For 2023, the trusty Ibis Ripmo platform carries into its 5th year of production as the “Ripmo V2S.” The original Ripmo debuted in late March 2018, and was one of the first widely accepted, long travel, 29″ trail/enduro bikes. I remember this bike well, and back when I was still working at Ibis (2008-2015), I was even requesting the crew to develop such a bike. Yes, 29″ all-around enduro sleds existed way back then, but there were only a few on the market, and they were not nearly seen as a viable option for the majority of the riding public. My how times have changed! I will say, props to Specialized for making the Enduro 29 back in around 2014, while not the first, that bike was very significant in paving the way for the rest of the industry.
HUGE thanks to Jenson USA for their support- anything you purchase from the following links will directly help support me, too- thanks in advance! Ibis Ripmo: https://bit.ly/IbisRipmoatJensonUSAjkw
I had been riding my Ripmo V2 since January of 2020– the “before” times, if you know what I mean. At first, I had a Trust Shout fork on the front. I actually liked the feel of the bike with that massive front end- it was nicely slacker and taller. And that brings up a great point- just how will folks be using this bike? More on that later.
For as long as I can remember, Ibis has sponsored high level racers, from Anne Caro Chausson to Brian Lopes to the Gehrig twins, though the brand has never made their entire identity solely about racing. This has been a cool balance of the yin and the yang- recreational riders seemed to take more of a priority for product development over ultimate race needs. In a move that surprised many of us, Ibis recently declared that they are now a “racing focused brand,” as the Ripmo platform is close to what their sponsored EWS race team is currently racing. Running a race team is a huge endeavor, and the Ibis team is quite successful. But this “racing focused” claim confuses many of us, and I’m a little concerned that it scares away potential customers from this very bike. At the end of the day, what racers are looking for in a bike isn’t drastically different from what a regular ‘ol consumer might need, but there are indeed many smaller differences that favor one or the other.
For an EWS racer, weight, pedaling efficiency, traction, and ability to smash through ultimate gnar and super steep trails would all be high on the requirement list. For the rest of us, ease of use, fun and playful feel, durability, and ride convenience might be higher requirements. With such a small percentage of customers ever intending to race, and Ibis’ past history of building non-race oriented bikes first and foremost, this is indeed a bit of an identity shift.
Luckily, the Ripmo does not lean too heavily into the “FRO” (For Race Only) direction by any means. I’d actually love to see Ibis build (and make available to the public!) an Enduro World Series (EWS) specific race bike. For that bike, I’d hypothesize a bike based on the Ripmo, but with the ability to adjust chainstay lengths, headtube angles, and of course, be more of a ~170/170mm travel configuration with a more aggressive ramp at the end of the suspension curve. The EWS has gotten significantly gnarlier since I participated in a handful of events (retired in 2016), and now folks are racing mini-downhill bikes after pedaling up grueling, steep access road climbs. These bikes need to shred down, and simply be efficient up- and the ability to ride less exciting, lower angle “blue” or “black” (ie not steep and gnarly) trails can suffer once things are indeed made more gnar friendly.
The 160/147mm suspension layout works great as an all-arounder for folks in many different environments. For folks like me, who live in a mountainous region, that amount of travel has become the de-facto norm for modern trail riding. For folks who might have slightly less elevation, but who want to carry a bit more speed and confidence on the downs, all without sacrificing too much on the flats and the ups, the Ripmo platform has a been a great option. It’s a bit much for truly mellow terrain, but if you’re looking for an edge to modestly push your own limits, the Ripmo responds well. I think that’s been the secret of the Ripmo platform for all these years- you’ll see folks across the world riding this bike in a ton of very different ways. And finally, if you do have mellower trails, but you’re an aggressive, advanced rider- someone who leaves the ground often- the Ripmo allows you to do just that and get the most of out of your efforts.
I really like a lot of things about modern day enduro and trail bikes, but people always ask first what do I not like… Well, my list is truly a few nuances, mere nitpicks, that would be the metaphorical “termite in the ice cream.” For one, more advanced riders can find the Ripmo V2 and V2S a bit too easy to bottom out. Ripmo V1 was WAY too easy to bottom out, though this was improved for subsequent versions with a better leverage ratio. But still, if you’re an aggressive rider, plan on adding a low cost volume reducer kit to your rear shock. It makes a big difference, is easy, and affordable.
Next up on nit picks, the bike’s bottom bracket height is quite low-to be fair, this is a trait shared among many modern bikes, and it matters more to folks who ride rougher terrain. The issue is made worse by the linear nature of the stock suspension. The result is catching pedals crank arms, and chainrings/bash guards in rough terrain. When manufacturers started to make bikes longer (my Ripmo is a 1219mm wheelbase), they took little time to consider that the break-over angle of the bike got much worse, and continued with the same ~340mm bottom bracket heights we had with bikes that used sub 1100mm wheelbases. This is wild- the original Mojo HD3, for example, has a 3mm HIGHER BB than the Ripmo V2s, despite a 30mm shorter wheelbase. Heck, the old 2008 Mojo Carbon had an 1085mm wheelbase with a 335mm BB height- merely 6mm of height is added to the Ripmo’s BB, despite 134mm of length.
I spend a great deal of time in Arizona during the winters, and found myself to grow quite fond of the 2.6 sized WTB tough casing tires. I used to work at WTB, though I left my position at the company at the end of 2017. Those larger 2.6 tires raise the BB ever so slightly. I’ve also found that a 170mm fork helps a bit too- along with plenty of volume reduction in the suspension. This all is more significant in a flatter, rockier place like Arizona, in particular, Sedona- but I’m all about chasing down those rougher, more backcountry trails than I am finding the flowiest machine built jump trail. Regardless, spilling this much digital ink makes this sound like far more of a problem than it really is. I just wish bike brands in general would try testing out some reasonably higher BB heights. The days of riding while seated are over- we’re standing now, and leaning our bikes in turns- and we can afford to gain 10mm of clearance. And I know you’ll all say “just get shorter cranks,” and FYI, I’m on 165s on all my Ripmos. But that won’t help my 32t chainring gain clearance!
Now that I’ve complained for a few paragraphs, I’ll make mention that the bike does corner quite well. Even with my “ruining” (pardon the sarcasm!) of the geo with the 10mm longer fork, and often larger tires, the bike leans into corners quite nicely. There is a decent amount of traction available, and the near 64° head tube angle feels terrific when leaned over. Some other designs have a touch more traction, but the Ripmo has PLENTY of grip to have a grand ‘ol time- and more traction would come at a detriment of the bike’s other fun trait- it’s willingness to float off the ground.
Sure, the Ripmo works GREAT for me and my overly active riding style. But perhaps one of the coolest things about this bike is that the platform is indeed so neutral. Folks with a more traditional style are still able to have a blast on the bike. DW link works great on square edged hits, which means it still works well for folks with a more “wheels on the ground” riding style. It’s hard for bikes to hit both of these nails, but I do believe that right there is the magic that Ibis found. It’s ironic, too, as that magic makes the bike a bit less competitive for Ibis’ new focus.
Speaking of “wheels on the ground,” if you’re that type of rider, you might want to look at swapping over to coil suspension. You’ll find ever so slightly more grip, and you’ll be able to get deeper into the travel more often. I do have a Cascade Components Ripmo link on hand, and spent the last year riding it on my Ripmo V2. The change was subtle, not enough for it to be a game changer for me. The bike feels slightly plusher at the beginning of the stroke, and it ramps up a little more at the end, but not as much as I was hoping. To me, the feel of an X2 shock versus a Float X/DPX2 is MUCH more noticeable than the feel of the link itself. The Cascade link adds 250 grams to the weight of the bike, and costs a pretty penny. If you want, give it a go, it won’t hurt anything, but if it were my dollars, I’d ride my bike more and tune less.
The Ripmo’s balance of modern geo with capable suspension, all reigned in somewhat reasonably, keep it a very viable bike for so many people in so many places. It’s my go-to bike, and the benchmark to which I compare everything else on the market. Is it perfect? Maybe for someone, somewhere- for me, it’s quite close, but there are always small tweaks that I’d like to try! Just like with that green shade of grass, we’ve probably just got to get over one more fence to truly find “perfect.” I’m absolutely tickled to have my Ripmo so dialed in, and I’m pumped that a brand I’ve known so well for so many years is behind this bike. I do hope to finally get a production version of the Ripmo AF in for a comparison, but it’s also wonderful to see that the AF is indeed so similar to the carbon V2S. I prefer the carbon versions for a few reasons, but if you can’t swing the carbon price, the AF is also a great bike. But that, my friends, will be a different post.