The Ibis Ripmo is the shred-ready offspring of two of Ibis's most popular mountain bikes, the Ripley and the Mojo. Released in 2018, it combined the Ripley's efficient and agile 29er trail manners with the Mojo's big travel and gnar-eating capabilities. Several riders at The Pro's Closet took notice. Over the last year, five TPC employees have purchased the Ripmo as their personal bike. This makes it the most popular TPC shop bike of 2019.
To learn more about what makes the Ibis Ripmo so good, I sat down with a couple of our shop’s mountain bikers to hear what their experience has been riding and owning the bike. (I also spoke with one rider who ended up selling his Ripmo to hear his reasons and thoughts.)
Bike shop employees make great reviewers because they are the ultimate bike nerds. They buy new bikes regularly, play with new technology constantly, and can usually get out and ride much more than the average person. They spoke candidly with me about their bikes and explained why they chose the Ripmo, how it performs, and what they would change.
Our Riders / Reviewers:
Davis B. (left) and Mike M. (right) with their Ibis Ripmos
Mike M. (MM), Assistant Technician Manager
Mike is responsible for ensuring that every bike going through our inspection and service process meets our quality control standards. He describes his style as “climb to descend.” But since buying the Ripmo, he’s come to appreciate climbing a little bit more. He rides a large Ripmo with the SRAM GX Eagle build. It has the upgraded Fox Factory suspension with a Fox 36 Grip2 fork and Float X2 shock as well as the Ibis 942 carbon wheels.
Davis B. (DB), Customer Experience Representative / Ride Guide
Davis is a cycling expert who helps riders searching for their next bike understand their needs and find their ideal bike. Davis comes from more of a fitness-oriented cross-country background but he loves how the bigger bike has changed his riding style. He also rides a large Ripmo with the same GX Eagle and Fox Factory build as Mike. His wheels are the newer Ibis s35 carbon wheels made in collaboration with Stan’s NoTubes.
Why did you choose the Ripmo?
MM: So I was looking at a bunch of bikes that were coming out with more modern geometry numbers and thinking that was the direction I wanted to go for my next bike. I wanted more capability, more confidence, and more stability. I was really considering the Transition Sentinel because the geometry was kind of where I wanted to go. But the one sticking point was the 64-degree head tube angle. I want my bike to still be playful and handle a certain way. I was a bit afraid that it was going to be too slack. The Ripmo basically matched the Sentinel’s geo numbers but had a bit steeper head tube (65.9 degrees), which was exactly what I was looking for. Plus it had a really steep seat tube (76 degrees) for climbing. Seat tubes need to be steeper! It feels so much better. The DW-Link suspension too ... I hadn’t owned a DW-Link bike before but I know how good of a pedaling platform it provides for climbing. I definitely need help climbing, so overall I felt it was going to be the perfect bike for any all-mountain or enduro riding.
DB: I wanted to get away from the XC race bike that I had. I just wanted to try something new and different. I moved here to Colorado so I wanted something that was more capable. Talking with some of the experienced guys around the shop it sounded like a bigger bike was what I needed to ride all the good trails and ride them fast. I also knew I wanted something that was big enough to take to a bike park occasionally. I was originally going to choose the new Ibis Ripley. It’s a mid-travel bike that’s fast and efficient, but still very capable. But in the end, I made a last-minute decision to go with the Ripmo because I felt the extra travel would provide more confidence and capability on descents.
MM: Yeah, 160mm of travel in the front and 145mm in the rear is pretty close to my ideal travel numbers. It's enough to get you through the gnarliest stuff you’ll encounter here. I might like slightly more in the rear, but honestly, it’s pretty close to perfect for me. I don’t bottom it out much.
Why did you select your Ripmo build?
DB: I like GX Eagle build because if you break a part it’s generally going to be cheaper to replace. I know if I’m going to break anything, nine times out of ten it’s going to be my rear derailleur.
MM: Same here.
DB: I sprung for the nicer wheels because I’d never tried carbon wheels before. I have the newer Ibis s35 designed with Stan’s NoTubes with a 35mm internal width. I just went with the Ibis hubs. I didn’t want to pay extra for the Industry Nine hubs as much as I wanted them. I’ve been loving the wheels. They have a super-stiff feel. They feel light when you’re riding, which is what I’m looking for. I have a Cushcore in the rear too.
MM: I have to older 942 carbon wheels, which I love. Carbon just feels stiffer and easier to spin up. I haven’t managed to crack one yet. They’re 34mm internal. I don’t run inserts. Just Tough Casing WTB tires. I’ll probably run a Cushcore eventually though. I probably should for safety.
DB: I think the biggest thing I wanted was the Factory suspension. I wanted the adjustability, and considering the money for performance benefit, I think upgrading the suspension is the way to go. It just gets you so much more performance compared to spending more for an XT or X01 drivetrain.
MM: The Grip2 damper on the fork and the Float X2 shock give you so many tuning options. If you’re a "set it and forget it" type of rider, it's probably not worth it. I still mess around with the settings on mine. I’ve been riding it for almost a year so I pretty much have it where I want it. But it’s fun to play around with it and make small changes to see what sort of difference it makes. I probably would have gone with Performance Elite level suspension if they offered it, but they only offer Performance and Factory so I went Factory. I like black stanchions personally.
DB: Would you maybe have tried the DPX2 shock instead of the Float X2? I haven’t tried it but every once in a while I wonder if it’d be a little poppier.
MM: I haven’t tried it but I’d be interested in how it changes the ride.
DB: The Float X2 is great. It’s super composed when it gets really rough. But when I’m riding jumps, like at the bike park, I feel like it might soak up the jumps a little more than I like. Maybe I just haven’t gotten the settings dialed. But I’ve heard that the DPX2 just has a slightly different feel. Like less damped and more playful. I’m definitely curious about trying it.
How does it descend?
MM: No surprise, but it's pretty good. I expected the Ripmo to descend well and it’s met or exceeded all of my expectations. It’s just such an easy and natural bike to ride. It feels nimble for its size, but still stable and confident when it gets super steep and rough. I love the Fox 36. It feels so good, especially with the shorter 44mm offset. You know the whole bike just feels so good that I’ve been consistently going out and riding the hardest local trails three or four times a week. I’ve become a way better rider, not just because of the bike’s capabilities, but because it actually makes me stoked to go out and ride difficult terrain.
DB: It’s totally different than my XC bike. The longer, slacker front end and the longer wheelbase have definitely helped me ride more technical trails than I used to and do it more confidently. I’m more willing to try things that scare me and just doing that has just made me a much better technical rider. I’m definitely a better descender now because of the bike.
MM: Descending is a strength for sure. It makes me feel so good at it. I think its capabilities could be pushed even a bit further with some tweaks, like the head angle, but as-is I can't really complain. I can’t outride it.
DB: I’ve been doing a lot of jumping at my local bike park too. Jumping before felt dicey to me. But I’ve really come to love jumping on this bike. The position on the bike and the geometry just feels so centered and more confidence-inspiring. The huge 185mm Bike Yoke dropper and really low standover help there. The Bike Yoke Revive is the best dropper ever by the way. I also like how it isn't like a couch in the back. The suspension absorbs big hits well but it's still really supportive. You get on a lot of bigger bikes and you feel like you end up sitting really low down in the travel. It forces you to sit back and plow. On the Ripmo you can really stay active on and actually ride and pump and maneuver it around really easily.
MM: Right, we're not out smashing World Cup DH tracks every day. We're on real-world trails and you sometimes have hit features that are really slow and awkward and stupid. I think the head angle and the short offset fork really give the front end a lot of precision and control. It makes it easier to get through rough and janky stuff. The bike just has so much range, it can go really fast down steep fall line stuff, or it can reel it in hop around on tech lines. It's just really well balanced.
How does it climb?
MM: We know all the cliches about how good a bike can climb. Longer travel bikes are better now than they’ve ever been and new bikes all climb pretty well. But does the Ripmo climb as good as a full cross country race bike?
DB: It doesn't.
MM: Yeah, no. But don't get me wrong, it’s still really good. I’m a better climber now on this bike than I've ever been. I’m a bit fitter, but mostly I think it’s because of the efficiency of the DW-Link platform paired with the steeper seat tube angle (76 degrees). It really gets you over the pedals and makes it easier to climb. A few years ago I was riding a superlight full-suspension XC bike and that was better at climbing. But it’s not really my riding style. I’d prefer to be able to descend faster so I’m willing to give some of that up to have a bike like the Ripmo.
DB: It’s definitely good at getting you up any trail when you need it. Going up the steep, slow, sort of plodding climbs we have here it's great because of the amount of traction it has.
MM: I think the steep seat tube angle really helps there. You get more grip when you’re more centered and over the pedals so you can drive a harder gear and just cruise when you’re climbing. On my old Stumpjumper, I felt further back and my front wheel would come up more so I had to adjust forward and then I'd get wheelspin. The seat angle on the Ripmo just puts you in that perfect spot where you don’t have to worry as much about that. You just get grip.
DB: I agree. With the Ripmo you kind of sit into it and you’re good. You don’t need to move. One thing I miss compared to my old Specialized Epic though is how I could really attack hard climbs, you know, get up out of the saddle and really put power down and accelerate. On super steep climbs with the Ripmo, I do feel like I’m going to spin the tire if I try to get up out of the saddle and really hammer. But that’s just the type of bike it is. I have no complaints about how it climbs. I never expected it to climb like an Epic. It’s only on super-steep stuff when I want to attack and really go fast that I miss having an ultra-light XC bike.
MM: For an enduro bike though, I mean even for a trail bike, the Ripmo's fantastic. Again the platform the DW-link gives just makes it pedal so well for its size. If you’re looking for this type of bike, with this much travel, I don’t think there are many that can climb better than this. I never have to use the lockout.
DB: I hardly use it too. Just on road climbs.
What does your Ripmo weigh?
MM: Between 30 and 31 pounds.
DB: Mine’s just over 31.
Are you satisfied with that weight?
MM: Yeah, for sure. It’s an enduro bike. 30 pounds is the magic number for me. It's not heavy at all compared to a lot of similar bikes. Any lighter and it might not survive the type of riding I want to do on it.
DB: I honestly don’t even notice it feeling that much heavier than my old Epic. It rides different, but it doesn’t feel heavy. I love the weight it’s at now.
What would you change about the Ripmo?
MM: This is nitpicky, but I might have tweaked the build kit. Just a couple of parts. On the GX build I didn’t like the crank or the stamped chainring. I would’ve liked a nicer crank. It’s more of a visual thing. For sure though I want to swap to 170mm cranks. In my opinion, but I don’t think you want 175mm cranks on a downhill-focused bike just to minimize the risk of pedal strikes. It’s probably not a big deal but for me having a 35mm carbon bar instead of the 31.8mm it comes with would give me some peace of mind when I’m really going through the rough stuff. I also would change the Deore brakes that came on the GX build. I’m sure the brakes work just fine, but they don’t look good, and I don’t feel like they fit the downhill intentions of this bike. I just like nicer brakes too. I run the Shimano Saints. They’re powerful and they look cool.
DB: Sure, the Deore brakes are something I changed. I went to the Deore XT 4-piston brakes. They're just nicer and more powerful.
MM: The bike rides great as is. But if I could have anything I want I would maybe slacken the head tube. Yeah, yeah, I know I said before that I was worried about 64 degrees being too slack but I’m not saying to go that far. Just very slightly, like half a degree, maybe a full degree. I think you can keep a lot of the ride feel, but just tweak it a tiny bit to feel just a little bit slacker.
DB: I’m with you.
MM: It’s 65.9 degrees now. It works great. But I’m starting to think the sweet spot might be around 65 or 65.5 degrees. I don’t want 64 degrees or 66 degrees. I think somewhere in between is perfect. You could jack the fork up to 170mm to get it. Add tiny bit more travel in the rear too, maybe. Again, I'm not really having any issues with how it rides. I'm just dreaming.
DB: I would maybe have liked to try the XL size.
MM: How tall are you?
DB: Six-foot. But with this bike, I think I could size up. I’m happy with the large and don’t really have any complaints, but I would have liked to try that just to see. But maybe that'd take away too much of the playfulness.
MM: Oh yeah, one thing I’d really like is even more tire clearance. Technically a 2.6” tire clears, but on my bike, with a 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor, it’d drag rocks into the rear triangle occasionally and scratch the inside. I cringed every time I heard it happen. You can’t really see the scratches when the wheel's on but it’s a bit of a bummer. To be fair, it’s not the only bike I’ve seen this on. It’s hard to get it all — short chainstays with enough tire and drivetrain clearance.
What's the best trail to ride the Ripmo on?
MM: Something with really steep, long climbs followed by gnarly, loose, and steep descents. I think that’s pretty ideal.
DB: A trail that goes up for a long time, and then descends for a long time. Not as much flatter terrain.
MM: Rock gardens too. The Ripmo does really well in technical rock gardens where you have to pick lines fast and pump through stuff and jump over rough bits. Or anything with tight technical climbs and technical descents where flow's hard to find and it's easy to get caught up on rocks and roots. Or big rock rolls and steep dusty chutes.
What’s the worst trail to ride it on?
DB: Probably a flat cross country trail or rolling terrain where the speeds you reach on the descents just aren't very fast. The Ripmo would be too much.
MM: If it’s too flat you’re just not going to use this bike to its full potential. You need a bit of steepness and technical features to really make it work. Otherwise, it's really not worth pedaling a bike this big around.
What about long backcountry rides — with say 30-plus miles and 3,000-plus feet of elevation gain — would you still ride the Ripmo?
DB: Sure! I think I would.
MM: It would take me a while to finish but I’d go for it. Even if there’s a lot of climbing I think I’d be fine on this bike. I'll happily be overbiked as long as I can make it to the descents and shred.
DB: I wouldn’t hesitate at all.
MM: I think it climbs efficiently enough to be a good bike for long endurance rides. I wouldn’t change bikes for something more XC-focused unless I was trying to race. It’s just such a good all-around bike. Maybe I’d switch in some lighter weight tires if I was really going out for some all-day slog.
DB: I do want to say that for a long travel bike I feel like the Ripmo is still fun to ride on tamer trails. You know, fast flowy stuff. It doesn’t have to be steep tech-gnar to have fun. The suspension supports it so well you don’t feel like you’re losing a lot trying to pump through corners and stuff.
How long are you going to keep your Ripmo?
MM: I don’t know what I would get. Honestly, if I get another bike it will probably be another Ripmo. Mine is getting pretty beat up right now. I should have put protection or Invisiframe on it when I got it. There are some big chips. But I don’t have any plans to sell it right now. Which is rare for me.
DB: I plan on keeping it for another year. I want to ride another full season. Right now I do really miss having a short-travel XC bike. I like being able to ride from my door, taking the bike paths and mountain roads up to the trails. And I want to do some racing. I don’t really want to do all that on the Ripmo. So I feel like I’m going to have to get a second mountain bike.
A Former Ripmo Owner’s Opinion
To close out this Ripmo review, I spoke to Seth H., our Merchandising Manager. Seth recently sold his Ripmo to The Pro’s Closet to purchase a new Orbea Oiz TR. I spoke with him about why he decided to sell and how he feels now that he doesn't own the Ripmo anymore.
Seth H: I got into Leadville for 2019 and that totally changed my plans and goals for the year. I started training really hard and riding an XC bike all the time. Earlier in the year, I was riding the Ripmo a lot. I loved it for all the same reasons Mike and Davis like it. I come from a more XC racing background and the Ripmo just felt spot-on for my needs. It felt super-confident descending and it was still really efficient for climbing.
One thing I don't like about some newer enduro bikes is how they're so extreme that they feel like boats. The headtubes are super slack, the wheelbases are as long as some DH bikes, and they just don't handle some of the tighter, techy trails I like riding. You hit a switchback and you can barely get around it. The Ripmo toes the limit pretty well I think. It's long, but not too long. It's slack, but not too slack. The shorter offset fork really helps with the steering feel too. I think it's noticeable.
But then I had to start hammering out miles to get ready for Leadville and the Ripmo just wasn't the bike for that. Obviously, I wasn't going to race Leadville on it. I started competing in more endurance races and doing these huge 60-, 70-, and 80-mile training rides over a huge variety of terrain. I did a few of these on the Ripmo, and it was fine, but it just wasn't the right bike for me anymore. I was sad, but I sold it to get a new XC bike that handles way more of my riding needs.
My new Orbea has 120mm of travel front and rear, so it can descend pretty well, but it's definitely not in the same league as the Ripmo. I was riding a bunch of harder trails out in Moab last weekend and I really missed the Ibis. For the terrain out there it would be the perfect bike. It would soak up the bumps, and give you the confidence to go for some of the big moves you have to do. If I had the money, I'd definitely have kept the Ripmo, just to go out and ride places like that occasionally.
Are you interested in or currently riding an Ibis Ripmo? What are your thoughts? Are there any competitor's bikes that you would choose over the Ripmo? Let us know in the comments!