IBIS RIPMO AF NGX REVIEW
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. Being a fan of DW-Linked bikes myself, I was rather stoked to get this Ibis Ripmo AF for a long-term 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.