You’ve been asking and we’ve been wondering when Ibis would finally make an ebike. Well, the wait is over—Ibis just launched the Oso today. It’s a big, burly, brawler of an ebike. So, how did they do their first time out? Stick around to find out.
Ibis Oso Geo and Details
We’re covering a few key highlights of this bike here. For the full geo charts and specifications, Ibis has a pretty cool website…
The Oso is a big, bad larry. It’s got 155mm of rear travel with the option to run 170mm by swapping to a longer stroke shock. It comes with a 170mm Fox 38 up front although if you feel so inclined you can run all the way up to a 190mm dual crown fork. Sizes small and medium get the mullet treatment to help keep the chainstays the right size relative to the front of the bike. Sizes large and extra-large go full 29. Normally, I ride an extra-large, but this frame is pretty big in terms of reach. The reach on the large is 500mm, as long as almost any extra large out there. The extra large is closer to an XXL with a 540mm reach. I felt perfectly comfortable on the large although I did have to run the supplied 185mm dropper post at the minimum insertion to get the correct saddle height. I have giraffe legs, though so most folks will probably be ok.
There are some large sizing gaps in the Oso lineup but the standover height is very low allowing for more wiggle room between sizes. Also, keep in mind that the seat tube angle is steeper than most other bikes which will help mitigate a bit of that extra reach length when seated.
The geometry is pretty spot on for a modern, aggressive all-mountain bike. The head tube angle comes in at 64°, the wheelbase is 1294mm, the seat tube angle is 78°, and the chainstays on my large frame are 444mm. I don’t think I could ask for anything different. I immediately felt at home on the Oso.
I haven’t spent too much time riding Bosch drive systems over the last couple of years. I was excited about the chance to ride the Performance Line CX motor on the Oso. Most of the motors these days are getting pretty good, so it takes quite a bit for one to stand out. The Bosch is easily one of the best I’ve ridden to date. In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of the Giant SyncDrive Pro. It’s quiet, consistent, and plenty powerful. It packs a punch with 85NM of peak torque. It falls somewhere between the Shimano EP8 and Rocky Mountain Dyname 4.0 in terms of how that power is delivered. It’s not quite as natural as the Dyname, but it’s still quite a bit less torquey than the EP8.
The Oso comes with a 750Wh battery that’s been more than enough for the long climbs I’ve put it through. This is purely anecdotal, but to me, it seems like the first half of most ebike batteries last longer than the second half. It seems like a 100-50% charge will last for miles and then 50-0% goes by really fast. The Oso is the complete opposite. The first half seems to drain quickly but from 50-0% takes forever. My only evidence for this is when I’ve been out riding with other ebikers, the Oso battery drops quicker out of the gate. By the time we’ve finished a long ride, though, we’re at least even or the Oso has more charge left. Either way, the battery range seems perfectly fine for long missions. The longest ride I’ve done to date has been 21 miles with 4k elevation gain in some pretty rough and rugged terrain. I finished with 23% battery left.
The Bosch system with both a controller and a separate screen does lead to a bit of cable clutter in the cockpit. This is compounded by the integrated Lupine headlight and taillight on the Oso. I will say, the headlight has saved my bacon at least once in the time I’ve had the bike.
Ibis Oso Review
It wouldn’t be an Ibis if it didn’t climb exceptionally well. I still stand by my assertion that Ibis makes some of the best climbing bikes period. The Ripmo and Ripley both come in at the top of the class in their categories. The Oso is no exception.
Like I said earlier, the Oso’s geometry is as close to perfect as it gets for an aggressive all-mountain bike. The seated position is comfortable, the reach is roomy, and the wheelbase provides stability. While the seat tube angle looks rather slack, because it starts so far in front of the bottom bracket, the effective angle is rather steep. On my size large frame, the angle is 78°. Ibis proved the addle height at which they measure the seat tube angle so you actually have a point of reference too. I had no problems with the front end wandering or lifting. It was easy to keep my weight centered on the bike. Ibis put a lot of thought into the front/rear balance on the Oso. Not only did they use frame size-specific swingarms and wheel diameters, but they’ve also made each size with its own seat tube angle. If you think about it, where you sit on the bike will have an effect on how much bike is behind you vs in front of you.
While out filming, the trail we rode had numerous tight and technical switchbacks. Now, I don’t claim to be anything more than exceptionally mediocre at riding bikes, but I can hold my own in most terrain. But if there’s one place I clam up and completely look like a newbie, it’s in tight, uphill switchbacks. Luckily I got to practice at least 5000 times on this ride. Maybe it was just the day, or I had my lucky jersey on, but I cleaned far more of them than I thought I could. I still had my fair share of awkward attempts, but I will credit the Oso’s geometry and handling for at least half of my successes. It’s easy to steer around tight corners and control the bike.
If you’ve ever ridden an Ibis you’ll be aware of the way they seem to hover over rocks and roots. They have a way of staying composed as you’re grinding your way up bumpy sections of trail. They don’t bounce you around and off your seat. An ebike can make that bouncing problem even more apparent. The Oso, however, is as smooth as any bike I’ve ridden in uphill chunk. The back wheel stays on the ground providing traction and control so you can keep pedaling through the roughest terrain. I cleaned quite a few steep, rocky sections that should have felt harder than they did. The Oso does seem to sit higher in the travel which helps quite a bit when pedaling in rough sections as well. Pedal strikes are less likely when the bike is a bit higher off the ground. It’s an excellent technical climber.
The Bosch motor is the perfect complement to the Oso’s uphill ability. I tend to steer clear of most “automatic” modes on an ebike. For me, they don’t seem to react quickly enough to changes in input. The eMTB mode on the Bosch drive ended up being my favorite mode for both climbing and descending. It reacted quickly enough to increase in effort as I reached technical sections and steep pitches. It provided a very consistent feel that allowed for more of my focus to be placed on what I was doing (read: falling over in technical uphill switchbacks)
Overall the climbing experience on the Oso is one of my favorite to date. I can’t think of a single thing I would change.
Right from the get-go, the Oso felt different than any other Ibis I’ve ridden. It felt plush, deep, and bottomless. It certainly rides like the biggest bike in their lineup.
The suspension feel on the Oso is a bit different than what I’ve come to expect from the brand. It is a bit easier to get into the travel than some of their other bikes. It provides more traction and control when things get rough and chattery. That’s a good thing too because the trail I filmed on was the definition of rough and chattery. I don’t think there was a single 20’ stretch that wasn’t littered with embedded rocks and baby heads. The Oso smoothed out the small trail chatter rather well. But I was surprised at how composed it felt through rough, high-speed compressions. I did notice the rear wheel grabbing the occasional large loose rock and getting hung up or bounced a bit. I don’t think any other bike would have done all that much better though. That’s kind of the nature of loose, rolly rocks.
After the plush initial stroke, the suspension firmed up quite a bit—not in a harsh, chattery way, but a supportive/poppy way. The Oso is one of the easier ebikes to unweight and bunny hop. It reminds me quite a bit of the Santa Cruz Heckler in how lively it is. It doesn’t feel like the wheels are anchored to the ground. I had an easy time hopping over rocks, changing lines, unweighting over roots, and doing things other than simply going really fast in a straight line. The ramp-up is what leads to the bottomless feel of the bike too. Granted, 155mm is quite a bit of travel, but it rode like it maybe had more. According to the sag indicator, I found bottom more than a handful of times, although I never would have known. I made sure to case plenty of jumps in the name of science too. I never once felt that dreaded clang or rear wheel hanging up. All this to say, there’s plenty of progression built into the suspension. Ibis says it’s coil compatible which is something I’d love to try on this bike.
The Oso’s handling is right up there—it’s some of the best in the game. It strikes a great balance between high-speed stability and low-speed agility. It’s very well-rounded in that regard. As I mentioned earlier, our trail was full of tight switchbacks. The Oso handled those with ease. I could dive the front wheel into the corner and the back would follow nicely. It does a great job in the more open corners too. It offers enough stability for confidence without feeling sluggish or slow. It handled the high-speed straightaways and big compressions with a fair amount of composure. The bike wanted to go faster, but the narrow trail, sizeable adjacent hillside, and my small case of acrophobia made that difficult. Watch the video if you want to see what I’m talking about.
Overall the Oso is the shreddiest Ibis I’ve ridden to date. The best part about it though is it doesn’t lose the fun, poppy, lively feel that Ibis is famous for. Imagine a Ripmo with more travel, more progression, and a more forgiving ride quality and that’s the Oso.
Ibis Oso Comparisons
Santa Cruz Heckler
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the balanced and lively Heckler. It’s a big, full-power eMTB that rides like a lightweight one. The Oso brings that exact same ride quality to the table. It’s big, burly, and capable without sacrificing on fun. The Oso packs a bit more of a punch, though, especially when you consider that you can run it with 170mm of rear travel and a DH fork. It’s got slacker and longer geometry as well. It’s specced on the burlier slide of the spectrum too with a Fox 38, 220mm rotors, and Double Down tires front and back. I think the Heckler is the more mellow-cruise-friendly bike while the Oso is more capable for rough riding.
Rocky Mountain Instinct PP
The Instinct struck me as one of the most balanced ebikes I’ve ever ridden. It handles a huge variety of terrain from easy to challenging. The Oso seems to bring some of that same versatility to the table. It climbs exceptionally well, descends capably, and is still fun when the trail isn’t steep and rough. The Instinct drivesystem delivers more power in a smoother more natural way, but at least for now, it would seem that the Bosch system offers better range and the awesome “automatic” eMTB mode.
One-Line Bike Review
The Oso is the shreddiest Ibis while still being Ibis to the core.