New Ibis Ripmo

The new Ibis Ripmo V2 in the forrest
The new Ibis Ripmo V2

I’ve been an Ibis rider for years. I have a Ripley V1 that I ride multiple times a week on the trails in Northern Utah. I’ve ridden it all over Keystone, CO and Park City, UT. It handled Slickrock admirably. I have more miles on it than my friends have on their various motorized devices. It has been my best friend in blazing heat, rain, sudden snow and beautiful summer mornings. It has a few shortcomings – ones that the V2 addressed. Doesn’t matter, I love that bike.

Because the Ripley has been such a great bike last August I placed an order for a Ripmo V2. I had a chance to demo a Ripmo V1 but because of the lack of demo opportunities I never had a chance to demo a V2. In spite of that, last August I put down $5k to get on a preorder list. I understood that Covid and supply chain issues meant that we had to forgo some of the niceties of the past. The Ripmo is an Ibis and I had faith in the brand. Before the end of the 2020 I paid the remaining balance on the bike and slept easy knowing that whenever my bike came it would be paid for and it would be awesome. It was supposed to show up in late April to early May. That would be perfect timing as the trails would be dry and riding season would just be starting. In the meantime I watched as Ripmo’s showed up online. I thought I could buy one of those, but that would screw my local shop and I like those guys. I want them to stay in business. I didn’t need the bike until late spring anyway so I pushed the thought of buying from larger retailers from my mind, rode my snow bike and waited.

April came and no bike. May came. No bike. That’s OK, the world is in turmoil and I could be patient. Then there was a price hike and a letter explaining the hike. “Wow”, I thought, “I’m glad I bought my bike before the prices went up.”

Through June I would call the shop each week, chat about the local trails and ask if there was any news about my bike. “That’s just how Ibis is”, I was told over and over, “Ibis tells us a date but they never deliver on that date, it’s usually a few months late. Even before the Pandemic it was that way.”

I like my Ripley so I keep waiting.

It’s July. I’ve been putting miles on my trusty Ripley. It’s on it’s 3rd XTR drivetrain. Even with replacing the chain and keeping it clean and lubed the XTR rear cassettes don’t handle the stress of climbing week after week – my usual ride is about 3,000 feet of climb and 17 miles. Shocks have been rebuilt, wheels have brand new spokes. The parts wear out but the bike keeps going. We are friends and I plan on passing the Ripley to my son who is now 6’1″

It’s July 2nd. I blow off work to go ride with my business partner. We climb through moondust and chunk for some epic views in Logan canyon. The Ripley is a workhorse. On the really steep rocky stuff I’m reminded that the 140mm Pike is nice on the downhill and in the drops but results in a geometry that makes the front wheel harder to keep on the ground. The forward/backward balance has to be just right to keep traction and prevent the front wheel from bouncing around.

On the way down we talk bikes and I remember I still have one on order. It’s been 9 months. I wonder to myself if I should call the shop.

I get home, catch up on emails and try to do a little bit of work. The shop calls. I miss the call. There’s a message. The Ripmo has finally come and is ready! I’m ecstatic. Screw work, I drive to the shop taking the Ripley with me because it makes strange noises and occasionally needs an exorcism.

It’s new bike day. I haul the Ripley with me to the shop and chat with the guys while I ask them to figure out all the weird sounds from the morning ride. While they fiddle with my rear derailleur I watch the other customers check out the new Ripmo sitting on the floor and gasp at the $11,699 price tag. I walk over, lean on, touch it. No one has dared do this. It’s like a piece of fine art in a gallery. Look but don’t touch lest you break it and have to buy it.

I have no fear because I know this is my bike. The one I waited 9 months to get. The one I researched and read every article and watched every Youtube video about. I would never get to demo this bike before laying down the cash and waiting. I didn’t care. Ibis was my brand and I trusted that this would be the pinnacle of mountain bike engineering. I would love it as I have loved my Ripley and there would be rainbows and unicorns and we would ride off into the sunset together as we climbed new mountains and shred new dirt.

The shop employee grabs the bike and walks me over to the cash register. I let him know that I paid for it last year and we should be good. He let’s me know that actually we are not good. That price tag hanging from the bike, it’s not there for decoration or to impress other customers. I then learned that Ibis has raised their price – not just on new bikes but also on anyone that is unlucky (stupid?) enough to be patient and wait for their bike to show up. Yup, even though it was Ibis that delivered my bike late – after the May 1st price hike – I get to absorb the price. For my patience, for my dedication to my local shop, for my loyalty to the brand I am rewarded with a long wait time and an additional $700 bill. I’ve already put down the non-refundable deposit. What can I do? I put down another $700 and left feeling like I just had a financial enima.

I have friends that travel. I’ve heard stories of being stopped at borders or being pulled over in countries where law enforcement is more interested in what you can pay to proceed on your way than they are in upholding the law.

I drive away with my Ripley and new Ripmo riding in the back of the truck. I think to myself “so this is what extortion feels like.” The unicorns are dead. Dark clouds replace the rainbows. I get home and instead of thrill and excitement I’m just pissed.

I leave the bike in the truck. No ride today. If I could punch a bike in the face I would but that’s a $12,000 face. I keep my temper under control and we go do fun family stuff and I try to forget about the screwing I just got. We stay up really late and I think to myself, “I’m not going to bother getting up to ride”. That’s really sad considering the brand new steed sitting there waiting. So much for new bike day.

Like an alarm clock I wake up at my designated ride time. My body is ready to go. My brain says go back to bed. Body says, “no, we ride”.

I get an extreme heat weather alert on my phone. I have to go fast before the sun scorches the earth and makes the 3,000 feet of climb I’m about to undertake a truly grueling and dehydrating experience.

There sits my new mount. I debate just taking the Ripley. I trust that bike. It has never failed me, but I had the bike shop switch the pedals to the Ripmo. It’s getting hotter. I don’t want to switch them back. With a bit of sadness I remove the Garmin mount and water bottle cage from the Ripley and attach them to the Ripmo. I check the tires and adjust the seat post and saddle. It’s dialed in and ready.

I seek comfort and affirmation in the ride. I’ve spent plenty of cash over the years to keep my bikes running. I’ve never regretted parting with that cash. From the first to last pedal stroke the ride fills me with elation. I am alive and connected to the earth during the ride. What’s an extra $700 for the perfect ride?

I pedal, I climb. I’m a bit baffled.

Back in high school physics there is a demonstration of angular momentum that is done using a bike wheel. You sit on a chair with a base that can rotate. The teacher hands you a bike tire and spins it. You rotate the tire left and right. As you do, the chair will move left and right.

As I turn the front wheel the gyroscopic action takes me by surprise as the bike pulls hard to the right. I am back in my high school physics class, the sideways energy attempts to pull me into the rocks. I resist. I climb. I fight to keep the bike in a straight line. Can a bike be aligned? When my truck behaves this way I take it to the shop and they can make it drive straight again. The climb requires mental focus and physical strength to wrestle the bike. My body adjusts to the odd handling but I remain vigilant, constantly aware of the minor adjustments required to keep the bike on the trail.

I think to myself, “it’s a new bike you need to adjust”. I approach the first technical climb. Fall to the right and hit some rocks. Fall to the left and you drop 10 feet to the creek. When I started riding I had a 26″ Santa Cruz Blur XC. It was no match for the climb and required every ounce of strength combined with precise balance to clear the rocks and stay upright. Over the years the Ripley has carried me up this section without a lot of trouble but still required precise timing and balance. The Ripmo barely asked anything of me in this section. Like a monster truck it conquered the rocks and flowed straight up the hillside. I needed to only provide the horsepower. It did all the rest. On this technical climb the Ripmo crushed anything I have ever owned or demoed on this bit of trail.

Utah is really dry right now. Drought has turned the trails into moon dust and chunk. The Maxxis Assegai tires are your best friend in these conditions. They cling to everything and are a perfect mate to the Ripmo or really to any trail bike. My Ripley has used them in the past. This year I tried a DHF with an Aggressor on the rear. The DHF is a great tire. I wouldn’t bother with the Aggressor again. I’ll probably go with an Assegai front and rear on the Ripley in the future.

The Assegai tires and the geometry of the Ripmo make it an exceptional climber especially in the technical spots. I heard it was good. It is good. Shockingly good. I liked that.

As I exit that bit of climb my joy turns back to frustration. Riding a Ripmo down the trail reminds me of paddle boarding. On a board you have to stay vigilant and on balance to ensure the board moves towards the desired destination. Movement requires a recalculation to stay the course. Riding a Ripmo requires similar mental exertion as you are forced to constantly re-calibrate your path.

My experience through most of the middle section is the same. Technical climbs are easy. On longer non-technical sections with packed dirt the extra weight from the longer travel becomes apparent. My speed drops .2-.5 mph from my typical ride on the Ripley.

The reward for an hour of climbing is a figure 8 loop that involves a climb up through a few minor rocky sections with a total of eight switchbacks. Through each switchback I notice that the front wheel is attempting to pull me toward the ground. I have to aggressively pull the bike out of the corner and force it straight again. It is an odd sensation and distracts from piloting the bike over any rock or moondust in the corners. I don’t like it. 

The next test comes as I make my first descent into the second half of the figure 8. It begins with four drops into a dry creek bed each one followed with a quick launch up the other side. As I drop and then crest the first one instead of the bike rising up with me it sticks heavy to the ground. The Ripmo is only 3 pounds heavier than my Ripley. That’s not enough weight to make a difference. While the Ripley is happy to follow my body into the air, the front end of the Ripmo feels like it is abandoning me in my second of need. It pulls me down. I realize if I want to get any air I’m going to have to change my technique. The Ripmo is going to require more speed and more power to launch off anything. The last drop has always been the hardest on my Ripley. I have to use a bit of creative braking and shifting of body weight in the bottom of the drop to prevent the rear shock from bottoming out. Every time I hit it it’s like the poor thing whimpers “baby don’t hurt me no more”. The Ripmo doesn’t care. It crashes over the rocks, laughs demonically at the bottom and flies back up. For fun I slam into more rocks. Ripmo don’t give a shit. It says, “I’m hungry for more.” I like that. 

The next part is the “more.” There are a couple of drops through small rock gardens that end in makeshift rock table top. It is here on a demo Ripmo V1 that I first felt the thrill of launching into the air. It was precise yet surprising. That Ripmo led me to the exact spot where we would sail with euphoria and then land with perfect precision and timing. That moment when I decided I would someday own a Ripmo. 

I was stoked to launch my own Ripmo from the same feature. Instead, it was like rolling a boulder off a cliff. I came flying in and prepared to lift. It was like the Ripmo said, “nope not doing it” and like an old horse not wanting to take it’s rider out into the unknown it turned and sank straight down the other side. Bummer.

In the next section there is a roller that provides a small moment of anti-gravity joy. I focus on getting the front end off the ground. I’m trying so hard to get the front end that I forget about the rear end and end up doing more of a manual. I’m no candidate for Red Bull rampage. All this coordination is hard for an old guy. When the front end hits the ground I felt very little impact in my hands and shoulders. I’m finally getting one benefit of this purchase. I had been running through all the travel on my Ripley. The extra travel on the Ripmo is much appreciated even though I’m still working out how to get it into the air.

I typically run this loop 4 times. I’ve practiced enough that on the Ripley it’s a ballet dance with the woods. I still have off days but I can usually get in the zone and hit most of the features just right. I want to give the Ripmo the same number of chances.

I start my second loop. The climb is as before. I’m getting used to the odd gyroscopic sensation even though I still hate it. As I make my second descent I become more aware of the Ripmo’s ability to take a beating. I’m still pissed about getting screwed out of another $700. It’s no punch in the face but I aim the bike at every rock and narl I find. The Ripmo takes it just fine. 

Through the corners I find myself hitting the brakes and constantly re-aiming the bike in the right direction. With the Ripley we have an agreement. My brain thinks go right there at such and such a time and the bike does it. The descent is a couple of minutes of precise man and machine choreography. With the Ripmo its less of a dance and more of an argument – like an old married couple:

Me: “Ripmo go that way.”

Ripmo: “OK.”

Me: “Now quick right then lean just a bit.”

Ripmo: “You just said go over there, I’m going that way.”

Me, hitting brakes: “No, this way.”

Ripmo: “You moron, I’m going this way.”

Me: “We’re too low in the corner…”

Ripmo: “What?! I can’t hear you. Do we need to stop for directions?”

I hit the table top again. The front end leaves the ground but I still just roll off the top. I’m recalibrating my brain for the increased speed a successful launch is going to require.

There are a couple of slower riders on the trail. I slow, they let me pass, but I miss a few of the features. I do manage to launch the bike off a roller. More speed, harder upward pull, got it.

The third time’s a charm. I push harder into the corners, faster into the drops and as I approach the table top I let go and finally get the bike into the air. It doesn’t fly as long as I’d like but the landing is pretty smooth. Longer travel has its benefits.

Fourth time around I pound the bike into the corners. I enter the jumps with reckless abandon and lift hard on the front end. I’m still braking and recentering the bike. It’s not an elegant experience, more like a tank from a Fast and Furious movie.

At this point I’ve run 4 loops. The Utah sun heats my skin and my body is attempting to bathe in it’s own sweat. I turn home. There are a few more interesting features. I try to fly off another jump but just end up rolling off the end. Again, this machine needs more speed to take flight. There are a couple of small corners where every rider attempts to get as high on the hill as possible. One ends in a jump. It’s fun. I hit it. Clunk. Instead of sailing, the Ripmo falls off the end. Not cool.  

I ride to my house and drop the bike back in the truck like I could haul it back to the shop and return it. (I can’t).

My wife asks how it was. “I won’t say it totally sucked.” There are some really good parts about this bike. It does pay off in the technical climbs, in rock gardens and in the landings. However, I feel like the trade off is an inelegant experience when you are doing anything else. I can appreciate the beating the bike can take but not at the expense of how it handles.

The Ripmo is a blunt instrument. It can take a pounding. It can grind uphill. However, it lacks finesse and refinement. If trail riding is like a monster truck rally for you then this might be your bike. If however, you are like me and the ride is a dance with nature, a chance to find the perfect groove and experience unequaled flow then run away. 

I wish I could have.

You might ask “why didn’t you buy a Ripley V4? It sounds like the Ripmo isn’t your bike.” That is a great question. Before the pandemic I had a chance to demo a V4. I felt like it was different from my V1, but not better. Just different. That was the same time I demoed a Ripmo V1. I felt like it was a totally different experience and I felt like it warranted adding to my quiver.

I feel like in the name of “progress” or rather in the name of “we need to sell more bikes so change something”, the front end of the V2 has been raked out far. The cost is reduced handling and precision and some weird physics.

I wanted to like this bike. How much do you ask? I paid for a fully specced XX1, waited 9 months then paid the extortion fee. I wanted to like it a lot. 

I don’t. 

It’s an OK bike. It’s a good bike, but it’s not an extraordinary bike. For the money and with the name “Ibis” I think we deserve extraordinary. 

You might ask who are you to write this article? I’m not a pro-racer. I’m not a hard core rider with a YouTube channel filled with crazy stunts so what right do I have to judge this kind of bike?

I’m a guy who paid the full price for one of these bikes and waited forever to get one. I didn’t get a loaner from a shop. I wasn’t sponsored. It’s not a demo bike. I am middle aged. I ride every day. I love the sport and I maintain the health required to be able to push just enough to understand the capabilities of these tools. I have the disposable income to be able to afford this kind of hobby. I’m the guy who bought his wife a Mojo because she showed an interest in the sport. I’m the guy who was going to buy my kids Ibis when they are ready to start riding. Who am I? I’m the demographic that bike companies target for this kind of super bike. I suppose they might give/loan these things to a few sponsored, amazing athletes, but at the end of the day companies like Ibis depend on guys like me to open their wallets. 

My family of Ibis - Ripley, Ripmo, Mojo
Ripley + Mojo wait nine months and then you get a Ripmo

As for me this is my last Ibis*.


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