Bike Test: Ibis Mojo HD 160

Scot Nicol started Ibis Bikes way back when mountain biking was in its infancy in 1981. The first bikes were rolled out of a garage shop in Mendocino, California. These first versions were not like the technology-driven super bikes of today, but they were based on the motto Ibis has always built their bikes by: build the ones you would want to ride.

The Mojo HD is the big brother to Ibis’ other full-suspension bikes. Boasting 6.3 inches of travel, it offers almost an inch more than the other Mojos. When Brian Lopes made his run to five consecutive wins at the Crankworx Air Downhill race on the infamous A-Line, he raced on this bike.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The HD is designed to handle rugged terrain without giving up the coveted anti-squat and climbing prowess of a dw-link bike. Scot Nicol even mentioned that for most trail rides, this is his bike of choice. If you’re after the lightest and raciest Mojo in the bag, try the shorter-travel versions. If you’re looking for the most fun, this is your weapon of choice.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Ibis is a carbon company. Every production bike they make is carbon, with the exception of some limited-run vintage bikes. The carbon frame uses a dw-link suspension design that rides on cartridge bearings. The one-piece links are CNC-machined from aluminum for stiffness. The frame also uses a 12×142 rear axle, direct-mount front derailleur, tapered head tube, and 73-millimeter, threaded bottom bracket shell. Nice touches include a custom chainguide mount that integrates into the linkage for stability, and a very slick-looking, bolt-on downtube protector.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

Shimano worked with a select number of frame manufacturers to develop a new mounting system for their Shadow rear derailleurs, and Ibis jumped on board. The new system eliminates the extra bracket, dubbed the “B-Knuckle,” between the frame and derailleur for a stiffer and simpler system.
Fox’s Climb, Trail, Descend (CTD) technology has been causing a stir around new bikes in 2013, and this is our first long-term test on the non-remote version.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Brian Lopes has five different rear shock tunes to adapt his Ibis Mojos to the course. The versatility of this frame is apparent right out of the gate. We experimented with suspension setups from 25 to 40 percent, all with different results. Small changes in suspension setups yield big differences in feel with this frame, which gives the design incredible range. This bike can adapt to everything, from heavy-duty cross-country rides to light-duty downhill runs.

Pedaling: The anti-squat characteristics of the dw-link are readily apparent with the Ibis. With the proper setup, the suspension naturally resists bobbing without any help from the shock’s CTD damping, though the suspension gives up a little small-bump compliance to achieve that firm pedaling platform. Climbing: Despite the heavy-duty
moniker of the HD, the bike climbs surprisingly well. The dw-link provides an excellent platform for sprinting up the trail. With the help of the CTD shock set to the “climb” mode, the suspension becomes even firmer. The geometry is very natural for a bike with this much travel. It’s not going to win any hill climbs, but it puts the rider in a position that feels pretty powerful and over the pedals when you have to earn your turns and pedal up the hill.

Cornering: The balanced feel and dialed geometry on the Mojo HD make it hold a corner like a pit bull chasing a poodle. The bottom bracket provides a low center of gravity that likes to push its way through high-speed turns, but isn’t so low that you can’t pedal through a rocky one without hitting the eject button.

Descending: Don’t mistake the HD for a gravity bike. This bike loves to descend, but if you’re thinking you can ride it like Lopes at Whistler, think again. Point this bike downhill and you’re immediately rewarded with a plush ride, but at the end of the day, it’s still a lightweight, pedal-friendly bike, not a scaled-down downhill bike. The suspension is active and plush when you need it and provides a great plat- form for ripping the descents.

CTD: The dw-link and CTD technology allow the rider to choose how much he wants to utilize the feature. We experienced the best performance when we set the sag from 35 to 40 percent in the descend mode, and then used the climb and trail modes to combat pedal bob when getting on the throttle for a sprint or climb. This setup allows the rider to aggressively work the stroke of the shock on technical sections, but requires more input from the rider. If you prefer to just jump on and ride, set the sag to 25 percent and keep the shock open. The dw-link suspension will give you an adequate pealing platform, but you’ll miss out on having an ultra- plush feel on the descents.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Ibis includes a setup guide that’s clear, concise and beautiful. It looks more like a published book than a technical document. Follow it precisely for the setup, and then display it proudly on your workbench in the garage.

We experimented with a triple-chainring setup instead of the single front ring, but immediately went back. For most of the trails we test on, the MRP G2SL guide provided a lightweight and reliable system, and the 11-36 cassette provided plenty of range.

Ibis has partnered with KS to provide height-adjustable seatposts as an option with their stock builds, and this would be a perfect upgrade. The frame also comes with guides along the top tube for the cable.

The Formula brakes are an acquired taste we still haven’t gotten used to. They deliver tons of power, but they squeal in every condition. They also have an on/off feel that has very little modulation, pumps up on long descents and doesn’t adjust well. We reset the pistons several times, used the lever adjustments to their extremes and still could never settle on a feel that we liked.

BUYING ADVICE
This is one well-rounded, long-travel trailbike. There are better bikes for gravity riding and better ones for climbing and sprinting, but this one does both remarkably well.



This review originally appeared in our October 2012 issue. Subscribe to MBA by clicking here.