Ibis Ripmo AF Review – NGX Build
Words & Photos by Cole Gregg
Every time I’ve talked with an Ibis owner, they have had great things to say about their bikes and seem to be life-long fans. We have done a number of Ibis reviews, and being a fan of DW-Linked bikes myself, I was rather stoked to do a long-term Ibis Ripmo AF review. I was even more excited when I found out I was getting the coil-sprung version that would be ready for some aggressive shredding.
Due to availability and COVID-19 craziness, Ibis could only send out a 2020 spec’d model as inventory was low for 2021. For all intents and purposes the bikes will ride very similarly, however there are some key updates to the 2021 model related to the parts list that are explained below. We received this bike in late September and rode it in the PNW and down in Phoenix Arizona for a wide offering of conditions from greasy root fests to dry days on completely blown out trails in the desert.
The Ibis Ripmo AF is a 147mm rear and 160mm front suspended bike, utilizing the aforementioned DW-Link dual link suspension design and rolling on 29” wheels. This Ripmo AF takes the standard Carbon Fiber Ripmo, tweaks the angles slightly and utilizes an all-aluminum frame to produce a more aggressive overall package at a lower price point. The result is a bike that blurs the lines between a trail bike and a full on enduro bike, which we like a lot! Our version was equipped with DVO’s Jade X and Onyx suspension upgrades to form the heaviest hitting package on offer; and weighed in at 34.6lbs (Size Large – without pedals). The build on this bike was clearly chosen with durability in mind, which inspired confidence and hard charging through rough sections of trail. I want to dive into the build piece by piece as there are some updates for the 2021 model that makes this bump eating bike even more desirable.
Starting out with the groupset, Ibis spec’d an all SRAM offering with Truvativ Descendant alloy 175mm DUB cranks with a 32T chain ring. The derailleur was upgraded from a 12 speed NX Eagle to a GX Eagle, while the shifter got the same GX treatment upgrade. The NX kit tested worked but did have some lag even when fine-tuned; was a little noisy when shifting; and had questionable feeling at the shifter. The GX upgrade is spot on with what I would want if I was purchasing this bike, so ’21 customers are in luck.
On our model we had SRAM Guide T brakes front and rear, which often struggled to slow me down, especially on longer descents. In total I bled the Guide’s three times, two on the front and once out back, yet they were still never quite up to the task. With how capable this bike can be I was pumped to see Ibis spec the 2021 model with Code RSC front and back with 200mm/180mm rotors. This is a real clutch move on Ibis’s part!
The Ibis S35 Aluminum wheels and Ibis hubs remain unchanged for 2021. These wheels stayed true and retained great spoke tension through the entirety of my rides, avoiding the need for a spoke key throughout the test. For an Aluminum wheel they had plenty of lateral support under high-speed cornering yet offered great compliance through the chunky Arizona rock gardens. During the entire test period there were no flat tires which was a surprise to me as my line choices in Arizona left a lot to be desired. The 2.5 WT EXO+ Assegai front tire did a great job in both the wet PNW conditions and the loose dust down in Arizona. While it is far from the fastest rolling tire, I will gladly take the extra drag to receive the amount of grip that was supplied through flat corners. Out back, our Ripmo AF came with a DHF due to low stock volume at the time the bike was supplied to us. I ran a DHF on the back of my bike for several years and felt right at home with this combo, providing great grip all round, if not the best braking traction.
Our test bikes handlebars were Ibis’s own 800mm Alloy bars, but for 2021 the bars see an upgrade to Ibis’s Carbon Hi Fi bars. While the bars on our test bike performed adequately, the weight reduction for the Carbon bars is something I am not opposed to. Keeping your hands glued to the bars are a pair of Lizard Skin Charger Evo grips, whose mixed pattern did a great job at dissipating sweat as a gloveless rider. They had enough cushion to help with chattery trails but for my XL/XXL paws fell on the slimmer side of what I like. Riders with a more average sized hand may not suffer the same issue.
The 2020 model featured a 150mm KS dropper, while the 2021 comes spec’d with a 185mm Bike Yoke Revive. Aside from the brake spec update this was one of the changes that I believed was a must. The KS dropper for me had a slow return speed – even when freshly serviced – and I ended up somehow snapping the cable, which is a first for me. The Revive dropper is not only a big jump in length that was badly needed but also a much higher quality build in my opinion.
Finally, the suspension package. Ibis has continued to spec DVO on their bikes, which is something I love to see as it differentiates the bike from the rest. On the front you have a 160mm DVO Onyx D1, this is DVO’s top of the line model that eats up rough terrain. One thing that is unique to DVO forks is the ability to fine to the first 30% of travel with their OTT (off the top) spring. This allows you to run adequate pressure for end of stroke ramp up while making the first part of the travel buttery smooth. This is especially useful for riders over 190lbs where the pressure needed to prevent harsh bottom outs can lead to a loss in small bump sensitivity. This fork also features high and low speed compression adjustments as well as rebound adjustment. The damper on this fork is driven by a bladder system that is surrounded in an oil bath to minimize stiction and reduce the chance of cavitation, leading to consistent damping. Out back is DVO’s latest coil shock, the Jade X, which features a bladder that replaces the IFP (internal floating piston) much like the fork. This bladder is adjustable from 170psi to 200psi, change the backpressure on the oil in the shock, creating a more supple ride with lower pressure or a firmer ride with higher pressure. This can broadly be considered an alternative to what adjustable compression dials usually achieve. The Jade X also has a 3-position low-speed compression lever that goes from open, mid, and firm. Very rarely did I feel the need to use even the mid setting as the Ripmo AF has plenty of anti-squat built into the frame so getting out of the saddle and putting power down on smoother trails was done with minimal bobbing.
Ibis offers a range of build kits for the Ripmo AF (subject to availability) and offers additional upgrade options such as the DVO Jade X coil fitted to our test rig. These builds start at $3399 and top out for the SLX-equipped model at $4399 with the Jade X upgrade, or you can purchase a frame only with DVO Topaz shock for $1999. The 2021 equivalent to our model tested retails for 3799 of your hard-earned dollars.
I was lucky enough to get a variety of riding terrain and weather conditions during this long-term review. Up in Washington I rode some super rough cut single track with big rolling compressions, and down in Arizona I got my fill of undulating trails littered with loose rocks and unforgiving rock gardens. The Ripmo AF handled the different terrain in both zones well, allowing me to push the bike and my limits to the max, and I enjoyed the heck out of every lap.
During the time I had on the Ripmo AF, I logged around 30,000 feet of descent with next to no mechanical issues. I checked frame bolts around every 5th ride and not a single bolt wiggled loose throughout the test period. The burly clevis link on this bike does add some weight but the amount of stiffness and long-term durability is well worth a few extra grams in my eyes. If I were to purchase this bike, I would invest in some foam cable housing for the down tube as there is a fair amount of noise from the internally routed cabling. It is a cheap upgrade I do on my personal bikes, and one that would do a great job of quietening the Ibis down.
After an initial acclimatizing period, I found myself able to relax a bit behind the bars in the chunky rock of Arizona and let the bike really work through rough sections of trail. I found it easy to pick my line and stay committed to the end, even with loads of golf ball to softball sized rocks littered across nearly every trail. Even with this bike being larger than I am used to riding it still sported a playful feel when I wanted to get airborne or change direction to avoid a rattle snake – yes that really happened – managing to maintain a level of agility that reminds you it’s not a purebred enduro race machine. The 495mm reach sounded too long on paper but when riding the bike, it felt nearly perfect. I would have liked to have had a 35mm stem instead of the stock 50mm for riding in Washington, but in Arizona the longer stem helped keep more weight on the front wheel both when climbing and descending, aiding traction in the loose flat turns.
The 76-degree seat tube angle and relatively tall stack height of 642mm made for a comfortable cockpit to climb in. The sensitivity of the Jade X did a great job of keeping the wheel stuck to the ground for maximum traction while the anti-squat of the DW link helped keep pedal bob at a minimum. The longer wheelbase of the XL was tricky to maneuver through tight switchbacks at times, requiring wide set up lines, but it really was not a deal breaker for me. There were only a handful of times I used the mid or firm positions on the compression lever, always on a steep gravel road climb or riding to the trails from my house. The anti-squat from the frame was enough to keep the shock settled for the most part, allowing the rear end to conform to the trail better and claw its way up the climbs without sapping too much energy.
The Ripmo AF really blends the line between trail and enduro when you get it pointed downhill, making use of every millimeter of its 147mm travel – when the going get fast and rough the bike settles in and just wants to go. While when you are more moderate terrain it is not a chore to get up to speed, offering plenty of support to generate speed by pumping the terrain. It is not overly playful and poppy but there was plenty of life in the bike to have fun on side hits and natural lips. On bigger jumps the XL was super stable and predictable, albeit it a touch harder to get sideways, but that is to be expected as it has a 20mm longer reach than my usual size large bikes have.
The DW link through corners was almost intuitively predicable, you knew when traction was going to run out long before the bike lost it, making cornering one of my favourite traits of the Ripmo AF. This was especially noticeable down in AZ where there are nearly no supportive berms in the zones I was riding. When the back end would kickout it always seemed to stay hooked up just enough so that I could recover and get on the power at the exit. On supportive berms I had a level of confidence that kept me going into corners braking later and exiting with more speed. Typically I get along well with DW linked bikes, and this Ripmo AF proved no exception!
The Wolf’s Last Word
To conclude our in depth Ibis Ripmo Af Review, iIf you are looking for a bike to blur the known identity of a trail and enduro bike, the Ripmo AF is for you. A trail bike that can keep up with enduro rigs is how I would best describe it. Even though it’s burly for a modern trail bike you won’t have any worries going out for an all-day pedal thanks the support from the DW-link rear end. The updated spec list is exactly what we hoped for solving all the complaints we had with this bike in one swoop. Opt for the coil sprung build if you are looking to get extra rowdy on the downs.
Frame: Aluminum | 147mm
Fork: DVO Onyx D1 | 160mm
Shock: DVO Topaz T3 Air
Brakes: SRAM G2 R
Shifter: SRAM NX Eagle
Handlebar: Ibis 780mm Alloy
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Stem: Ibis 31.8mm
Saddle: WTB Silverado 142
Seatpost: KS Rage-i Dropper | 170mm
Hubs: DT Swiss 350
Rims: Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon
Tires: Maxxis Assegai 29” x 2.5” WT, EXO+ casing
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB BSA
Cassette: SRAM XG 1275 10-50
Cranks: SRAM NX Eagle DUB, 30t
Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle
DW Link riding characteristics
Many component complaints were solved with the 2021 spec list
2020 Component Spec
Not the prettiest frame out there
Notable cable rattle
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