The Cycle Life

First Look: Ibis Mojo HD3

We thought the last iteration of this bike couldn't be improved. We were wrong.

First Look: Ibis Mojo HD3

Yes, it is a big bike that slammed steep, technical, gnarly downhills with ease. But thanks to that refined suspension and the middle-of-the-road head angle, it also a surprisingly deft pedaler. Photo: Aaron Gulley

After last year’s hit 29er, the Ripley, we had high expectations for Ibis’ latest iteration of the Mojo, a carbon 27.5er with six inches of rear travel. This third generation of the longer-travel bike replaced the HDR that launched spring 2013, and it’s a full rethink, with a lower bottom bracket, slacker 67-degree front end, and a suspension tuned expressly for this platform.

The DWLink has always been a firm, efficient system, and it keeps those characteristics here, though the new tuning has given this bike the most plush and linear suspension feel we’ve encountered from the design so far. Paired with the excellent Cane Creek DB inline shock, it really is a noticeable improvement, which is saying something given that we’ve always loved the feel of Ibis’ suspension. 

Also worth mentioning is the new 160mm Fox Float 36 RC2 fork, which is buttery smooth and shows that the company heard—and fixed—the complaints about the uneven feel of many of its forks last year. The RockShox pike has dominated this segment of the market for the past few years, but this Fox will change that.

At our 2015 bike test in Tucson, riders agreed that the HD3 puts the “all” in all-mountain. Yes, it is a big bike that slammed steep, technical, gnarly downhills with ease. But thanks to that refined suspension and the middle-of-the-road head angle—after all, many enduro bikes we rode were in the 65-degree range—it's also a surprisingly deft pedaler. In fact, no other bike this big, save the Specialized Enduro 29, cleared as many obstacles as the HD3. Despite all the travel and the not exactly featherweight 28.5 pounds, it’s a bike that everyone said they wouldn’t hesitate to take out on almost any day of riding.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this already compelling bike is Ibis’ new 741 carbon fiber wheels. These massively wide rims (external width: 41mm; internal: 35mm) continue the trend toward additional width that we’ve seen in both the road and MTB worlds, as well as in fat bikes. The idea is that the wider rim spreads the tire, provides a broader contact patch with the ground, and makes it possible to run lower tire pressure. Mark our words: You will hear a lot more about this from a broad spectrum of manufacturers in coming years.

Our HD3 is equipped with chunky 2.3-inch Maxxis Minion tires, and on the 741s they are approximately a quarter of an inch broader than the same tire on another test bike’s more standard size Easton Haven rims. We’ve been running them with 20 PSI in the front and 21 PSI in the rear, and the traction and control is outstanding. Thanks to the carbon build, the rims aren’t heavy either, weighing in at 1,734 grams built with DTSwiss 350 hubs. That said, we do notice the extra weight relative to something like an Enve M60 Forty. Still, the performance trade-off so far seems good, and at $1,450 a pair, the 741s are relatively inexpensive for carbon wheels.

It’s important to note that we suffered a setback with the 741s. On one of the chunkiest test rides, we broke the rear rim, a radial fracture that nearly—but did not—split the rim completely. To the wheel’s credit, it held together and the tire never went flat, even through almost three more miles of rocky riding. If we’d been riding a standard aluminum rim, it would have been game over. Still, we had a wheel that was out of commission.

  Photo: Aaron Gulley

Ibis subsequently inspected the wheel and says the break came from a manufacturing error. As such, they replaced it under their generous warranty program. The company says they’ve seen no other breaks like this one, and we believe them. After five years and dozens of sets of carbon wheels, we’ve never seen anything like it either. We assume the break is an anomaly, and we’ve been railing hard for two weeks on the bike and wheels ever since with no issues. We will continue to ride them hard for the next six months or so and file a full report on the 741s after full testing. For now, the benefits of the wide rims on a bike like this seem great, and we’re happy to see Ibis innovating.

Wheels aside—and it’s also possible to buy the HD3 with Stan’s Arch EX wheels—the HD3 proved one of the most capable and confident all-mountain bikes in the test. As ever, Ibis has built an instant classic that’s hard to not consider if you’re in the market for a six-inch bike. The bike is available as a frame only for $2,900, and complete builds start at $3,950. Our tester, with Shimano XTR 1x11 drivetrain, the burlier Werx build package, and the 741 wheels, goes for $7,930.

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