For a town with a population roughly half the size of those in attendance for a sold-out Ohio State Buckeye football game, Santa Cruz, California, has long had influential players in the world of mountain biking. For 2017, one of the area's staple brands, Ibis Cycles, has updated and refined its popular mid-travel Ripley 29er trail machine. I spent a day riding a size large of the all-new Ripley on the stunning and challenging terrain of Santa Barbara, California.
The full-carbon Ripley frame features 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, and is designed to work well with both 130- and 140-millimeter travel forks. As with all of Ibis' full-suspension bikes, the rear-wheel travel duties are managed by the proven dw-link design. However, unique to the Ripley is its dual-eccentric dw-link version. Instead of using only traditional pivots, the Ripley utilizes two small eccentrics, hidden inside the seat tube, which control the path and travel of the rear wheel. According to Ibis, these shorter eccentric links allow the bike to have shorter chainstays and provide more room for a tire in the often cramped area near the rear tire and front derailleur.
The primary change to the chassis is that the upper eccentric link has been widened to create a stiffer swingarm connection for more precise handling. The Ripley also now accepts 29-inch tires up to 2.6 inches in width, as seen above with Schwalbe's latest Nobby Nic. Previously offered as either the Ripley or longer, slacker Ripley LS, the chassis will now only come with the more aggressive LS geometry, and continue to bear the Ripley LS name.
Brief Ride Impressions
At 5'9" tall, I'm on the short end of riders preferring a size large frame, yet since making the switch last year it's repeatedly proven to the be the right move. Other than the issue of me not being able to get the Fox Transfer dropper post far enough into the frame's slightly curved seat tube to get the saddle low enough for my stubby femurs, the large Ripley fit me perfectly (note to taller riders). Tires in the 2.6 range are approaching plus-size, and can add some unwanted bounce and unpredictability to how a bike handles. This sensation was occasionally amplified on the bouldery Santa Barbara terrain.
Any trail bike worth its weight in tire sealant must be quick accelerating and efficient under power, and dw-link-equipped Ripley checks both boxes. The large hoops and supple, yet efficient, rear-end performance help make easy work of jagged, sharp-edged terrain, all while maintaining traction and control when jumping on the brakes in loose conditions. For a bike which began life years ago as a cross-country oriented trail bike, the new Ripley seems to handle rowdy terrain a lot more smoothly than its 120 millimeters of rear wheel travel might lead one to believe.
Although I've only had one full day of riding on the snappy and playful new Ripley, Ibis looks to have one versatile trail machine on their hands.
More details at ibiscycles.com.