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.
This is a great piece that expands the mountain bike community through RC’s journalist style and the price point of the bikes in review.
I think this piece opens doors, makes new buyers of full suspension mountain bikes feel less remorseful for an expensive purchase, and hopefully they can purchase bikes at a price point at which the bike won't fail on them as quickly.
But I can appreciate getting caught up in the semantics of the "field test."
What's the point? You would get the same information if you went to the manufacturer sites!
In any case I welcome the AL bikes reviews. Honestly, we keep dreaming about the super bikes - but the cheap ones while a little less tunable and a little heavier are very close in performance while hurting the wallet a lot less.
except maybe the S works Enduro, which costs more than 3x more and while more capable, is less versatile
Ripmo AF got robbed on bike of the year.
Don't take it away from Optic.
I know travel is slightly different but intent the same. If I had the cash I'm not sure which I'd go for.
RC head to head Optic/Ripmo please
It's just so badass.
Are they comparable though? Sight alloy vs ripmo af and I dunno..
New sight seems amazing, but late release means it missed reviews. I've ridden ibis and own a Norco. In summer if I can grab an af in SoCal I might since the base model is great bang for buck. New sight I'd want at least an A2 which is hold off until next fall. We'll see.
Ripmo, as I need Bikepark capable bike at this phase. If I wouldn't need to go with friends to bike parks, it would be Optic all the way.
But most likely I will go with Occam, Sight or Evolink 158. The last reseller for Ibis in Scandinavia went to bankruptcy, so it isn't even a choice for me.
The one thing I don't like about the Ripmo AF is that the downtube cable ports have no internal guides.
The Richbro's frame will be genuine, American-source carbon, made by American workers who can trace a direct ancestor to the Mayflower. Fabrication will happen so close to the Pacific Ocean that it can only happen at low tide. John Phillip Sousa marches will blare at earsplitting volume during the curing process.
And then issue an even more expensive, highly-limited edition called the Richbro AF. This one's still in the concept stage so not sure what sets the Richbro AF apart, but for a start I'm thinking we incorporate Elon Musk's finger and toenail clippings into the lay up ....
Zuckerberg"s wife probably shaves his back right? I wonder what the per pound rate is for those proprietary fibers ...
Also sign me up for the Richbro - its getting almost impossible to impress anyone with a bike around the PNW anymore. I remember when a top spec bike was a real jaw dropping rarity, now its just a yawn when you see an Enve specc'ed Yeti.
I was considering the AF for my next bike (can't afford carbon),but can't get my head around pedalling 16kg around all day.
I rode a Uzzi SLX back in the day,a heavy bike is not my thing.
Folks looking the Ripmo AF are interested in performance and price, the weight is the trade off.
"He's kicking my old butt on a 34lb bike with front and rear tires I'd have a hard time justifying the knob height of on my DH bike!"
I was thinking that if he were on my $2k 32lb rig & I on his, he would have had to just left me on the climb up since that extra weight and "wah wah wah" super tall knobby would have amplified my age and fitness shortcomings. But at the top I would have cooked a stupid fast time on his Ripmo AF down if I could have pried it from him. But dang...no way would I want to roll everywhere dragging that much bike. And just like you, I had an Intense Uzzi DH back in the day with a triple ring and lock out Stratos rear shock at 34lbs. That bike on trails other than STFD ones took the fun out of a day.
They are laid out differently, they are completely different sized wheels and speced far different from each other, so I don't even really understand what puts these two bikes in the same article.
RipMo is a monster truck 29er. Spectral is awesome speced 27.5 trail bike. Pretty obvious to all that they would ride far different from one another.
I currently ride a 2014 Giant Trance,not a single carbon component on it,and it sits at 13,1kg with pedals.
I'm looking for a bike with a bigger "error margin",not necessary faster.
I could buy the Ripmo AF frame and build it somewhat lighter,but that would be very expensive.
Oh,and the "you'll get stronger" doesn't work here either.
Enjoy your Lycra and energy gels
It's just same for runners: runner+ shoes is around 160 lbs. That means u could add 1 pound to each shoe and it would still be unnoticeable compared to the total weight.
@Isey: No, it's not the same. With every stride, shoes accelerate to at least double the runner's velocity, then come to a complete stop. Do you accelerate to double your average speed and stop 90 times per minute? If so, then I stand corrected ... and you should probably try a different technique.
@littleskull99: Yes, it's 4 lbs less to muscle around (not that the 30 lb number is realistic for this category and price point). And, as I showed, 4 lbs matters a lot less than you think.
So 15.6kg for a bike equipped like the Ripmo AF sounds just like what the doctor ordered for me...????
finished my spiel
The extra energy required to accelerate the whole system - rider and bike - is maybe three percent, even accounting for the extra rotational inertia of the perimeter mass. Not a lot.
The extra energy required to maintain speed due to rolling resistance could be be a couple dozen watts, which is a double-digit percentage increase in total energy requirement. A moderate amount.
The extra unsprung mass is about 100%. That's a lot. If we were considering a gearbox drivetrain, the elimination of the cassette, derailleur, and - in some systems - the freehub mechanism in the hub would take another pound off the rear wheel and the unsprung mass difference would be greater yet.
inexpensive; reasonably priced.
As to WHY someone would want to go direct to consumer, it often comes down to bang for the buck. Getting the maximum amount of good parts (shocks, drivetrain, etc.) for a given price is important for those on a blue collar budget. Even for those bike brands, like Canyon, that have their own branded parts, its often on parts where the brand is secondary (stems, seatposts) or are on "ride it till it dies and upgrade" parts.
I just bought my first direct-to-consumer bike. It came fully built and dialed, the only thing I had to do is mount the handlebars. And all the fit and finish of boutique shop-bought bikes I've had in the past. Only difference is I spent $3700 on a spec that would've cost me $5500 from one of those boutique brands.
Much of the time, an LBS is literally just another hand that the bike goes through on its way to you. If you need someone to mount a handlebar for you, take your direct-to-consumer bike in to your LBS and pay them $20-$50 to do it. Orrrr you can buy a bike off their rack for a $1000-$2000 upcharge. Up to you.
Stocking multiple thousand dollar bikes on a wall is an inefficient business model and it needs to change and everyone will be better for it, including bike shops eventually IMO. I love my LBS and I spend a lot of money in there every year, but I don't think I'll ever buy a full MSRP bike off the wall again from a shop.
At this price it's a no brainer....when there is a big cost differential, lines get more blurry, it I'd still err on side of having a shop to support for warranty issues.
Direct to consumer makes a lot of practical sense beyond just saving $$. I live in a ski resort town. Most "bike shops" are only functioning 3-4 months out of the year (they are ski shops the rest of the time). People do ride here but it's second fiddle to pretty much everything else.
Bike shops here don't stock good MTBs because they are focused on rentals, not sales. And the employees are almost never bike-focused and are working largely on those low-end rentals. And they're slammed all the time. Want suspension work done? You can wait a month.
I get all my specialty work done by a "private" bike mechanic who works out of his garage and has decades of pro-level experience. Finding him via word-of-mouth was a Godsend because I would otherwise not have good options.
Buying my last bike online was a given. I'd have to drive a long way to "buy local." And anyway, finding size smalls to test ride--let alone finding smalls in stock--is damn near impossible.
Being able to spend less, customize parts AND have the bike delivered to my door pretty much ready to ride ... I mean, it doesn't get much better than that. I'm all for supporting local shops but if the customer service is crummy and the options aren't there, I'm moving on.
In fact, they usually comment on things they like about the Canyon (seriously, almost everyone of them loves the quick axle on that Canyon uses).
The only direct to consumer bikes that I've seen turned away were walmart grade bikes purchased from amazon. The kind of bikes made so cheaply that the time to assemble or repair them would cost more than what the bike was worth. Outside of that most shops will service any brand of bike. Or they should. I never turned away a bike based on it's brand.
for comparison. $2900-3000.
Also, Santa Cruz offers free bearings for life of frames.....my LBS will charge nothing for install if you bought from them...if not, expect $150+ for labor.
No difference in getting it worked on, in timing and cost. (And BTW, I do none of my own maintenance.) If your bike shop is doing that, namely charging/working customers differently based on whether they have purchased there, that's pretty piss poor customer service.
As to warranty issues, that depends on manufacturer. Which is just like a store bought bike. Some, like Canyon, have a good reputation in that regard. Some, like Airborne, have been hit-or-miss. My next bike will be either a Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol or a Canyon Neuron. Neither are "traditional" purchases from a bike shop.
I bought my bike from the national Banshee distributor which gets me same-language support and quick access to spare parts.
They are also the distributor for a few other brands which reduces overhead.
IMO, the warranty process can be even easier with direct than LBS.
Businesses survive when they focus on what they can do uniquely well. Putting a bike in your hands is not unique to a shop: any courier service can do it equally well.
Shops still have a place for service and as demo centres and showrooms for one or two examples of each bike, but they don't need to be the warehouse.
Does it matter? If someone spends half as much on a direct-sale bike, they could just throw out a few frames, buy new ones, and still not lose money.
Not that that would happen. The fastest warranty service I've seen has always been from direct-sale brands. Not all of them are like that, of course, but some of them will express-ship a replacement and have you rolling again before you could find time to drive over to the LBS.
I've done warranty through email, it's a PITA. Obviously not all companies are created equal, just like not all LBS are either....but I've had much better luck with face to face at a shop.
Like I said, when there is big price gap the lines get blurred, but considering the price point, which is the same, I'd buy North America or LBS 10/10....
Those who praise the LBS for the service they offer even on direct-sales bikes have either a short memory or have been in the sport for a short time. Not that long ago many LBS would refuse to service a YT or a Canyon. Often despite the fact that those bikes would be Gravity oriented and that those same bike shops would have no interest for this type of riding and wouldn't stock or order this type of bikes. Now that direct-sales brands are taking a huge part of the market they accept to service these bikes simply because they need some business to run their shops considering they have lost many bike sales to those direct-sales brands. They don't do it because they like to offer some service but because they need business to stay open. No business do things out of kindness, only to get some turnover or in the hope that their kindness will be bringing them business on the long run.
At the same price, it's a no brainer....when there is a huge price difference, it becomes a brainer.
This bike performs very well for the trails I ride, which are mostly on in the Front Range of Colorado. I could have bought a more expensive bike, but being a busy dad I like to know all I have to do is grab it and go. No annoying subtle ticks coming from a carbon frame or having to readjust to keep it silent.
I came from an Enduro, which served me well, but I wouldn’t go back. I plan on keeping this for the long haul and just replacing parts when they fail.
How does the bottom bracket fare on rocky tech around the front range? I'm seriously interested in this sometime this spring.
So far I don’t regret my decision at all to get this bike. On a side note, it look way better in person than in photos.
I think a lot of people tinker too much which results in issues on the trail. Until that time though going to run the NX into the ground.
My mega came with guide T, which codes did you swap? I'm looking at the same deal. Guides feel meh.
I know I may get flamed for this, but I think some you ger budding riders (& their parents) would probably like to see reviews of bikes that are truly affordable.
Bikes from larger retailers such as Dick’s, REI, & EMS come to mind (GT, Haro, Cannondale, Diamondback, Coop).
I started a Boy Scout merit badge program for my son’s troop, and basically all of them had bikes that were crigne-worthy of riding even mellow trails around here. I felt bad and bought 3 used MTBs to help them on more serious rides. If YouTube bloggers can do it, so can you PB!
Trek Roscoe vs Spesch Fuse vs Giant Fathom vs Salsa Timberjack vs Diamondback Sync'r/Line
Giant Stance vs Marin Rift Zone vs ... (ok Trek and Specialized get to f*ckin' work)
more flies with honey than with vinegar...
yeah my choice of honey or vinegar won't matter, losing market share to giant and marin will.
FWIW i did just spring for trance 27.5's for my kids, trek and spesh do have some competing products around $2100, but travel is longer on trance, standover is lower, and 35mm fork vs 32mm
(generally speaking I agree with you tho)
I get that 12 speed is all the rage, but I would not feel let down if either of these bikes came with a Shimano Deore 10 speed drivetrain. I'd be just as happy (and avoid having to change out the drivetrain at a later date.)
Put the saved money from the drivetrain into having 3C compound tires and maybe some Shimano brakes...
On the Canyon website the model bike has a maxxgrip on the rear and maxxterra on the front??? Maybe they are all about optimizing for technical climbs?
At any rate, the Giant Trance 29 might have a better deal on the drive train, but the bike itself is not a direct comparison to either of these bikes tested so it's not relevant.
The Reign 29 2 would compare well with the RAF, and on price it does. But on spec it doesn't.
The Trance Advanced 2 would compare pretty well with the Spectral, but on price it's several hundred dollars more expensive and the spec is sort of mixed. The carbon wheels are sweet at that price point, but to make that happen every other part on the bike is a downgrade in comparison. Some might think it's a fair trade though?
They say all 3C Maxxgrip EXO (or whatever) are identical even if you have a white and a yellow hotpatch.
There was a bit on NSMB about it.
Still would love to try it. Shame that here in EU the frameset to NX build price difference is only like 800€. Would consider to get a frame this year if the price was more moderate
Manufacturing tolerances make that 0,1° irrelevant. They just went that way for fear of the 66° (carbon) and 65° (AF) sounding démodée, which I find a little lame.
People get lost into this geo numbers thing and forget how tiny a 0,1° variation is. If one measured a handful of bikes I wouldn't be surprised to see the HAs and STAs with variations of like +-0,3° on nominal. Even fractioning those angles at 0,5°s like 63.5° instead of rounding is a little disingenuous considering tolerances. But since everyone now obsesses over geometry I can see the marketing angle (pun)
In Germany it's 2098 Euro for the frameset and 3398 for the NX. www.denk-outdoor.de/ibis-ripmo-af?number=ibis-ripmoAF-Frame-Metal-S
However, no doubt that the Ibis is a great bike.
The only thing they did terribly wrong on it is the cable routing through that plastic piece under the downtube. The dropper cable totally rubbed into the bottom right side of the headtube. Not acceptable on an mtb in 2019. Cable rub on headsets is something we messed with in 1995, not anymore these days. Fix that Canyon, and the Spectral scores 100%.
Also, I am having a really hard time deciding between the Ripmo AF and the Occam H10. Both offer amazing value.
Yep you are right. American bikes are crazy expensive over here.
Since that: nothing except tests with Full Suckers - nothing against them though, but... hum.
So: when do we get something out of the standards with what I`m talking about?
PS: what would be a dream test could be: a 100% steel bikes test, FS + HT. Difficult to organize I guess, but that would be rad and sexy
Also, let's look at the differences (assuming they simply apply the AF changes):
* 1 degree slacker head angle
* 17 mm longer wheelbase (size L)
* 4 mm longer reach
* 2 mm longer rear travel
* modified kinematics (more ramp-up at end stroke)
Some of these changes (reach, travel) are pretty trivial. And some of these I don't want - the wheelbase of the current Ripmo is long enough, thanks!
I think Ibis did a brilliant job of spec'ing the AF. Not only did they get to a great price point, but they effectively addressed the shuttle/park end of the market. If I did more of that kind of riding, I'd probably get the AF. But I spent a month in BC last year and did not shuttle or hit the park once (did all my own climbing). And my home riding includes tight trails and switchbacks. For me the original Ripmo hits the spot.
There is 3 welds and 4. Crack on the photo
On the top shock mount there is 2 welds and one crack too but i dont have a photo for that.
My friend sold the frame.
Smack something hard enough and it breaks...?
Interestingly to it seems your information on price is country specific.
You quoted the Spectral Al6.0 as $2899 And the Ibis as $2999.
In Australia they are priced vastly different. Yes i understand the we dont count like Europe and North America, and there is exchange rates blah blah blah.
On the Canyon website for Au price is $3949 for the AL6.0 and Ripmo AF NX as $4990!
With exchange rate that from AU to USD Canyon are looking after us saving us $500 over the exchange rate where as Ibis want to sting us another $600 cause we live in the best place on the planet.
Funnily a Ibis the bird is in plaque proportions around rubbish dumps and tip sites around Australia.
We un-affectionately called them BinChooks
The Reactor Expert build is $3099 US.
Stock michelin 2.4 are great down hill.
2.6 dhf and rekon rear get after it.
Climbing switch would be great, the super deluxe it came with I can firm up with pressure but sacrificing small bump.
Seated climbing is actually not bad.
Trek Slash 9.7. carbon vs Ibis Ripmo AF ?
Great video comparison, though!
Goal for 2020, less flow more single track.
Maybe I came off as too harsh? Let me walk it back a little by noting that I've been to Freiburg, and given the smell in the air in every public park in that town the Germans are training hard to close the mountain bike engineering gap. But Santa Cruz is so far ahead that it's gonna take a strict early education policy for the Teutonics to catch up. At minimum 10mg gummies at snack time at all German kindergartens, 20mg at the Montessoris.
Shrooms are choked down by the bushel in Santa Cruz. That certainly accounts for the Ripmo's next-level small bump sensitivity. Nothing like shrooms for making you sensitive to the small bumps.
I've read that your berserking ancestors ate lots of magicmushroom too. Explains the tailgate pads they've found on every well-preserved Viking ship!
I wish to thank Californians for it’s work in improving humanity. I hope one day we too can enjoy the liberties that your fine nation is cultivating
For my part I nearly totally quit cannabis maybe 8 years ago when it became legal. It all seemed too easy all of a sudden. Mushrooms etc I have no connect for a long time now, definitely not picking my own, not really interested in going deep anyways. Life is weird enough in the USA nowadays!
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