Better known for their pioneering mountain bike designs and their beautiful stems and seatposts, Ibis have been at the forefront of the more ‘bespoke’ vanguard of bicycle makers for more than 30 years, during which time this niche brand have always elicited a high ‘drool factor’.
The Silk SL is the top of their two road bikes. At just 920g for the frame and 345g for the fork, it treads lightly too. Due to its densely compacted carbon tubes and lack of thick lacquer, it has an almost musical quality, and transmits a rewarding amount of feedback. Traditional in appearance, the frame is beautifully proportioned, with subtle tube shapes and profile transitions.
Shimano’s Ultegra groupset does its usual sterling work whether it comes to stopping you safely or helping you to put the power down aggressively; its finely sculpted forged aluminium cranks not only look great but also provide impressive levels of stiffness.
Handling felt like a bit of mixed bag, making it difficult to pinpoint any particular overriding character trait, but describing the Ibis as having a twin personality wouldn’t be far off the mark. Its neutral geometry keeps the bike steady at speed, pleasantly light and adroit while in the saddle – but it’s strangely steady while climbing out of the saddle, the front end almost fighting you a little as you climb. But overall the feel was snappy with good acceleration.
Up front, the Easton EC90 all-carbon fork had just that little bit too much lateral flex, and made the bike uncertain when abruptly changing direction at high speeds. On the other hand, the Easton Circuit wheels were perfect at carrying out their duties, with a wide front wheel spoke stance compensating somewhat for the fork.
This is one bike that you steer a little more with your hips rather than your arms; 73 parallel frame angles or thereabouts, combined with a 99cm wheelbase, makes for nimble response, especially while seated. As a multi-purpose platform, from road racing to sportives, Ibis’s bike is as light and smooth as its silk name suggests; hitting the road with it is bound to spice up any ride.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.