KRob’s Outerbike 2013 Bike Demo Reviews – Part 1

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro Outerbike Test Sessions

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.

Ibis Ripley

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.

Next Bike: Yeti SB95 Carbon »

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About the author: Kent Robertson

Kent Robertson (better known to Mtbr forum users as KRob) is just a guy who likes to ride. A lot. Kent’s 52 and has been riding mountain bikes for almost two decades, though he says his love of two-wheeled conveyances began when he was 5. His favorite trail type is any, be it fast and flowy, steep and chunky, or jumpy and droppy. Even a mellow bike path cruise with his wife makes him happy. “If I’m on two wheels it’s a good day.” Kent calls Ely, Nevada, home, but he’s ridden all over the western U.S. from Moab and Fruita, to Tahoe and Oregon, to a bunch of places in between. And while Kent focuses on the ride more than the bike, he’s ridden and tested a ton of bikes and knows what makes for a good ride — and a good bike. You can read more from Kent on his personal website,

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  • Mark says:

    Thanks for the wide-ranging comparisons. You may want to pay more attention to the effect of tire choice especially in the 27.5 category. The HDR has limited rear tire clearance (by modern 27.5 standards) so they set it up w/ a very small diameter tire. I’ve ridden quite a few 27.5ers now and have noticed that when I use a truly large front tire (28+ inches) the rollover feeling comes close to an XC 29er, but when running something small diameter like the Neomoto it feels, frankly, not much different than the large volume 26er tires I tend to run.

    • Bikethrasher says:

      Mark, I have a HDR and easily fits a Hans Damp 2.25 which measures 27&5/8 on Enve wheels. I have just over a 1/4 inch clearance. But I wouldn’t go much bigger than that. Because not only will the clearance be limited, but the tire will most likely contact the seat tube as well. The 2.35 Hans damp measures 28″ even. If only Specialized would Release their 27.5 bikes so I could put some Purgatories on the HDR. Come on guys I know you are making them.
      As for feel. I can feel the bigger wheel on the climbs. Not as bad as a 9er but its there. I also notice they carry speed better and I can easily keep up with my friends on 9ers on the straights or in the rough. But just like on 26 bike you run over them in the corners.
      But I have to say I really miss my TRc with out a question the Best Trail bike I have ever ridden.
      My Ibis HDR XL in black with less than 5 rides on it is For sale if anyone is interested.

      • Andrej says:

        Are you going back to TRc? Or Solo?

        • Bikethrasher says:

          Haven’t completely decided yet. But I’m leaning towards the Solo. Mainly because I just spent a ton of cash on wheels and drivetrain for 27.5 wheels. Not that I couldn’t sell the wheels and chain rings. I tried to get a Solo before I ordered the HDR but It was looking like I wouldn’t be able to get one until August or later. I was supposed to get the HDR late June early July but as it turned out I didn’t get it until a couple weeks ago. I should have just ordered the Solo. But after riding the HDR the last two weeks I really need to demo a Solo before I make a decision. To me the bigger wheels are just kinda ok and I still don’t think the few benefits a 9er offers out weigh its negatives. If your over six feet tall I get it. If your not work on your skills and quit worrying about wheel size. There wasn’t and still isn’t anything wrong with 26″ wheels. I have a friend that rides an old 26″ hardtail and he makes all of us tech junkies look like fools up down and across. It’s the rider, not the wheels.

  • Andry says:

    Thanks for the report.
    You did not mention the winner, I know it is hard, and very subjective.
    they are all good bike. But I am surprised about the GT Force, you said sluggish. Is it harder for climbing? Not nimble enough on twisty? How bad it is? Seems like GT Firce is least fun bike on your report. I am interested in GT Force, because of the new look, really new and sexy. While HDR is also sexy, not new look anymore.

    You very lucky to be ableito demo those bikes.
    thank you so much.

  • Liberty555 says:

    Just loving these reviews. Could read them all day!

  • Hi Kent,
    sounds like a fun trip! sorry I missed it this year.

    we’ve liked many of the same bikes, and I think have similiar riding styles based on our past discussions, so I as interested to see your ripley impression..

    this was intersting…

    “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.”

    I think this was one of the main goals of ibis, and why I love it.

    you may not “feel” those things, but it is 29 inches, so it does have all those benefits, just doesn’t feel like a truck. put it on the clock and you start to see how those gains are stacking up.

    I do run mine w/ a fox 34, 140 always at 140 and feel it’s perfect for this bike, still super nimble and climbs better then any bike I’ve owned (and I’m an old XC racer that has owned more then my share of bikes over the last 20 years).

    sounds like you are going 650 based on your reviews, I may pick up a good one just do do some extensive back to back testing and sell it if the ripley wins, but none of the 650’s did it for me last year at outerbike. my impression was similiar to your statement after gettting back on one after the 3 9ers, it feels like a 26, no big wheel benefits. over 140mm, makes great sense, under 140, i believe 29 is still the target if you can get the sensations to work for you and find one that has that elusive nimble playful feel.

    • Elliott Jones says:

      I’ve been riding a motion oh HDR 650 B for over a month. I have two other Niner’s that I enjoy very much. I’ve been very pleased with this bike. It has to be the best handling mountain bike I’ve ever ridden and is extremely stable and surefooted in all conditions. Although I am not sure I complete any of my familiar rides at a faster rate then my 29er, this bike certainly makes the rides more fun. It also climbs surprisingly well despite it being heavier than my other bikes. The overall stiffness of the frame really demonstrates a sense of stability under all conditions. I do notice in some rockgardens at lower speed that the 29er, clearly rolls over small to medium-size rocks better. However the Ibis can do this very well if you hit them at higher speed and use the shocks to compensate. Although I still prefer my Niners for longer endurance rides with less twisty singletrack, I would say this bike is by far the best all-around mountain bike I have riden. I would be surprised if it didn’t put a smile on anyone’s face.

    • KRob says:

      Thanks for the additional insight on the Ripley Wade.I did like it and think I would’ve liked it even better with a 140 fork. I agree, I think that’s exactly what Ibis was shooting for.with the Ripley. I guess I just kind of wonder why Ibis spent all that time and development money just to make a 29er feel like a 27.5. Not being a 29er guy it didn’t need to be a 29er for me… but maybe for folks who are all in on the bigger wheels it makes more sense.

      • TED says:

        Hey KRob, I have a Ripley with a 140 fork and the X Fusion shock, total with Lev. dropper post it comes in at 26.4 lbs. ,I have 2 other 26″ bikes, one all mnt. and one downhill . First 29er I bought, did a lot of looking reviewing etc. and chose the Ibis. In short I love it, can positively tell I am ridding a big tire bike. Been riding the 26″ for 10 + years and will stick to the Ibis for all mnt., cross country stuff. TED

  • Andrej says:

    KRob: Is the winner here still the Pivot Mach6?

    • KRob says:

      Ummmm…. yes, I think so. But I gotta say I’m very impressed with the Troy, the Sight, and the HDR. I’d say its a pretty tight grouping between those four. And for smaller Chilcotin complement bikes I’d have to throw in the Solo, Thunderbolt, Flux, and Ripley. Tough time to pick a bike. So many good ones.

  • Ron says:

    Trivial question but – what saddle is on this bike?

  • Mike says:

    Can you give me any comparisons you like between the ibis ripley and the santa cruz tallboyi rode a ibis ripley but have not rode a carbon tallboy. I loved the ripley but want to make sure before I pull the trigger. Which bike would work better for fast tight areas your help would be much appreciated.

  • Elliott Jones says:

    I have a medium Mojo HDR and am extremely happy with it. If I had to own one mountain bike I would have no issue with this being the one. For contrast I also have a hard tail and soft tail Niner which I also like very much. The aspect that is amazing about this bike is the handling, it just tracks through corners with security and ease like no other bike I’ve ever ridden. It is extremely nimble and fast in any twisty singletrack. The suspension also works very well allowing for aggressive tactics in downhill situations. This bike has definitely allowed me to ride better than I have before. If you do most of your mountain biking in the coastal west where singletrack is often less linear, this is a perfect bike. It also climbs extremely well which is surprising given that it is not as light as my two Niners. Maybe not as good, but not far off. The only situation that I found the HDR to be less-than-perfect is traction climbing out of the saddle. If you ride more linear singletrack or fireroad I would definitely think a 29 or would be more efficient. But if you love to ride in Oregon, Nor Cal, Downeville or like this is a great bike. I’m not sure that it would necessarily be the fastest for racing, but it’s definitely the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden in most conditions. There is certainly no shortage of great mountain bikes these days, but it’s really special to find one that’s so much fun. It also holds up really well to had use with the supper stiff and sturdy frame.

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