Interview: The real Chuck Ibis

The father of Mojo or Scot Nicol’s alter ego?

If you’re in the know, you know Chuck. But even if you know who Chuck is — Ibis founder Scot Nicol — you probably don’t know why his closest friends call him Chuck.

BikeRadar sat down with Nicol in Ibis booth at the 2010 Sea Otter Classic to hear first hand the story of how Scot became Chuck.

BikeRadar: Scot, why do people call you Chuck?

Scot: It’s a pretty boring story.

Everyone.... Well, I want to know.

I don’t remember what year, but it was the mid ’80s, back when we had the Long Beach Show, pre Vegas, pre Interbike. Anyway, we [Ibis] used to rent a motor home and fill it with bikes and drive down and camp in it.  There was a Disney Land campground right next to the Long Beach show, so we’d just roll the cheap way and camp because, we were always cheap and it’s more fun anyway.

So we stopped on the way at our dealer [for bikes guys, jeez - ed.] Hazard Cycle Sport and we stopped by and showed the crew the new offerings; they got the super sneak preview because they were on the way down. So we stopped in and brought all of our bikes out and introduced them to the guys in the shop.

What were some of the hot models that year?

We were only doing steel. Maybe a tandem or two and what we called the custom, which was just a TIG welded or fillet brazed steel hardtail. This is mid ’80s, this is early. Anyway, we had the bikes outside and some guy whose name was Pine, like the tree, stopped by. I remember he was kind of a hippy guy, this was the ’80s, and after all, he had a tie-dyed shirt. I introduced myself as Scot Nicol from Ibis and I talked to him about the bikes. He was a guy who knew the part numbers from Campy derailleur springs; he was a total bike nut. He went into little itty-bitty details about the bike. Remember he was just a customer; he wasn’t a shop guy or anything. He sort of dominated that visit there and asked us a million questions and we answered.

When it was time to go we were saying our goodbyes and I said, well Pine it was nice to have met you,’ and he goes, ‘well Chuck, Chuck Ibis it was nice to meet you too.’ After he left everyone there was just sitting around laughing and asking where the heck that came from.

When we got down to the show, people would come to the booth and say, ‘hey is Scot here?’ And we’d answer, ‘no, but Chuck is.’ It just became the joke of the show: that I was Chuck Ibis.

What kept it going after the show?

We sort of let it be known from that show forward that the insider secret handshake connection is to call me Chuck. It just ballooned into this thing. We started inventing stories of saying that Gary Fisher might have invented the mountain bike, but Chuck Ibis invented the mountains so there could be mountain bikes. We just had fun with it.

What’s the best fictitious story you’ve made up about Chuck?

I think inventing the mountains was a pretty good story. This isn’t a Chuck story, but it’s an Ibis story: the Ibis is a bird, as you know, and it figures heavily in Egyptian mythology. It has something to do with this god Thoth. I would tell a story about how the Ibis was a revered bird and was the god of sports and art, which is total bullshit, but I never ran into anybody who knew mythology so I never was called on it. I stopped doing it because I was just waiting for some scholar to call me out, but I never ran into a scholar in the mountain bike world.

Who calls you Chuck?

My wife calls me Chuck, Chucky; she never calls me Scot, unless I’m in trouble. I mean, I’m not kidding, it’s like once every three months that she says Scot.

Chuck Ibis’ new bike: Mojo HD

Chuck Ibis had his new Mojo HD on hand at Sea Otter, but BikeRadar had a chance to put three hours in on the bike in the hills of Santa Cruz with him earlier in the week. The initial impression is that of a Mojo on steroids. It’s burlier, stiffer and has more travel than the original, but its still light enough to build up a 25-pound bike with, depending on components of course. And it’s absolutely still a great bike for riding all day.

Mojo HD in Vitamin P, you know the colour if you take lots of vitamins...

The Mojo HD has 160mm of DW-Link controlled rear wheel travel. It has a claimed weight of 6.3 lbs (2.86Kg) for a Large frame and shock. A 160mm fork produces a 67-degree head angle. Its chainstays measure 17.125in and capture the rear wheel with a 135x12 rear Maxle thru-axle; the rear end accommodates tires up to 2.55in. The drive dropout is molded from carbon, while the drive side features a magnesium post-mount brake mount and dropout.

The bike uses a tapered head tube, which relies on a hidden upper headset cup and standard lower cup. The leverage ratio is designed for air shocks. The Mojo HD comes with a custom tuned Fox RP23 and the Fox DHX Air shock will work the medium, large and extra-large sized bikes. Ibis lowered the top tube to get slightly better stand over than the regular Mojo while having a higher BB because of the longer travel. A polycarbonate down tube cable guard is available for those who ride in exceedingly rocky areas.

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