Virginia does not get as many bike demos as we all would like. This problem, however, is getting better with brands such as Rocky Mountain, and Pivot all having demo days here at some point in the past year, yet there are still some elusive brands containing bikes bursting at the seams with hype. Do I want to drop multi thou on this plastic tubed ballooner bike? Do I want to just accept its 2018 and buy an internet bike? This is where Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest West Virginia comes in. Nestled on the airstrip at Big Bear Lake, West Virginia about 30 miles from Morgantown. The list of brands at Dirt Fest is comprehensive, to say the least, but here goes: Pivot (title sponsor), Specialized, Trek, Transition, Surly, Norco, E-Motion, Yeti, Scott, and Ibis. I pressed on to Dirt Fest for one bike, and one bike only, the Ibis Ripmo.
Upon approaching the Ibis tent I quickly chatted with Harry, the rep, telling him that I had already ordered this bike, but it would not be in until early August. "We pretty much knew we knocked it out of the park with this one, and our sales exceeded expectations by 4 times." I will be impressed (and delighted) if Ibis is able to get me my frame by August. Upon arriving at the tent at 9 AM, when the expo opens, I see the last size large Ripmo already going out. This is a scenario that would occur 3 more times that day, preventing me from riding it until the next day. My companions, my father Kyle Inman, and Carlo Dy are well suited in the size department for demos as they are size extra large, and small, respectively. After sulking for about 30 seconds at the fact that both of my colleagues would get to ride the bike I've already committed to before me, I turned around and walked towards the Transition tent and scooped up a Sentinel. Initially, I was nervous about this decision. The sentinel is a bike that I have been looking at for some time. It is a direct competitor to the Ripmo, it comes in aluminum, (my preference) and everyone loves it. Would this make me regret my commitment? I didn't care, I needed something equally as cool as my mates.
We pretty much knew we knocked it out of the park with this one, and our sales exceeded expectations by 4 times
Anyone brave enough to talk shop with me knows I am a Dave Weagle devotee. I spend much more time going up than I do going down, and the DW-Link is so efficient I actually sometimes turn my rear shock lockout off when climbing.
I approach bike demos as a learning experience. I ride things I don't prefer in order to expand my perspective and break out of my own echo chamber. In this fashion, the day prior to riding the Ripmo I rode nothing but Horst link bikes. You could blindfold me and sit me on the Ripmo and I would know its a DW-Link instantly. Even around the gravel airstrip it just feels efficient. The trails at Big Bear Lake were a perfect test track for rear suspension layouts, highly technical and punchy without many smooth sustained climbs. The bike excelled at all the technical features the Ole' Big Bear could throw at it. Large embedded rock descents, no problem. Steep embedded rock uphills, just go over that rock there, no need to go around. The rear of this bike felt very familiar to my Turner Sultan, which makes sense as they are both DW-Link bikes using bushings on the pivots. The Ripmo only uses bushings in its lower pivots and Ibis will replace these for life. Just like my Sultan, and Pivots, I never even thought about the climb switch.
The DW-Link is so efficient I actually sometimes turn my rear lockout off
The night prior to riding the Ripmo, me and Carlo decided to leave at 12AM and go on a spontaneously epic night ride. With plenty of malt-fueled courage we set out to the Pine Spur trail. This trail is in an artificial pine forest which contains hallways of trees all perfectly planted inline with each other. I round a corner to find a descent that follows one of these hallways so far I cannot see the end. We must hit it. This led to the Big Bear DH, which is the only solid downhill we found out there. A very fast trail with large loose rocks and plenty of huckortunities, this was like our home trails in Roanoke. While my Turner climbs well, and descends capably, it is a tall and steep bike. It gets battered around on chunk, yet always makes it.
9AM next morning, I'm the first one at the Ibis tent, saddled up and ready to go. We hit Pine Spur the Big Bear DH and absolutely murder our times (by minutes) from the previous night. The Ripmo is highly comfortable without being extreme when it comes to downhilling. It does not feel as slack as some enduro sleds out there, it does not wander on climbs, yet it goes over whatever you point it at. Do not think it is muted like some more descent oriented bikes. It feels lively and is asking you for input on your lines, but knows that you don't necessarily need to pick them. Cornering is a similar story, it will be good no matter what, but still has vast headroom from there. This bike can run up to a 200mm (you read that right) dropper post in size large and extra large, however the one on this bike was 125mm and I felt low without ever thinking about getting my body way down. The ceiling of what this bike can do is exponential.
The features the Ripmo boasts are extensive. Ibis is a small, cult-like company, not outside of the mainstream industry, but just on the border, and this feature list is them stepping across the mason-dixon line.
The Ripmo has:
- Threaded bottom bracket
- A spot for a water bottle cage
- A straight seat tube that is just chopped off for max droopage
- Tubed internal routing
- Is 6 pounds with shock
- Has a 7 year frame warranty
- lifetime bushings
Lets unpack this a bit. As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of aluminum bikes. My Turner's frame was $550 with a Cane Creek DB Air and complete the bike comes in at 31lbs, lighter than some carbon bikes. The carbon equation goes like this: $1000 = 1lb lighter. Yes plasti-bikes ride sweet, but $1000 in my suspension rides a lot sweeter. The Ripmo is the perfect intro into carbon bikes. It takes everything that could make you skeptical and flips it over on its side. Frame break? 7 year warranty, you won't even have this thing in 7 years, you'll be riding Supa Dupa Boost+ Ultra Double Modern Geometry bikes with 28inch wheels. Hard to build or work on? Nope, there are tubes inside this frame. Routing just works. 32lb Craybon Plasti-Bike™ got you with the sads? You can build this thing to 30lbs and under. Still think bushings are unreliable? Ok we'll throw as many as you want at you. All these features would be great even if the bike rode like dog shit, but here's the trick, it doesn't.
I anticipated this bike would be a 40% climber and a 60% descender. I would correct that to 45% and 55%. It will perform in an XC race, and an enduro. (it is used in the Enduro World Series after all) It will hang at a bike park. It will be a fantastic daily driver too. The Ripmo brings one word to mind balance, while still retaining character.
The analogy I frequently use to describe bikes in the category of the Ripmo, Switchblade, and Sentinel (less so) is this. You walk onto the Ford lot, you see the V6 Mustang (120mm trail bikes), and V8 Mustang (160mm enduro bikes). Naturally you are drawn the the V8, power, speed, baddassery, whatever it is, the V8 will at least be the one you test drive. Yes gas will be far worse than the V6, no you will never truly top out the V8, but you just want it. Then here comes the Mustang Turbo (140mm-150mm trailduro bikes) that sits in the middle of the two (Ripmo is literally a portmanteau of the Ripley and the Mojo). The best of both worlds, plenty of power, and reingests its own exhaust fumes to protect the invironment. Truly great in all situations and still practical. This is a category of bike I hope only continues to grow.
I am willing to say that I got lucky in the process of selecting the Ripmo as my next horse. I was initially drawn to it because it has the best quality from my Turner, the rear end. This trait, plus modern geometry, and more travel further cemented my interest. This bike was able to draw me away from the $2.5k YT Capra 29er while being $3k for the frame alone. It is worth every penny.