Long Travel 29’er Shootout: Canyon Strive vs Ibis Ripmo

Canyon Strive

It’s no secret- the hottest bikes these days are long-travel 29ers, and for good reason:  with the newest geometry trends (steeper STA, slacker HTA) these bikes can be pedaled all day long but absolutely rip on the descents.  So far this year with Chasing Epic, almost 75% of the bikes requested by our clients falls under one name:  Ripmo.  That said, I’ve also been lucky enough to have one of the other long travel bikes in my possession for the last three months.  The Canyon Strive VS Ibis Ripmo!

We thought we’d take it to another level by doing a proper shootout, one that might help you decide which bike to buy in the future if you happen to be in the market.  

About the Reviewer:

I own Chasing Epic, and I ride bikes a lot.  Personally, I prefer a more trail-oriented 29er for every day riding in Colorado, but I also really dig a big bike for places like Brevard and Moab.  I like bikes that climb efficiently and are fun and playful on the way down.  If you check my Strava times, I’m usually in the top 10-20% on the climbs, and the top 2-5% on downhill segments.  I don’t shy away from anything technical, and my typical ride (not including Chasing Epic trips) is around 20 miles with about 3,000 feet of climbing.  I’m 5’11” with a 31″ inseam, and waver between 170 and 175 lbs depending on how much I ate for dinner.

Where I Rode the bikes:

Over the last three months, I’ve put these two bikes through the paces in some pretty awesome locations: 

  • St. George, UT
  • Fruita / Grand Junction, CO
  • Brevard, NC
  • Eagle, CO
  • Golden, CO

I would have liked to get a few rides on these bikes in the CO high country.  It’s been a wet and snowy spring so that won’t happen for a while.  But I have taken each for “big” rides around my hometown of Eagle with 25 miles and almost 4,000 feet of climbing each.  I’d say that suffices.

Bike Details:

Ibis Ripmo.  GX level build, size L with Industry Nine Enduro 305 wheels.  Retail price around $6500.

Canyon Strive.  CF 8.0 build, size L totally stock.  Retail price $4800 with current discount.

Breakdown 1: Build Kit

This one is tough for Ibis. Canyon is a direct-to-consumer brand.  This forgoes the bike shop in favor of passing on that margin savings to the end customer.  And you can tell in the price, as the Canyon is over $1500 cheaper, while also having a much better build kit.  Highlights of the Strive include a carbon frame, full XO1 drivetrain, Elite-level Fox suspension, carbon Reynolds wheels, a Fox Transfer dropper post, and SRAM Code brakes.

While no slouch itself, the Ripmo comes in with a full GX drivetrain, Performance-level Fox suspension.  A BikeYoke Revive dropper was upgraded over stock and Maxxis EXO 2.5″ WT tires.  Chasing Epic partners with Industry Nine so we’ve got their Enduro 305 wheels on this build, which is essentially a $1,000 upgrade over the stock Ibis 938 alloy wheels.  Without the I-9 wheels, this bike would be around $5200 retail.

Canyon Strive VS Ibis Ripmo

Breakdown 2: Initial Ride Impressions 

This one is tough.  As it’s an entirely personal impression based on expectations and experiences outside what you, the reader, will have.  That said, here goes.  The Ripmo launched to much fanfare last summer, and has received all kinds of awards since then; and it’s well-deserved.  This do-it-all trail/enduro bike was a big departure from past Ibis bikes I’ve ridden, and it was fairly ground-breaking when compared to other bikes on the market.  

Unfortunately the bike was released too late in 2018 for us to have any demos available with Chasing Epic.  So it wasn’t until early this spring that I was actually able to put some good miles on the bike.  And the hype?  Well worth it.  This bike rips.  It climbs better than any long-travel bike I’ve been on, and was super plush and playful on the descents.  I immediately knew it would be a hit for our Chasing Epic clients; that’s why we have eight of them.

Enter the Canyon Strive.  Other than a few rides on last year’s Spectral, I really had no experience riding a Canyon bike.  As part of an upcoming partnership with Canyon (we’re running a trip for them in October), they sent me a new Strive to ride and take pictures of back in March.  The Strive was launched earlier this year as a revamp of an older design, and was moved from a 27.5″ platform to 29″ wheels for 2019.  I had read about the bike and watched reviews and was curious- and skeptical- about the Shape Shifter technology.  

I first rode the Strive this spring in Fruita and Hurricane, UT – and I came away very impressed.  The Shape Shifter works amazingly, and the bike is super fun to ride.  It’s efficient on the climbs, and it’s a charger on the decents.  Canyon has a winner on its hands with this one.

Breakdown #3: Climbing

Let’s get into it.  As I mentioned above, I don’t mind long climbs as long as the reward justifies the suffering.  Which usually means I’m in the saddle for an hour or two at a time, breathing hard trying to capture oxygen out of the thin air here in Colorado.  Needless to say, climbing performance is important to me.

Ibis Ripmo

With the steep seat tube angle of the Ripmo, it climbs better than any long travel bike I’ve ridden recently.  This includes the Hightower LT, BMC TrailFox, Spot Rollik, and a few others.  I wouldn’t put it up there with trail bikes like the Spot Mayhem or the Ibis Ripley, but this bike leaves you no excuses for bringing up the rear- that’s on you.  With the DW Link giving you a supple climbing platform and the 29″ tires, the Ripmo will deliver you to the top.  I’m one that uses the climb switch on rear suspension quite often, and I personally found a pretty big difference between “climb” and “descend” on the DPX2; on chunky terrain, however, leave it wide open and it’ll be perfect.

Canyon Strive

Canyon’s ShapeShifter technology gives you some options when it comes to climbing with the rear shock.  If you put the bike in “click” (trail) mode, the rear shock is shortened to 135mm and the STA steepens to 75 degrees.  Push the lever into “clack” (slack) mode, and the rear shock lengthens to 150mm, the STA slackens to 73.5 and the HTA goes to 66 degrees.  Personally, I would never consider climbing on the Strive in anything other than “trail” mode.  So that’s what I did.  And in comparing it to the Ripmo, I’d say they’re pretty damn equal.  Sure, it requires an extra button to push, but once you push it the bike becomes playful and responsive, and the rear suspension is quite efficient.  To be 100% honest, I think the only difference in climbing performance here is the weight penalty on the Strive (about a pound and a half), but it’s a stretch to say it actually affects performance in a noticeable way.  

Ibis Ripmo Pisgah

Breakdown #4: Descending

This is where it all pays off… the descent.  I’ve had both of these bikes on a variety of terrain from Brevard to Fruita to Hurricane to Eagle, and they’re both an absolute blast to ride.  Boiling it down to few words, I’d say the Ripmo is playful and plush while the Strive is rowdy and confidence-inspiring.

Canyon Strive

When you “clack” (slack) the Strive into descend mode, the bike becomes an absolute bruiser.  There’s something about the combination of a long wheelbase, wide bars, big fork, and wide Maxxis tires that makes you feel almost indestructable.  On fast, techy trails like Trace Ridge in Brevard, World’s Greatest in Eagle, and White Ranch in Golden I felt like the faster I let the bike go, the smoother it felt.  Their 3-phase suspension design really shines here, as the bike just eats up bigger hits and smoothes out trail chatter.  Some folks point to the bike “only” having a 66-degree HTA, but that’s the sweet spot for me personally… you still get some playfulness with the bike while still having something that can blast through chunk.  I thought the Fox 36 Performance Elite really shined on the Strive, as well.

Ibis Ripmo

Riding the Ripmo is a slightly different experience; even though the geometry is very similar, the bike feels different when hauling ass downhill.  To me, the bike feels like a more plush trail bike.  That is, the bike retains the playful feeling that Ibis bikes are known for, but it also smoothes everything out and feels quite plush at the same time.  While on the Strive I felt confident blasting through certain sections, with the Ripmo I found myself popping around and over things.  Granted, I tend to keep my wheels on the ground most of the time, so consider that if you’re regularly hitting 4+ foot drops.  That’s just not my style.  For long, extended, flowy downhills I found the Ripmo to be a blast: I remember one downhill in Dupont State Forest in Brevard where the experience was almost zen-like…. just smooth, flowy, and relaxing.  

Ibis Ripmo VS Canyon Strive

Breakdown #5: Picking Nits

Both of these bikes are really freakin’ awesome.  But it wouldn’t be a shootout without me pointing to some things I’d personally like to see different:

Ibis Ripmo

  • With it being classified as an “enduro” bike, the rear DPX2 is tuned for a more compliant (softer) ride.  As someone who prefers more efficient climbing, I wish the “climb” position was a bit more firm for the long Colorado climbs.
  • The matte black frame looks awesome, but damn it’s hard to keep clean!
  • Oh, and the name.  Seriously, “Ripmo”?  A bike this bad-ass deserves its own identity.

Canyon Strive

  • I’m assuming in order to accommodate the water bottle cage, the rear DPX2 shock is flipped upside down.  I like using the compression settings on my rear shock, and this configuration makes it damn hard to do without the risk of losing a finger in the cranks.
  • The ShapeShifter lever integrated on the left side of the cockpit- just above the dropper post lever.  It takes a few rides to get used to all the buttons over there.  But once you’ve got it down, it’s second nature.
  • The seat tube itself is pretty long/tall.  It doesn’t allow for much more than a 150-160mm dropper post unless you size down.  I personally never felt the need for anything longer than the stock 150mm Transfer, but some people like to have the latest and greatest.  So there’s that.

Canyon Strive

Enough Already… Pick a Winner.  Canyon Strive VS Ibis Ripmo

This is a tough one, as both of these bikes absolutely rip.  Knowing that I would have to eventually pick a winner when I came up with the idea of a shootout, I’ve been dreading this for the last couple of months!  So here it is…. taking price out of the equation, I’d take the Ripmo by the width of a shifter cable.  Factoring in price, however, my decision flips over to the Strive, hands down.

For the large majority of my rides here in Colorado, I prefer a playful bike that has a little extra “security” (ie., travel) when I need it.  And playfulness is really the ONLY place I can differentiate between these two bikes when it comes to performance and ride characteristics.  Of course, the biggest difference between these two bikes is the $1500 price gap… so if you’re working within a realistic budget, it’s tough to overlook the value and quality of the Strive.

If you want a “set it and forget it” bike, then the Ripmo is for you.  The bike climbs well, descends amazingly, and is built for the type of riding we all love.  If you want more adjustability and control, then you should consider the “two for one” Strive.  Between the trail/click mode of being playful and efficient, and the slack/clack mode of being a big bruiser, this bike gives you options depending on what you feel like riding that day.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Adrian

    Interesting read. I the owned ripmo for about 10 months and found it to be NOT very playful in a size XL, super disappointed. Everything else written here was spot on with my experience.

    1. Chad Davis

      The only time I’ve noticed the Ripmo may not feel super playful is at slow speeds in tight terrain – but what modern enduro/long travel 29er is?

  2. Matt

    Did you feel like the Large Strive fit you well? I am 5’11 and Canyon is telling me I need a medium. I’m thinking that might make it a little better in the tight stuff but I’m just not sure.

    1. Chad Davis

      Hey Matt, Sorry for the late relpy here. According to Canyon’s own geometry chart you should be on a large. One thing to be careful with is their seattube length’s. They are long and might not allow the use of a long dropper unless you have really long legs or are using a insertion length dropper like the One Up.

      The Strive likely won’t be the most agile in tight terrain with wheelbases that are quite long especially without using reduced offset forks like Ibis and Transition do.

  3. Pingback: Long Travel 29’er Shootout: Canyon Strive vs Ibis Ripmo – The Weekend Sender

  4. Steve

    To echo what Chad said above, you’re definitely a large. I (the reviewer) am 5’11”, and comfortably ride a size large with a 40mm stem and 780mm handlebar.

  5. Darin

    Great review. Two bikes on my shortlist, so perfect timing. Quick question, how did the Canyon Strive pedal with the 165mm crank arms? That was a concern for me, so interested in your opinion on that.

    1. Steve

      Hey Darin- to be 100% honest, the only time I noticed the shorter cranks was when they weren’t hitting rocks on really technical trails. There were a few rides when my friends commented multiple times about their 170/175 cranks hitting rocks, when the 165’s were clearing everything. I may have noticed the shorter cranks and the harder effort it took to pedal them up steeper hills, but that also might have been tired legs and lungs too. Worst case scenario, buy the bike with the 165 cranks and upgrade later on if you don’t like them. I never really felt the need to do so.

  6. Gary Hatton

    Nice article. Have you tried a Ripmo AF with a coil?

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