Perhaps the latest in a seemingly never-ending procession of mountain bike innovations to make bikes more capable and riding experiences more comfortable is the plus-size trail bike. Scott has one. Santa Cruz has one. And Specialized, too. Now add Ibis to the club with its just released Mojo 3.
Video: Jeff Kendall-Weed puts the Mojo 3 through its paces. Video provided by Kitsbow.
Why Mojo 3? Well, the first Mojo was a steel hardtail introduced in the early ’90s. The Mojo 2 was a long-travel, full-carbon fiber bike that came out in 2005. And now, the Mojo 3. Depending on how you look at it, the redesigned Mojo 3 could be the baby brother to the HD3 or the successor of the Mojo SLR, but with one main difference – the Mojo 3 has been designed around the capability to run 27.5×2.8” tires. There are a number of complete build kit options starting with the Special Blend at $3,999. Frame only is $2,999.
At first glance, the Mojo 3 looks almost identical to the HD3, but underneath the bright gloss red finish, the Mojo 3 boasts some significant weight savings, shaving nearly a pound of frame weight as compared to the HD3, coming in at a trim 5.45 pounds in size medium with a Fox FLOAT DPS EVOL shock. The reason behind this weight savings is the shorter 130mm travel that allows for a lighter composite layup design without sacrificing any stiffness says Ibis, which claims the rear swingarm on the Mojo 3 is slightly stiffer than the HD3.
In addition to its lighter weight, the Mojo 3 features dw-link version 5 design. Ibis trail bikes have always been adept climbers, and the Mojo 3 promises to continue this trend of efficient performance when the trail points uphill.
When the trail points downhill, the Mojo 3 delivers a long, low and slack feel thanks to a 66.8-degree head tube angle with a 140mm RockShox Pike fork. Balancing out the slackness up front are short 425mm chainstays, giving the bike balance between high-speed stability in the steeps with quick, sharp performance in tight switchbacks.
In order to clear 27.5×2.8” tires, the Mojo 3 features Boost 148mm rear and 110mm front axle spacing, with contoured notches in the rear swingarm to further clear the plus size tires. Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5×2.8” tires clear the frame with just barely enough space, but I would be a little concerned what clearance would be reduced to in muddy conditions. In situations like that, slightly narrower 2.4 tires would offer better traction in mud anyway, while offering more than adequate tire clearance.
The Mojo 3 Mtbr is riding has Ibis 741 carbon rims with 35mm inner width, creating a better tire profile and lower tire pressure capability of about 15 psi for good bite in corners. Ibis believes there is a sweet spot with plus size tires, and 2.8” width is it. They found that beyond this size, plus tires tend to get bouncy and heavy, or as Ibis engineer Colin Hughes puts it, “Plus size tires are really fun…until they’re not.”
Ibis also made sure that the Mojo 3 didn’t compromise geometry spec, so unlike the recently released Santa Cruz Hightower, the Mojo 3 cannot interchange 27.5+ and 29” wheels. If the Mojo 3 had been designed to accommodate 29” wheels, running the 27.5×2.8” tires would have lowered the frame’s 13.1-inch bottom bracket height a half-inch, creating pedal strike issues. And regardless of plus size or a narrower 2.3” tire, bottom bracket height at sag is the same.