Ibis Mojo 3 Review
22 Feb 2016

Ibis Mojo 3 Review

27.5+ just got sexy

22 Feb 2016

Yo MTB peeps, the new Ibis Mojo 3 uber trail bike is out in the wild! With 130mm rear travel, 27.5 and 27.5+ compatibility, Boost front and rear, and long, low and slack geometry – the Mojo 3 is here to seriously mess with your trail head, just like it has with mine!

Go Anywhere, Do Anything! Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Go Anywhere, Do Anything! Ibis Mojo 3 Review

But before we head deep into Mojo 3 party mode, let’s talk about those two shadey ladies sitting in the corner of the room skulling all the craft beer: 27.5+ and Boost

27.5+
Prior to receiving the Mojo 3, like many MTB’ers I had no interest whatsoever in 27.5+. With my Mojo HD3 fully dialed, and knowing I could take it anywhere and have a great ride, my MTB world was a happy, contented place. Running a Minion 2.5 WT/Ikon 2.35 front/rear tire combo on the already wide Ibis 741 wheelset I definitely didn’t feel the need to go bigger in terms of tire width, or lower in terms of tire pressure. I didn’t even know where this whole 27.5+ thing came from, other than noticing a trickle of reviews that suggested Plus bikes were actually a bunch of fun to ride. Good for them I figured. My bike is a bunch of fun to ride too.

Boost 148/110
Similarly I didn’t care either way about Boost. My HD3’s swingarm and 741 wheelset were plenty stiff enough. But for better or worse MTB ‘standards’ come and go all too frequently. Boost just seemed like another PITA I’d need to deal with some time in the future, but as long as it genuinely enabled good things like shorter chainstays, increased clearance, improved chain line etc I didn’t really mind.

So for now my MTB world was fully sorted.. or so I thought.

Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Too much trail bike vs not enough
Don’t know about you but I prefer having too much trail bike vs not enough. Too much bike allows you to push your limits instead of the bike’s. Too much bike help keeps your body in one piece when you run out of talent. Too much bike means you can roll up to any trail network and get on the gas feeling confident and relaxed on the bike. Not enough bike on the other hand increases your chance of eating shit. Not enough bike limits the places you can go. Not enough bike inevitably bites you in the arse. Not enough bike sucks.

Big f*cking deal Hippie you say, but I mention it because that was my first reaction to news of the Mojo 3. Having ridden the burlier Mojo HD’s since 2009 why would I want ‘less bike’ now, of all times? I love my HD3. It’s basically too much bike executed perfectly.

‘Don’t mess with my world Chuck Ibis’ I thought. Then he sent down the numbers…

Mojo HD/HDR 160mm Mojo 3 130mm Mojo HD3 150mm
Reach 382 423 414
Stack 575 592 599
Head angle 67.5 66.8 66.6
Seat tube angle 71.5 73.6 72.6
Bottom Bracket 352 335 344
Chainstay 435 425 430
Wheelbase 1112 1137 1146
All measurements for Medium frame

So let’s see. Slacker head angle than the HD/HDR and only slightly steeper than the HD3. Shorter chainstays, lower bottom bracket, steeper seat tube, longer reach than all of them. Hmm… the Mojo 3 wasn’t looking like not enough bike, it was looking like almost the same amount of bike as the HD3, as well as being a kickass trail bike contender in its own right. And that’s without factoring in anything to do with 27.5+… yet.

Knowing the numbers were eating away at my brain, Chuck sent some Mojo 3 photo teasers. I was hooked. N+1 went into effect and a stealth Ibis Mojo 3 arrived!

Yes really! The Mojo 3 was right under your nose!

Yes really! The Mojo 3 was right under your nose!

Enough of my bla bla for a moment. Here’s the official Mojo 3 summary:

  • 130mm rear travel, 140mm front travel
  • 27.5 and 27.5 plus compatible with the same wheelset
  • Latest generation dw-link
  • 27.5 Plus compatible with Schwalbe or Maxxis 2.8”
  • Boost 148 rear/Boost 110 front
  • Frame weight 5.5 lbs with shock
  • 66.8º head angle with 140mm Pike Boost fork
  • BB height at sag is the same with 2.3″ or 2.8″ tire
  • 1x or 2x compatible
  • ISCG 05 compatible with optional removable adapter
  • 68mm BSA threaded bottom bracket
Back country adventure, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Back country adventure, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

FFS Talk about the bike Hippie!
OK. Out of the box the Mojo 3 looks the business. For my money it has the best finish of any carbon Mojo ever. Everywhere you look the attention to detail and construction is superb. Ibis Industrial Designer Roxy Lo has nailed it and then some, as have the guys constructing the frame.

Roxy was here! Superb attention to detail and finish on the frame

Roxy Lo was here! Superb attention to detail and finish on the Ibis Mojo 3 frame

My Ibis Mojo 3 shipped with Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.8’s (set up tubeless BTW), one of the two Plus tires Ibis recommends The other is the yet to be released Maxxis Rekon/Ikon 2.8. Side by side, the 2.8’s dwarf the Maxxis Minion 2.5 WT’s, something that takes some getting used to.

2.8 vs 2.5, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

2.8 vs 2.5, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

And there’s no ignoring the extra width of the Boost fork.

Boost 110 fork, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Boost 110 fork, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Hardcore Ibis fans and Mojo HD3 owners will notice a few cool details straight up, including a redesigned clevis and new upper shock mounting hardware.

Redesigned clevis, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Redesigned clevis, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

That’s a whole lot of tire to fit in 425mm chainstays! On the trail clearance with 2.8’s is adequate, and then massive with 2.5 tires or less fitted.

Rear 2.8" tire clearance, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Rear 2.8″ tire clearance, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

If you want more Mojo 3 nitty gritty check out the official Ibis web site, cos I’d rather talk about the on trail experience from here on in.  🙂

Back country adventure, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Back country adventure, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Ibis Mojo 3 On the trail

So I’ve had the Mojo 3 since the start of February. Rather than spend the weeks prior to release shooting video and dicking around with too many photos etc I opted to ride the Mojo 3 as much as possible, in as much varied terrain as possible, to get my head around the bike and hopefully what this whole 27.5+ thing means.

In addition to my local trails which are low grip, old school XC I visited two mountain resorts (Mt Buller and Falls Creek) which offer contemporary park style trails, shuttle runs, and back country riding.  As a basis for comparison, these are all trails I’ve ridden many times on the HD3.

No expense was spared in search of the answers. I went full fricking enduro for ya all… in new, clean kit no less!

Full fricking enduro! Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

Full fricking enduro! Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

Crossed platypus infested rivers…

River Crossing, Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

River Crossing, Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

And even rode around on piles of rocks in the dark pretty much…

Rock lobster, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

Rock lobster, Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com

So what did I find out? In some ways that depended on the trail, but let me start of by simply saying…

27.5+ is potentially a game changer.

Yes, no shit. It came as much of a surprise to me as anyone.

Why? The Plus experience isn’t subtle, like for example 26 vs 650b. The Plus experience slaps you around the head in a friendly manner. The massive increase in grip/traction is an eye opener and a grin widener. It improves all aspects of mountain biking – climbing, descending, cornering, braking and jumping, as does the massive improvement in overall ride quality/bump absorption. On the trail this translates to speed and fun… for free. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself.

27.5+ could be a game changer, Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

27.5+ could be a game changer, Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

You might be thinking 27.5+ would be perfect for hardtails, along with beginners or less confident riders, and you’d be right. But look at the trend of MTB tire sizes over the years. Look at your own bike. Are you running 1.75’s with marginal knobbies that were the norm years ago? No, because along the way we clued up on the benefits of larger tires. So assuming Plus bikes are sorted – and the Mojo 3 is – are intermediate and advanced riders going to say No to more speed, more grip and more fun without significant downsides? Don’t think so. Plus is for everyone.

But whether or not 27.5+ realizes its potential may well depend on stuff like:

  • Access to a quality 27.5+ experience
    Ride a dialled 27.5+ bike like the Mojo 3 running 2.8’s set to optimum pressure for your weight and IMO it’s a dead easy sell. Ride a lesser 27.5+ with larger tires that bounce around uncontrollably and you might come away not as impressed. Don’t ride a 27.5+ bike at all and you can always pretend they don’t exist.
  • Tires, tires and tires. Did I say tires?
    The availability of genuinely durable yet sufficiently lightweight 2.8″ Plus tires could by itself determine whether 27.5+ flies or falls. TBH I think this is something that may take a season or two to get fully sorted. Sharp, rocky trails are currently not ideal environments for Plus tires, and that’s not really going to work long term for riders.

Not a believer in the whole Plus thing? No worries!
One of the cool things about the Mojo 3 is that you don’t have to run it as a 27.5 Plus bike. IMO the most popular configuration for a while at least will be the 27.5 2.35-2.5 tire setup, which is exactly what I intend to run over the coming weeks so I can compare the Mojo 3 to the HD3 back to back on exactly the same tires, as well as comparing 27.5+ to 27.5 on the same bike. Stay tooned!

We be rollin Plus style, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

We be rollin Plus style, Ibis Mojo 3 Review

First Impressions
So back to the trail experience. Here’s the raw feedback I sent to Chuck after my first and second ride on the Mojo 3.

Ride #1: Had a GREAT ride on the Mojo 3 tonight. It’s a ~30min climb followed by a ~10min descent. It’s fun on the HD3 but it can feel like too much bike for that trail, especially the lower half of the descent which is quite tight and slower overall.

Gotta say… damn the Mojo 3 killed it! I was way faster on the climb up. The tight switchbacks were a breeze on the Mojo 3 compared to the HD3. Definitely way less effort to get to the top. The descent was awesome, the fastest I’ve come down. The grip was insane, the ride much smoother (running 15psi front/16psi rear ATM), and the bike way more agile all the way down.

Can’t say I felt any downsides/negatives to how the bike performed on the up or down with the 2.8’s – it was just pure fun. I might not be needing the HD3 anymore… ARGH!

Followed by:

Ride #2: So I hit another trail tonight on the Mojo 3. It’s a longer, faster trail with loads of sharp rocks vs the rounded boulders of the earlier one. Lots of deep fast berms, changes of direction and sections you can really attack on the HD3. It was really interesting – in some places where I’d be attacking on the HD3 I felt a little sketchy on the Mojo 3. Then the Mojo 3 with the 2.8’s would just float through sections the HD3 would tend to get caught up on.

The pattern more or less repeated itself during subsequent rides at other locations. Both the Mojo 3+ and HD3 delivered a great ride and depending on the trail generated speed in different ways. On sections of trail where the Mojo HD3 was too much bike, the Mojo 3 was just the right amount of bike, and often quicker. On sections of trail where the Mojo 3 began to feel sketchy, the HD3 remained composed and balanced, like a guided missile. On the trail it’s much harder than you’d expect to pick a clear winner.

I’ve even gone to the trouble of making a little GIF animation for ya to summarize it… it’s not as purdy as I imagined it, but you get the idea.

the-diagram-650

Bottom line: Both the Mojo 3 and HD3 are great all round mountain bikes, with the Mojo HD3 skewed by design towards enduro flavored gnar, the Mojo 3 skewed towards every day trail riding.

What about my Mojo 3 build/components?

Frame
The frame of the Mojo 3 may look VERY similar to the HD3, but coming in at under 5.5 lbs (with shock, size medium) it’s a completely different animal. The weight loss is noticeable too. Unlike the HD3 you could build up a lightweight Mojo 3 XC/Trail bike if that was your thing.

Fox Float DPS Shock
Coming from running a Cane Creek DBAir on my Mojo HD3, I was a little skeptical about the Fox Float DPS – would it be enough shock for the Mojo 3? Riding away the first time the shock felt super active compared to the DBAir, almost too active. But over subsequent rides over a variety of trails I’ve got no complaints. The Float DPS does the job.

SRAM XO1
Having run an XT based 1×10 speed drivetrain for the last 5 years, I’m loving the extra range of SRAM’s 1×11.

Guide RSC Brakes
The modulation and power of the Guide RSC brakes makes my old 2012 XT’s look a little ordinary. Let’s hope the Guides are as reliable at the XT’s!

KS Lev Seatpost
The only glitch to report is with the KS Lev. I just seem to be jinxed with KS stuff. From the getgo it kept getting stuck in its travel, often requiring you to reach down and move it manually with your hand ala old school manual dropper – it’ll wear in over a few months the forum posts said, Doh! However at one point the Lev completely jammed, requiring significant force to release it. A few days later the Lev dumped a bunch of its oil. So there you go. Two Reverbs (one stealth, one not) in four years, zero problems. Two Levs, within a couple of days of riding, two lemons.

Conclusion… for now

What big teeth you have Grandma! Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

What big teeth you have Grandma! Ibis Mojo 3 Review Photo: http://www.andyrails.com/

Just like the original carbon Mojo released in 2005, the new Mojo 3 steps up and boldly redefines what a contemporary trail bike can be. It’s insanely versatile, insanely capable and insanely fast. Heck I’ve even gone a little insane during the last few weeks trying to get my head around which Mojo I’m going to ride from now on.

27.5+ just got sexy people. Ride at your own risk!

Oh yeah, and coming at ya soon: Mojo 3 27.5 vs Mojo 3 27.5+ vs Mojo HD3 Back to back test

Many thanks to Andrew Railton for the great shots! Check out Andy’s work at http://www.andyrails.com/

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Comments
  1. Eric Hollander February 22nd, 2016 7:08PM

    Thanks for the great write up! I’m wondering what the next evolution of the HD3 will be? A boost + aftermarket kit, followed by a new one with more reach, shorter stays steeper seat tube etc, etc….

  2. paleh0rse February 22nd, 2016 8:01PM

    How would you describe the fit on the Mojo3 versus the HD3?

    I’m I’m in between sizes at 5’10”, but was all set to pull the trigger on a large HD3 with a short (50mm) stem. However, this brand new Mojo3 now has ALL of my attention since most of my local trails are more technical/flat. My only concern is with choosing the correct size sight unseen.

    It looks like the Mojo3 has a longer reach, so does that mean I should go for a medium instead? Or, should I stick with identical sizing (large) and an even shorter stem?

    This decision is going to be the death of me…LOL

  3. Digital Hippie February 22nd, 2016 11:04PM

    Heya paleh0rse The reach is a little longer on the Mojo 3 but the seat tube angle is also steeper vs the HD3, so when you measure the actual effective cockpit between the two bikes there’s not much in it. At 5’6″ a Medium is great for me with a 50mm stem. I would expect a Large is going to serve you better as the reach is still relatively conservative, and even for someone my size the cockpit on the medium feels like a neat fit. HOpe that helps!

  4. Digital Hippie February 22nd, 2016 11:26PM

    Indeed Eric, the Mojo 3 automatically raises questions about the nature of the HD3 replacement!

  5. jay February 23rd, 2016 3:12AM

    thinking out loud…..Ibis have always been on the short side here (and rather, I’m kind of long torso’d). What about upsizing to a large (I’m a hair over 5’8) to get a nice long front center for more high speed stability, since it still allows me to set up my dropper post with enough height adjustment with a 125mm post (according to Ibis site)…..hmmmm ……may be the best of both worlds? thoughts?

  6. Jon February 23rd, 2016 5:22AM

    Great write up.
    I know you’re still contrasting and comparing them but if you were to buy one of them today — Mojo 3 or HD3 — which do you think it would be?

    Specifically as a fun, snappy trail bike (not all mountain but not XC racer either) and to be a one-bike solution.

    Thanks

  7. Gavin February 25th, 2016 8:00AM

    SHIT, I was all ready to hand over my English pounds for an HD3, now you really have made me think about which way to go, sadly for me I have a while to wait for the Mojo 3 as it’s not yet available here in the UK, I think I shall wait and have a ride on both to determine the best fit for my needs but I think after your FABULOUS review I am leaning towards the Mojo 3

  8. Digital Hippie February 27th, 2016 3:10AM

    Jay a large is definitely an option and something a bunch of guys do. Jeff Kendall-Weed for example runs a large size HD3 for exactly that reason (long front center).

    For me I’m already stretched out enough, and with back surgery years ago can’t go much further. Medium is good for me.

  9. Digital Hippie February 27th, 2016 3:20AM

    Jon that’s a really hard question, I don’t know the answer sorry.

    If I was riding shuttles/lift assisted trails all day I’d pick the HD3 first every time. If I was riding climb/descent loops I’d probably pick the Mojo 3 first, though it would depend on the trail. Beyond that it’s a lot harder to pick between them

    As an example I’ve been working and riding in the mountains this Summer. The HD3 has been perfect for jumping on shuttles at short notice and hitting the trails hard and fast. Since having the Mojo 3 it’s been my go to bike for after work rides in the mountains. The Mojo 3 is also more suited to my local trails back at home which are more XC in style, even though you can rip along on them on the HD3.

    It’s a tricky one. In the next few weeks I’m going to be doing a bunch of back to back tests so I can have some sort of clarity myself.

  10. Digital Hippie February 27th, 2016 3:22AM

    Gavin test riding both back to back and seeing what suits you best is the way to go IMO! I have a lot of trust in my HD3, it’s been an awesome bike on a huge range of trails and continues to be. I’m still getting to know the Mojo 3.

  11. Jon February 27th, 2016 5:36AM

    Thanks. I’ll look forward to your HD3-Mojo 3 comparisons.

    It’ll also be interesting to see which you prefer on the Mojo 3 in the long run: the standard 27.5 tires or the 27.5+

    Jon

  12. bp March 2nd, 2016 12:23AM

    i used a lev dropper on the pivot 429 and same problems. it get stuck and shit. terrible. that many seem to have the same issues just mean its a really bad dropper and i wasnt just unlucky. Given the mojo 3’s price it’s disappointing.

    That being put on the side, i always wonder how the 27.5+ really compares to 2.2in tires for climbs and going through sticky mud. I highly suspect the 27.5+ works well in dry and climbs slower/with more effort (but probably climbs more easily)

  13. John March 6th, 2016 2:42PM

    I currently ride a 2002 Yeti Kokopelli (bought new and have resisted change!) with triple chain ring and 2.2/2.0 tires–how would you describe the difference with the Mojo 3?

    I’m pretty fit but in my 50s and live in hilly Marin County-should I go for 1×11 or 2×10?

    Thanks!

  14. Scott April 20th, 2016 7:37AM

    Great review. I’m drooling over this bike! I love my t275c (bike absolutely slays gnarly descents but isn’t very playful) but it’s too much bike for most trails near me. I really want a more playful bike that like to corner and change direction but still can handle some chunk. The mojo 3 seems to fit the bill. Any comments on the mojo 3 with non plus size tires? Can’t seem to find any reviews of this!

  15. Dan Reilly May 11th, 2016 3:39PM

    Curious if you have any updates on the longer term experience of the Mojo 3. Geometry is so similar to the HD3 I’m wondering how differently they really climb? Is the DW5 that much better than the previous version? I demoed the Mojo 3 with 2.8’s but not the smaller 2.5’s or 2.35’s. My personal opinion, which I’ve not heard voiced by a single review, is that the 2.8’s climb noticeably slower/harder/different than narrower tires.

  16. Chuck Mabry May 29th, 2016 10:27AM

    So I bought a Mojo3 about 3 months ago and have nothing but good things to say about it. I live in the DC area but predominantly ride a trail system called Elizabeth Furnace which is directly beside Skyline Drive. Very steep and technical. I was another holdout from the old school hardtail days and came off a Merlin XLM. This bike really feels like you have an octopus for tires. It was between this bike and the Yeti SB5C. What sold mein the end were the options. Boost is great but the option to run the 2.8 tire if you want is the way to go. To be fair,I have the 2.8 and have no intention of going smaller. At 6′ and 230lbs I’m definitely on the big end of bikers but have really had no issues. As others have mentioned, The KS Lev dropper has given me a couple of issues with sticking. Not sure if I’ll keep that one or switch it out yet. I’m running 20lbs in the tires front and back. Even there I can still feel the back tire compress a bit on bermed turns. At 230 I guess I should expect this a bit. I think the bottom line is that this bike is so much more capable than any of us have really discovered yet. An more tires are released in the 2.5 – 2.8 range I think we’ll see this bike become even more popular. I do agree with Digital Hippie on this…..if you are riding the climbs, get the Mojo3. If you are riding the lift HD3. This is truly a magnificent bike!

  17. Digital Hippie June 11th, 2016 10:01PM

    Hi Dan apologies for the delay in replying – have been busy with work, and also refreshing the hippie site. In most situations it’s a close call for sure between the Mojo HD3 and 3 IMO. The 2’8’s have a different feeling to narrower tires when climbing for sure. It’s going to depend on the surface re what is quicker (vs energy efficient) but I can say on timed runs down dry low grip trails the 2.8’s are consistently quicker. Will be posting about that in the next couple of days.

  18. Digital Hippie June 11th, 2016 10:04PM

    For sure Chuck, pressure makes all the difference with the 2.8’s. 1/2 a pound out is all that separates a good setup vs not.

    I also agree about the Mojo 3 being super capable. I ended up doing shuttle days with it toward the end of Summer, where it sat comfortably amongst a mix of Enduro and DH bikes. Blew me away how much fun it was!

  19. Digital Hippie June 11th, 2016 10:06PM

    John man sorry for the late reply. My bias is 1x drivetrain all the way.

  20. John June 16th, 2016 8:59PM

    Where did you get those green shorts and blue shirt? Great stuff.

  21. Digital Hippie June 16th, 2016 9:08PM

    heya John the top was borrowed, think it was a POC top. The shorts a Spesh Demo, a bit bright for me but all I could get my hands on at the time.

  22. kyle242gt August 18th, 2016 9:18AM

    Any update on 27.5+ vs 27? Am in the market for a new bike, like the idea of + but not sure if I’ll stick with it or not… The M3 is pretty much the only bike with numbers like this and 27.5+… but if 2.5-max becomes an option, then there are lots to choose from.

  23. Digital Hippie August 22nd, 2016 3:59PM

    Hi kyle242gt

    My guess is there is going to be a bunch of tires released in the 2.4-3.0 range and you’re going to want a bike able to run tires in that range.

    I’d even go so far as to suggest Plus as it is known now could be largely just become the norm.

    Sorry about the delay replying, I have had limited internet lately.

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