You may be disappointed. Possibly even appalled. But likely not surprised. A new bike portal’d into the ShedofDreams(tm) is hardly news at all. Even so I expect you have questions. Starting with what, moving onto how and finishing with why. Or simply a shaken headed ‘what the actual fuck?”
I have no answers. Nothing within sectioning distance of rational anyway. This time there will be no talk of an end game choreographed by 4-D chess moves. Or reasons pertaining to opportunity or guile. Nope none of that. It’s something of a relief not torturing logic to slight the insisting hand that the emperor may indeed be fully clothed.
There was no need. There was only want. There are many excuses. But when the result is three carbon full suspension bikes from the SAME brand, you don’t need excuses, you need a therapist. Please take that role, while I recline on the chaise longe and explain how we got here.
It started on a cold winters night when I harvested the Ripley from hibernation. First time riding anything other than the hardtail for five wet and grim months. Dirt was frozen solid, basically summer from the axles down. It should have been amazing. It wasn’t.
I’ve never quite gelled with that bike. Which is pretty fucking annoying considering it’s wanted for nothing other than a decent pilot. Entire suitcases of cash failed to secure that bond. I told myself it was the dark or the cold, and my inability to deal with either.
So a week later the RipMo* sallied forth on muddy-again trails, and we just had a brilliant time. Until the following day revealed exactly how much damage one muddy ride inflicts on Californians’ finest**. The RipMo and I have shared three amazing years, so it’s as close to a permanent fixture in the shed as anything I’ve owned***
Those last three paragraphs are mostly displacement tactics. They offer nothing to explain the escalation of financial destitution on the following Sunday. It started with me musing how the Mojo3 was my favourite ever bike and how – flawed as it was – I really should have kept it, and ended with the latest of its genus being added to basket some four hours later.
Along with a plethora of parts best categorised as “heritage wheel size”. Not satisfied with buying a bike that has around 100% overlap with the Ripley, I also felt it was exactly the right time to significantly invest in 27.5 inch wheels. They were the future once. Just not recently.
So after all these shenanigans, what have we ended up with? A trail bike balanced between 140mm and 130mm air springs. Short chainstays, long front centre, slack angles and Ibis’s ludicrous design approach to mud clearance****. So it’s compromised, but pretty. Like my Mojo3.
That bike – built exactly four years ago – brought my riding on when I believed my limit had long peaked at bang-average. That same year, a week in Spain remains my riding high water mark where fast and confident displaced over-thinking and hesitant. Did I buy this bike to recapture those glory days? Maybe. Don’t judge. It’s as good a reason as any.
The silhouette is similar, the numbers aren’t. 2 degrees slacker, 2 inches longer, back end fettled with updated kinematics, front end bouncing on better damping. Stuff in between more expensive if not actually better. Rider pretty much the same confused graft of enthusiastic and stupid. And bloody impatient when four weeks of stuff got between delivery and a proper ride.
A ride on trails not ridden for six months. In the dark. Initial impressions were confused. Turns really fast, feels a bit flighty. Agile and lithe or nervous and needy? Lots of time to pontificate on the climb back up. Climbs well, maybe not quite Ripley efficient, but held back by nothing but noodle-legs here.
Next trail is fast and twisty. Bike feels good in the corners but I can’t trust it yet. It’s egging me on but I’m not feeling very eggy. Steep and chute-y very nearly ended in lying down and bleeding. Luckily Rex took one for the team showcasing his full-body-slam signature move on some unexpected mud.
Mmm so like it but not sure, Skived off today to try again. First trail totally fucking useless with a head full of work stuff. Deep breath required to deliver inner monologue to whit “past is back there, future out in front, get on with it”
Which kind of worked. Cleared the two big gap jumps that require suspending the belief that crashing is going to be really sodding consequential. Kept Matt in sight which is a good measure things are going okay. Massive grin plastered on my fizog which may be a new bike thing, or a dry trails thing, or a Friday skive thing. Whatever, it’s a thing. I’ll take that.
All that means I can give you some answers. Was it worth the money? Fuck knows, go find me a measure of value. Will it replace the Ripley? Fuck knows, find me a metric to choose. Does it actually make any sense at all? Fucked if I know. Makes me happy so you know, there’s that.
Are you done? Surely there are no other niches to chase? Wait, what now?
*Yes I know it’s hard keeping track. Think of it as a Christopher Nolan Movie without the special effects. But with more swearing.
**I asked for three particularly muddy trails to be renamed ‘Collapsed Bearing‘, ‘Ruined Pivot’ and ‘Warranty Claim‘.
***Except the beer fridge. You’ll be prising that out of my cold dead hands.
****That being the Californian assumption that such a soil compound is a European myth.