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Ibis Ripley AF Deore Review

Just as versatile, fun, and playful as the carbon version in a more affordable but slightly heavier aluminum-framed package
Ibis Ripley AF Deore
Credit: Laura Casner
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Price:  $3,199 List | $3,199.00 at Backcountry
Pros:  Affordable, versatile, good build for the price, lively and playful, DW-Link suspension
Cons:  Heavier weight, shorter travel-requires skilled rider in super aggressive terrain
Manufacturer:   Ibis Cycles
By Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens  ⋅  Jul 12, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 22
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8.0
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 8.0
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 7.0
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

Ibis recently released the more affordable Ripley AF, an aluminum-framed version of their popular short travel trail bike. This 29er has 120mm of rear travel paired with a 130mm fork and an up-to-date, modern geometry. It retains the lively and playful character of the carbon version with a degree slacker head tube angle that provides a little more stability and composure on the descents. The DW-Link suspension design performs fabulously both up and down the hill, and the AF climbs with the same impressive efficiency as its carbon sibling. The Deore build is also well spec'd for the price, and we feel it is an outstanding value. Our only real gripe is the added weight of the aluminum frame, as this bike tips the scales at just over 33 lbs in a size large.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Ibis Ripley AF Deore
Awards  Top Pick Award    
Price $3,199 List
$3,199 at Backcountry
$4,300 List$2,999 List
Check Price at Backcountry
$3,450 List$3,499 List
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Pros Affordable, versatile, good build for the price, lively and playful, DW-Link suspensionHighly adjustable geometry, adaptable for terrain or riding style, SWAT storage, plush suspension, very stable and confident descenderAffordable, quality suspension, excellent tires, solid all-around performanceRelatively affordable, good component spec for the price, great small bump compliance, versatile/well-roundedAffordable, nice component specification, lively, fast climber, lightweight
Cons Heavier weight, shorter travel-requires skilled rider in super aggressive terrainOverkill for tame trails, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, moderate weightHeavy, may be overkill for some riders and locationsFrame sizing feels a little small, can be overwhelmed in super aggressive terrainNon-aggressive tires, steeper head tube angle, requires skilled pilot in rowdier terrain
Bottom Line Just as versatile, fun, and playful as the carbon version in a more affordable but slightly heavier aluminum-framed packageA heavy-hitting longer travel trail bike with an innovative, highly adjustable geometryThe aluminum framed Ibis Ripmo AF is an aggressive trail bike with a reasonable price tagThe 2020 Trek Fuel EX 8 is a reasonably priced, versatile, and well-rounded mid-travel trail bikeThe Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 is a lively, lightweight, mid-travel trail bike with an XC attitude
Rating Categories Ibis Ripley AF Deore Specialized Stumpju... Ibis Ripmo AF NX Eagle Trek Fuel EX 8 Canyon Neuron CF 8.0
Fun Factor (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Downhill Performance (35%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Climbing Performance (35%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Ease of Maintenance (5%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Ibis Ripley AF Deore Specialized Stumpju... Ibis Ripmo AF NX Eagle Trek Fuel EX 8 Canyon Neuron CF 8.0
Wheel size 29" 29" 29" 29" 29"
Suspension & Travel DW-Link - 120mm FSR - 150mm DW-Link - 147mm Active Braking Pivot (ABP) - 130mm Triple Phase Suspension - 130mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 33 lbs 3 oz (Large) 31 lbs 14 oz (Large) 34 lbs (Large) 31 lbs 7 oz (Large) 28 lbs 10 oz (Large)
Fork Fox 34 Performance - 130mm Fox 36 Rhythm - 160mm DVO Diamond D1 160mm Fox 34 Rhythm 140mm 34mm stanchions Fox 34 Rhythm 130mm 34mm stanchions
Shock Fox Float DPS Performane EVOL Fox Float DPX2 Performance DVO Topaz T3 Air Fox Float Performance EVOL RE:activ Fox Float DPS Performance
Frame Material Aluminum FACT 11m Carbon Fiber Aluminum Alpha Platinum Aluminum Carbon Fiber
Frame Size Large S4 (Large equivalent) Large XL Large
Frame Settings N/A Flip Chip and Headtube angle N/A Flip Chip N/A
Available Sizes S-XL S1-S6 S-XL S-XXL XS-XL
Wheelset Ibis S35 Aluminum rims with Ibis hubs, 35mm ID Roval 29 alloy rims with Shimano Centerlock hubs, 30mm id Ibis S35 Aluminum rims with Ibis hubs, 35mm ID Bontrager Line Comp 30, 30mm ID w/ Bontrager Hubs DT Swiss M 1900, 30mm ID front and 25mm ID rear
Front Tire Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.6" Specialized Butcher GRID TRAIL T9, 2.6" Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5" Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29 x 2.6" Maxxis Forekaster 2.35" EXO 3C Triple
Rear Tire Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.6" Specialized Eliminator GRID TRAIL T7, 2.3" Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5" Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29x2.6" Maxxis Forekaster 2.35" EXO 3C Maxx Speed
Shifters Shimano Deore 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Crankset Shimano Deore M6100 30T Shimano SLX 170mm SRAM NX Eagle DUB 32T SRAM Truvativ Descendant 6k DUB 30T 175mm Truvativ Stylo 6K DUB 30T
Saddle WTB Silverado 142mm Specialized Bridge Comp WTB Silverado Pro Bontrager Arvada 138mm Iridium Trail
Seatpost KS Rage-i 150mm(Large) X-Fusion Manic 170mm (S4/S5), 34.9 diameter KS Rage-i 150mm(Large) Bontrager Line Dropper 150mm Iridium Dropper
Handlebar Ibis 780mm Alloy Specialized 6061 alloy, 30mm rise, 800mm width Ibis 780mm Alloy Bontrager Line alloy 35mm clamp, 780mm Iridium Flatbar
Stem Ibis 31.8mm, 50mm Specialized Alloy Trail stem, 35mm bore Ibis 31.8mm 50mm Bontrager Line 50mm Iridium
Brakes Shimano Deore M6120 4-piston Shimano SLX 4-piston SRAM Guide T 4 piston Shimano Deore M6000 SRAM Guide T
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 630 625 631 654 620
Measured Reach (mm) 475 475 473 490 453
Measured Head Tube Angle 65.5-degrees 63-65.5 (adjustable) 64.9-degrees 66.25-degrees H / 65.75-degrees L 67.1-degrees
Measured Seat Tube Angle 76-degrees 76.9-degrees 76-degrees 76.0-degrees H / 75.5-degrees L 75.0-degrees
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 335 340 (adjustable with flip chips) 340 349 H / 342 L 335
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1217 1247 1239 1240 1196
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 432 438 (S1-S4) 435 438 442
Warranty Seven Years Lifetime Seven Years Lifetime Six years

Our Analysis and Test Results

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the ripley af is the aluminum-framed version of ibis' popular short...
The Ripley AF is the aluminum-framed version of Ibis' popular short travel trail bike. It retains the versatility, playfulness, and efficiency of the carbon model at a slightly heavier weight and more affordable price.
Credit: Laura Casner

Should I Buy This Bike?


The Ibis Ripley AF Deore is an affordable short travel trail bike that makes sense for a lot of riders. This versatile ride builds on the nimble and playful legacy of the carbon Ripley in a more budget-conscious aluminum-framed (AF) package. Ibis kept the AF true to its roots, with 120mm of rear travel paired with a 130mm fork and just-right modern geometry. It maintains the liveliness that has been a hallmark of the Ripley with a degree slacker head tube angle and a slightly longer wheelbase to help enhance its stability at speed and composure in steeper, rougher terrain. The DW-Link suspension provides great small-bump compliance, mid-stroke support, and enough progression to give it a more-travel-than-it-actually-has feel. On the climbs, the suspension platform is very calm and the Ripley AF climbs more efficiently than you'd expect for a 33 lb bike. The steep seat tube and roomy cockpit combine for a comfortable seated position and well above average technical climbing abilities. Make no mistake, the added weight is somewhat noticeable, and this bike doesn't climb quite as swiftly as the lighter carbon version, but our testers didn't really seem to mind. On the descents, that weight also manifests itself in a slightly damper and more relaxed feel, which isn't necessarily a bad thing either. The Deore build we tested is the least expensive offered, but Ibis nailed most of the important components like the wheels/tires, suspension, and drivetrain while managing to keep the price out of the stratosphere.

How does the Ripley AF compare to the carbon Ripley? Well, the first and most glaring difference is the weight. The carbon frame weighs 2.45 lbs less than the aluminum frame. That is quite significant and surely contributes to the carbon Ripley's razor-sharp handling, precision, and all-around quickness. The carbon model also has a 66.5-degree head tube angle, a full degree steeper, which helps to keep the steering super responsive, but makes it ever so slightly more nervous feeling in steeper, rougher terrain. Of course, there's also the price, and the carbon model will set you back an additional $1,900 for the complete Deore build. That said, it comes with upgraded Fox Factory suspension and 4-piston brakes. Carbon Ripley builds range in price from $5,099 to $11,499.

The Santa Cruz Tallboy is another interesting comparison. The Tallboy also rolls on 29-inch wheels and has 120mm of rear suspension and a 130mm fork. Both bikes share very similar geometry measurements and intended uses. Comparing the two is kinda like splitting hairs, but the biggest difference is in the performance of the suspension. Santa Cruz's VPP suspension design is quite supportive and handles big hits very well. Ibis' DW-Link offers better small bump compliance and a generally more refined feel overall. The Tallboy also comes in more frame sizes, six total from XS-XXL. Santa Cruz makes the Tallboy in both carbon and aluminum frames ranging in price from $3,099 up to $11,549. The base model Tallboy Aluminum D goes for $3,099 but comes with downgraded wheels, drivetrain, and suspension components compared to the Ripley AF Deore.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the ripley af frame looks quite similar to the carbon version. the...
The Ripley AF frame looks quite similar to the carbon version. The DW-Link suspension and most of the geometry measurements are the same, although it has a degree slacker head tube angle and a slightly longer wheelbase.
Credit: Laura Casner

Frame Design


Ibis gave the aluminum-framed Ripley AF similar lines and looks to the carbon model, as well as the same DW-Link suspension design. DW-Link is a dual-link system with two links attaching the rear triangle to the seat tube, one about mid-way up and the other just above the bottom bracket. Both links move in the same direction as the bike cycles through its travel, with a clevis driving the rear shock which is attached about 2/3 of the way up the downtube. The DW-Link design provides a stable pedaling platform, excellent small bump compliance, a supportive mid-stroke, and ample progression at the end of the travel. The frame also features internal cable routing, room within the front triangle for a full-size water bottle, and molded chainstay protection. The Ripley AF comes in four frame sizes, Small-XL.

Like they did when they came out with the Ripmo AF, Ibis made some minor changes to the geometry of the Ripley AF compared to the carbon version. The main difference is the 65.5-degree head tube angle, which is a full degree slacker than the carbon model. The slacker head tube angle also adds 10mm to the wheelbase length across all sizes, and our size Large measured 1,217mm. The rest of the measurements remain the same, with a 630mm effective top tube length, 475mm reach, 432mm chainstays, and a 76-degree effective seat tube angle. Our large test bike tipped the scales at 33 lbs and 3 oz set up tubeless without pedals.

Design Highlights

  • Aluminum frame (AF)
  • 29-inch wheels only
  • 120mm of DW-Link rear suspension
  • Designed around a 130mm reduced offset fork
  • Internal cable routing
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Room in the front triangle for a full-size water bottle
  • Sold as frame and shock only for $1,899
  • Complete builds ranging from $3,199 to $4,099

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - this bike is a blast to ride downhill. despite the added weight, it...
This bike is a blast to ride downhill. Despite the added weight, it feels quick and playful with geometry that can tackle just about anything and the dialed DW-Link suspension design smoothes out the trail very well.
Credit: Laura Casner

Downhill Performance


For a short travel bike, the Ripley AF is a versatile downhill shredder that feels both nimble and planted at the same time. It slices and dices, yet provides the confidence to cash a few checks beyond its short travel pay grade. The geometry is up to date and the DW-Link suspension design is dialed in and works well in all situations. Ibis finished it off with a quality component specification, for the price, that doesn't leave you wanting on the descents.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - short travel doesn't mean short on capability. the slacker head...
Short travel doesn't mean short on capability. The slacker head angle and longer wheelbase are welcome changes to the geometry.
Credit: Laura Casner

Like most modern trail bikes, the Ripley's geometry has grown a little longer and slacker every time a new version is released. With the AF, Ibis kept almost everything the same as the carbon version except for the head tube angle which was slackened by a full degree to 65.5. This change also led to a corresponding increase in wheelbase length of 10mm across all frame sizes. Chainstay, effective top tube, and reach measurements all remain the same, and we think that's a good thing. Travel numbers are also the same, with a modest 120mm in the rear paired with a 130mm fork. The result is as you might expect. The Ripley AF has the signature personality that has permeated through every iteration of this bike. It's lively, playful, and responsive as we've come to expect, yet it feels surprisingly stable and composed when you want it to. The slacker head tube and slightly longer wheelbase provide a bit more confidence at speed or when rolling into a steep section of trail without detracting noticeably from the bike's handling or performance on mellower trails. It is still a short travel trail bike, of course, so it rewards good technique and line choice when things get super rough. That said, the geometry and balanced suspension allow it to handle terrain typical reserved for bikes with more travel. Due to the additional weight, the AF does feel a touch more muted and can't match the razor-sharp precision of the carbon version, but that's hardly a complaint.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the dw-link suspension design carries over from ibis' ripley and...
The DW-Link suspension design carries over from Ibis' Ripley and Ripmo models, giving the Ripley AF a very similar feel on the trail.
Credit: Laura Casner

The DW-Link suspension design feels like it has been dialed in to perfection. Small bump compliance is excellent, and the Ripley AF soaks up vibrations and trail chatter better than most. The mid-stroke has a supportive feel, and it performs well over high-frequency chop and mid-sized chunk. It also helps to give the Ripley a spunky, poppy demeanor when pumping or playing your way down the trail and responds well when you hammer on the pedals out of a corner. Despite having only 120mm of travel to work with, the progression at the end of the stroke helps to give the Ripley a relatively bottomless feel, within reason, of course. Yes, you can find the limits of this bike's travel, but you've got to go out of your way to do it. Again, the Ripley AF gives the impression that has a little more travel than it does, and skilled riders who can pick smooth lines should be able to tackle just about anything on it.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the ripley af is well appointed for the price, there's nothing...
The Ripley AF is well appointed for the price, there's nothing really holding you back on the descents.
Credit: Laura Casner

For the price, Ibis did a great job choosing components for the Deore build that generally help to enhance its downhill performance. The Performance level Fox Float 34 fork and Fox Float DPS shock both work well and are nicer than you'll find on most other bikes at this price point. The stock Ibis S35 wheels have a trail dampening feel with a 35mm inner rim width that plays very well with today's modern tire widths. The stock Maxxis tire combo (our test bike had Schwalbe Hans Dampfs) of a Minion DHR II and a Dissector should also be sure to please most the majority of trail riders and not require an immediate upgrade. We found the Ibis handlebar and stem combo to provide a forgiving yet responsive front end, and the 170mm KS Rage-i dropper (drop length varies by frame size) ensures you can get your saddle low and out of the way on descents. The Shimano Deore 2-piston brakes get the job done and have a great lever feel, although we think some slightly more powerful brakes would be a welcome addition.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the extra pounds don't go unnoticed, but the ripley af is a...
The extra pounds don't go unnoticed, but the Ripley AF is a surprisingly effective and efficient climber.
Credit: Laura Casner

Climbing Performance


One of the hallmarks of all Ripley models has been their climbing prowess, and the AF continues that trend with a very comfortable and efficient uphill performance. It feels strikingly similar to the carbon version, other than the extra few pounds of weight, giving it a more relaxed demeanor. The DW-Link suspension platform is very calm and supportive, and the geometry is totally dialed. Add to that a budget-friendly but quality component specification, and this bike is ready to climb anything you are.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - the ripley af's geometry is well sorted and it's not only...
The Ripley AF's geometry is well sorted and it's not only comfortable but scrambles up technical sections with the best of 'em.
Credit: Laura Casner

When it comes to geometry, the AF is almost identical to the carbon Ripley other than the slacker head tube and slightly longer wheelbase. The 76-degree seat tube angle is steep enough without being too steep, and it holds the rider up right above the cranks for a direct transfer of power down into the pedals. Combine that seat tube angle with the 475mm reach and it provides a great position for attacking mellow, steep, and technical climbs alike. One might think that the slacker head tube and 10mm longer wheelbase might make the handling feel a bit less responsive, but we found it to feel nimble and easy to maneuver in all situations. The Ripley AF is indeed a spirited climber, and its tried and true geometry is one of the primary reasons why. The elephant in the room, however, is the AF's heavier weight. This bike weighs just over 33 lbs in the size large we tested, and that's several pounds more than the carbon version. Surprisingly, this bike doesn't really feel all that heavy, but it definitely doesn't climb with quite the same urgency or gusto as the carbon version.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - in or out of the saddle, the dw-link suspension platform is calm and...
In or out of the saddle, the DW-Link suspension platform is calm and efficient.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ibis has employed the DW-Link suspension design on all of the Ripley models, and that's the other reason this bike climbs so darn well. Sure, they've modified it slightly over the years and different versions of the bike, but the latest iteration is one of the best. The pedaling platform is very calm and supportive, enhancing pedaling efficiency when seated or standing. In the saddle, there is virtually no suspension movement or wasted energy when cranking away on the pedals. Out of the saddle, there is a touch more movement, but again, it gives the sense that almost all of your effort is being transferred into forward momentum. This is the kind of bike that could get away with a shock that doesn't have a compression damping switch, except for the occasional long paved road climb. Despite the steady feel of the rear suspension under pedaling forces, it doesn't feel harsh. Instead, it seems to separate forces very well, and it has great small bump compliance when rolling over rough sections of trail. It also handles technical climbs and ledges with aplomb and doesn't tend to hang up the way some other bikes can.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - despite its reasonable price, the build of the ripley af comes...
Despite its reasonable price, the build of the Ripley AF comes together quite well out on the trail.
Credit: Laura Casner

While the component specification of the Deore build we tested is definitely budget-conscious, it performed very well out on the trail. The 12-speed Deore drivetrain performs nearly as well as Shimano's higher-end groups with crisp shifting and plenty of range but with a slight weight penalty. The Ibis S35 wheelset has a nice damp ride quality and a wide, 35mm inner rim width that works well with today's wider tires and provides more air volume and a larger contact patch. The Ibis hubs don't have the fastest freehub engagement, but we found it hard to complain too much at this price point. Our test bike was equipped with 2.6-inch wide Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires front and rear due to supply chain-related issues, but this bike normally comes with a crowd-pleasing Maxxis Minion DHR II in the rear. The DHR II is one of the most popular trail riding tires on the market for its impressive climbing, braking and cornering traction.

Photo Tour


At this price point, the Fox 34 Performance shock is a great fork...
At this price point, the Fox 34 Performance shock is a great fork specification.
The Fox Float DPS Performance rear shock handles the rear suspension...
The Fox Float DPS Performance rear shock handles the rear suspension duties very well.
Shimano's Deore 12-speed drivetrain works impressively well...
Shimano's Deore 12-speed drivetrain works impressively well, especially compared to other low-end options on the market.
It's not flashy, but Ibis built this bike up with perfectly...
It's not flashy, but Ibis built this bike up with perfectly functional cockpit components.
Our test bike was rolling on Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires front and...
Our test bike was rolling on Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires front and rear. Stock builds come with a quality Maxxis combo.
We don't think it's necessarily the best-looking design out there...
We don't think it's necessarily the best-looking design out there, but the DW-Link suspension is really, really good.

Value


While the retail price of the Ripley AF Deore is still no drop in the bucket, it is undoubtedly a great value. With the price of bikes skyrocketing in recent years, it's refreshing to see a brand like Ibis doing their best to produce quality bikes at reasonable prices. Sure, this bike weighs a bit more than its carbon fiber counterpart, but it retains the same agility and playful character that defines this short travel trail ripper. It also comes well-spec'd with components that are up to the task of tearing up the trails the way this bike was intended.

Conclusion


If you're in the market for a shorter travel trail bike and can't stomach the though of spending upwards of $5,000, then the Ripley AF is a great option to consider. The AF stays true to its Ripley roots with a lively and fun-loving demeanor, a high level of versatility, efficient climbing performance, and downhill chops that exceed its modest travel numbers, albeit with a slightly heavier and less expensive aluminum frame. If you don't mind the extra weight, this is an excellent trail bike and one of the best values out there.

Ibis Ripley AF Deore trail mountain bike - if you don't mind a little extra weight, the ripley af is a...
If you don't mind a little extra weight, the Ripley AF is a fantastic short travel trail bike that won't break the bank and is sure to please a huge number of riders.
Credit: Laura Casner

Other Versions


The Ripley AF comes in two colors, Monolith Silver (tested) and Pond Scum Green. This bike is sold as a frame and rear shock only for $1,899, or it comes in three complete build options including the $3,199 base model Deore build we tested.

The NGX build retails for $3,499 and comes with the same frame, suspension components, wheels/tires, and cockpit, but it has a mix of SRAM NX and GX drivetrain components and SRAM G2 R 4-piston brakes.

At the top of the Ripley AF line is the SLX build for $4,099. Again, this build is largely the same as the others, but it comes with an upgraded Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain and SLX 2-piston brakes.

Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens
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