PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Ibis Mojo 4
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Tom Richards
The Mojo name has been in Ibis' catalog since it was a high-end hardtail way back in 1994, but we're more familiar with it as an efficient mid-travel trail bike meant to do a bit of everything. You're looking at the fourth generation Mojo that, no surprises, is the longest and slackest yet, but Ibis says that the intentions remain the same: To be that fun-loving “The all-mountain play bike.”
Ibis' recipe for fun cake includes 27.5" wheels - that's right, this is a new trail bike that's not a 29er - and 130mm of travel via a dw-link suspension layout. There's a 140mm fork up front, and my SLX test bike came with optional carbon wheels and handlebar that bumps the price from $5,399 to $6,267 USD. All that adds up to 28lb 9oz, including the Maxxis DHF and Dissector control tires we installed.
• Travel: 130mm rear / 140mm front
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Head angle: 65.4-degrees
• Seat tube angle: 76.6-degrees
• Reach: 485mm (lrg)
• Chainstay length: 425mm
• Sizes: Sm, med, lrg (tested), x-lrg
• Weight: 28.6 lb / 13 kg (as pictured)
• Price: $6,267 USD (Inc. wheel, handlebar upgrade)
Is it just me or have full-suspension Mojos always looked the same? The frame is all-new, with a different carbon layup that's said to save a bit of weight compared to the previous version, but there's still no mistaking this bike as being from any other brand - its swoopy lines say 'Ibis' from miles away. More important than losing weight, the new frame also sports pass-through, tube-in-tube internal cable routing. You'll also find a threaded bottom bracket, an ISCG adapter for guides or smashers, and a whole bunch of frame protection. There's even a tiny fender to help protect the suspension's lower link. What you won't find is room for plus-sized tires - Ibis says there wasn't enough demand - although you can still get 27.5" x 2.6" meat in there if you want.
On-bike storage is a hot topic these days, with many brands competing to see who can put the most threaded holes on their frames or be the first to fit Anthony Messere inside their downtubes. Instead of that, Ibis sells their Pork Chop frame bags that pop into place inside the front triangle. It's like a fanny pack but for your bike; it works really well but I suspect that many Mojo'ers will choose fashion over function.
There are no surprises when it comes to the new Mojo's 130mm rear-end: It uses the latest version of dw link suspension, a layout known for its relatively high amount of anti-squat. The result of that is usually a fast feeling bike. Compared to other designs, it employs a Fox shock with a light-ish compression and rebound tune - Ibis calls it the 'Traction Tune' - with the suspension layout creating efficiency rather than damping. The recommended settings for this feel, er, relatively undamped on the trail, but I settled on a more traditional, slower setup. The new lower-link runs on bushings that come with a lifetime guarantee, whereas you’ll find sealed bearings up top.
If we're talking geometry, Ibis has generally been known as being fairly conservative compared to some other brands, making them a good option for a rider who doesn’t want to go the really long and slack route. That said, the new Mojo ain’t exactly behind the times, with a 76.6-degree seat angle and a head angle at 65.4-degrees, nearly 2-degrees more relaxed than the previous Mojo. The 27.5” wheels allow for short 425mm chainstays on all sizes, and they also get 37mm-offset forks. As for reach, my large-sized test bike sits at 485mm. Note: Note: After testing was completed we learned that our bike came with a 2020 Fox 34 FIT 4 fork due to bike boom related product shortages. The correct spec, and the way the bike is shipping now, is with a 2021 Factory 34 with a GRIP 2 damper..Climbing
If there were a shortlist of trail bikes that climb well, I'm sure Ibis would have a couple of theirs on it. But the latest Mojo is the longest and slackest ever, which had me wondering if it could match my expectations. One thing I wasn't questioning, however, was how it felt on the gas.
I'm not sure if it's the same width Maxxis tires on smaller diameter wheels, but the Mojo looks more rock crawler than hill climb weapon to me, especially when leaning up next to the slim new Stumpy. But it took a few hundred feet of steep gravel road to remind me that small wheels don't mean slow speeds, especially as I had just come off the heavier and, er, "more relaxed" Actofive P-Train. If you're the type of rider who doesn't take a relaxed approach to climbs, you'll love how the Mojo encourages you to work harder for it on the way up. And if that doesn't make any sense to you, you might be more of a P-Train kinda rider. What about the new Stumpjumper with its reconfigured suspension? The clock shows it just barely a nip behind (8-seconds over 12-ish-minutes) on the way up, but neither will disappoint a rider who cares about these things.
I ride a lot
of 29ers because that's what that's mostly what new bikes are, but also because I (usually) enjoy technically challenging climbs and I've always had better luck on big wheels. Then again, I got lucky an awful lot aboard the Mojo; it's certainly more bike than the previous version, but it's still impressive in the tight and twisty bits, and especially against the purple Salsa or P-Train.
If you're a trail rider that puts just as much effort into a climb as you do on a descent, or maybe even a bit more, you'll be happy aboard the Mojo. Descending
The good news: Thanks to its updated geometry, the newest Mojo is the most capable one yet. The bad news: Everyone else has shuffled their trail bikes along as well, especially the four others I've been riding back-to-back non-stop. To be fair, the Salsa and P-Train, with their 160mm forks and focus on descending, were always going to drop the Mojo on any remotely challenging downhill; that's too much of an apples to oranges comparison to be kosher.
But the Stumpjumper and Trance X are definitely in that same do-everything-equally-well category as the Mojo. Up against those two, it's the Stumpy that consistently felt the most capable on Squamish's rocky trails, although I suspect a Trance X with passive suspension would have made it close. The Mojo comes across as the most 'trail bike' of them all in that it'll do anything you point it at, but it's closer to the edge and gets knocked around a bit more when things are fast and rough.
If you're the kind of rider whose ass needs saving on a regular basis, I'm not convinced this is the bike for you.
But if you're more concerned about having a good time than finding the limits of yourself or your bike, or your local trail inspires more flow than fear, the 130mm-travel Mojo will make sense. And especially so if you're the rider who uses every lip, root, and root to get into the air.
That flowing, rolling singletrack that rewards a bit of effort is where the new Mojo comes into its own, and even more so if you can spot a good backside. While the more forgiving bikes can easily lose speed if you're not working the trail, it's like the Ibis was doing that sort of work for me. That makes it an entertaining bike, and even more so if that's how you ride anyway.
The Mojo also has a knack for making the awkward feel a bit less awkward, with it seeming to stop and stutter less on those old-school, slow-speed trails where the answer is to embrace the jank. I never got that feeling on the Blackthorn, that's for sure.
Trail bikes are getting wildly capable these days, with some of them approaching what was used on the EWS circuit only a few years ago. That increased descending ability has come at a cost, though, with many ‘bigger feeling’ bikes that are, in some cases, less well-rounded and therefore less suited to many riders in many places.
The Mojo isn't that kind of trail bike, though, with Ibis using updated geometry to make it the most capable version ever but without taking away from its classic trail bike vibes.