking the bank. The magic worked. We had to pry the Ripmo AF out from under anyone who threw a leg over it. What it Does Best
"Everything." During the Field Tests in Whistler, I took the Ripmo AF to the park, did some Lost Lake XC laps, put down runs on techy classics like Dark Crystal and Ride Don't Slide, and wasted a lot of play time on flow trails. It's one of the most enjoyable, easy handling trail bikes I've had the pleasure to ride. It climbs, corners, jumps and drops like an extension of your body. We switched bikes often, especially while filming, and everyone was visibly faster, happier, and more confident aboard the AF. Last year, if a unicorn slid down a bolt of lightning and told me $3,000 dollars would buy a bike like this, I would have laughed. Ibis easily won this round of PB's affordable trail bike Field Tests.