Who could resist the _perfect_ opportunity the Ibis Mojo HDR presents to evaluate 650b and 26″ back to back on the same bike setup you know and love? Not me! But I would never have guessed that a few days later I’d be left completely gobsmacked by how things turned out…


I’d been enjoying buzzing around the trails at Melrose South Australia on my 26″ Mojo HDR in stealth mode when it came time to shoot the HDR 26″ > 650b conversion video. 650b stuff is hard to come ATM by but Rich from Over the Edge kindly offered the wheels and forks off his recently completed Mojo SL-R 650b conversion. The plan was just to shoot the video and revert both bikes but looking at my HDR kitted out as a 650b I just had to know what it felt like on the trails. (You can check out the 26″ to 650b conversion video here)

Ibis Mojo HDR 650b vs 26inch

Ibis Mojo HDR 650b (130b) First Impressions

My first outing on the 650b was Dodging Bullets, a popular run at Melrose which features fast descents with a smattering of rocks,  jumps and drops. I’ve ridden it a bunch of times, it’s always great fun. Where the 26″ feels busy when you’re on the gas down Dodging Bullets the 650b felt settled and stable. It almost felt as if I was descending slower on the 650b but physical markers on the trail told another story. Roots strewn across the trail that I’d land on after jumps on the 26″ I was easily clearing on the 650b.

Ibis Mojo HDR 650b vs HDR 26
Ibis Mojo HDR 650b vs HDR 26


It turned out that whether the trail was pointing up or down I was faster on the 650b, yet a long way from being on the edge. There was clearly still room to go that much faster again. But there was something else too. The HDR felt like it was always meant to be a 650b. It felt like a more efficient, well mannered 26″ bike without the less favorable aspects of a 29er. The HDR 650b also looked plain nasty as if Mojo designer Roxy Lo had always envisioned it that way. The Schwalbe Hans Dampf on the Flow EX rim at the front, just massive and confidence inspiring, making the 26″ wheels on the same frame look underdone.

Hmm… I could feel my brain beginning to melt!

How could a 130mm travel 650b be effortlessly roosting my beloved 160mm 26″ on a trail better suited in theory to the latter? But wait, they’re both my bike – the same bike! The ideal place to restore order to the universe was Eurovision, the new Super D trail out at Bartagunyah. Surely the 160mm 26″ would open a can of whoop ass there and send the 650b packing?

Ibis Mojo HDR 650b vs 26″ on Eurovision Super D, Bartagunyah

Climbing up the Whiskey Trail to the top of Eurovision I was grooving with the 650b. At an intuitive level the bike felt ultra sorted, and I found myself sitting at the top of Eurovision feeling unusually confident and relaxed. Without hesitation I pointed down Eurovision and let the HDR have its way, gathering momentum, hitting everything blind – unheard of for me. The 650b consumed the rollers, jumps and stepdowns. Damn… it flowed so sweetly and felt so good. At the end of the run I couldn’t believe what had just gone down.

I returned to Eurovision on the 650b the next day, descending the the Super D half a dozen times at least. It was more of the same. The HDR continued to impress. It was so much fun to session sections – faster and faster, funner and funner – with the bike feeling poised and stable.

My concerns that 130mm of rear travel on the HDR 130b might feel XC and inadequate compared to 160mm amounted to nothing. The initial plushness as you sit on the 130mm 650b may not be there as it is with the 160mm, but the  combination of the HDR’s 130mm rear travel and 650b wheels IMO rode the trails better – smoother, faster, more efficiently – than my 26″ with 160mm. I was never wishing for more travel with the 650b – I was too busy having fun.

Now for the moment of truth! The following day I returned to Eurovision on the HDR back in 160mm 26″ mode. Some things were immediately and undeniably noticeable. I had to work much harder to sustain speed, to clear the same gaps. In doing so I was much closer to the edge, much less poised, much less control both on the ground and in the air, much less flow. I just didn’t have the confidence on the bike to hit the large step down at speed as I’d been doing on the 650b the day before. After almost having a high speed crash while trying too hard on the 26″ later in the day and feeling a little deflated I retreated down the hill to the slower single track trails where the difference between the 26″ and 650b seemed markedly less.

Riding home that night I wondered how some guys say they can hardly feel the difference between 26″ and 650b wheels. Perhaps being able to compare them back to back on the same bike such as the Mojo HDR is key.

The Bottom line

After years of loving my HD as a 26″ 160mm travel bike there was no escaping the unthinkable. Back to back against the new 650b yardstick, the 26″ didn’t feel as much fun any more. The HDR 650b had reset my fun dial and it didn’t want to be turned back. I emailed Scot Nicol at Ibis that night telling him I just wanted to like my Mojo again. Against the odds the 130mm Mojo HDR 650b came, saw and kicked undeniably huge ass. It was bittersweet.

The king was dead. Long live the king!

Ibis Mojo HDR 650b First Impressions
Ibis Mojo HDR 650b First Impressions
Ibis Mojo HDR 650b First Impressions
Ibis Mojo HDR 650b First Impressions


18 Responses

  1. Curious about if you changed the fork also when you switched between 130 650b and 160mm 26″. Did you use the same fork travel for each scenario?

  2. Wow. That was glowing. I’m still a fence sitter about the new wheel sizes for MTBs. So reading has me taking on board peoples comments about the new wheels sizes and my LBS comment about watching the 650b size as it seems the best compromise between the liveliness of 26 and the rolling speed of the 29. Just added 650b to my watch list for my next bike upgrade in 2014/15. 🙂

  3. @Thylaxene I had no expectation of 650b would be like or was interested in running the bike that way in the long term but I was seriously blown away by the difference on the trail. Not just subjective feeling stuff, but that combined with what was measurable on the trail.

    I’ve test ridden a few 29’ers over the last few years – I can see the benefits for sure but as yet anyway I haven’t ridden one I prefer to the feel my 26″ Mojo HD. I guess that’s the difference with the 650b Mojo HDR… One ride on it and the bells started ringing.

  4. @Jeff I swapped forks as the Float 34 26″ doesn’t have the clearance for 27.5. In 650b mode was running Float 34 650b 160mm reduced to 150mm. Forks were borrowed from Rich at Over the Edge in Melrose so had to give them back! What I’ve got on now are the new Rockshox Pike forks. I haven’t had a chance to ride on them yet.

  5. Hey Pete.

    You lucky bugger : )

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts Re. the HDR running a shimmed down 160 rear and 650b, with the higher BB and all.

    Out of curiosity, how much rear travel were you using on the super D between the 160mm 26″ and the 130mm 650b?

  6. @Paul yeah I know, dang lucky!

    I’m fairly short and light, like to run suspension pretty soft and set to use almost all of travel. Was a little surprised to see I was using more travel on the 160mm 26″ vs the 130mm 650b down the Super D though that could just as well be setup as much as anything else. The key thing for me is that back to back on the Super D I much preferred the ride quality of the 650b. Landings for example felt awesome on the 650b vs the 26″.

  7. Pete, do you think that the HD front tire that you’re running would work on the rear of your HDR mounted on the FLOW EX rims? Got any more time in on the new Pike fork?

  8. Heya Mike while in Melrose we did test a Hans Dampf on a Flow EX rim in the HDR rear triangle. Yes the combination fits, but with _minimal_ clearance i.e. practically not enough, not for me anyway. Just as well that I prefer a smaller tire on the back! Love the Hans Dampf on the front, though I’ll also be testing other Schwalbe options in the next week or two.

    Yes loving the new Pike! Stiffness-wise a big improvement over the Float 34. It reminds me of the Float 36 in that respect. And performance wise on the trail, a nice lively, active kinda feel compared to the Float. I am yet to get into the nitty gritty of fine tuning it, but I reckon Rock Shox could be on a winner.

  9. Pete,

    Would you say that the Reverse Vitamin P is the same color yellow as the old Vitamin P? Maybe its just the pictures, but it looks more toned down instead of the old neonish yellow of the HD? What are your thoughts?

  10. Mike it’s tricky to say. Fwiw there was a brand new Vitamin P Mojo HD at Over the Edge in Melrose and the ‘yellow’ looked far more intense vs the accents on the HDR. The Vitamin P HD also had a super glossy finish where the HDR doesn’t, including the Vitamin P accents. I would say it is toned down, that’s the visual impression it creates anyway. I do really like the flat/naked finish and look of the frame overall.

  11. Hey Pete,

    Have you had the opportunity to try the HDR in 650b/150mm mode? If you have, how would you compare it to the 130mm setting?


  12. Hi

    Im currently riding the Ibis Mojo HD, but thinking about upgrading to the HDR 650b.
    Just to make sure I got it right, you where riding the HDR with 150mm travel in the front? What head angle does that give you? Is it any good with 160mm up front?


  13. Hi. So, I’m about to pull the trigger on a mojo hd frame, and I have the option of wheel size. Now, my old bike, a mojo carbon is being replaced because ive been bottoming out the rear shock, and i bent the rear shock bolt. It seems like with my style of riding, the 26″ 160mm version would be for me… or not? What do you think? I kinda like hucking… Plus I have a 29 HT for my cross country needs. Help a guy out.


  14. Hi Pete!,
    Currently I using maxxis HighRoller 2 2.3 as rear tire on my hdr 650B with not much clearance at the back. What are you using? I was thinking to replace it with Ardent 2.25 but i am not sure it will give more clearance, what do say?

  15. Hi Avi, I am not sure about the Ardent. I was running a Schwalbe Rock Razor 2.35 as a rear tire for the last year on the HDR and was very impressed with its performance and durability. Great rear tire. Clearance was adequate, no problems there. Hope that helps!

  16. did you climb with these bikes, did the 650b feel faster on the climb then the 26?

  17. Good morning, I got an Ibis Mojo Hdr frame and want to start a new project, I’m wondering if anybody out there got the chance to experiment with both wheel sizes in 650b mode ( 140 fork 650b wheel with the 130 mm rear suspension with 26er) since according to Scot Nicol from ibis Cycles, it’s ok to run the bike on 130 mode with 26er
    Any ideas greatly appreciated.

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