Respectful silence please. A bicycle has passed on. On a journey through this vale of tears* over the River Styx** and into a final resting place. Well if not final at least with a decent chance of seeing a few seasons, instead of the revolving door policy of the ShedofDream(tm) punting it into the sellasphere.
Anyway it’s not really dead, just resting. With Nick who opened negotiations with “Hi Alex, you probably don’t remember me, I bought a bike from you 10 years ago. Do you want to sell me your Ripley?”. I didn’t, he did and I might. Vague memories of my old Pace 405 being shipped onto a affable fella possibly located in the Chepstow region. There’s been a whole lot of life and a shit load of bikes since then, so I sent a request down to the deep archive*** and struck up a careful dialogue.
The backstory of the talented Mr Ripley can be found here and here. The TLDR version is we’ve never really got on. There have been a few great moments but not enough fantastic days. I fixed the front end, the back end, the wheels, the tyres, even the bloody seatpost but I never fixed me. I was about the only reviewer that couldn’t correlate the experience with brilliance.
So – being a data guy – correlation is kind of my thing. If things don’t make sense look at the numbers. The Ripley and the Mojo4 share many of those. One has a bit more reach, the other a bit less head angle. Different wheel sizes but clamped in the same model of posh fork.
There aren’t enough points of difference to make the point they feel very different. I’ve ridden lots of DW Link bikes and they share similar characteristics. They don’t squat much under power, they’re pretty plush on small bumps. They have a bottomless feel, even on shorter travel versions, without losing that never-defined-but-quite-important ‘poppiness‘ of a well sorted trail bike.
Even so quantification works better in a lab. It loses much of its efficacy outside. For example, one of my many skills deficits is committing front end weight on corners. The Ripley fed the fear that the next second might end painfully in hedge or tree. Well until I handed it over to my mate Steve at Afan, then he handed me my arse right back a few trails later.
It’s not about the bike then. Even so I was keen to understand why. A hatched plan saw me riding the bikes back to back on the same trails. Even if the numbers matched, my experience would trigger the Nero thumb. I’d explained this in tedious detail to Carol who wearily acknowledged this was a good idea and could I please shut up now?
That plan didn’t survive first contact with an email. I dithered for a bit, called a few friends for advice, one of which asked “When would you ride the Ripley over the Mojo?“. A good question for which I had no answer. I’ve already thrown the Mojo into all sorts of situations way beyond my bravery. It’s saved me so far.
That’s not to say the Ripley wouldn’t have but it didn’t give me the confidence to even try. Which again is odd as it has the same or more travel. More? Yes because of the industry maxim**** that a 29 inch wheeled bike adds 10mm or 20mm ‘real‘ travel compared to a 27.5 inch. That might be true at the extreme of the riding envelope. Maybe, but I’m not riding close to that envelope.
I am however getting a whole lot more confident riding the Mojo. I’ve chucked it over the big gap jump on two consecutive weeks. Which has happened – hmm let me check – exactly zero times in the last two years. I’ve kept the fast fellas in sight and, because none of those metrics really matter a single fuck, finished every ride with a bloody big grin on my wizened fizog.
So it wasn’t too hard to transact a one-price deal with Nick. He’s a good egg and we had a no bullshit convo ending in a physical switcharoo only 24 hours of comms being established. I’m very happy to report he’s loving the Ripley and it’s ripping his legs off on big days out. This is 100% better than it hanging unridden on my shed wall.
Better still he’s keen to show me round his local trails. I’ve not so much lost a bike as gained a new riding buddy. Those numbers though – better to treat them as advisory. Sometimes you have to go with what feels right. And right now I’m pretty happy with how things worked out.
N-1 tho. Blimey. Let’s not make a habit of that.
*not veil. Vale as in Valley. Honestly I’m a practising agnostic and even I know this. I’ll happily co-opt some Christian liturgy tho when it scans better than ‘shed‘
**Okay Severn. Jeez when did fact checking on the Hedgehog become a thing? And no, I didn’t pay the bloody ferryman. Because the bridge is now free.
***Got nothing. Until the physical instantiation of Nick at which point all I could think of was he’d aged quite a lot better than me 😉
****Made up. I’m assuming to sell more 29ers.