Thursday, August 26, 2010

You better ask somebody!

In the spirit of full disclosure...

One of my best friends (Avi, who's also Wrench Science's sales manager, and owner of one of the most badass Mojo HD's out there) convinced me to buy this bike. And while at the heart of it all, Avi is a "sales person", he didn't have to say or do a whole lot to sell me on it. Instead, just like the latest hit from Anthill Films, all he said was "Follow me" down some of the best trails in the world's best mountain bike park--Whistler, BC. In the better part of 5 days riding behind my friend, I witnessed how confidence-inspiring this bike is. Rocks, roots, big jumps, big drops--the HD handled it all with ease. While my boutique American-made 9.3" travel downhill race bike was losing bolts, creaking, and cracking, my buddy's HD did not so much as hiccup. At the end of our trip on the drive home, I declared: "I want a Mojo HD."

Fast forward about a month. I am now the owner of a large "Vitamin Pee" HD built with a "Mini-DH" spec: 2011 Marzocchi 66RC3 Ti (180mm), Hope Pro2/Mavic 721 wheelset, 1x9 SLX drivetrain, Maxxis DH tires/tubes, etc. For how burly the build is, the weight is incredible (barely 34 lbs). Consider this: Avi's large HD is equipped with a 2010 RockShox Totem SoloAir, Crank Bros wheelset, 1x9 Saint, and when setup tubeless weighs under 32 lbs. WOW!

(** And from what I've gathered from here, Chuck Spew, the HD that Brian Lopes just won his record 5th consecutive A-line Air DH on was handsomely sub-30 lbs! And if you're curious the kind of "abuse" a 6-time world champ puts his bike through @ Whistler, watch this: Video Yeah, my jaw was on the ground too...)

* * *

I spent the past weekend on my new Mojo HD's inaugural ride/road-trip. Venue: Downieville, California--home to one of the World's most-esteemed enduro races (the annual "Classic") and some of the best trails in the state. I am what some may consider a "new-school trail-rider". (Others call it "all-mountain", but I think that label is lame). Basically, it boils down to this: I love pinning it downhill (I used to race DH), but I don't mind the climb back to the top (in fact, I enjoy the challenge in a masochistic way). This combined with the terrain that Downieville has to offer made for the perfect place to put my new bike through its paces. Here's what I have say about what I consider as the 3 most important things to consider in a new frame:

Materials & build quality
Like many folks out there, I was admittedly slightly skeptical about a full-carbon frame. We've all seen those horror pictures of snapped carbon handlebars/seatposts. But please, before you dismiss the idea of carbon fiber as a material for a mountain bike, recall back to your high school chemistry class. Carbon fiber is atomically no different than the world's strongest material popularized by De Beers ( And if science isn't convincing enough then know this, the full carbon fiber construction of the Mojo HD combined with the 135x12mm Maxle rear end is the stiffest full-suspension bike I've ever ridden. Point it down a steep rock chute or rock garden and this thing holds its line as well as, if not better than any full-on DH bike. The "snappy-ness" of the Mojo HD makes changing direction quickly and accelerating under load effortless.

The finish is phenomenal (as it should be for a frame of this caliber). The paint is truly a sight to be seen (personally, I love the bits'n'pieces of raw unmasked carbon fiber). The pivot hardware is top-notch, and unlike several other "boutique" manufacturer's frames, all bolts are properly Loctite'd and torqued to spec. The bottom bracket comes faced/chased from the factory. The cable routing is very well thought out (I highly recommend getting the polycarbonate downtube protector) and for those Inspector Gadget types your front derailleur, adjustable travel seatpost, etc. integrate seamlessly. The Brian Lopes-inspired MRP chainguide is one of the most "trick" parts on a bike today. There's no need to worry about ISCG tabs (which are prone to damage) or toy with boomerang rotation. It attaches via a single 6mm bolt into the front lower link and sandwiched by the bottom bracket cup. Lightweight, yet very secure and very durable.

Unlike so many other frames out there, the Mojo HD comes together so easily. It's a shame Ibis can't steal a line out've Apple's book, because like your Mac, the Mojo HD "just works".

I've ridden just about every suspension design out there (FSR, VPP, linkage-driven single-pivot, high/forward single-pivot with idler, etc.) and the DW-link equipped Mojo HD is one of the best "feeling" bikes I've had the pleasure to ride. I understand that many folks are still caught up in the hype of Sam Hill's multiple DH world championships on a DW-link suspended ride, but the Mojo HD is an entirely different beast compared to the old position-sensitive Sunday. It's better. The Ibis engineers no doubt spent countless hours modeling the wheelpath and leverage curve of the HD. The end result is a frame that takes full advantage of the modern speed-sensitive air shocks tuned for a lower leverage ratio. This translates into more adjustability/tunability for compression damping and less stress on your shock (lowered effects due to thermal expansion).

I opted for the Fox DHX Air 5.0 upgrade for my HD and am very pleased with the setup. The shock itself is custom-tuned at the Fox factory for the Ibis application. After playing around with air pressures (I'll spare you the intricacies), I arrived at a feel best described as "controlled" and "balanced". While some other bikes blow through their travel or are overly soft/stiff at start/end, the HD remains very controlled throughout its stroke. For those familiar with Downieville, specifically Butcher Ranch, you know there are quite a few (what I call) "Mark Weir" lines that are basically mounds of loose dirt/shale piled up that you can use as a launch ramp for airing over slower sections of the trail. What goes up must come down and when I landed, be it on dirt or more rocks, the suspension did a great job of soaking up successive hits and helping me carry speed. And yet despite "only" 160mm of travel, I felt very comfortable and equally capable of riding at the same speed as my full-on DH bike--a testament to the HD's confidence-inspiring "feel".

Geometry & fit
I am about 6'0", 165 lbs. and opted for a large frame. Being a "numbers guy", I analyzed every measurement/angle on the Mojo HD before pulling the trigger. Realistically, I could have fit on a medium, but the additional inch in wheelbase--which offers greater high-speed stability--was ultimately the deciding factor in favor of the large.

As for the angles... the HD is as cutting-edge as it gets. The progression in the sport has called for more aggressive geometry tailored to steeper, more technical tracks. With the 180mm fork, the HD sports a 66-degree head angle, 17.125" chainstays, and 13.8" bottom bracket height. When properly sagged, the BB height drops to around 12" and you sit very comfortably "in" the cockpit with a natural, balanced stance. Combined with my 50mm + 760mm wide low-rise bars, this thing absolutely slays the corners and stays glued to the ground in the steep wide-open better than my DH bike. And should I ever go somewhere where the terrain calls for it, the Mojo HD has me covered with its tapered headtube--enabling me to run a Cane Creek AngleSet Cane Creek to reduce my H/A another 1.5-degrees. My DH bike pretty much just became obsolete.

Like I said above, I love to ride down, but I also don't mind earning my turns. What truly amazed me in Downieville was how well the Mojo HD climbed! The uninterrupted, full-length seattube, ample standover height, and stable angles combined with DW-link made the climb after Butcher Ranch up to Third Divide--where they say the Classic is "won or lost"--seemingly effortless.

Really, it just works.

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So there you have it--my initial "review" of my new Mojo HD. But this is only the beginning! Coming full circle... I am headed back to Whistler, BC on 9/3 through 9/11 where, rest assured, I will push this bike to its limits. I can't wait.


A very, very happy Ibis Mojo HD owner

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you give your whistler update please really looking forward to it.