I had a chance to attend the first two days of Outerbike in Moab this year and was able to hook up with schlim (Ben) who’s been doing some very insightful Outerbike reviews here for the past few years and his buddy Dietrich. We had a great time on some really amazing trails and on some very impressive bikes. Here’s what I thought. I think schlim will post up his own reviews separately so watch for those as well.
The same disclaimers apply here as in the Interbike reviews, 2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 1 and 2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2. Enjoy.
Be sure to read KRob’s Outerbike 2013 Bike Demo Reviews – Part 2.
This is one of the bikes that was tops on the list as a Chili complement bike for me. All reports seemed to point to a fun, nimble, and fast 29er XC/Trail bike so I elbowed and pushed my way to the Ibis booth when they released the cattle gate shortly after 9:00 to score a size large first thing this morning.
The Ripley is a very unique feeling bike. When you sit on it, it doesn’t feel like a 29er. The wheel base is short and I kept looking down to make sure it actually had big wheels. Once on the trail proper I noticed that it climbed efficiently and the seated climbing position was comfortable and fairly upright. The front end felt tucked in just looking down at the wheel, but most xc/trail bikes feel that way after stepping off the Knolly. It always takes me a few minutes to get used to the taller stack height on 29ers compared to my Chilcotin but in short order it started to feel pretty good. Where it really felt great was standing. It just felt natural with a purposeful attack position without feeling stooped over. And speaking of standing… it just loved to hammer and climb from a standing position. Despite having ridden 6 hours on Wednesday and doing a TWE ride plus a Amasa/Cap’n Ahab ride yesterday, I just kept wanting to stand and torque up steep climbs in too big of gear. Traction was exceptional as well. Of course it had rained overnight and all the dirt was super packed and tacky…. But other bikes slipped a little in similar situations so it wasn’t just the perfect dirt speaking.
Weaving in and out of rocks on the twisty North 40 trail displayed its astounding nimbleness (for a twenty-niner) and it was easy to lift its front wheel up onto ledges and manual over small drops and little dips and gaps in the trail. Fun stuff. I also purposely left the trail to roll up onto larger boulders and off the back side to test its technical and steep roller chops and was very impressed with how it handled those situations. I don’t know what its bottom bracket height is but after countless pedal strikes on my Chili over the past two days (I never bothered to change it into its steeper/higher BB mode while here) I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of pedal strikes on the Ripley. The frame was stiff, light, and quiet.
But here’s the (minor) rub. I didn’t really notice any of the typical 29 “advantages”. It felt like many of the light weight, short travel 27.5” bikes I’ve tried over the past couple weeks but wasn’t quite as nimble as some of those. Roll over and that big-wheels-keep-on-rolling feel I’ve had on other 29ers didn’t seem to be there as much. It sounds odd to say, but it felt like it was a 29er just for the sake of being a 29er. In fact if I’d been blind folded I don’t think I would’ve guessed it was a 29er. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it was just a different feel than what I’ve come to expect from a 29er. Make of that what you want.
Despite that observation, I still really liked the Ripley. It does break the mold and works very well while doing it. I’d be interested in riding it with a 140 34mm Fox or Pike fork sometime to see how well it stretches into the more trail/am territory.
A look at the very clean built in mini-link dw system.
The Ripley is a very compact looking and feeling 29er.
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