By Josh Patterson
When Ibis returned from the grave in 2005, they did so with a new motto, “steel is real…heavy.” The new Ibis, once again fronted by founder Scot Nichol, is focused on all-carbon, all the time. Ibis doesn’t do model years and, as a company, is not quick to bring new products to market.
When Ibis unveiled the carbon Mojo in 2005, it had been in development for over two years. Ibis took a similar approach when it came time to produce a longer-travel bike. The goal was to build a bike that still pedaled well, but could take big hits and descend with confidence. “We took everything we learned from the Mojo [now known as the Mojo SL], along with new technology and managed to build a bike that is night and day different in terms of stiffness and strength,” says Scot.
While the HD shares the same sultry curves as the Ibis Mojo SL, it is truly a bird of a different color. The 6.3lbs. (including shock) carbon monocoque frame uses an entirely different mold and layup than the 140mm travel SL. Weight gain was kept to a minimum by using a carbon dropout on the driveside and a one-piece forged magnesium brake mount/dropout on the left.
Ibis is one of five companies licensing Dave Weagle’s DW-Link suspension design. Weagle worked with Ibis to fine tune the suspension’s characteristics to provide good small bump sensitivity and a more progressive spring rate. The catchphrase used when talking about DW-Link suspensions is “anti-squat.” In short, the links in the DW-Link suspension are strategically positioned to create resistance to the rearward transfer of mass—what happens to your body when you put power to the pedals. If you can decrease this rearward transfer of mass, you can minimize the suspension input that causes the suspension to squat (or bob) as you accelerate.
This focus on negating the effects of mass-transfer means there is less reliance on compression damping in the shock, as the linkage itself helps to provide the pedaling platform. The end result? Good small bump sensitivity, and ample traction in all situations.
You can buy the frame and shock for $2,400, or choose from several build kits. My Mojo HD test sled came equipped with a 10-speed XT drivetrain and Formula brakes. Both of which did their jobs without complaint. The cockpit consisted of an Ibis-branded stem, handlebar and seatpost. The Crankbrothers’ Joplin dropper seatpost was a welcome addition on techy descents, but left me wishing for the remote-operated version. A 160mm Fox 36 TALAS fork was paired with a Fox RP23 with boost valve in rear.
For the gravity-inclined, the HD can take up to an 180mm travel fork. Scot noted the RP23 is the rear shock of choice for the majority of HD owners, though more aggressive riders may prefer the increased bottom-out adjustability of the Fox DHX Air. My tire combo—WTB WeirWolf 2.3” upfront and a WTB Mutano 2.4” in the rear, set-up tubeless on Crankbrothers Iodine wheels—would have been a great tire setup for loose over hardpack, but they didn’t do much when riding leaves over loam. I promptly swapped them for some knobbier tires and went to work on my local trails.
When setting up the Fox RP23, Scot recommended I start with my body weight in PSI and adjust from there. Initially, I felt the HD sat very high it its travel. It took quite a bit of trial and error to get the very progressive rear end to feel matched to the plush—and more linear—feel of the Fox 36 TALAS. I settled on 140 psi, which gave me 30% sag and a bottom bracket height of about 310mm.
On flowy trails I kept the ProPedal in the lowest damping position. This gave the best all-around performance. On long descents the rear still felt noticeably more progressive than the front—it was worth flipping the ProPedal off to allow the rear to soak up the hits. Rock-strewn downhills were a joy on this bike. I didn’t think twice about the possible consequences associated with plowing a carbon frame through rockgardens or chucking it off ledges—fuggetaboutit.
In case you can’t “fuggetaboutit,” the Mojo HD comes with a polycarbonate guard to protect the cables and down tube from rock strikes and help you sleep at night. The Mojo HD was very agile in both high and low speed situations. If you value agility over stability, the HD will be right up your alley. Sure, it’s no XC racer, but it’s not a beast of burden when climbing back up the mountain. For a 160mm bike it pedaled extremely well.
On technical climbs with rocky stairsteps and slimy roots, the rear end dug in and stayed planted. The slightly rearward axle path of the DW-Link provided gobs of traction. Ibis originally planned for the Mojo HD to have a 68° head angle. During prototyping, Ibis-sponsored athlete/test pilot Brian Lopes lobbied for a slacker, 67° head angle. Despite the 67° head angle and relatively short (435mm) rear end, the Mojo HD required very little effort to keep the front wheel tracking. Save for some long steep grinders, I hardly felt the need to flip the TALAS into the 120mm position.
I hesitate to call my personal bikes flexy, but they are certainly more “compliant” than the HD. During my initial rides I had to adjust my timing and line choice when leaning the bike into familiar corners—“coming in hot!” The combination of a stiff frame, 20mm thru axle fork and 12x135mm Maxleequipped rear end resulted in a bike whose cornering prowess far exceeded my own. The trifecta of progressive suspension feel, agility and frame stiffness produce a bike whose ride characteristics belie its 160mm of suspension.
Three’s a crowd
Too many years spent singlespeeding caused the part of my brain responsible for processing the nuances of shifting through three chainrings to atrophy. Unfortunately, the Mojo HD is not ISCG 05 compatible; the upper
ISCG mount would interfere with frame’s lower DW-Link. Fortunately, Ibis worked with chainguide manufacturer MRP to design an HD-specific version of their popular Mini-G chainguide, which mounts to the external bottom bracket and is bolted into the lower link’s pivot bolt to prevent rotation under impact. Towards the end of the test I gave my brain a rest and swapped the XT triple for a single 32-tooth chainring. When paired with the 11-36 10-speed cassette I had all the gears I needed. The bike still climbed admirably with the RP23 set in the middle ProPedal setting despite the fact I was often mashing, rather than spinning, up climbs.
Make no mistake, this is not a long-legged XC trail bike. While the Mojo HD shares the same clean lines as the Mojo SL the similarities are purely cosmetic. I guess HD is meant to imply “Heavy Duty,” but I think it means Hot Damn! The Mojo HD is a delight for aggressive riders who enjoy technical trails and like to earn their turns. That said, there’s no getting around the high price of admittance to the party, though the HD’s versatility may help your case when you attempt to justify the purchase. Build it burley, for shuttle runs and terrain parks, or hang a lightweight group on it for all-day epics. Either way, the Ibis Mojo HD is up for the challenge.
Tester: Josh Patterson
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Sizes Available: SM, MD(tested), LG, XL