After our presentation the crew set us up on our test bikes and we got to bounce around in the parking lot before heading out for a nearly three hour mission in the hills of Santa Cruz. We rode everything from flowy campus trails to steep, loamers and even some dry and dusty rock gardens with sizeable drops and step up jumps.
It was definitely a ride that exemplified the versatility of the bike. We pedaled up paved road climbs and dropped into DH trails we’d be happy shuttling on a big bike. In retrospect, it’s pretty amazing to look back and realize how far 120mm bikes have come in the last decade. There was a time when riders really had to choose a bike’s travel based on their discipline.
A downhiller would never chose a 120mm as their primary bike because it’d just be way too sketchy going down hill. And an XC pinner would never ride a 160mm bike because the efficiency and climbing position would just make them feel too slow. Now we’re at a time where we’ve got DH-bike confidence and geometry with XC-efficiency and Ibis is blending that in a short travel package. Ibis has done a really great job of making a short travel bike attractive to a long time gravity fiend who’d gladly sacrifice hill-climbing performance for downhill performance.
On the tight, twisty trails the Ripley is an absolute shredder! I was riding trails I’d never been on before and had ultimate confidence in the handling. Besides the 800mm bars, I had no hesitation about cutting inside and leaning the bike over as close as I could to the local shrubbery searching for maximum cornering speed.
When it came to the steep chutes the Santa Cruz woods are known for, I was equally confident leaning back and carving down the hill and yanking off lips. It’s not a perfect bike even though I like it very much. DW-Link bikes have a very distinct feel in my opinion and while they offer lots of benefits, they tend to feel a little harsh on square-edge hits at speed.
There were two specific incidents on our test ride where I felt slightly out of control and like I was a passenger getting bounced around trying to focus my eyes on the catch berm I was trying to make it to. Luckily I just pointed and hit the berm and was able to regain composure but there was no denying when this bike hits its limit, it’ll let you know! Granted, it’s a 120mm bike and we were throwing ourselves down legitimate downhill trails. It was also our first ride aboard the bike and perhaps with some tuning and a volume reducer we could have slightly improved it’s big hit capabilities, but we won’t know ‘til we get our long-term tester.