Since Ibis relaunched in 2004, the company has focused exclusively on carbon frames. Today, the Santa Cruz-based brand is launching a more affordable version of its long-travel 29er, the Ripmo, in aluminum. The Ripmo AF (aluminum frame), isn’t the same bike made from a different material. It’s longer, slacker and incorporates a more progressive suspension design, allowing the Ripmo AF to run coil as well as air shocks.
Ibis Ripmo AF Highlights
- Aluminum frame
- Longer, slacker geometry
- Suspension kinematics tuned for air or coil shocks
- Frame weight: 8.25lbs (medium with DVO Topaz shock)
- Complete bike weight as tested here: 31.25lbs
- Frame pricing: $1,799 with DVO Topaz, $1,899 with DVO Jade X coil shock
- Complete bike pricing: $2,999-$4,299
- Available now
- Visit www.ibiscycles.com for more information
Ripmo Versus Ripmo AF
Rather than make an aluminum copy of the existing Ripmo, Ibis took this opportunity to push the model’s geometry forward to keep pace with ever-changing market trends.
In comparison to the Ripmo, the Ripmo AF has a head angle that’s a full degree slacker at 64.9-degrees. Reach measurements remain constant on the size small but lengthen on the medium through extra-large frame sizes. For comparison, the size medium Ripmo AF tested here has a reach that is 12mm longer than it’s carbon counterpart.
In addition to updating the geometry, Ibis adjusted the kinematics of the rear suspension to be more progressive than the carbon Ripmo. More support as the suspension reaches the end of its travel provides more bottom-out resistance for air shocks and allows Ripmo AF riders to run coil shocks. The AF also gets an every-so-slight bump in rear suspension travel from 145mm to 147mm.
In creating this aluminum enduro rig, Ibis made sure to keep all of the elements that made the Ripmo a hit with many mountain bikers. All frame sizes can fit water bottles in the front triangle. The slammed stand-over clearance lets riders on small frames run 125-150mm dropper seatposts. The medium through extra-large frames will fit a 170mm or longer dropper with ease. (I stand 5’8″ and can easily run a 170mm dropper seatpost on a medium frame.)
Like the Ripmo, the Ripmo AF has clearance for 29×2.6 tires, uses a tried and true 73mm threaded bottom bracket. The frame comes with a seven-year frame warranty and a lifetime warranty on the IGUS bushings used in the lower linkage.
Ripmo AF Pricing, Weights and Availability
The Ripmo AF is available now. Ibis is offering the Ripmo AF frame with the DVO Topaz for $1,799. For another $100 riders can upgrade to the DVO Jade X coil shock. The complete Ripmo AF builds are refreshingly affordable, with prices ranging from $2,999 to $4,299.
The Ripmo AF frame weighs in at 8.25lbs for a medium with a DVO Topaz shock. Compare that to the carbon Ripmo, which weighs 6.1lbs with a Fox Float DPX2. Respectably light builds can still be had for those willing to invest in key upgrades, such as the wheels. The weight of the Ripmo AF tested here is 31.25lbs.
Ripmo AF Q&A With Ibis Founder Scot Nicol
MTBR: When was the last time Ibis produced an aluminum frame?
Nicol: 18 years ago. The Aluminum softail Ripley
MTBR: What let Ibis to introduce an aluminum bike now?
Nicol: Over the last 38 years, we’ve built bikes out of Steel, Titanium, Carbon and Aluminum.
Ibis has always been obsessed with pushing innovation forward, which usually leads us to play in the high end of the market. In the past, we built the SilkTi out of titanium, but followed it up with a more affordable version in aluminum (the original Ripley, an aluminum softail). Producing the Ripmo AF follows that path of developing technologically-advanced products in one material, then producing a bike in a different material with wider audience appeal.
We think everyone should experience the performance benefits of modern geometry (roomy reaches, steep seat tube angles), quality components, high volume tires paired with wide rims, and of course the efficiency of the dw-Link platform. Returning to metal after an eighteen year hiatus allowed us to achieve that.
MTBR: What was the motivation for changing the geometry from the carbon Ripmo?
Nicol: There’s a change in the geometry, but the bigger story is the new dw-Link kinematics that allow the Ripmo AF to use a coil shock. Our engineers and enduro race team have been working with DVO to develop the Jade X, which we think pairs perfectly with the Ripmo AF.
All of our dw-link bikes climb well. With this bike, we are putting more emphasis on the descending prowess, hence the coil option and the slacker head angle. It’s a different bike for a different audience.
MTBR: Does this mean the carbon Ripmo is likely to get a makeover soon?
Nicol: The Ripmo stays in the line, unchanged. We’re going to see what the reaction is to this bike.
MTBR: Does Ibis plan to offer other bikes in AF versions? A Ripley AF, perhaps?
Nicol: The market reaction to this bike will be the deciding factor. We’re not saying yes or no to more “AF”. This bike is an experiment. If it’s successful, then we’ll likely go for it.
Ripmo AF First Ride Review
In the interest of transparency, I should note that I’m already a fan of the Ripmo. So much so, that I purchased one earlier this year. Throwing a leg over the Ripmo AF felt familiar with a few subtle changes that made it clear the Ripley AF is a breed apart.
The 12mm longer reach was noticeable. The reach, plus the added front center resulting from the slacker head angle does require more effort and more forethought when navigating tight switchbacks—there’s just more bike in front of you to swing through turns. The tradeoff is a bit more confidence (12mm and 1-degree of confidence, to be specific) when plunging down steep, high-speed descents.
In terms of suspension performance, the DVO Diamond fork and Topaz shock were easy to set-up, my initial assessment is that they lack the sensitivity of the Fox suspension on my personal Ripmo. I’ll spend more time tuning the dampers before weighing in with any definitive statements. I also plan to test the Ripmo AF with a coil shock to see how that affects the ride.
At 150-pounds, I’m not the right tester to speak to the stiffness of the AF in relation to the carbon Ripmo. What about weight? Well, I can’t say I really noticed the weight difference between the two bikes. This is due in part to the lightweight Ibis S35 carbon wheelset with Industry Nine Hydra hubs. (This wheelset is worth the upgrade, in my opinion.) The other factor that makes this bike pedal lighter than its 31.25-pound weight is the outstanding performance of the Ripmo AF’s rear end. The dw-Link is such an efficient suspension design that the Ripmo AF scoots up climbs with ease—better than many lighter, carbon-framed competitors.
The differences in geometry between the carbon and aluminum Ripmo is small but significant. In back to back rides, the Ripmo feels more like a long-legged trail bike. In my opinion, it’s a better all-rounder. The Ripmo AF, on the other hand, gives up a bit of maneuverability in slow-speed tech in exchange for more poise in rowdy, high-speed situations.
If you’re torn between which way to go, consider that the Ripmo will always be lighter, but the Ripmo AF will leave more weight in your wallet.