You all keep asking me how I’ve been enjoying the Ripmo AF, even though what you really want to ask me is “will you like a Ripmo AF”? It’s time for a ride report!
My Ripmo AF is not a stock bike. Depending on who you ask, the $4300 GX build weighs 33lbs or so. I’m on a fully custom build that would retail for more than $7000, and mine actually weighs about 36lbs with some mud on it.
HERE’S MY FULL BUILD:
- Frame: Ripmo AF, orange tomato paste color, size medium: http://bit.ly/RipomoAFJKW
- Shock: Fox Float X2 210x55mm: http://bit.ly/FoxFloatX2JKW
- Fork: Trust Performance Shout 178mm travel: https://trustperformance.com/products/shout
- Industry Nine Wheel System wheels, Hydra hubs, Ibis alloy rims: http://bit.ly/I9HydraJKWwheelset
- Headset: Cane Creek 40 series http://bit.ly/CaneCreekHeadsetJKW
- PNW Components Range KW handlebar: http://bit.ly/PNWRangeBarJKW
- PNW Components Loam grips: http://bit.ly/PNWgripsJKW
- Shimano SLX M7100 drivetrain: http://bit.ly/ShimanoSLXJensonUSA
- 175mm cranks (wishing I had 170s!)
- 32t chainring
- 11-51 cassette
- Shimano SLX M7100 brakes, 4 piston, metallic pads, 180mm rotors f/r
- PNW Bachelor 170 dropper post: http://bit.ly/PNWBachelor2019JKW
- WTB Volt 142 saddle: http://bit.ly/WTBVoltTiSaddleJKW
- WTB Judge 2.4 Rear Tire: http://bit.ly/WTBJudge29JKW
- WTB Vigilante 2.5 Front Tire: http://bit.ly/WTBVigilante29JKW
- Orange Seal Sealant: http://bit.ly/OrangeSealJKW
My bikes are always heavy, since I insist on riding double thick tire casings, but this bike does weigh close to what my old downhill bikes weighed. Only it’s WAY more comfortable to ride uphill and 95% as capable on the descents.
When I first built this Ripmo up, I was just getting back on the horse after breaking my pelvis clean in half. The first few rides on the AF it took me some adapting to get used to. I had been riding my Ripmo Carbon and HD4 quite a lot before the AF, and while there was certainly a recovery gap till I was riding more at my regular level, I did notice some stuff where I definitely preferred the AF over the Ripmo Carbon, but of course, there were a few things I didn’t enjoy so much.
As all the over reviews mention, the overall value for the price is phenomenal. I enjoy this bike just a much as I enjoyed my Ripmo carbon- actually, I like it more. A stock SLX build is a great bike, and while it would cost less than half of my own build, it would deliver far more than half of the performance.
Over the past few months I’ve met quite a few folks who can afford a Ripmo Carbon, but went with the AF instead. WHY? Geometry and suspension.
The head angle of the AF is 65 degrees. 29” wheeled bikes have a lot of inertia, and especially when running heavy duty tires. This means the wagon wheelers are harder to throw through corners than smaller wheeled bikes. Personally, I end up monster trucking through more on both the Rimpo Carbon and Ripmo AF than I do on the HD4 or HD5. With the wheels being larger, it’s also harder to utilize natural trail features as landing zones and take offs, so the slacker angle can make up for some of this loss in smoothness.
When it comes time to corner, I lean my bikes a ton. This is especially helpful on the 29 where the trail measurement is so large. The slacker head angle corners more predictably for this style of riding. So you get more stability and confidence AND better cornering- a big win.
The Ripmo AF has better suspension than the Ripmo Carbon. Since this is my video, I’m going to say better as in better for me. The leverage ratio of the rear suspension is more progressive than that of the Ripmo Carbon, meaning I bottom out less. I jump a ton, and I bottom the daylights out of my bikes. This has been a huge upgrade for me!
People ask all the time about coil versus air shocks. I haven’t even bothered trying a coil on this bike yet. Air shocks work just fine, and this bike is so heavy, I don’t want to make it even heavier. I spent years riding coil shocks back in the day, before they were cool. They have their place, sure, but on what I consider a short travel 147mm travel frame that weighs over 8lbs, Im fine with the air shock. If I had a 170mm or longer travel bike, I’d be more interested in riding a coil.
I really like how this bike has ISCG tabs and a threaded BB. I like that I can easily fit a 170mm dropper post, though I would rather it fit a 200mm post like my HD5 does.
Speaking of “rathers,” what do I NOT like about this bike? There are two big stand out items:
First, I do notice a bit of flex in the frame. Torsionally, it’s not as stiff as the Ripmo Carbon, HD5, or heck, even the Ripley. I notice this on more bike parky berms under a lot of g-forces, or if I’m landing slightly sideways from a jump. The average rider won’t notice this too much, but keep in mind, I’m around 165lbs. If you’re a heavier rider, you might notice this more. This is the downside to aluminum- it simply can’t be manipulated like carbon to place stiffness exactly where it needs to be. I was able to win back some stiffness by putting my Industry Nine aluminum spoked system wheels on here. I’m running aluminum Ibis rims on all my wheels. You could also increase stiffness by going with carbon rims, but personally I prefer the reliability of aluminum.
On all my other bikes I run 170mm cranks, and have run 170s for the past 20 years. At 5’8”, I love how comfortable it is to stand and pedal with that length crank. However, for this build, Shimano sent me a very early M7100 SLX groupset, and the only cranks they could get me were 175s. I noticed this more than I expected, and I also caught more pedals on the ground than I have in a long while. That said, the BB drop on this bike is a full 30mm, which means a lower BB height than the Specialized Enduro, Yeti SB150, Rocky Mountain Slayer, or Pivot Firebird.
Minor details that may or may not bug ya: the internal cable routing is just holes in the aluminum frame, no tubes in tubes, meaning it’s a hassle to route the cables in comparison to the Ripmo Carbon. The rear IS brake mount is sized for a 160mm rotor, not a 180mm. The head tube is only 100mm tall, which I feel is a little short.
Everyone always asks about my wild Trust Shout fork, and I did a ride report about that fork and how it’s helped me really enjoy the Ripmo AF, but it’s worth mentioning a few things here too:
The Fox 36 160 fork I was first using has a 567mm axle to crown height. The Shout has a 580mm axle to crown and 178mm of travel. While that 13mm of overall height might not sound huge, I noticed the extra height in several places. The amount of pedal strikes I had became way less. I can pump the bike a lot more, which helps tons on flatter trails.
The Ibis set up guide mentions the bike is only approved for 160mm forks. The stock DVO fork measures 572mm, and at only 8mm taller, I personally feel safe with a Shout on the bike, but I’m no Ibis employee or official and Ibis can’t condone that sort of modification. I really like the resultantly higher BB height, and the slightly slacker head angle is nice too. By no means is it too slack. I’m measuring 64° and it feels spot on.
Should you buy this bike? Is this a great all arounder? For mountainous riding, with long up hills and ripping long descents, then I do think this is a great do-it-all bike. In my opinion, for that style of riding, bike weight isn’t as noticeable, and the Ripmo isn’t actually all that heavy.
The Ripmo AF is a BIG, long travel bike. If your local trails really challenge you, then I’d say yes, a set up like this will be great. However, if your trails aren’t overly tough, then an enduro style 29er from ANY manufacturer will only make things easier and less exciting. Sometimes, that’s not a good thing. Not the fault of this bike by any means. I really like my Ripley for a lot of the mellower trails, and for most folks, the Ripley is a really good blend of weight, geometry, and efficiency.
If you ride more east coast style trails, that is to say, flatter, rockier trails, then I might say that this isn’t the ideal bike, as youll be feeling that weight for most of your ride, and you’ll likely want something with a higher bottom bracket and potentially smaller wheels or a shorter wheelbase.
For big mountain riding, I’m quite happy with this bike. I can take it to the bike park if I want to, and I can take it on a 30 mile backcountry ride. It’s been my go-to travel bike, and I’m excited to keep sending it in 2020.