Ibis Ripley V4 Mountain Bike Review
Words by Nic Hall
Ibis released their fourth generation Ripley earlier this year, and we’ve been riding it ever since. Back in April, Ibis hosted a media ride and release at their Santa Cruz headquarters, and we were given the full spectrum of marketing, technology, and brand information. If you missed that story, you can check it out here. For over 30 years, Ibis has remained an independent bike brand focused on building the bikes they want to ride. Ibis was one of the first brands to start designing bikes around the 29” wheel and have continued to refine their product. While more aggressive, gravity-biased riders may have overlooked the brand because of their image and reserved geometry, and the new Ibis Ripley V4 is sure to entice heaps of new riders.
We spent quite a bit of time on previous versions of the Ripley, and it was most certainly an XC racer’s bike. After spending the better part of four months riding version 4.0 on everything from Pemberton heli-shuttles to racing a cross race on it, we’ve got a very comprehensive understanding of what we would say is the best Ripley ever made.
The V4 Ripley has some key changes that set it apart from earlier generations. The seat tube angle is now 76 degrees, the head tube is 66.5, and the wheelbase is 1,207mm on the size large we tested. Some other key measurements are a lengthened 475mm reach, 335mm bottom bracket height, and 432mm chainstays. The redesigned frame geo adds up to a very modern feel on the trail that keeps it in line with many mid-travel trail bikes. But that is where the Ripley is a bit different, this is a short travel, lightweight trail machine.
Fully built, the Ripley V4 comes in at a very light 25.8 lbs. The step towards shorter travel, lightweight bikes that can still be throttled is a welcome change we have seen lately in the industry, and the Ibis Ripley is leading the charge.
Ibis has done away with eccentric pivots and extra complications and gone with a full DW Link suspension design with a stiffening link supporting the shock pivot. In our past experiences, we’ve found that DW Link bikes pedal well, ride a bit rough off the top when hitting square-edge hits, wallow slightly in the mid-travel, and require some work to get enough progression at the end of the stroke. We found the Ibis Ripley V4 didn’t quite fit all the typical DW-Link stereotypes, but we’ll get into the full ride details later. The Ripley’s suspension features a “Soft Tune,” and it can not accommodate a coil shock. Our test bike came equipped with a Fox Factory suspension spec front and rear. Upfront, a Float Factory 34 fork controls the 130mm of travel while a Fox Float Factory DPS EVOL shock handles the 120mm of rear-wheel travel.
Ibis offers the Ripley V4 as a frameset starting at $2,833. If you’d like to step up from there, Ibis offers several complete options from $4,199 up to our Shimano XTR-equipped test bike, which retails for $9,199. Everything on our XTR tester is tip-top of the shelf, and we couldn’t have been more impressed. The new XTR 12-speed drivetrain is flawless, and we were very impressed by the Ibis S35 wheels. We also greatly enjoyed the self-bleeding feature of the Bike Yoke dropper post as it allowed us to remedy slow or sticky post actuation on the trail and continue our ride without any complaint.
Being the in-house washed up cross country rider, I was tasked with taking the Ripley out. To be honest, I was not very excited as I didn’t have a great experience on the previous Ripley. Furthermore, I had some big trips planned for the summer that I believed would overwhelm this little bike. Despite my preconceived notions, I was pleasantly surprised by how capable the Ibis Ripley V4 is.
The Ripley V4 is a weapon on the climbs. The only thing that would prevent you from utterly destroying the competition on the climbs is your lack of fitness. For the first month, I never switched the rear shock to anything other than open and never felt that I needed to. Keeping the shock open let the suspension work while barely moving under pedaling force. As I said before, DW Link suspension is racy and shines on the climbs. The 66.5-degree head tube is a perfect balance of stability and control even at low speed, techy climbs. The seat post position is ideal as well, placing the rider right over the pedals for perfect power transition.
After your friends finally catch you at the top of the climb, it’s time for the best part, riding downhill as fast as you can while trying to fight that part of your brain telling you to slow down. The thing with riding a fine line is, if you’re slightly off that line, you’re not on it. That would be our best description of the setup process on the Ibis Ripley.
The Ripley’s ride is optimized with proper tire and suspension set up. After two of our tester’s first rides resulted in crashes, they almost wrote it off with a bitter taste. Drew had a good impression after his first ride in Santa Cruz and urged Justin and I to spend a bit more time on the bike, maybe swap tires and ride it a bit more. If you missed Drew’s trip to the Ibis media camp back in April, check it out.
I stepped back, took a fresh breath, and left for Canada with some new some heavy-duty tires and a slightly softer fork set up. While riding, I noticed what a difference tire choice made! I went from washing out the front end and crashing on flat, dusty corners to charging with confidence down the rooty steeps of Pemberton and Squamish B.C.
The hardest part about testing the Ibis Ripley V4 is the mental part. The confidence one feels aboard the bike based on geometry and body position can very quickly change to a teeth-rattling death grip. There is a hard limit to this bike, and it will let you know when you’re overriding it! Everyone from Drew riding the bike in Santa Cruz to our Central Oregon and BC test riders agreed that the Ibis Ripley tricks you into charging terrain and obstacles at a speed this 120/130mm bike just can’t keep up with. If you are an aggressive rider or weigh more than 165lbs, you may have some issues with the soft tune. I found myself limited to compression damping once things started to get rowdy
It’s a backhanded compliment, we know, but the bike’s geometry and stance make us want to strap on a full face enduro helmet. However, advanced level riders looking to send it into terrain generally reserved for 150mm bikes will quickly overwhelm that bike’s suspension, no matter how good the geo is.
It’s hard to walk the line of setting up a bike that rides and feels like an enduro bike with 30mm less travel. For riders in smoother regions, who ride more groomed flow trails, or those who favor efficiency, speed and want to still shred a light and flickable bike, the Ibis Ripley V4 is a real contender! If you want to upfork the bike a bit, a 36 140mm may be a solid option. However, you’ll have to take geometry changes into account. It would give a bit more of a stable ride and inspire some front end confidence. We happened to be testing the Trust Message fork and threw it on for a few weeks. While all of our front suspension woes were relieved, the rear shock still had trouble staying out of the, “Why are you trying to kill me!?” zone when barreling into rooty sections at top speed.
The ultimate test for the Ripley came at the very end of my four-month run on the bike. I was able to race it in an enduro-style DH, XC, and cyclocross race all on the same day. Luckily Schwalbe was on site and helped us spec out tires for each event. After months of dialing in the bike to fit my riding style and tuning the suspension, I was able to do well in the DH, mid-pack the XC, and barely finish the cyclocross race (which is a good outcome for me). I would be hard-pressed to find another bike that could handle such a highly diverse request one weekend and still be ready for a backcountry mission deep into the Gifford-Pinchot Wilderness the next weekend.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Ibis Ripley v4 rewards the rider that wants to put just a bit more time in. If you are working on improving your climbing and fitness, the Ripley gives back 2x what you are putting in. Suspension tuning rewards the hard-charging trail rider. But most importantly, front end grip is heavily dependent on tire choice. I would say the Ripley is like the tool a master hands you after apprenticeship. It may feel awkward or unbalanced at first, but with time and input can be a truly rewarding experience.
Our takeaway is that if you want a dedicated short travel bike to feel at home when the trails don’t require 150mm or more of travel, the Ripley is a must-ride! If you’re looking for a short travel rig that has the geometry and stance to ride fast and get loose, we suggest you give it a try. If you want one bike to do-it-all and live to ride super chunky, rocky or rooty trails at high speeds or want to ride some rowdy bike parks and still pedal the local trails, this isn’t the bike we’d suggest. Then again, with only 120mm of rear-wheel travel, it shouldn’t be, and that’s why Ibis has longer travel options. The Ibis Ripley is a light, playful trail bike that can be shredded on with ruthlessness, yet it will reward the silkiest of leg shavers with a climbing performance that’ll make you dust off your spandie-gear. This bike will get rowdy with the best of them and is one of the stoutest short travel rigs we’ve ridden in recent memory.
Weight: 25.8 lbs
Frame: Carbon; 120mm
Fork: Fox Float 34 Factory; 130mm
Shock: Fox Float Factory DPOS EVOL; 190×45
Brakes: Shimano XTR M9100 with 180mm rotors
Handlebar: Enve M6 780mm
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team 142
Seatpost: Bike Yoke Revive; 185 (size large)
Shifter: Shimano XTR M9100; 12s
Stem: Enve Mtn 31.8
Hub: Industry 9 Hydra Hubs
Rim: Ibis S35 Carbon
Tires: Schwalbe Hans Dampf (f) 29 x 2.35, Nobby Nic (r) 29 x 2.35
Bottom Bracket: Race Face BSA
Cassette: Shimano XTR M9100; 10-51t
Cranks: Race Face Next R; 32t
Derailleur: Shimano XTR; 12s
Spot On Geometry
Light and Playful
Hard Chargers Will Overwhelm Fork/Shock
Shock Tune Needs Some More Progression For Aggressive Riding
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