Ibis Cycles is a company I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and love over the years. They are cool. They are based out of Santa Cruz, so of course they are. There bikes are cool. There vibe is cool. There website and social media is cool. Even their bike boxes are cool.
This company was built by legit riders for riders. They are really into bikes and all of the details that make their bikes standout. Ibis just fits my tastes in mountain bikes extremely well as I thrive on versatile bikes that climb as well as they descend. I consider myself primarily an XC guy, but don’t shy away from the technical one bit. Its nice to have a bike that is plush and descends well, but not at the expense of it’s efficiency for me.
The Ibis HD3 appeals to me due to its versatility of being a 6 inch travel bike that pedals extremely well yet inspires confidence on the trickiest descents. Quite a few in this 6″ travel category have started catering to the direction enduro seems to be going which is lift access descents with steep gnarly terrain. The need for an agile great pedaling bike is minimized in this format of racing. This type of bike is fine, but doesn’t posses the versatility that I personally look for. The HD3’s 66.6 degree head tube and 72.6 degree seat tube angles help it both turn a little quicker and pedal better than many others in this category. Also notable are the shorter seat stays at 16.9 inches that further help keep the bike a little more nimble and playful.
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Ibis improves the HD3 from previous model years by being “longer, lower and slacker.” It’s more laid back, just like the town it’s from. Although, I was happy with my original Mojo, the new geometry and cable routing updates are really welcomed for the steeper and technical terrain and a need for dropper posts. Although, I tend to like the larger 29″ wheels, I believe that the 27.5″ wheel size has its place especially in longer travel bikes.
Build: HD3 XO1 WX package, 741 carbon wheelset, Fox DPS EVOL, Rock Shox Pike RCT3
Rear travel 150mm/front travel 160mm
Size Medium Geometry: 24.4″ TT, 16.9″ seatstays, 66.6 degree HT, 72.6 degree ST, 46″ WB
I’ve spent some extended time aboard the HD3 on my local trails in Sedona, where I could really get a good feel for it. The bike excelled on my favorite steep punchy climbs and rocky step-down descents that demand a bike to provide confidence due to plentiful high exposure with dire consequences and steep rock faces void of bail-outs.
The new FOX DPS EVOL is a welcome new rear shock option. This is definitely a good thing as I couldn’t quite get the previous Cane Creek DB Inline dialed to where I felt it was plush enough on the rougher lower portions of Sedona’s Highline trail. I have been very pleased with the 2016 Fox spec. and feel that the rear shock offers more of a bottomless feel in the rough. Read more about my current favorite shock here: FOX DPS EVOL.
The HD3 easily pedals better than any other 6″ bikes I have ridden. Out of the saddle, up steeps and even on the road to my favorite trail, I rarely want to flip over the rear shock lever for a better pedaling platform.
While descending, the confidence of the not too steep angles keep the bike both agile in the corners and on the steepest terrain. The suspension has an inspirational quality of being bottomless, making me just want to let go of the brakes when it gets really rough.
The Ibis 741 wheelset is definitely a notable feature of this bike that gives a much appreciated benefit of being able to run a few psi less than normal. The monstrous rims really opens up the tires. I frequently was asked “Dude, how wide are those tires?” Being able to run the lower air pressures was incredibly nice both on the slickrock of Moab and while leaf surfing this fall back on the east coast trails. I’m definitely sold on the wide rims.
- Cable routing is super clean and very easy to route internally with large ports.
- Overall build is well thought out and I believe a good value compared to most brands in this category with full carbon frame and wheels.
- I have not had a single issue with the bike during 4 months of riding . Routine bolt checks and chain lubage were the only maintenance required.
I would highly recommend the HD3 to those riders that enjoy a light, efficient, confidence inspiring bike; whether it be for an enduro or just trying to conquer that tech piece of terrain you’ve never ridden before. I really love how the HD3 geometry doesn’t make compromises in agility or pedaling in favor of a bike that gets down a steep chute a thousandth of a second quicker. The HD3 strikes a great balance of geometry and pedaling performance that make the bike an incredibly versatile 6 inch travel bike.
This Post Has 5 Comments
Thanks for this – Considering this bike and this size vs a Yeti sb5.5 – M.
I’m curious how tall you are and what you thought of the geometry. At 5’9.5″, I usually ride mediums, but it seems like I’m in between sizes for this bike…
I’m 5’7 with fairly long limbs for my height (no torso). I run my seat height at 725mm (center of BB to top of saddle) and usually 40mm stems on all Ibis’s. The medium could definitely fit you as long as your reach isn’t too long. Otherwise, I would say go large.
Comparing the HD3 to the 5.5, the HD3 reach is much longer. You would definitely want a large 5.5. The 5.5 is a sweet rig as long as you can get past a couple minor issues. Rear tire clearance isn’t great and definitely won’t work with the latest trend of larger 2.5/2.6 tires. The one that gets me though is the lack of main triangle bottle cage mount.
Disregard what I said about the reach – I was looking at Ibis #’s for the new HD4. The 5.5 has a longer reach than HD3, but not HD4.
Hey, great review! I love the HD3 and have one on order :) But, I’m writing to find out what river is in the last picture of your article? Quite stunning….
Hey Ian! Thank you for the props on the review. It really means a great deal. We go out of our way to remain honest and unbiased with our reviews.
The photo is on the Cheakamus River just west of Whistler, BC. The area is called Train Wreck since there is a train wreck from 1956 there – see other photos in the review.
Enjoy the HD3!