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!
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
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.
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.
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|
|Seat tube angle||71.5||73.6||72.6|
|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!
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
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.
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.
And there’s no ignoring the extra width of the Boost fork.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
Crossed platypus infested rivers…
And even rode around on piles of rocks in the dark pretty much…
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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
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/