First Look: Ibis Tranny 29

The long-awaited big-wheeled carbon hardtail debuts today

The Tranny frame has been redesigned, taking geometry cues from the successful Ripley.

The Tranny frame has been redesigned, taking geometry cues from the successful Ripley.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the 29er version of the Ibis Tranny to debut, then it should come as little surprise that it is finally here.

That’s because Ibis, known for taking its time in product development, has been steadily, but subtly, dropping hints about the new swings-both-ways carbon hardtail for almost as long as it’s been in the works. Those leaks have intensified since the recent start of the grueling Tour Divide, which Ibis rider Jefe Branham won this weekend after pedaling the entire length of the Rockies on the new geared Tranny 29.

Alas, this morning, the veil is finally officially lifted to reveal the sleek, lightweight singlespeed or gear-compatible hardtail, about a year after Ibis retired the 26-inch version.

The new frame is more Ripley-esque in design with similar front-end geometry, but, at 12 inches, it has a slightly lower bottom bracket for improved handling. It was developed around the same time as the Ripley so the molding technology and tube contours are also similar. The Tranny 29 also carries forward some of the technology from the original Tranny like the Slot Machine, the sliding box section behind the bottom bracket that enables the conversion from gears to a singlespeed. The slot allows the chainstay to be lengthened so the chain or belt can be tensioned. The Tranny 29 is compatible with a belt drive, an option that was not offered on its predecessor.

The new frames does carry forward some technology from the Tranny 26 including the Slot Machine, which enables the bike to be built either geared or as a singlespeed.

The new frames does carry forward some technology from the Tranny 26 including the Slot Machine, which enables the bike to be built either geared or as a singlespeed.

The cable ports are a nice touch, with internal dropper post routing through either the toptube or the downtube. The front derailleur housing can be set up with either full housing or interrupted to eliminate irritating rattling, and the rear derailleur is routed with full housing through the frame. The cable ports all come off, too, leaving a larger hole to help with routing. Ibis also offers blank ports if you aren’t using any cables.

The Tranny 29 is available with a Gates carbon belt drive, a first for Ibis. This is also the first carbon-fiber hardtail on the market using the Gates belt drive. Photo: Scot Nicol

The Tranny 29 is available with a Gates carbon belt drive, a first for Ibis. This is also the first carbon-fiber hardtail on the market using the Gates belt drive. Photo: Scot Nicol

From the start, this bike was always planned to be based around 29-inch wheels although “we did think for a couple of seconds” about using the popular 27.5-inch wheels, said Ibis’ Scot Nicol.

“There is such a huge advantage in so many places to a 29er, especially on a singlespeed,” Nicol added. “650b maybe comes into play for a bike with more travel that’s more robust with more strength needed.”

That said, the goal was to make sure this 29er was playful with snappy handling while still benefiting from the faster-rolling bigger wheels. New, shorter taper forks allow for a shorter headtube (100 millimeters on a size large, down from 135 millimeters on the Tranny 26), which lowers the position of the handlebars. Ibis developed two sets of 740-millimeter-wide carbon bars for the Tranny and the Ripley, the Hi-Fi and Low-Fi.

The headtube angle is 70 degrees with a 120-millimeter fork and 71 degrees with the 100-millimeter fork, so it is meant to handle more like a trail bike than an XC bike, although its weight would say otherwise. Ibis managed to get the frame weight down to an anorexic 3.08 pounds, shaving a few grams off the already-skinny Tranny 26.

Another attribute to its nimble feeling is the 1086.5-millimeter wheelbase on a size large, which is actually slightly more compact than the previous 26-inch version’s 1,091-millimeter wheelbase.

The Tranny has several marked trail bike features such as wider 740-millimeter bars and more aggressive geometry. Photo: Scot Nicol

The Tranny has several marked trail bike features such as wider 740-millimeter bars and more aggressive geometry. Photo: Scot Nicol

We’ve only taken the new 29er out on one short test ride, but early impressions are that the Tranny 29 is every bit as lively and fast as Ibis engineers designed it to be. It pedaled remarkably quick, responded well to short, punchy climbs and didn’t drag around tight corners. We are looking forward to running a full test on the Tranny 29er with Ibis’ wide 941 carbon rims and a high-volume tire to see if it lives up to its trail-inspired characteristics. Look for results from that test in an upcoming issue of Bike magazine.

The Tranny 29 will be available in multiple builds from frame-only for $1,700 to the $6,200 high-zoot XX1 option. It will be available this fall with Shimano’s new 1X and 2X XTR. A ‘Special Blend’ build kit keeps the pricetag right at $3,000, and comes with a mix of Shimano SLX and Deore parts, an X-Fusion Slide RL fork and Stan’s ZTR wheels. The Tranny Unchained belt drive runs $4,000 with the 2015 Fox Float 32 CTD 100-millimeter fork.

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