- Ibis Mojo
- £1,699 frame only (naked carbon, Fox RP23 shock; +£100 for paint, +£200 for DHX Air shock). Complete bikes from £3,099
- Stif Mountain Bikes (www.stif.co.uk, 0113 225 1111)
- Sub-6lb frame
- 140mm travel
- DW-Link suspension
Ibis is a company with a long, if erratic, history. It was founded by Scot Nicol in 1981, hand-building steel frames. It grew and diversified, making road, mountain, ‘cross, tandem and full-suspension bikes in steel and titanium. After running Ibis for nearly 20 years, Nicol sold it. And twenty months later it went bust. But now it’s back, with the founder once again at the helm. Nicol is characteristically self-deprecating about his role – he says that he’s “manning the welding torch now that we aren’t welding anything.”
The new Ibis currently produces just two models – the Silk road bike and the Mojo mountain bike, reviving the name of Ibis’s legendary steel hardtail. You can probably guess which one we’re looking at here…
The old Ibis made frames from chromoly or titanium tubes welded together. Chromoly and titanium were the staples. But the new Ibis eschews such things as tubes and metal – the Mojo (and the Silk road bike) are all carbon fibre. Well, nearly all – certain key parts are aluminium, like the threads in the BB shell, the dropouts, the linkages and so on.
Some carbon fibre frames stick with straight lines and round tube sections even if they’re built as monococques, but Ibis has gone to town with the possibilities – the Mojo is all curves, swoops and smooth lines. It’s one of the very few bikes that’s actually a pleasure to clean – you find yourself just buffing parts of it one more time. At the very front, the head tube carries an integrated headset, while the full-length seat tube means plenty of scope for dropping your saddle.
The carbon fibre swingarm is a work of art. It’s all one piece, with aluminium dropouts and disc mount. Again, it’s all very organic and smooth, which certainly seems to prevent mud gathering in it. Tyre clearance is adequate, although a little more around the chainstays would be welcome.
Between the two halves of the frame are the short forged linkages of the DW-Link suspension system. You don’t see the fruits of Dave Weagle’s kinematic ponderings on all that many bikes – Ibis, Iron Horse and Independent Fabrications are the only manufacturers using it. It’d certainly be good to see it getting more exposure, perhaps even on brands that begin with letters other than “I”. It’s a short-link design, with the arrangement of pivots designed to achieve the usual goals of minimum pedal feedback, brake effects and bob with maximum plushness and acceleration.
One particularly interesting aspect of the construction is that the pivot bearings aren’t directly replaceable. Instead if/when the bearings get tired you simply unbolt and replace the whole linkage, pivots and all, which saves a lot of tedious drifting and hammering. New linkage assemblies should be reasonably priced.
Then there are all the little details – the concealed upper link pivots, the replaceable stainless steel plate on the drive-side chainstay to ward off chainsuck damage and the most highly-polished seat quick-release that we’ve ever seen. The test bike was in a raw carbon finish, but there’s also a choice of painted colours. We rather like “Guinness foam”…
A little unusually for such a high-end frame, you can get a Mojo as a variety of complete bikes without having to go through the time ans expense of speccing every part yourself. Stif offers a range of UK builds starting from £3,099 for a RockShox Lyrik 2-Step/SRAM X-9 level spec and running up to £3,849 for a Fox 36 TALAS RC-2/SRAM X-0 bike.
The demo bike came with a selection of sensible parts. Race Face Atlas cranks, Hope hubs, Mavic 717 rims, WTB Weirwolf tyres, XT shifters and mechs, Hayes brakes, Fi:zi’k Aliente seat, Thomson post, Race Face stem and a pair of rather tall Ibis bars. With no particular concession to weight saving, the whole Large bike came in at around 28lb. There’s certainly scope to drop a whole chunk off that if you’re so inclined, although in our world that’s a perfectly acceptable weight for a bike.
We’ve ridden a lot of bikes, and while most of them are really rather good these days it’s been a while since something actually blew us away. But that’s exactly what the Mojo did. Whatever you think about the looks or the price, this is a stunning bike to ride. Somehow it manages to feel both light and stout, have both less and more travel than it actually does and combine high-speed stability with low-speed manouevrability.
A sub-6lb frame is certainly light for its travel, but the all-carbon construction and short linkages result in a really stiff platform – when you’re pushing on it feels as solid as a 10lb aluminium frame. It also doesn’t clonk and rattle as much as some carbon frames, which is an acoustic property that tends to give an impression of fragility.
The relaxed-at-the-front, steep-at-the-back geometry is nigh-on faultless for all-round riding. Sit down and you find your weight committed forward, keeping the front end running straight on climbs and biting in turns. Stand up and it’s easy to hang back and let the fairly shallow head angle keep things stable on the steeps. If this was our bike we’d put a slightly lower-rise bar on it, though.
Dave Weagle’s DW-Link suspension certainly lives up to its promises – you get small-bump sensitivity, mid-range plushness and the ability to swallow big hits, all without distracting pedal feedback and with a minimum of bob. Best of all, unlike some bikes, the Mojo somehow always feels like the tool for the job. You never feel like you’re overburdened with travel and rarely feel like you could do with substantially more. It’s one of those bikes that offers completely transparent performance – it doesn’t make its presence felt, it just gets on with the job. And that makes it a very rewarding bike indeed.
Positives: Totally sorted handling and suspension, beautifully made, light but solid, fantastic details, absolutely stonkingly good ride
Negatives: Somewhat pricy, looks not to everyone’s taste, a smidgen more tyre clearance would be welcome
Just when you think that bikes can’t possibly get any better, along comes the Ibis Mojo. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, its looks are an acquired taste. But it’s just fantastic to ride. It doesn’t care if you want to pootle or hammer – whatever you do it’ll flatter and encourage. It never feels like too much bike, it never feels like not enough. It’s just there, doing what you want it to do. Purists may bemoan the fact that the reborn Ibis hasn’t launched a range of steel hardtails, but the new Mojo is destined to be a classic in its own right. We had a really hard time letting it go…