2014 Bible of Bike Tests Roundtable Reels: Ibis Ripley
There's a lot of hype about the Ripley. Did our testers believe it? Or not?
Last year’s launch of the Ibis Ripley was wildly anticipated, with intense speculation over whether the 29-inch-wheeled bike would measure up to its smaller-wheeled counterparts. When the red dust of our Sedona, Arizona, test trail had settled, what did our testers have to say about this bike’s performance? Watch this video to find out:
Final Take: Good enough that one of our testers bought one.
Robert Ripley, creator of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” and a favorite son of Santa Rosa, California (also home to Ibis founder Scot Nicol), was the inspiration for this bike’s name. “I would ride by his grave all the time, the bike rips, it made perfect sense,” Nicol said. But when the Ripley struggled through design and manufacturing delays it was more “or Not!” than “Believe It.”
What we ended up with, however, is an incredibly innovative design. It’s a DW-link except the links have been replaced by two eccentric pivots that rotate on stout BB30-style bearings. The simplicity and compactness of these pivots allows for shorter chainstays and a stiffer symmetrical swingarm, where the front derailleur can be directly mounted. Ibis even fit bottle cage mounts.
“The only bike I cleaned everything on,” reported one tester, which is a testament to the Ripley’s technical climbing prowess since our test loop was full of tricky climbs. The short headtube keeps the bars low and the eccentric DW-link sticks the tires to the ground like a cat on a shag rug. Ibis is adamant about using forks with a 51-millimeter offset in order to shorten the trail and quicken steering, and it works. Combined with a short wheelbase, handling is nimble and precise. After a wee bit of fiddling we all put the CTD lever in Descend and left it alone. This suited the rowdiness of our test lap, and it still pedaled brilliantly, and felt snappy and responsive. The suspension seemed to defy logic, shooting forward under power and yet still tackling the ledgy terrain with smooth finesse. It wasn’t until it was opened up and throttled downhill did the 120 millimeters of rear travel start to get overwhelmed. A couple of our testers also detected a bit of flex during those aggressive maneuvers.
Bottom line? Believe it, the Ripley is really good. –SIMON STEWART