Review – 2018 Ibis Ripley LS
Believe it or not, the Ripley went long and slack
Not afraid: We would categorize this as a trailbike and not an enduro or gravity machine. That said, the capable suspension and geometry are not afraid to get a little rowdy when the trail gets rough.
The original Ripley went into production four years ago and quickly proved to us that Ibis is talented at building trailbikes. Yeah, we’re making a “talented Mr. Ripley” pun, but that bike was worthy of the name. The latest version of the Ripley comes to the table with more tire clearance and a slightly more aggressive attitude. This is the third generation of the Ripley and, on paper, seems to be the most capable and versatile one we’ve seen yet. We had to bring one of these 29ers to the SoCal landscape to see if we should truly believe it—or not.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Ripley is a 29er that has always been comfortable on a wide range of trails. It has enough travel and is light enough to handle anything from trail riding to gnarly enduro trails. It could even be pressed into some cross-country racing if need be. The newest Ripley is still notably lightweight, but also comes to the table with more aggressive geometry and suspension setup than ever before, which extends the bike’s versatility.
Quick in the corners: The new front end on the Ripley improves on what was already stellar, the cornering abilities of the previous designs.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
Ibis builds the Gen 3 Ripley with a monocoque carbon frame and swingarm. It’s held together with a dw-link suspension design with 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel and is designed to work with a 130- or 140-millimeter fork. It also comes with an internal tapered head tube, internal cable routing throughout, post-mount brake tabs, a Boost 148-millimeter rear axle and a mount for a front derailleur (should you want to use one).
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Ibis can build your LS with any number of build kits to hit several different price points. Our bike came with a fairly affordable SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain that was paired with Fox suspension and Shimano brakes front to back. All of these components proved themselves on this bike and many others MBA has tested in the past. Ibis brings all of this to you—with a full-carbon frame, mind you—at a very approachable price of $4900.
To sweeten the pot, Ibis includes its own 938 Very Wide aluminum asymmetric wheels and big 2.6-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires. That combo provides a huge contact patch for the 29er wheels to hook up with the trail.
Dw-link: dialed: The Ripley uses the same suspension design as the previous two models, with improvements across the board.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: Thanks to the simple air-sprung Fox Performance suspension and the dialed dw-link suspension, setting up the Ripley LS is easy. We set the shock to roughly 30 percent sag and the fork to roughly 20 percent. We pumped the big air-volume tires to slightly less than we would typically run, because the tires do some of the suspension work as well. Then, we hit the trails.
Moving out: The Ripley LS fits true to size, although it’s a bit on the large side. The bike comes with a long top tube that’s designed to work with a short stem. The standover is workable for most riders, although it’s not the lowest we’ve seen, due to the oversized, curved shape. The cable system is dialed, with internal routing for the shifting and seatpost, and the brake is external for easy maintenance. The rear end appears wide, but few of our test riders had issues with their heels contacting the swingarm.
Pedaling: Thanks to the dw-link’s anti-squat characteristics, the Ripley stays firm and at the top of the travel when pedaling. As a result, the bike feels quick, nimble and efficient. While the big-volume tires add a bit of weight, the suspension design makes up for any sluggish feel caused by the extra heft.
Climbing: The Ripley is not afraid to climb first to earn the descents. It’s relatively light and feels efficient when pointed uphill. We did not even need to use the pedaling platform on the shock for anything other than long fire-road climbs or pavement sections. Also, those meaty tires love to claw their way up steep and loose terrain.
Boost it: The 12×148-millimeter rear axle spacing and post-mount disc brakes keep the rear wheel in check.
Cornering: The “LS” portion of the name stands for “long and slack.” Compared to the second-generation Ripley, this bike certainly lives up to its name. The bike has a geometry that’s confidence-inspiring in high-speed turns thanks to the kicked-out front end. The chainstays are also remarkably short, which makes the bike handle switchbacks reasonably well. While the wheelbase is relatively long, it’s nowhere near as long as some of the other long-travel 29ers we’ve tested. It obviously took some careful engineering to achieve the handling this bike delivers.
Descending: With big wheels, dialed suspension, and a long and slack geometry, the Ripley works well on the descents. It’s what we would call an aggressive trailbike—one that splits the difference between being a lightweight XC bike and a full-tilt enduro bike. It’s capable of handling downhill trails, but that’s not what it’s best suited for. This bike will shred the backside of any mountain after it has been pedaled to the top. The Ripley sports a relatively steep head angle that keeps the handling quick and responsive. This is no “plow bike”; instead, this is a precise tool to pick apart descents with confidence, and it can change direction in a heartbeat to hit the fun line.
Earn the turns: This bike is exceptional at climbing and is not afraid to be pointed uphill to earn the descent.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Ibis makes a very cool top tube bag that’s designed to work with this frame. It’s triangular and is held in place with spring tension underneath the top tube in the front triangle. If you want storage on the frame without having to use a seat pack, this is your solution. It also won’t affect either of the two water-bottle mounts. Ibis has storage on the bike nailed.
Ibis uses a variety of caps for its internal routing system to handle everything from traditional shifter cables to hydraulic dropper-post lines and electronic shifting wires. Be sure you’re using the correct ones to hold the routing in place. When built properly, this bike is quiet and smooth, so you won’t have to turn the volume up on your headphones to drown out the racket.
Thoughtful design: Everything from the linkage to the cable routing to the aesthetics of this bike are dialed. It’s as pretty to look at as it is quick on the trail.
When Ibis launched the original Ripley, we said, “Riders looking for a fast and racy-feeling rig that can also handle long-haul, backcountry adventures will be thrilled with the Ibis Ripley. The bike blends near-best-in-class climbing characteristics with plenty of descending confidence for aggressively shredding the way back down.” That is truer than ever with this third-generation Ripley. With more tire clearance for a bigger footprint and more modern geometry with a long and slack front end, this is the best Ripley yet. Believe it or not, Ibis improved on this already awesome bike.