Ibis Ripley 4: First Ride Review

“So good it’s almost like cheating.”

Today Ibis released the fourth iteration of the Ripley. The Ripley has always been one of my favorite Ibis bikes — in fact, it’s the quintessential Ibis bike in my opinion. In general, Ibis bikes climb well, pedal super efficiently, corner on rails and make MTB fun again. The Ripley has never been an exception to those things. The newest version is all of the above but with better descending chops than previous versions. And, a bonus for the humans who more closely resemble baby giraffes (read: tall folks) the reach has grown a whole 45mm. The XL finally fits how an XL should. The Ripley 4 is now the Ripmo’s little brother who always wants to tag along and get into trouble.

The Money and Sizing Stuff

I went into this review completely blind. I didn’t study geo charts, travel numbers and build kits before hopping on the bike and going for a spin. I enjoy doing this when possible and think it makes for a more accurate first impression. It makes it so I can pay attention to how the bike really behaves rather than how I think it should behave based on preconceived notions. At the end of the ride I wrote down what I thought the geo and travel would be based on my riding experience. I was a little off on this one. I guessed more rear travel than actually existed and a shorter reach and wheelbase. I was actually really close on head tube and seat tube angles as well as front end travel. The chart below shows how I felt the bike measured up.

 
Ibis Ripley Geometry
 

For 2019 Ibis have done away with the eccentrics and have moved to a linkage system resembling the Ripmo. I can’t verify but I’d have to guess the Ripley is slightly more progressive than the Ripmo. Although this could be the shock tune.

Frames start at $2999 with a shock. That’s really not all that bad considering some frames are fetching upwards of 4k these days. GX builds will run $4899. I’d recommend the GX build or higher personally. The top-o-the-line XTR 12 speed build will set you back $9199. It does come with a no expense spared wheelset — Ibis Carbon rims and Industry Nine hubs.

If you’d like to custom build one from the frame up, may I recommend the “Zach Build” It’s 11/10 blingy.

The “Zach Build” comes with Enve Composites wheels and cockpit, Sram AXS Eagle XX1 and a Rockshox Pike Ultimate. Now that will make your friends jealous.

The “Zach Build” comes with Enve Composites wheels and cockpit, Sram AXS Eagle XX1 and a Rockshox Pike Ultimate. Now that will make your friends jealous.

The Ups - 4.75/5

Ibis bikes have always been my benchmark for how well a bike can climb. Sure there are XC bikes that are faster/lighter, but Ibis doesn’t make an XC bike. What I’m trying to say is Ibis leads each category in climbing performance. Don’t believe me? Whats the best climbing long-travel 29er on the market? I bet you said Ripmo. Best climbing 160mm enduro bike? Probably the HD4. And now the best climbing trail bike award goes to the Ripley 4. Prove me wrong — I dare you.

The 2019 Ibis Ripley climbs every bit as well as its predecessor. In fact it might even edge it out for the win. The seat tube is steeper and the frame is lighter. Both of which generally make a bike climb better. The pedaling performance is everything I’d expect from Ibis — put the power down and the bike rockets forward. Seriously, if you haven’t taken a spin on an Ibis, come in and ride one. Even a parking lot test will impress you. When it comes to techy climbs, the Ripley 4 would be my weapon of choice. It pedals up rocky bits without getting hung up. The suspension just disappears underneath you — and thats a good thing. The last thing you want to notice while climbing up rocky ledges and roots is the suspension. Noticing the suspension usually means it’s bobbing, giving you pedal feedback or downright not working. The Ripley’s suspension does just what it should, provide traction and allow the rear wheel to move out of the way of obstacles. I’m always impressed by bikes that generate their own traction (the Orbea Oiz does this too.) Climbing up punchy hills I was able to stand up and really put the power down without the rear tire slipping.

On rolling, smooth climbs the Ibis Ripley is light enough and efficient enough to scoot along without any fuss. I wouldn’t take my chances VS a full blown XC race bike but I’d say it out climbs any other trail bike out there. While riding the Ripley I thought it would be the perfect True Grit Epic bike. You’re not going to podium, but you’ll have more fun that the folks drooling while hammering at 300 watts. It is great for long days in the saddle and epic elevation gain numbers, while being a confident enough descender to make light work of rugged rock gardens and technical trails.

 
 

The Downs - 3.75/5

The old Ripley was an OK descender. It was too short in the reach and wheelbase to be outstanding, especially for taller folks. Ibis fixed the too short problem by Ripmo-ing the Ripley. They stretched it out considerably. The reach grew 45MM and the wheelbase is now on par with the rest of the trail bikes.

I can’t find any faults with the way the Ripley handled the descents on my test ride. I’m not going to sign up for the next round of the EWS, but I’d be confident enough to do a Whole Enchilada or Captain Ahab lap on it. What more can you ask for. A bike that makes 95% of the Northern Utah trails fun to ride, while still being able to handle rugged Southern Utah trails.

The Ripley felt great in corners and tight singletrack. It really is an agile bike. It never feels unwieldy or too big. Some bikes are just too damn long for tight awkward trails. The shorter wheelbase does keep the Ripley from becoming a monster truck when the going gets rough, though. I did notice the bike getting deflected off line a bit on the looser, faster sections of trail. But hey, what do you expect?

The new Ripley surpasses an “OK” descending score and lands an “awesome.” Really it feels a bit like cheating. A bike that climbs so fast shouldn’t descend as well as the Ripley. I’d put its descending chops on par with the Giant Trance 29 (which really has no right to descend as well as it does.)

Ripmo VS Ripley

The Ripley can really just be considered as the Ripmo’s little brother these days — thats a good thing too. The Ripmo has been Ibis’ most popular and well-received bike, and for good reason. It’s a great bike that handles rough terrain while climbing with the best of them. The same can be said about the new Ripley. Both bikes cover a wide range of trails and terrain. The biggest difference will be on the extremes of the spectrum. Where the Ripmo will handle steep descents better, the Ripley will take the cake on steep climbs. At that point it comes down to preference and riding style. If you prefer more flowy trails with the occasional rough patch go with the Ripley. If you like your trails covered in more rocks than dirt, take the Ripmo. Read our full Ripmo vs Ripley 4 showdown.

The All Arounds - 4.25

It’s hard to find anything to complain about with the latest version of my favorite Ibis bike. It does everything you’d want it to do. It climbs fast, descends fast and looks good while doing it. Now Ibis just needs to make a mini Pork Chop bag to fit the upper shock brace.

The Quiver of One Factor - 4.5/5

Out of all the bikes I’ve ridden in the past few months, I’d take the Ripley as my quiver of one. It would handle anything Corner Canyon can throw at you including Draper DH, It would handle most trails at the Deer Valley bike park, maybe skip NCS and upper Fireswamp and it would be really fun on the dual slalom and dirt jumps.

If you’re looking for a bike with a little more oomph on the climbs, look at our Orbea Oiz review. The Santa Cruz Blur would also fit the bill. If you want something with more guts on the downhill, but with that same Ibis feel, check out the Ripmo. The Revel rascal would be a good option for you too if you’re looking for something brand spankin’ new.

We will have a M and a L demo available as of this posting with more to come in the next few weeks.

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