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Ibis Ripmo AF NX Eagle Review

The aluminum framed Ibis Ripmo AF is an aggressive trail bike with a reasonable price tag
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Price:  $2,999 List
Pros:  Affordable, quality suspension, excellent tires, solid all-around performance
Cons:  Heavy, may be overkill for some riders and locations
Manufacturer:   Ibis
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 9, 2020
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 21
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 9
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 6
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 7

Our Verdict

Ibis broke their own (carbon) mold when they introduced the affordable aluminum-framed Ripmo AF. Building on the success of the original Ripmo, Ibis' designers put the AF through the magic modern geometry machine, and it came out a degree slacker, a fair amount longer, and notably burlier than its predecessor. The stout aluminum frame still employs the DW-link suspension design, but with improved kinematics aimed at providing a more progressive ramp-up at the end of the stroke. It charges as hard as you're willing to push it with responsive handling and excellent stability at speed. The AF models are heavier than their carbon siblings, yet they remain sporty and maneuverable and don't feel too sluggish on the climbs. The build is also impressive, with quality suspension, wheels, and tires that back up its hard-charging aggressive attitude. We feel you'd be hard-pressed to find a better aggressive trail bike this price.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you're looking for an aggressive trail bike that doesn't cost more than a nice used car  the Ripmo AF might be for you.
If you're looking for an aggressive trail bike that doesn't cost more than a nice used car, the Ripmo AF might be for you.

Should I Buy This Bike?


If you're in the market for an aggressive trail bike and you can't justify spending more than $3k, then we feel you should absolutely check out the Ripmo AF NX. Until recently, Ibis hasn't been synonymous with affordability, but that is likely to change with reasonably priced aluminum-framed (AF) models in their line-up. Ibis didn't play any games when they redesigned this trail smashing 29er. The overbuilt aluminum frame is burly with an even more progressive modern geometry (read: longer and slacker) and updated rear suspension kinematics to make it even harder charging than its predecessor. This bike has no speed or terrain limits, yet it still maintains a sporty and playful demeanor and is fun to ride on a huge range of trail types and rates of speed. It's no lightweight at 34 lbs (size large), yet it climbs much better than you'd expect for its weight and aggressive geometry. The component specification is also outstanding for the price, and Ibis nailed the most critical aspects of the build like the quality DVO suspension, wide rims, and beefy tires. You get a lot for your money with the Ripmo AF, and this is easily one of the best values for an aggressive trail bike that we've tested.

It's easy to compare the Ripmo AF to one of the world's most popular trail bikes, the Santa Cruz Hightower. The Hightower is another aggressive 29er with 140mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 150mm fork. We tested a high-end build of the Hightower ($5,300 more than the Ripmo AF) and found it to be a relatively versatile yet hard-charging downhill performer. The VPP suspension can't match the small bump compliance of the Ripmo's DW link, but it does provide a more supportive pedaling platform and a touch more support deep in the stroke. It's a very impressive bike, as it should be for $8,300. Santa Cruz makes affordable aluminum-framed versions of the Hightower as well, but the $2,899 Aluminum D build can't hold a candle to the build on the Ripmo AF we tested.

The Ripmo AF is a charger  it takes high-speed airs to flat in stride.
The Ripmo AF is a charger, it takes high-speed airs to flat in stride.

Ibis also recently redesigned the carbon Ripmo, and the V2 is basically a carbon copy of the Ripmo AF. We haven't had the chance to test the new Ripmo V2 yet (our test bike is on the way), but we can tell you that the primary differences will be the sleek and stiff carbon frame, the weight, and the price. The carbon frame alone is nearly 2 lbs lighter, which will be worth the extra expense to many riders. Carbon Ripmo V2's start at $4,399 for the NX build, which is nearly identical to the AF build we tested, but with Fox suspension. It comes in a total of six build options up to $9,299.

The aluminum frame looks just like the carbon version with clean lines  a short seat tube  and DW-link suspension.
The aluminum frame looks just like the carbon version with clean lines, a short seat tube, and DW-link suspension.

Frame Design


The AF in the Ripmo AF moniker stands for aluminum frame, the first that Ibis has produced in many years. The beefy frame has 147mm of rear squish controlled by a DW-link suspension design. DW-link is a dual-link design with the lower link attached to the seat tube about 2 inches above the bottom bracket, and the upper link attached a little less than halfway up the seat tube. Ibis claims to have adjusted the suspension kinematics to make it more progressive than the original Ripmo. The frame also has internal cable routing, integrated chainstay protection, and a room for a water bottle in the front triangle. It comes in sizes S-XL with short seat tubes and standover heights across all sizes.

We measured our size large Ripmo AF and found a 64.9-degree head tube and a 76-degree seat tube angle. The effective top tube length was 631mm with a 473mm reach. The bottom bracket measured 340mm off the ground with 435mm chainstays and a 1239mm wheelbase. At the weigh-in, it tipped the scales at a hefty 34 lbs set up tubeless and without pedals.

Design Highlights

  • Aluminum frame (AF)
  • 29-inch wheels only
  • 147mm of DW-link rear suspension
  • Designed around a 160mm reduced offset fork
  • Compatible with air (tested) and coil shocks
  • Clearance for up to 2.6-inch tires
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Internal cable routing
  • Complete bikes starting at $2,999 (tested)

The Ripmo AF likes to go fast and charge down chunky terrain  but it still encourages playful antics.
The Ripmo AF likes to go fast and charge down chunky terrain, but it still encourages playful antics.

Downhill Performance


The Ripmo AF really comes to life when pointed downhill and speeds increase. This bike is long and slack and ready to take on the gnarliest trails and fastest speeds you're willing to point it down. It isn't just a bruiser, however, and it performs well at a range of speeds and trail types with most of the agility and sportiness of the original Ripmo intact. Thoughtful component choices like excellent suspension, wide rims, and burly tires enhance this bike's downhill performance.

Despite the added length and slacker head tube  the Ripmo AF has responsive handling and is surprisingly maneuverable.
Despite the added length and slacker head tube, the Ripmo AF has responsive handling and is surprisingly maneuverable.

The Ripmo AF took all the best things about the original Ripmo and went a step further. From a geometry standpoint, this meant relaxing the head tube angle by a full degree to slack 64.9-degrees and stretching the wheelbase by roughly 2 centimeters to a lengthy 1239mm (size large). The reach remains a comfortable 473mm with reasonably short 435mm chainstays. These changes have made this bike even more confident in steep and super aggressive terrain and enhanced its stability at speed. It hugs the ground and feels planted and unflinching as speeds increase. The added length of the wheelbase may have impacted its low-speed handling and maneuverability ever so slightly, but the difference is marginal at best, and it rarely feels like a handful. Despite the added length, the short chainstays keep the rear end of the bike feeling lively, and it likes to manual and catch air at every opportunity.

Small bump compliance is outstanding thanks to the DW-link platform and the DVO suspension.
Small bump compliance is outstanding thanks to the DW-link platform and the DVO suspension.

In addition to the geometry tweaks, Ibis added 2mm of rear suspension to the Ripmo AF, bringing up to 147mm. One of our biggest complaints about the original Ripmo was that it didn't have the best support deep in the stroke. So, we were happy to hear that they also tweaked the rear suspension kinematics, making it more progressive at the end of the stroke. While testing, we took plenty of airs to flat and questionable line choices to put this to the test, and we found the added progressivity made a noticeable improvement to big hit performance. At the same time, the small bump compliance remains outstanding, and the mid-stroke is nice and supportive. The quality DVO suspension package doesn't hurt either. For the price, the performance and tunability of the Topaz shock and Diamond fork is absolutely stunning. Sure, it takes a little more time and effort to dial it in perfectly, but it is well worth it once you do.

The stock wheels and tires that come on the Ripmo AF are fantastic. This bike shines at speed and shreds corners.
The stock wheels and tires that come on the Ripmo AF are fantastic. This bike shines at speed and shreds corners.

As mentioned above, the quality of the suspension on the Ripmo AF is far better than you'll find on pretty much any bike that retails right around the 3k mark. Ibis didn't play games when it came to the wheels and tires either. It rolls on a set of Ibis S35 wheels with Ibis logo hubs. These rims have a 35mm internal width that pairs very well with the matched set of 2.5" wide Maxxis Assegai tires with the beefy EXO+ casing. These aggressive tires have outrageous cornering and braking traction that is only enhanced by the supportive sidewalls and wide rims that allow for lower tire pressures. The 170mm length dropper (on our size large) helps get the saddle low and out of the way on descents, while the short stem and 780mm handlebar provide plenty of leverage to pound through rock gardens and smash corners at Mach speeds. The least confidence-inspiring aspect of the build is the SRAM Guide T brakes. While they have 4-piston calipers and centerline rotors, the levers aren't great, and they feel a bit under-gunned on this bike.

The Ripmo AF is still a reasonably good climber despite its heavier weight and a geometry heavily biased toward downhill performance.
The Ripmo AF is still a reasonably good climber despite its heavier weight and a geometry heavily biased toward downhill performance.

Uphill Performance


Considering its long and slack geometry and heavier weight, the Ripmo AF is no slouch on the climbs. At 34 lbs in size large, it's not zippy like some short-travel carbon bike, mind you, but it has good angles and a steady pedaling platform. It probably won't make most people any faster up the climbs, but its comfortable and can claw its way up just about anything.

The steep seat tube makes for excellent power transfer and a great body position for tackling technical sections.
The steep seat tube makes for excellent power transfer and a great body position for tackling technical sections.

The original carbon Ripmo was a bit of a unicorn on the uphills, an aggressive trail slayer with mythical climbing abilities. This was thanks mostly to the modern geometry that included a healthy reach and steep 76-degree seat tube angle. The steep seat tube angle carries over to the Ripmo AF. It lines the rider up quite directly above the bottom bracket for super-efficient power transfer and a comfortable seated pedaling position. The 473mm reach is generous, but never feels too long or stretched out thanks to the steeper seat tube angle. The 64.9-degree head tube angle is quite slack, and the 1239mm wheelbase is certainly bordering on long, motoring up straightaway, and powering over obstacles is no problem. Thanks to the steep seat tube and reduced offset fork, however, the bike remains more maneuverable than you'd expect. Tight uphill switchbacks and technical sections of trail are manageable, but proper line choice still goes a long way. Testers did note, however, that pedal strikes were quite common if care wasn't taken while pedaling through chunky rocks.

It wasn't necessary  but we found ourselves flipping the compression damping switch for extended climbs.
It wasn't necessary, but we found ourselves flipping the compression damping switch for extended climbs.

The DW-link rear suspension provides a relatively supportive pedaling platform, and the DVO Topaz rear shock is tunable to your preferences, plus it has a three-position compression damping/climbing switch. The rear suspension's performance on the climbs will be dependent on how you tune the rear shock, and we found our middle of the road pressure settings to provide a relatively calm platform while seated and pedaling in the open position. Out of the saddle efforts resulted in noticeable pedal bob, and more often than not, we found ourselves flipping the switch to the livelier medium mode for extended singletrack grinds. In both the open and medium positions, the rear suspension smoothes small bumps in the trail like they aren't even there, and the active rear suspension provides outstanding traction. On smooth fire roads and pavement, the firm position, which feels close to a complete lockout, was preferred for efficiency.

Plenty of gears on tap for the steep punches and limitless traction from that Assegai in the rear.
Plenty of gears on tap for the steep punches and limitless traction from that Assegai in the rear.

The component specification of the NX Eagle build we tested leaves little to be desired on the climbs. The SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain is far from flashy, but it is plenty functional and provides adequate range for any steepness of climb. The Maxxis Assegai tires are far from lightweight or fast-rolling, but they have tenacious climbing traction on virtually all surfaces. The WTB Silverado saddle is also a crowd pleaser and proved to be a comfortable spot to sit and grind away the miles.

Photo Tour


You don't find DVO suspension on many complete bike builds. The Diamond fork is excellent with smooth travel  high and low-speed compression damping  adjustable rebound  and a unique OTT(off the top) adjustment.
The DVO Topaz shock is also amazing. It has a three-position compression damping switch  adjustable rebound  and can be fine-tuned with air pressure in the main air spring and the piggyback reservoir.
The cockpit setup is dialed with a short stem  wide handlebar  and a 170mm dropper post (size large).
The SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain is a budget-friendly yet reliable 12-speed option.
The Maxxis Assegai tires are aggressive and have some of the best traction of any tire on the market.
AF  It's Metal!

Value


At a retail price of just $2,999, the Ripmo AF NX is an outrageous value for a high-performance aggressive trail bike from a high-end manufacturer like Ibis. We know that's still no drop in the bucket, but considering the price of most bikes these days, we feel it is very reasonably priced. The build is impressive, and this thing is ready to rip straight out of the box with quality suspension, wheels, and tires that are well suited to this bike's hard-charging attitude. We think it's refreshing to see some of the major manufacturers making an effort to make their bikes more affordable and more accessible to more riders.

If you want a hard-charging yet versatile trail bike and you don't want to completely break the bank  check out the Ripmo AF.
If you want a hard-charging yet versatile trail bike and you don't want to completely break the bank, check out the Ripmo AF.

Conclusion


It was only a matter of time until the prices of complete mountain bikes started to drop out of the Stratosphere. Ibis came to the more affordable bike party dressed to impress with the Ripmo AF. If you're looking for a hard-charging aggressive trail bike that is still versatile enough to do it all, we feel this is easily the best you'll find at this price.

Other Versions


The Ripmo AF is available as a frame only with a DVO Topaz T3 Air shock for $1,799. Ibis also gives you the option to add a DVO Diamond D1 fork for an additional $600.

There are currently threeRipmo AF builds offered, and all of them feature the same suspension, wheels and tires, stem, grips, and saddle as standard equipment. The $2,999 NX Eagle build we tested is the least expensive option. In addition to the three different builds, Ibis gives you the option to upgrade the alloy wheels to carbon or the air shock to a DVO Jade X Coil. You can also choose between the Maxxis Assegai tires we tested or a 2.6-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic combo.

It also comes with a Shimano SLX build for $3,999 that comes with a full Shimano SLX drivetrain, SLX 4-piston brakes, and a Bike Yoke Revive dropper seatpost.

The GX Eagle build retails for $4,299 and comes with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano Deore 4-piston brakes, an Ibis Carbon handlebar, and a Bike Yoke Revive dropper.


Jeremy Benson