Last year I had the chance to test a whole swag of different bikes. Some were carbon, some were alloy, some had loads of travel, and some were the shorter and lighter type. There was an uber-expensive Intense Spider, the burly Nukeproof Mega 275, and even a massive angry green Scott Genius LT thrown in there for good measure. One thing that linked those bikes together, however, was their wheel sizes – all being in the 27.5in camp.
Now, my experience on the larger 29in wheeled alternatives is limited, and being all about resolutions and expanding our minds and bodies with new things in the new year, I decided I needed to investigate some of these new-school 29ers that have been hitting the market lately. It was time to spend some quality saddle time aboard something with less travel, but bigger wheels. And so here we are.
Just before we piled into wheels of cheese and obtuse amounts of gin in our farewell bid to 2016, we had a big old box arrive from our pals at 2Pure. Inside said box, sat (with great posture may I add) this orange thing of beauty. An Ibis Ripley LS in Large, and with a big (metaphorical) sticker with Crayons written all over it. A new bike, ready for a new year of testing. Yep, I’ll handle this one team.
And how did it all come together? Check out this sneaky little unboxing video of the Ripley LS coming to life. Can’t see the video? Then click here to see how it all unfolds.
The Ripley LS then, is the ‘Longer’ and ‘Slackerer’ version of the Ibis Ripley that we’ve seen, ridden and enjoyed in the last few years. Getting the geekiness out of the way then, the Ripley LS drops the head angle from 69.2° to 67.5°. It also features a seat angle that steepens 0.8° from 72.2° on the standard Ripley, to 73° on the LS.
The measurements that give us the biggest hints about what Ibis are looking to do with the LS, is the top tube and reach measurements. On the Large frame size, the top tube on the Ripley LS grows from 607mm to 619mm. In turn, the LS now gives us an additional 32mm of reach and a total of 428mm.
With chainstay lengths staying the same at 442mm across the standard and LS platforms, it’s easy to see that Ibis are wanting to create a snappy 29in trail ripper. It’s all looking good from where we’re sat.
As mentioned, we’re on a Large sized Ripley LS, finished in ‘Tang’ (that’s orange to everyone else) and I think we can all confirm it’s a good looking bike (mate). Our bike is finished with the 2016 Shimano XT 1×11 build kit built with Race Face Turbine cranks.
A set of XT stoppers will help obtaining optimum cornering speed, and a KS Lev Integra 150mm dropper post gets the saddle out of the way in the descents. Fox takes care of bounce at both ends, with a Factory 34 up front running 130mm of travel, and outback (no, this isn’t Wil writing) a Factory DPS EVOL rear shock with 120mm of travel.
As you’d expect, the Ripley runs boost hub spacing front and rear. Wheels come in a circular shape, and are made up of Easton’s Arc 30 rims, laced to Ibis’ own brand hubs. Tyre choice is slightly altered from the ‘out of the box/shop’ set up, with us running a more winter-friendly Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35in up front, rather than the stock Nobby Nic, which remains on the rear.
Up top, turning and holding on is controlled by a slightly odd looking set of Ibis Lo Fi 760mm carbon bars, strapped to the steerer tube with a Thomson Elite X4 50mm stem.
For comfort/extra testing we’ve got a pair of violently contrasting Lizard Skins Logo lock-on Danny Macaskill grips – we don’t think 2Pure had any orange ones left (or maybe they just knew I like matching colours up and wanted to take a dig). Either way, it’s one hell of a build kit for this tidy looking Ripley LS.
If you’re a frame only kind of buyer, then the LS will set you back 2999 of your hard earned pounds. For the bike as we have here, you’re looking at a strong £5699. For 2017, the specs are going to be a tickle different, with the addition of a Fox Transfer Performance dropper post rather than the KS LEV, and rims will be swapped from the Easton Arc 30, to Ibis’ own wide aluminium 938 rims. Frame wise, everything including the 148x12mm Boost rear end will remain the same.
First Riding Impressions
In terms of sizing, the Large was a good choice for me at 6ft 1in. I’ll want to play with a slightly longer stem possibly, for further climbing capabilities. That said, on the climbs, the 150mm KS LEV dropper gives plenty of support helping the LS to spring off the line with incredible ease. Power delivery is instant through the super stiff back end and rear wheel traction hasn’t let me down as of yet.
The three stage damping on both pieces of FOX equipment, makes mince meat of pretty much everything I’ve thrown it into. Descending, the bike sits low and it’s easy to move your weight around above the bike, and the big 29in hoops glide over rocks as if they weren’t there.
The suspension feels incredibly natural, taking out all the small knocks, and giving no kicks or rebound issues when getting a touch airborne or when dropping on some more interesting trail features.
One thing is for sure, the LS is far in front of me in terms of capabilities. I’m going to have to get this bike ridden properly to find out just how far I can push myself. From the first impressions, the bike feels great, and it’s going to be a bike that will definitely improve my style of riding – and show me just how capable the new wave of 29in trail bikes can be.
Stay tuned for plenty more content to come over the next few months from me and the Ripley LS.
|£5699 (as built), £2999 (frame only)
|by Rob Crayons for 1 month