Ibis Cycles’ Long Awaited Ripley 29 Bows: Our Take- by Guitar Ted

The news has spread far and wide by now that Ibis Cycles has finally unveiled the Ripley 29- believe it or not! ;) We won’t bore you with a fine technical detail report, it’s all on Ibis’ site if you want to see that. What is going to be covered is our take on this bike. A bit of an editorial, based upon our years of riding and writing about 29″ers. So let’s dive right in…..

Ibis Ripley frame: Image courtesy of Ibis

Appearance: The Ibis Ripley was a highly anticipated bike, even back in 2011 when a first glimpse of it was shown at Eurobike. In fact we had most of the fine details which are still incorporated in the production model revealed to our own c_g back then. (See here). As the prototype is so close to what we see now, we are not too surprised. In fact, we expected no less than this from Ibis. It’s a good looking, organic, curvy bike which fits right in with Ibis’ look. So, the real question here is, “Why did it take so long?

Ibis Ripley 29

That’s a great question, and if you go to the Ibis site, you can get the (nearly) complete story. Here’s the condensed version: Ibis did a 100mm travel XC-ish rig, but then trends changed, innovations happened, and factories were wrangled with. Each step of the way, Ibis had set backs and regrouped to refine and improve the project. This took a lot of time, and explains why Ibis has been at this for a full six years before being able to bring the Ripley to the trail for you to ride.

Exploded view of the pivots/linkage: Image courtesy of Ibis

Tech Impressions: There is a lot to like here about the way Ibis did this project. There were test mules being ridden, (and spied out by our own Grannygear from time to time), which revealed flaws which needed refining. Ibis also uses the much praised “DW Link” and incorporated the latest eccentric linkage version in this model with a switch to cartridge bearings over the previous angular contact bearings. Ibis claims a stiffer, easier to maintain and assemble package which given the premium trappings of this model sounds like a good thing. Ibis claims it is also more resistant to contamination, has no proprietary parts, and is easily serviced. They will even have a tool and replacement parts avialble to those Ripley owners who may need support with parts in the future, although it sounds like the choice to use standard issue bearings may negate the need for that if bearing service is all that is needed.

Ibis has done a thorough job with regard to testing and making the frame easy to get along with, which we find impressive as long as the performance follows.

Ibis also claims some technical features of the Ripley are unique, although to be fair, others have arrived at similar solutions independently of Ibis. (Rocky Mountain and Yeti come immediately to mind here.) It is interesting to note that Ibis had so thoroughly thought out and tested their ideas before implementation in this model though. The swing arm mounted front derailleur, the shorter head tube as a result of shorter tapers on steer tubes from fork manufacturers, and the whole eccentric linkage idea are certainly some of the brighter highlights here. Obviously, the BB-92, 142mm X 12mm rear through axle, and dropper post routing are all details we would come to expect from a bicycle such as this.

Handling: It is going to be purely a subjective exercise to comment on handling until reviews and examples of the Ibis Ripley make the rounds, but we can venture a few thoughts on interesting details concerning the handling package Ibis pursued with the Ripley project.

Ibis, like many companies, has sought to replicate 26″er feel and characteristics in a 29 inch wheeled package. This is certainly a valid idea, but it is not necessarily the only way to get the job done. That said, the mere fact that Ibis went in this direction has a direct result in what you see here in the completed Ripley 29. A bike Ibis claims has testers saying it is “nimble, quick, and stiff” feeling. We’ll leave that as is for now…..

What caught my eyes was that as testing went on, Ibis was not happy with the trail figures the front end geometry was resulting in due to the lack of fork offset available in forks that they were working with early on. However; when the G2 offset forks became a reality for other manufacturers and brands outside of Trek, Ibis found that it was just what they were looking for. The story told on Ibis’ site about how their testers independently and unanimously chose the G2/51mm offset as being best is almost a carbon copy story that I heard from Trek/Fisher test riders back in 2007. In fact, back then I was told that G2 would be why 26″er riders would find Fisher 29″ers so easy to get on with. Seems Ibis found the same thing as well.

Image courtesy of Ibis Cycles

Geometry: Which leads us to the geometry of the Ripley, which on paper looks pretty good with a caveat on the tall-ish bottom bracket. Especially if one chooses the 140mm fork option. That said, this looks to be a bike that should do as Ibis claims and be a great all-arounder. With so many similarities to Santa Cruz’s wildly popular Tall Boy, it will be interesting to see how this bike stacks up handling-wise with that carbon fiber beauty.

So, there you have our thoughts on this premium level, carbon fiber rig with some pretty high expectations to live up to. The Ripley is finally coming to a trail near you. Will it live up to the expectations and assuage the waiting for years on this big wheeler? That’s the next big question needing an answer concerning this rig. Stay tuned…..

Note: The images used in this report are courtesy of Ibis Cycles.