Lockout levers be damned. The Ibis Exie makes them about as useful as the lifeguard at the Olympics. The bike is incredibly fast and efficient. You’d guess that, though knowing it’s a 100mm XC race bike. Here’s what you might not guess so easily — the Exie is also one of the most stable and confident XC bikes I’ve ever ridden. Let’s get into it.
Let’s just get this out of the way. The Ibis Exie is the best climbing bike I’ve ever ridden. It’s easily within the top three most efficient bikes I’ve had to opportunity to spend some time on. What really puts it over the top on climbing performance, apart from efficiency, is the suspension’s ability to smooth out the trail. You might not think that smooth is the most important thing out there, but I’m going to tell you, you’re wrong. Staying smooth means the back wheel stays on the ground for better traction and power. You can’t drive the bike forward if the back wheel isn’t even on the ground. The Exie does a great job keeping that back wheel digging into the dirt so you can keep scooting uphill.
Additionally, the Exie’s riding position is great for keeping your weight centered between the wheels. The seat tube is plenty steep — remember, the less travel you have, the less steep of a seat tube you can get away with. The reach is very long, especially in a size XL. That keeps you reaching out to the bars so your weight is more evenly distributed across the two wheels, rather than just sitting over the back tire. Keeping your weight centered allows for the bike to track a nice and straight line through the steepest of climbs.
Let’s talk about that long reach and wheelbase for a second before we move on. In a size XL, the reach measures 519mm. That’s long regardless of category, let alone a cross-country bike. The long reach makes for a very long wheelbase. At 1253mm, the Exie’s wheelbase is only 14mm shorter than the all-mountain Ripmo. There might be a few drawbacks to a reach/wheelbase that long on a cross-country bike, but the stability and forgiveness that comes from it far outweigh any penalty. Even on the climbs, it proves beneficial by way of stability and room to move on the bike. I didn’t find the bike too long, even in the tight switchbacks and rocky climbs.
Like most bikes, XC bikes are seeing slacker and slacker head tube angles these days. The Exie’s 67.2° HTA is on the slacker size for an XC race bike. Most contemporary XC bikes come in two flavors — the pure race version and the slacker, longer travel trail version. The Exie’s head tube angle more closely matches most other brands’ trail versions. The Handling remained sharp and fast even with the slightly slacker than average HTA.
Here’s where things start to get interesting. The long Exie proves to be one of the most stable and least twitchy XC bikes I’ve ever ridden. I’m a tall guy (6’2”) and I generally find most XC bikes to be a little on the small side, even in XL. The Exie is the exception to that rule. From the second I threw a leg over it, the reach and wheelbase made me feel at home. I felt more stable at speed than I normally would on other bikes in the category. I didn’t feel the need to tip-toe on the trail. I didn’t take all of my normal “all-mountain” lines, but I found myself taking far more of them than I anticipated. I don’t want you to take this to mean that the Exie is a trail bike or anything other than an XC bike — because it’s not. It’s an XC race bike through and through. It just comes with a pretty high shred factor for such a bike.
The Ibis Exie does an incredible job of smoothing out small bumps and trail chatter. The 100mm of DW link rear suspension never felt deep or plush — you wouldn’t expect/want it to on an XC race bike. Instead, it felt firm and supportive. The bike didn’t get hung up on all the embedded rock on my test trails. Why is that important? Well, XC bikes are made for racing. Bikes that can roll quickly through trail obstacles are faster than bikes that can’t. Fast bikes win podiums. In short, the Exie makes you faster than all your friends.
The handling was quick and snappy as you would hope. I think there’s some counterintuitive magic with a long wheelbase in the corners. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not ideal for really tight corners, or for steering through obstacles, but it’s really good for leaning through a corner. The longer wheelbase makes the bike more stable in the corners. It gives you the confidence to hit them a little faster, knowing you have a bigger sweet spot on the bike. Combine that with a steep XC bike head tube angle and you’ve got the recipe for a bike that corners very well. The Exie did a great job of keeping traction in the loose, marble-filled corners on my test trails. I attribute that to the suspension design and long, stable bike.
Who is The Ibis Exie for?
The Exie is an XC race bike. So, if you race XC, you might want to take a look at the Exie. That’s a bit of a tongue twister. It’s stoked to find itself on any type of climb whether it’s fast and straight or steep and twisty. If you like to climb, and like to cover a lot of ground quickly, the Exie is going to be the perfect fit.
Additionally, I think taller riders are really going to appreciate the longer reach and wheelbase. It’s the first XC bike I’ve ridden that didn’t feel at all twitchy and small.
I think it’s happiest on green and blue trails with a lot of ups and downs mixed in. that doesn’t mean you can’t ride harder black diamonds, but you’ll start to push the limits of the bike. You’ll need to bring your best bike handling skills.
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