The Ibis Ripley AF is stout, sturdy, and packed to the brim with a can-do attitude. It builds on the venerable Ripley platform with a burly alloy frame, slacker head tube angle, and smart build kits starting at $3000. What more could you ask for? Nothing really — you’d only come off as greedy at that point. Have the folks at Ibis have cracked the code for what a short travel trail bike should be? Stick around to find out.
Two bits of good fortune made this launch day review happen. First, thanks to Ibis, I’ve spent the better part of a month riding the Ripley AF. Second, we’ve been pretty lucky/unlucky with a mild winter here in Northern Utah. I’ve spent way more days on the trail than usual for this time of year. This bike has been with me on local flow trails, Southern Utah chunk, and even a lap or two on Gooseberry Mesa. It’s seen a lot of miles and different types of terrain. How has it handles everything? Very, very well.
Ibis Ripley AF Geometry
If you’re at all familiar with the history of the Ripmo, you can skip forward at least three sentences. Everyone else, I want your full and undivided attention. You see when Ibis first launched the Ripmo, everyone loved that bike. I’m serious — it’s a fact. Look it up. Then, Ibis went and made the Ripmo AF. It was built on an aluminum frame, a degree slacker at the head tube, more progressive, and coil compatible. People lost their minds — again, it’s a fact. Then the Ripmo V2 was released, modeled after the AF version. Minds were blown yet again.
Fast forward to this year, Ibis has now AF-ed the Ripley. It based on an alloy frame and at 65.5 degrees it’s a whole degree slacker than the carbon version. That slacker head tube angle makes the wheelbase about 10mm longer, but the rest of the geo remains largely unchanged from the carbon Ripley. So what does that mean? Good question. It means the Ripley AF rides a lot like its lighter, more svelte sibling. It has the same quick handling, lively acceleration, technical climbing prowess in addition to its more planted and capable descending ability.
Oh, and because I know many of you will ask, I’m 6’2” and fit perfectly on the XL. Don’t ask me how much I weigh.
I’m going to start this off with a preemptive strike. The Ripley AF has all the same meat and potatoes as the carbon Ripley. It makes sense that it climbs almost just as well. Sure, it’s a little heavier, longer, and slacker. It has the important stuff like suspension platform and geometry, though. That’s why it climbs about 90% as well as the carbon one. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
The suspension platform is what makes the Ripley AF so impressive. With the DW-link, the bike scoots up and over obstacles and feels incredibly smooth all without feeling overactive and too squishy. With how supple the suspension feels, it’s hard to believe there’s really no pedal bob to speak of. The suspension provides tons of traction and control on technical and bumpy climbs. It’s pretty tough to get the back wheel to spin out, even when standing up.
The one-degree slacker head tube angle and subsequent longer wheelbase, make the Ripley AF a little more difficult to manage on tight, technical climbs. The bike wanders a bit more and can be harder to get the back end to swing around tight corners. It’s still an impressive technical climber. During my test, I was able to clean some difficult climbs on Zen with no problems.
My test Ripley AF weighs 32 pounds. While that’s significantly more than the carbon one, I don’t feel as though it holds the bike back too much. Over long rides or marathon XC events, you’d feel the extra weight. I wouldn’t really recommend this bike for racing anyway. I’d argue this is the downhiller’s trail bike.
Like I said above, the Ripley AF is about that downhill. The 10% penalty on the climb is well worth the 15-20% bonus on the descents. It’s far more stable and planted that its carbon sibling. Combined with the alloy frame, it becomes a very capable and aggressive descender.
When you add a slacker headtube and longer wheelbase to the lively character of the Ripley, you get one of the best descending 120mm travel trail bikes on the market. Even with the slacker geo, the Ripley AF keeps the engaging and fun feel that we all love about the Ripley. It’s still very easy to maneuver, jump, and corner. The best part, is now it’s more capable and stable for those fast, chunky, and mean sections of trail. It really does feel like the best of both worlds.
The alloy frame has a different ride quality than its carbon counterpart. It seems to smooth out trail chatter and bumps better. I like to refer to this as a quiet riding frame. It has nothing to do with the actual sounds it makes, but rather the subdued and smooth ride quality. Combine that with the changes in the geometry and you have yourself an incredible descender.
I haven’t seen kinematics charts or sciency graphs for the Ripley AF yet. I’m just guessing here, but I’d say it’s more progressive than the carbon version. It doesn’t seem to blow through the travel as easily. I feel like there’s more support towards the end of the stroke. It allows you to push the pace and ride harder all without losing control of the bike.
I found myself attempting jumps, drops, and technical sections that have made me timid in the past. I seemed to forget I was on a 120mm travel trail bike. The Ripley AF didn’t seem to mind. It encountered every trail feature saying “I think I can, I think I can.”
Who is The Ibis Ripley AF for?
I’ll start this off by saying it’s not for the XC racer. It’s not for the rider wanting to crush uphill KOMs before breakfast. The Ripley AF is for the person who appreciates a short travel bike for the way they descend. Short travel bikes have a certain fun, engaging, and lively ride quality. The Ripley AF is no exception. It’s incredibly fun, it jumps well, corners well, and requires you to be a pilot rather than a passenger. Make sure you have a good solid stance on the bike, and it will do just about anything you ask of it. It doesn’t have the ability of a long-travel bike or even something like the Ripmo, but it’s plenty capable and stout for riding hard.