The Ripley LS is one of those bikes that is universally loved. It’s fast, it’s nimble and surprisingly capable. The new V3 version keeps the formula intact, right down to the suspension kinematics. The difference? It now has more tire clearance.
When WTB drew up the first plus tire, their concept was to produce a larger volume 27.5” tire that had roughly the same external diameter as a 29er. The hope was these tires would work within existing 29” mountain bike frames, which would allow riders to experiment with different wheel sizes.
The idea caught on like wildfire and like many brands, Ibis set out to meet this demand by creating a new swing arm for their 29” platform, the Ripley. At the beginning, they planned on building in clearance for around 3.25” tires, but as samples trickled in, they found they preferred 2.8” tires. Beyond that the bike stopped feeling “normal.”
When they decided to drop compatibility for bigger volume tires and focus their efforts around the tires they liked, they ran into a problem. You see, 2.8” tires don’t have the same outside diameter as a 29er. They’re about an inch smaller. Once their engineers factored in the overall diameter and tire sag, they felt that the bottom bracket on a plus/29 compatible bike would sit too low. So halfway through redesigning the Ripley swing arm, they scrapped the plans. Instead, they focused their energies on making the Mojo 3 and HD3 plus compatible.
Fast forward a couple years and tire manufacturers started to develop a new crop of tires that straddles the standard 2.3″ category and plus market. Designed around modern 35-40mm wide rims, these tires offered the same benefits of plus while feeling more like traditional tires. When Ibis started receiving their first tire samples, they felt it was time to drag out that partially completed rear triangle and get back to work.
Check our ‘tell all’ article about 2.6 tires HERE.
When the original Ripley was launched five years ago, it was targeted towards the XC/Trail market. Back then, tires were a lot smaller. The largest tire it was intended to work with was a 2.3”.
Since then, rims and tires have obviously grown bigger. The problem the engineering team faced when trying to increase tire clearance was the clevis mount, which coincided with the widest part of the tire. This point was dictated by the suspension design. To create more clearance, Ibis had to move the clevis pivot back and down.
This adjustment only affects the pivot on the shock driving link, not the link that affects kinematics. If you’re on a V2 Ripley LS, you won’t notice a difference in pedaling efficiency or suspension performance when hopping on a V3. Ibis actually claims you’ll feel a bigger difference from swapping your standard Fox shock to the newer Evol.
In addition to the changing the clevis pivot, the whole swing arm was redrawn. In the process, they removed most of the legacy front derailleur (FD) support. The V3 Ripley is now compatible with only two front derailleurs: Shimano side swing and Di2. They almost removed FD compatibility altogether but found they weren’t going to gain additional performance by removing it. Plus, the high direct mount makes a nice chain guide mount, which is what most riders are using it for.
The other minor change is that the upper eccentric has been made wider. It now visually matches the lower eccentric. Despite the changes, the weight and overall stiffness are essentially the same between the V2 and V3 chassis.
With all of these updates, the new rear triangle now has clearance for the new generation of mid plus (or plus-minus) tires, which are designed around wide rims. The bike will come stock with Schwalbe 2.6” rubber mounted on Ibis’s own rims, but there’s plenty of clearance for 2.5” Maxxis Wide Trail tires. The bike will not fit 27.5”x2.8” plus tires. That’s intentional.
Recommended Air Pressure
The rule of thumb for setting up 2.6” tires is to take the air pressure you’ve been running in your plus tires and add 2 PSI. Most riders should find their ideal pressure falls between 15-20 PSI, but that will vary with weight, terrain, and riding style.
On the trail
On the trail, the Ripley LS behaved exactly as advertised. It’s a playful little bike that will keep you grinning from bottom to top (and back down again). The bottom bracket is curb scrapingly low, so you will scrape a pedal here and there, but the minor inconvenience pays off every time you slap into a berm.
Despite the larger volume tires, the bike didn’t feel noticeably different. Whether pointed down loose chutes or dancing through rocks, the larger volume tires offered more traction and stability than expected. Despite the clown shoe size footprint, the tires didn’t feel vague or springy. They actually feel a lot like a 2.3” or 2.5” tires, except better.
A lot of readers interested in this bike are probably cross shopping between models like the Santa Cruz Tallboy or the Pivot Switchblade. For some, the ability to swap between plus and 29er will be the deciding factor in their purchase. After spending some time on 2.6”, we think it might be worth trying before making a final decision. This platform seems to offer many of the positive attributes riders associate with plus, while still handling like traditional tires. And it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than two sets of wheels.
The key takeaway from all this is that the new Ripley is now more capable than ever. From the beginning, it was always intended to be a cross country/trail bike, but riders have always pushed its boundaries. When Ibis first introduced the updated LS geometry, they moved the bike further in line with how riders were using it. By adding the ability to mount larger volume tires, they’ve done it again.
The V3 Ripley LS is available now. A frame only (with shock) will set you back $2,999. For an extra thousand dollars, you can have a complete SRAM NX or Shimano SLX build kit. The Deore XT equipped model we rode retails for $6,099 (although you’ll have to add another $800 for the carbon wheels.)
Their most expensive kit features an SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and will set you back $6,599.
To learn more, visit www.ibiscycles.com.