The rumour mills have been grinding long and hard about when, where and even if Ibis Cycles cycles would launch their first 29er. The answer is here and now at the 2011 Eurobike show in Germany, and it's called the Ripley.
The shock is that it isn't a big-wheeled version of their successful Tranny hardtail but a full-suspension bike. Ibis have worked on the concept since 2008, which is a long incubation by any standard. The Ripley started out as a 26in bike with 100mm of travel, then morphed into a 120mm bike and finally, before the moulds were cut, the wheel size was upped to 29in – due to demand from riders.
A 120mm cross-country weapon
The gunmetal grey Ripley on show here is the only one in the world and is less than two days out of the oven. It's built with Shimano XTR Trail components and Easton EC90XC carbon wheels, and it cuts a dash. Even without decals (the show bike only sports a metal Ibis head tube badge while final graphics are designed) the Ripley shows Ibis DNA courtesy of their in-house designer.
The bike doesn't look like a Mojo, which is a deliberate move, Ibis head honcho Tom Morgan told BikeRadar, because it's meant as a new chapter in the company's styling. There are numerous little design touches which the anoraks out there will pick up on and love. 120mm of travel was chosen because Ibis felt 100mm to be a bit minimal and they reckon 120mm is about right for fast cross-country riders, marathon racers and, well, most regular riding folk too.
The latest Ibis continues to use Dave Weagle'sDW-Link suspension design but has a new, lighter adjustable pivot system
The nub of the design is the bike's use of a new pivot system which is lighter and more efficient than the Lopes Link used on the Mojo line. The new link is designed by Dave Weagle (the brains behind DW-Link and latterly Split Pivot), who came up with some new angular contact bearings which can be easily maintained and adjusted for wear, ensuring slop-free performance. The new system is called '2X', at least provisionally, and while it isn't limited to Ibis they're currently the only ones using it.
Not available until 2012, but already showing promise
The bike we've seen isn't rideable but we've seen a few things which we think will make it a star on the trail. The way the chassis is shaped with a low standover height, even on this large size, creates a bike which looks to be less of a handful in tight situations than some other more barge-like 29er full-sussers.
We also love the lateral positioning of the shaft end of the rear shock – a real Homer Simpson 'D'oh!' moment. The 90° switch means any lateral forces which make it to the rear shock act with the pivot direction and not against it as on all other rear shock mounts, something Ibis hope will reduce wear.
The laterally mounted shaft pivot is said to relieve lateral stress on the damper
Production is slated for sometime in 2012, but with no firm date and a promise that it'll be ready "when we're ready" – time at least to eBay your current rig and get ready to roll large on a Ripley. We've been assured the first ride test on the first finished one, so stay tuned for more action from Ibis on BikeRadar.