I hadn't learned much about the contents of the bike box due to arrive at my door that day, but what I did know had me on high alert for the telltale clickity-clack of the UPS truck's diesel engine. Here's what I knew: It was a brand new model from Ibis, and it had 29-inch wheels.
The first thing I saw when I cracked the box open was the word "Ripmo" on the toptube. What the heck kind of name is--oh I get it--it's half Ripley, half Mojo. "Very clever, Chuck," I thought as I anxiously pulled the bike from its cardboard cage.
As I pull up, the Ripmo slowly begins to reveal itself. And then, thwack! A fistful of awesome slaps me across the face. My eyes light up as I see a big ol' Fox Float X2 shock staring at me, accompanied by a Fox 36 fork with what looked to be 160 millimeters of travel. If I had been momentarily unclear about what this mystery model was, it all seemed to be coming into focus: The Ripmo came to party.
I was right about the fork travel, and it turns out, that Float X2--which, by the way, is an optional $270 upgrade from a Fox DPX2--controls 145 millimeters of rear wheel travel. By the looks of it, I figured it'd be impossible that there'd be any quick-footed Ripley remnants in this beast. I was wrong, but we'll get to ride impressions later on.
First, let's talk about geometry, because while its name might be the combination of two existing bikes, the Ripmo is a very different machine altogether. The closest bike on paper isn't an Ibis at all, it's actually the Transition Sentinel. The two bikes have travel and reach numbers within a few millimeters of each other, identical chainstay lengths, similarly steep seat angles, and both are designed to a run shorter, 44-millimeter fork offset. Where the two bikes part ways is the head angle. At 66 degrees, the Ripmo's headtube is a full 2 degrees steeper than the Sentinel's. If that sounds a bit steep for an enduro bike, consider this: decreasing fork offset increases trail, which slows steering kind of like a slack head angle does--except it shortens the wheelbase instead of increasing it. The Ibis uses more trail instead of a slack head angle, while the Transition uses more trail and an ultra slack head angle. So, while they share many geometry ideas, they're fundamentally different bikes.
Compared to the bikes that make up its name, the Ripmo isn't even in the same ball park. At 471 millimeters, the large Ripmo is nearly 45 millimeters longer than the large Ripley LS, and it's 16 millimeters longer than the Mojo HD4. It's properly long--enough to angle the seat tube a couple degrees forward to a climb-happy 76 degrees, while maintaining a roomy cockpit . That's 2 and 3 degrees steeper than the Mojo and Ripley, respectively.
When it comes to suspension feel, on the other hand, the Ripmo is unmistakably Ibis. The dw-link rear end delivers the familiar neutral pedaling feel all Ibis bikes have, that somehow hovercrafts over rough stuff even under full power. Having already effectively maxed out the travel available from the unique eccentric links utilized on the Ripley, Ibis instead went with the more traditional dual link design used on its other bikes.
It operates in the same way as the linkage on the Mojo, however the lower link has been redesigned to run on bushings instead of bearings. Ibis claims that the system, which is apparently sealed so well it's airtight, is torsionally stiffer and more reliable. Ibis must be aware that people tend to be skeptical of bushings, because they're backing the thing up with free lifetime bushing replacement. Our test bike is has been running smoothly, but then again, it only has a handful of rides on it so far.
Ibis has given the Ripmo other upgrades as well, like making real estate for long-travel droppers, both outside, by lowering the toptube, and inside, with an uninterrupted seat tube. I'm 6 feet tall, ride a size large, and can easily fit a post with 200 millimeters of travel. I also appreciate the fully internally guided cable routing, which is faster, easier, and better looking than external. Just thread the housing in one end and it pops out at the other. Boom, Robert's your mother's brother. Then there's the threaded bottom bracket shell, which is always appreciated. There are some pretty great press fit solutions these days, but nothing beats the simplicity, speed, and reliability of BSA. To round things out, the Ripmo has room for a full size water bottle, even with a piggyback shock, plus tire clearance for 2.6-inch 29er tires on 35-mil-wide rims.
Ibis Ripmo First Impressions
If you compare the Ripmo and Ripley LS on paper, it might seem like the Ripmo is a lot of bike--perhaps even too much bike--for most trail days. That upgraded Float X2 shock isn't helping in that department, either. But, believe it or not, there's a Ripley residing in the bones of this bike that comes out on the climbs. With the pedal-efficient dw-link suspension and steep seat angle, not only does the Ripmo go uphill better than it looks like it should, it absolutely destroys climbs. Even with a massive downhill shock installed, there's very little unwanted suspension bob.
It rides like a little bike until you point it downhill. Even though the geometry is massively different than Ibis' other bikes, it's still balanced and familiar feeling. There was really no learning curve required for me to go fast and feel at home on the Ripmo. I felt comfortable enough to attack rowdy descents I've never ridden before, as if they were my backyard trails.
Even though the Ripmo has a longer wheelbase than most downhill bikes used to, it somehow feels light-footed enough to negotiate tight switchbacks and rapid direction changes without complaining. If Ibis decided to go much slacker with the headtube angle, I don't think the bike would have nearly the same level of agility. And if it weren't for the shorter offset fork, that steepish head angle might make the bike twitchy and scattered at speed, yet it feels remarkably planted. I definitely wouldn't go so far as to say the Ripmo is a more capable climber than the Ripley (even though it has more traction), but it's no doubt faster than the Mojo on the way down. For me, at least.
The Ripmo has the capability of an enduro race bike, with the ride-ability of an everyday trail whip. While not everyone's trails require such heavy hitter, the bike has a light enough touch to feel at home pretty much anywhere
Want one? It’s available right now, in five builds starting at $4,100, with frame only options for $3,000. Our test bike came in at $8,170 (X01 kit with Float X2 shock and Logo Carbon wheel upgrades).