Bike Test: Ibis Tranny 29

The Ibis Tranny 29 lives up to its namesake.

Ibis Tranny

Words by Nicole Formosa

$5965 | IBISCYCLES.COM

The Ibis Tranny 29, as its name suggests, is much more than meets the eye. What the bike appears to be at first glance is actually covering up something far more complex and versatile. And with this use of the word ‘Tranny,’ that’s a good thing. Our test bike was built with a one-by drivetrain, but it can also be configured as a chain or belt-drive singlespeed via the Slot Machine. The Ibis-original contraption is a sliding lower junction that allows the chainstay to be lengthened in order to increase tension on the chain or belt. The Tranny also doubles as a travel bike–the rear end separates at the seatstay.

The new, bigger-wheeled version of this carbon-fiber hardtail–the Tranny was a 26er in its previous life–takes its geometry cues from Ibis’ Ripley full-suspension 29er. Its nimble handling characteristics come from a low, 12-inch bottom bracket, 70-degree headtube angle (with a 120-millimeter fork) and a short 3.7-inch headtube (on a size medium), which lowers the position of the bars, and 17.1-inch chainstays.

But the first thing I noticed when I hopped on the Tranny was its speed. I almost felt like I was cheating when I ‘raced’ one night in the local XC series. “You took off and I never saw you again,” were the exact words uttered by a friend, who is used to me playing catch-up. This performance, I assure you, was not due to fitness. At just shy of 24 pounds with pedals and a bottle cage, the feather-light weight of the Tranny made a noticeable difference off the line. It hauled up the short, steep climbs and kept its traction surprisingly well on the course’s sandy corners, thanks to the stability of larger wheels paired with Ibis’ 28-millimeter rims. It was the descents, though, where I truly feared I would miss rear suspension. When I later ventured to steeper, more technical trails, I prayed that my back and teeth were strong, dropped the seatpost, then let off the brakes. Thankfully, carbon fiber isn’t just for good looks: the stiffness of the material, aided by low tire pressure and my legs to soak up the bumps, made the ride far smoother than I expected.

If burly terrain is your game, you could beef up the package by opting for a wider tire than the standard 2.25 Nobby Nic/Racing Ralph combination–clearance is good for at least a 2.3–and mount them onto Ibis’ super-wide 941 rims. With multiple build options, including a Special Blend for $3,000, this is one Tranny whose hidden identity is one you’ll want to discover.