Ride report! 1 year on the Ibis Mojo HD5…

Guys, this video and bike check is super fun, and I do want to let you know that it was made possible thanks to Jenson USA.  I have a link to the Ibis HD5 here: http://bit.ly/IbisHD5JKW  and anything you purchase from Jenson will directly help support my channel!  In addition to Jenson, I have a unique arrangement with Ibis in 2020 where I’m producing 3 sponsored videos about Ibis bikes and am riding Ibis in half of all my videos.  Additionally, PNW Components, Industry 9, Shimano, Kali Protectives, and Kitsbow have all been supporting me.  

I hope you’re all doing well!  Here in Washington, dry and dusty summer is about to giveway to tacky and tasty fall, one of the BEST seasons for riding.  This summer has been a challenge for me, as I had a huge wreck to kick the season off.  Luckily, the mountain bike community took care of me, and both Apex Chiropractic and Back in Action helped get me back on the bike.  Beyond that, it’s been an awesome time, full of campouts and family mac rides.  How has your summer been going?  Have you been riding a ton?  Are you re-discovering mountain biking after some time away?  Or are you just getting into the sport for the first time?  Let me know in the comments below!

One year of shredding on this bike and it’s got a special place in my quiver!

So part of why I mention my big crash is because last summer I had yet ANOTHER big crash, breaking my pelvis clean in half.  The bike we’re discussing today has been conspicuously absent from a lot of my content, and in case you’re wondering, it’s these crashes that have caused that.  

Back in September 2019 I was lucky enough to receive this HD5, and since then, I’ve ridden this bike in Washington State, British Columbia, and in Montana.  The HD5 has 153mm of travel, is intended for use with a 170mm fork, weighs only 5.6lbs (without shock), and rolls on good ol fashioned roller skate wheels.  Yep, 27.5 wheels!

Before we get into this video, it needs to be mentioned that 27.5 wheels have, kinda like fidget spinners, sorta just a little bit fallen out of favour.  Looking at Jenson’s site, for instance, there are currently about 3x more 29ers available than 27.5 bikes.  The reasoning for this?  Well, I believe it’s two fold.  One, the 29ers do make the challenging, technical bit of trail easier and more predictable, therefore appealing to a much wider range of riders.  Two, we all know the expression bigger is better.  Well, if you’re shopping for a new bike, and one wheelsize is small while the other is bigger, it’s going to be an easier sale of the bigger item to most North American buyers.  (BIGGER IS BETTER memes)  I could totally be wrong, so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!

How big are those wheels? Big enough!

If 29ers are all the rage, why am I doing a video on a 27.5 bike?  Well, we’re in the middle of 2020.  Mountain biking has suddenly become an extremely popular activity during this covid time, as it’s outdoors, healthy, and is proven to make you rad.  Bike sales are off the CHARTS, with most manufacturers and retailers sold out of all the most popular (BRAIN references) bikes.  Heck, it’s even to the point that many stores are sold out of simple wear items like chains, brake pads, tubes, and tires.  And you guessed it- these 29” enduro bikes are selling faster than hand sanitizer and toilet paper.  Before we get a whole lot further, keep in mind that in this crazy time, it’s going to be A LOT easier to find a new 27.5 bike than a 29er.  

Let’s cut to the chase- the HD5 is particularly at its best in the mountains.  Long, steep climbs are right up its alley.  The seat angle is well positioned to get your weight forwards.  The head tube was lengthened quite a bit compared to other Ibis models- it’s 26mm longer than the Ripmo AF (And v2?). Despite that extra length, the stack is still 10mm lower than the 29er enduro bikes.  Notice I have a ton of spacers in here?  Yep, this feels awesome.  The riding position is very upright, further helping on those long, steep climbs.  

Don’t worry about the reach, the wheelbase, the slack headangle.  The hd5 will claw right up the steepest of climbs- assuming traction is present.  On singletrack, the HD5 is a capable climber.  That upright position does make it easy to drop the saddle and employ some body english to finesse up a techy, punchy climb. 

Sure, the front wheel might be 6″ lower than the rear wheel here, but the seat angle is plenty steep for those long, relentless logging roads. It’s not so steep that flat sections around town are awkward, which is nice if you ever ride your bike to get anywhere. Wait, what?!

The smaller wheels will have less traction and less roll over than the 29” wheels.  You will need to finesse more to maintain that traction.  How much more?  Not a ton.  But it’s subtly noticeable.  Expect to need to work a little harder than the Ripmo when the climbs are technical, but when it’s smooth and steep, the HD5 is a VERY comfortable bike to climb.  

Now look, I do all I can to avoid riding flatter terrain.  I can’t give thorough feedback about this bike on lack luster trails.  But I can say that the overall light weight of this bike and how it’s built, along with the feel of the suspension, keep it pretty darn fun through the mellow trails. 

The HD5 excels at jumpy stuff, or in really tight situations where you can jump your way through.  The bike is easy to get off the ground- perhaps to a fault.  Getting back on the HD5 after a month on the Mojo 4, I found the HD5 to somehow pop higher than the shorter travel bike.  Now, balancing the bike in the air isn’t too tough, but it takes a more conscious effort than the Ripmos do.  

At this point, having been through four serious injuries in five years, I’ve found I want a bike that is stable and predictable.  The Ripmo has been my main ride.  That said, I have been starting to feel comfortable on the HD5 again, but for me, it’s not a first ride thing.  

There is a transition period between swapping between the HD5 and the Ripmo.  If you’re only going to have one bike- the HD5 is great.  If you’re swapping between bikes, then try to keep a consistent wheelsize.  

Ibis specs a very light damping tune as the stock set up on the HD5.  For anyone lighter than 150 pounds or so, this will be a great benefit. As a former pro racer, I found myself using a bit more damping than what Ibis recommends, but I was able to achieve a great set up well before I hit the extreme of the adjustment spectrum.  In my experience, Traction Tune is more of a benefit for lighter riders, or for those heavier riders that aren’t pushing the bike to its absolute max, or who don’t really ride jumpy trails.  

I haven’t had a single issue with ibis’s bushing design on the lower link.  A few times the Ibis stock rear axle has loosened up on me, and I’ve fixed that by using the Shimano e-through axle.  Other items to consider- with Ibis’ favorite Arrundel bottle cage, I can fit a small water bottle.  The porkchop bag means I can easily carry a spare tube, multi tool, derailleur hanger, and shift cable without fuss.  

I really enjoy this bike, and while it’s perhaps not the fastest bike, I enjoy how it rewards a more active riding style.  Particularly great if you’re goal is simply riding in the mountains and having fun.

My biggest complaint after a year with the HD5 is simply the color.  Black bikes look terrible when dirty.  The brown pow color that I have does not exactly pop- an other folks on youtube have used certain fecal references to describe it.  

So who is the bike for?  Well, the ideal buyer would be those aging BMXers who do not care about ultimate race times or Strava.  Another buyer might be regular folk who prefer the smaller wheels, and who live somewhere rough enough that the longer travel/smaller wheel approach fits well.  Or heck, someone who wants a really nice bike NOW.  

Before the video ends, I know someone will ask about a mullet set up.  I tried it last fall, and was NOT a fan.  The bike simply didn’t feel balanced- not as bad as a pennyfarthing, but it didn’t float my boat.  I noticed it when cornering, when airborne, and when pumping.  The slow front wheel and fast rear wheel seemed to accelerate at different speeds, and with the active style the HD5 requires, the 29” front wheel was mostly a disadvantage.  I’m not planning on riding it as a mullet again.  

If you want to learn more about the HD5, I have a link over the HD5 page at Jenson USA Jenson is a leading online retailer for Ibis Cycles, as well as a bunch of other top brands.  Anything you purchase from my links to Jenson will also directly help support my channel.

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