First Look Review
Ibis Ripley LS 2018 Review
Cons: Expensive, disturbed by rougher terrain, climbing not overly impressive
Bottom line: Sporty trail bike with a lively and nimble feel
The 2017 Ibis Ripley LS knocked our socks off here at OutdoorGearLab. When Ibis announced the 2018, 3rd generation, Ripley LS we had to get our hands on one. Spoiler alert: we like this bike. The Ripley is a light to mid-duty trail bike that can ride above its short-travel paygrade. Folks looking to hustle around new-school flow trails or mixed terrain will love this sleek bicycle. Riders who want a fun and lively ride with the rollover abilities and speed of a 29er will be grinning ear to ear aboard the Ripley. While this bike is aggressive for its travel range, you will need to remind yourself you are aboard a trail bike with some limitations when the going gets nasty.
Should I Buy This Bike? — The difference between the 2017, or 2nd generation, Ripley and the newest iteration is limited to the rear triangle. We love the 2.6-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires stuffed into the rear triangle of the 3rd generation Ripley and found that ride characteristics improved. That said, we don't recommend taking a second job to upgrade from the 2017 version of the Ripley LS. Riders who place an emphasis on rowdy trails or dabbling in bike park riding should check out the ultra-capable Yeti SB5.5. Riders looking for similar short travel performance who might have some budget constraints should check out the Santa Cruz Tallboy. The Tallboy fits into the same fun-loving short-travel trail bike category but features aluminum build kits starting at $2599 while the least expensive Ripley LS carries a $3999 price tag.
Our Analysis and Test Results
How We Tested — Four testers spent time aboard a demo bike of this reworked classic to get our initial impressions. They pinned this bike on familiar trails to get a solid first impression of the Ripley's ride characteristics. While we plan on more in-depth testing in the future, we wanted to give you a first look to whet your whistle.
Ibis's 3rd generation Ripley LS is not a radical change from the previous version. Ibis reworked the rear triangle to accommodate 2.6-inch tires for maximum grip and some added cushion. In addition to allowing for wider rubber, these tweaks help stiffen up the rear end. During testing the crank boots on the drive side crankarm made contact with the chainstay. At this point, it only damaged the protective tape on the frame. This fun-loving bicycle features 120mm of rear wheel travel with proven DW-Link suspension.
We used an Intercomp Digital Angle Gauge, a laser beam, a six-foot beam level, a tape measure, and a grease pen to measure the Ripley's geometry. A 67.8-degree head angle is paired with middle-of-the-road 73.2-degree seat tube angle. Mid-length, 445mm chainstays create a 1142mm wheelbase on our medium sized test frame. Our test bike hit the scale at a feathery 27.15 pounds without pedals.
It is also important to note that all Ibis bikes are carbon fiber. Metal fans are out of luck.
Ibis Ripley LS 2018 Highlights
The new Ripley LS is an interesting beast indeed. This short-travel trail bike is spirited and sporty. Handling is sharp and defined thanks to responsive geometry and plenty of rubber. It encourages trail-side shenanigans that aren't commonplace for the average, business-minded, 120mm travel bike. Riders be warned: it is easy to get carried away with how hard you're pushing this short travel delight. The moral of the story is the Ripley is fun, like blasting a rally car around the forest. Just don't expect a smooth ride on a trail meant for rock crawling trucks.
Ascending sinuous singletrack is a spectacular experience aboard the 3rd generation Ripley. The short and nimble feel works in your favor when navigating uphill switchbacks and tight maneuvers. The manageable wheelbase makes it easier to pull the bike up and over obstacles in the trail. Riders are in a very neutral position thanks to a semi-slack 67.8-degree head angle middle of the road 73.2-degree seat tube angle.
Two of our testers who straddle the line between medium and large frame sizes find the medium frame to be very tight in the cockpit. We measured the reach to be 412mm. These riders stated confidently that they would need the extra space of a large frame to feel comfortable on the climbs. Riders who feel they are truly in between frame sizes should size up.
Motoring through wide uphill corners requires minimal effort and the gigantic 2.6-inch tires keep you glued to the dirt. Three-inch plus-size tires appear to be sticking around for the long haul. These 2.6-inch Nobby Nics are a nice compromise for between normal width and mid-fat rubber. Schwalbe tires are notorious for burning, or wearing, faster than the competition. The new Addix Speedgrip compound spec'd on our demo bike was designed to increase durability while still offering the same grip. Our test period didn't allow for substantial observation of tire wear, but we are impressed with their performance.
The climbing motion remains reasonably efficient while seat or standing, though there is minor pedal bob in the shock's open position. The tires feel glued to the ground. Seated climbing on this short travel rig can be jarring on rougher terrain. Our chief complaint about the lively and fun 2nd generation 2017 Ripley was the high number of pedal strikes we experienced when climbing rocky terrain. There were significantly fewer pedal strikes aboard the new version during our short test period.
Climbing abilities didn't blow us out of the water, but we are not complaining too loudly. The Ripley LS is more than capable of getting you to the top of multi-hour slogs with minimal amounts of pain.
When it is time to point this bike downhill, the sporty and nimble theme persists. While this phrase has been uttered continuously over the past few years, the Ripley truly does not feel like a 29er. Corners are slain with ease, assuming you fit on the bike.
Our 5' 9"+ testers felt the tight, 600mm top tube on the medium Ripley had a negative effect on cornering. The short reach put more weight over the front of the bike forcing the rider's weight deep into Fox Float 34 fork's travel. Not ideal.
When aimed down rowdy terrain the Ripley LS remains composed. However, riders are very aware they are riding a 120mm travel bike as the experience can be described as harsh. Our enduro-minded testers agreed that the Ripley, while it is capable of getting aggressive, provides harsh feedback when pushed out of its comfort zone. Others say that a short travel trail bike is an inherently rougher ride when driven hard. Running the 2.6-inch tires at a lower pressure, say 18-20 PSI, would be helpful to reduce or soften the chatter.
Regardless of how the rear shock feels, the Ripley is a sporty and capable descender. It is best suited to attack flowier trails or ones with few lengthy rock gardens. This bike handles speed well and does not get flustered when the throttle is cranked to 11. Relatively low amounts of body language are required to get this bike into party mode. The Ibis wants to rally, seeking out fun features in the trail to bounce off and jump over. The Ripley's can-do attitude is impressive, but it requires a reminder that it is a short-travel bike and needs to back off on the gnar.
We are impressed with the performance of the 2018 Ripley LS. Regardless of build quality, the $6999 price tag is steep. This bicycle is outfitted with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and its fair share of carbon components which work towards justifying the eye-popping price tag. Ibis is viewed as a premium or boutique brand that can help explain such price tags, especially when it is backed up by performance.
Test Bike Build Highlights — X01 Eagle
The 2018 Ripley LS is a composed trail crusher. While it may not be drastically different than the 2nd generation Ripley, there is no denying it shreds. We do not recommend taking out a second mortgage to upgrade to the newest Ripley from the previous iteration. That said, 2.6-inch tires wrapped around 29-inch hoops are magical, especially for those of you riding in loose conditions. The 120mm of solid, if somewhat harsh, DW-Link travel in a nimble, balanced bike provides a neatly packaged invitation to the party. You will likely forget that you are riding them big wheels. Those in search of a confident and fun short-travel 29er will not be disappointed by the 2018 Ripley LS.
— Pat Donahue, Paul Tindal, Joshua Hutchens, Clark Tate
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 28, 2017
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