So here’s the deal with the Ibis HD6. I’ve got a big soft spot for the Ibis HD series. I owned an HD4 back in the day and absolutely loved that bike. So to say I have high hopes for the HD6 would be a bit of an understatement. So does the new Ibis enduro bike live up to my expectations? Stick around to find out.
Ibis HD6 Geometry and Build Details
Let’s cover some of the new things about this bike before we go ride. First of all, we’ve now got a mixed weel size platform. That’s a first for the HD series and a first for Ibis in general. The HD6 has 165mm of rear wheel travel and comes stock with a 180mm Fox 38 Factory. Ibis claims it’s progressive enough for both air and coil shocks. Judging from the race footage, the Ibis enduro team has been racing the HD6 with both, it appears. Notably, the coil-destroying clevis has been replaced by an upper link situated in front of the seat tube. Good news for folks who like the Fox DHX shock.
Getting into the HD6 geometry, we have a Goldilocks 64° head tube angle and a 77° seat tube angle (size XL). The reach is a roomy 508mm with a 1288mm wheelbase. That’s a good 10-20mm shorter than most contemporary wheelbase figures. I think it’s because of the shorter chainstay length. Ibis was always on the shorter side when it came to chainstays. They’re also a bit slower to jump on the “make them longer” trend. The HD6 has 435mm chainstays — where most other enduro bikes find themselves in the 440+ range. The bottom bracket height is fairly low in this bike. So heads up, you’ll need to be careful with pedal placement. Although you’ll love it in the corners — more on that later.
As far as builds and pricing goes, the HD6 starts at a somewhat reasonable price for a boutique brand. The GX-equipped bike starts at $6099. Keep in mind that all models come stock with Fox Factory suspension, making that price tag a little more reasonable. The sky is the limit, however, with the top-shelf XX Transmission-equipped bike coming in at $11,199. I have two minor complaints about the builds. The first is I’d love to see internal frame storage. It’s becoming less of a bonus feature these days and more of a standard option. Ibis has provided under-the-top-tube mounts for carrying gear, as well as the Pork Chop bag custom fit for the HD6. So you won’t need a backpack, but it’s not quite as nice as tucking things away inside the frame. The second complaint is the stock dropper post is too short. On my XL test bike, it’s 170mm long. Other builds get up to 185mm for sizes XL and XXL. There’s plenty of clearance for a longer-stroke dropper, so I’m not sure why it’s not included on the bigger bikes. Maybe I’m a bit f a princess, but anything shorter than 210mm these days feels like it may as well not even be a dropper.
See all the builds here – https://www.ibiscycles.com/
Ibis HD6 Review
Starting with the climbing, the HD6 feels unmistakably like an Ibis. It’s efficient and calm under pedaling forces. If it didn’t have to be built burly enough to withstand the demands of enduro racing, it would be a quick climber. You can certainly feel the grippy, heavy tires and overall heft of the bike holding the suspension platform back a little. That said, it’s an enduro bike. It’s supposed to be that way. And, for an enduro bike, it’s an excellent climber. I picked the bike up the day after spending a week at sea level, then immediately proceeded to do a big ride at 8000 feet. The fact that I didn’t have to call my wife to pick me up in the middle of the woods speaks to the bike’s climbing ability.
I ended up experimenting quite a bit with the bike at different sag measurements. I started at my default spot for most bikes at just under 30%. The bike felt quick and lively, but I noticed a certain lack of traction on loose and chunky climbs. I eventually settled into about 31-32% sag. With a little more sag, I found the traction I was looking for. I did have to be a bit more conscious of where I put my pedals, though. At either sag amount, the bike did a great job of smoothing out undulations and bigger bumps.
The climbing position on the bike is comfortable and nicely balanced. There’s plenty of weight going through the front wheel, keeping it easy to manage. It handles uphill switchbacks easily, as well as steep inclines. The HD6 has some of the best uphill handling of any bike in the category. It ends up feeling more like an all-mountain bike on the ups than a big, slack enduro rig. And to be fair, its geometry is a little sportier than other enduro race bikes.
Overall, I’d happily slot the HD6 in near the top of the enduro climbers list. It’s right there with the likes of the Orbea Rallon. It’s efficient and comfortable, making it an excellent choice for big days with big climbs.
Jumping into the downhill, the first thing to address is how calm the bike rides. Like other Ibis bikes, it feels so smooth — except this one is smooth on steroids. It’s also one of the sportiest, best handling enduro bikes I’ve ridden. That combo is pretty special.
Starting with the suspension feel, the HD6 is very calm and composed through the bumps, both big and small. The small chatter disappears, and the suspension catches you nice and soft, even on some big compressions. As I said earlier, I tinkered with the suspension quite a bit on this one to find the sweet spot. It ended up being more sag than I normally run. Even at higher sag, I didn’t have any issues with bottoming out harshly or too easily. All that points to the HD6 being a great candidate for a coil shock for folks who want even better small bump compliance. That said, even with an air shock, the small bump performance was great, and I appreciated the sporty, lively feel.
The HD6 carries speed and momentum very well. Even with a smaller rear wheel, it doesn’t get hung up much at all. In fact, I’d say it’s the most full 29-feeling mullet bike I’ve ridden in that regard. It seems to generate speed just about everywhere without too much effort. When it comes down to it, that’s what it’s supposed to do — it’s an enduro race bike, after all.
Next up, let’s chat about the handling. I rode the HD6 in a wide variety of terrain, from high-speed chunk to slow-speed tight tech. Don’t tell anyone, but I even rode a flow trail. It was impressive in almost every situation. Even with the shorter wheelbase, it was stable enough to push the pace in rough terrain and high-speed straightaways. Where it really stood out to me was in the corners. It could boil down to it being shorter overall, the smaller rear wheel, or Ibis has landed on a great front/rear length ratio. Either way, the HD6 corners like a dream. It’s ultra-responsive without feeling at all twitchy. It’s easy to weight the front wheel properly, lean the bike over and let it do the rest. Flat, bermed, or chunky, it eats corners like I eat donuts — by the dozen.
As I mentioned before, I struggled to find a bit of rear-wheel traction at the sag I’d normally run. Before you come at me with tire pressure and all that, I did my due diligence and even went below where I’m comfortable with air pressures. Once I increased my sag measurement, I did a whole lot better with the traction.
The HD6 isn’t quite as playful or poppy as the Ripmo or even some bigger bikes like the Santa Cruz Megatower. It unweights and bunny hops well enough, but I wouldn’t call that its biggest strength. It’s more of a corner slapper and chunk plower than anything. Overall it’s a fun big bike to ride. I can see why the Ibis enduro team has been fairly successful on it this year. It’s not only fast, but it also handles extremely well. Both of which are crucial elements for racing, especially in Europe.
Ibis HD6 Comparisons
Ibis HD6 vs. Yeti SB160
When I first pulled the HD out of the box, I said it looked like a Yeti. So it makes sense to compare them. These two bikes find themselves on the sportier side of the enduro category. They’re a little more racy than they are burly. That characteristic makes them a little more versatile for us average Joes too. They don’t penalize you as much when you find yourself on smooth and easy terrain. Even though they’re similar, the HD6 feels a bit sportier and more responsive. It feels better in the corners and changes lines easier. The suspension feels a bit more active too. That said, the Yeti is longer and more stable for higher speeds and rougher terrain. They’re both great climbers, but the HD6 just might take the win. To sum it all up, the HD6 is a bit more well-rounded, while the SB160 is more capable.
Ibis HD6 vs. Rocky Mountain Altitude
On paper, these might be the most similar of all the other bikes I’ve mentioned. They’re within .5° and 10mm on almost every key dimension. The Ibis is a tiny bit slacker and longer even with the Altitude in the slack setting. It has a bit more travel too. They both have great handling characteristics and a well-rounded nature. The HD6 feels a bit smoother and more stable. The Altitude feels more lively and fun. The HD6 is the clear winner on the climbs. If you’re a jibby, jumpy rider, you’ll probably like the Altitude more, but if you like speed and insane handling, you’ll dig the HD6.
Who is the Ibis HD6 for?
It’s hard not simply to recommend this bike to everyone. I’ll try to provide a bit more specific advice here, though. The HD6 is a big bike, there’s no doubt about it. It’s squishy, heavy-ish, and burly. If you rode it without knowing any numbers though, you’d be surprised to learn it’s as “enduro” as it is. I think I just used enduro as an adjective. The way it handles and corners is pretty special. All of this is to say it’s a great option for someone who likes a big confident bike without many of the drawbacks. If you’re willing to put up with climbing a bit slower than you would on a trail or all-mountain bike in favor of some confidence and capability, you’ll be stoked on the HD6.
If you want to try your hand at racing enduro but don’t want to be pigeonholed into an obscenely aggressive bike, I’d happily recommend the HD6. From what I understand, races are usually won and lost in the corners, and that’s where this bike shines. Now, I’m not a racer, I’m way too slow for that, but I do like trying to ride difficult trails with as much pace as I can. Most of the time, I end up pedaling my out-of-shape butt to the top of those trails as well. The HD6 is maybe the perfect bike for the anti-racer like myself. For the same reasons, it’s good for the racers (handling and suspension feel) it’s good for the average Joes who like to ride hard trails.
So that’s going to do it for the HD6. Thanks for sticking around. We’ll see you next time.