The bike industry is buzzing over bikes featuring plus tires, boost 148 rear hubs and “new school” geometry. The recently debuted Ibis Mojo 3 jumps right to the top of the list of bikes including ALL of those traits. With so many great new bikes out there, picking one to buy is like picking your favorite ice cream. Difficult, but rewarding! Everyone has their favorites, and there are as many new bike styles as there are flavors to satisfy us all . Ibis’ latest offering seems to include the diversity of one of the latest Ben and Jerry’s pint – The New Belgium Salted Caramel Brownie Ale (yep that’s a real flavor – Salted Caramel Brownie Ale).
Upon learning of the new Mojo 3, I looked at the geometry table and thought this was a very interesting bike. It shares some striking similarities to another bike that I really enjoyed riding last year, the Santa Cruz 5010 (V2). The thing that intrigued me the most about the Mojo 3 is the ability to run plus tires or regular tires on the same frame while retaining appealing geometry.
The Mojo 3 is designed to run up to 2.8″ plus tires with no change to the bikes geometry. The 2.8″ Schwalbe rubber I used while testing are essentially the same height as the 2.35″ Schwalbe’s when the lower air pressure of the plus tire is factored in. I started riding the bike with 2.35″ Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s to get the feel for how the bike rode, then switched to 2.8″ Nobby Nic’s in order to have a fresh comparison.
THE RIDE: Amazingly, when riding 2.35 ” tires it feels very similar to the Ripley. I mean amazingly with slacker angles and more travel, it feels snappy in the corners and pedals extremely well. Actually, it feels as though it could even pedal slightly better than the Ripley. And thats a big feat.
When switched to the 2.8″ plus size tires, the Mojo 3 seems as though it switches to party mode. Traction in the corners is ridiculously good and being able to preload the tires to pop over trail obstacles is super fun. Surprisingly, I actually prefer the bike with 2.8’s. I find myself smiling more as I choose alternate lines and take corners faster than I’m comfortable with on 2.35″ tires. The springy feel (rebound) of the plus tires begs you to look for every root and rock on the trail to launch off. With 2.8″ Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s and 30mm internal width Easton Arc 30 rims there is still plenty of clearance for mud.
Geometry: The 66.8 degree head tube may have you thinking this bike was built to descend (and it does), but the short 425mm seat stays and shortish 1137mm wheelbase keep this thing nice and agile! The geometry works very well with a long 600mm top tube that allows the use of a shorter stem to keep steering quick.
Climbing: The latest DW5 suspension design is likely the best climbing bike I’ve personally thrown a leg over. While standing the bike remains efficient and never requires the use of the rear shock compression dampening lever to firm the rear shock. This is pretty amazing considering the bikes slack geometry and 130mm’s of travel. I barely notice the addition of the 2.8″ tires when climbing either. On the scales the 2.35 Nobby Nic’s were only about 70 grams lighter than the 2.8’s.
Descending: Nimble is the word that comes to mind first when descending. The bike feels like its able to change direction effortlessly via telekinesis. The bike sits fairly high in its travel and ready to take on the biggest hits with grace. Switching to the 2.8’s, traction is unreal in the corners and the bike gives the feeling that it can bowl over much larger trail obstacles than a normal 130mm travel bike.
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NEGITIVES: The rear hub is a bit noisy when engaging. The paws of the free hub don’t always engage completely and the moment you put down power, there’s a pop as the free hub pawls fully engage. This only happens maybe a couple of times per ride. I do have well over 1000 miles on 2 different wheels without any problems other than the noise though.
Secondly, Their doesn’t look to be room for much larger than a 32t chainring. The word on the street is that 34 will fit. As mega range cassettes with monster 46 and 50 tooth cogs are being released, some will want larger chainrings and that could be a problem without changing cranks or choosing a chainring with a different offset to allow clearance.
VERDICT: The Mojo 3 is a ridiculously fun and versatile bike. I wholeheartedly would recommend the Mojo 3 to anyone looking for a fun bike with the latest technology and design. It’s a bike that can be equally at home hammering long climbs with your XC friends or ripping gnarly descents with your enduro buds. With the 2.8″ tires, the Mojo begs you to find fun lines that you normally steer around.