Downcountry/XC/Trail decision paralysis,IBIS Ripley vs Trek 9.8 vs Yeti SB100 v Spark- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Downcountry/XC/Trail decision paralysis,IBIS Ripley vs Trek 9.8 vs Yeti SB100 v Spark

    So I'm back into the mountain bike search after maybe 15-20 years on an aluminum Turner Flux 26er. I like this bike cause it's zippy, it can take some bumps and jumps but it isn't super heavy. Something that bunny hops well and is playful if I'm out of the seat alot. My trails in my area are mostly XC orientated if anything something with 4 inches of rear travel will be fine to get over rocks and roots and more technical sections. Lots of rocks and small roots in upstate NY. No major drop offs larger than 1-2 ft. Mostly single track that has some quick steep climbs and some windy stuff too which requires an agile maneuverable bike. Something to climb up a hill which might even have a small long on it that i have to ride over while going up hill.

    So I think I'd like a full suspension XC bike. I heard full suspension isn't that much heavier than hardtail so why not get alittle cushion. I was leaning on 27.5 but it looks like there's alot more selection in the 110-130mm travel around 29ers. I'm 5'6, 40yr old, 155lb.

    Things that mean alot to me, low weight, good climbing, agility and good handling. I actually don't mind a twitchy bike, I ride a track bike on the road and i don't mind the steering on it. I see that bikes have gotten alot more relaxed headtube angle and it's a bit concerning but I"m sure it's for the best.

    Some ideas I'm considering after reading through tons of reviews in order of my current favorites (items 1-4 I have a local dealer for but I don't have a way to demo with coronavirus closures):
    1) Ibis Ripley (seems like a super fun bike, and I hear the DWLINK is good except for alittle peddle bob sometimes)
    2) Trek Fuel EX 9.8 (seems like a really light bike but worried I'm paying a trek tax for the name)
    3) Yeti SB100 (Don't know much bout this but seems really expensive, I'm guessing it's more plush than the IBIS)
    4) Scott Spark 900 (seems more racey than the others above, again, don't know much about it)

    Other bikes I have heard good things about via online reviews:
    5) Rocky Mountain Element
    6) Santa Cruz Tallboy
    7) Giant Anthem Advanced
    8) Pivot Mach 4 SL

    Is there any other bikes I should consider? How do I narrow the above list down without being able to ride them? Is it ok to buy a bike without riding it? How would you research in this case?

    Lastly, I'd like to be under $5-6K ish

    If anyone has ridden these bikes, please let me know how they compare.

  2. #2
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    Thing with the trek price is youíre getting carbon wheels which most of the others donít and why they seem cheaper.

    Fezzari signal peak, canyon neuron, Orbea oiz, spot ryve 115, specialized epic evo, Kona hei hei, BMC agonist, GG trail pistol, etc. Too many to choose from...

    After lots of internet shopping, Iíve decided the trek and spot look like the best bikes while the fezzari, Orbea, and canyon look like the value.
    whatever...

  3. #3
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    I've ridden 3 of those bikes....Ripley, Mach 4, and Giant Anthem all at separate demos and would happily ride any of them for the xc/trail riding I do. 2018-2019 models

    Giants are usually a great value. The Anthem was a great bike with dialed suspension. I liked it a lot more than the 27.5 Trance. I probably would have bought one but they were completely sold out. I think the 29 trance would be even better but it wasn't out yet when I went to the demo.

    I have liked every Pivot I have ridden but I just can't justify the price. They are solid. Climb well, descend well, and are a lot of fun.

    The Ripley was awesome, but again above my price point for the spec I wanted. The newest Ripley is longer slacker (of course) and supposed to be fantastic.

    In the end, I found a new old stock 2017 AL Transition Smuggler for a great price. Bought it online without a demo and absolutely love it. It's not as rowdy as the current model which suits my riding. Another bike in this genre which is a blast is the Devinci Django.

  4. #4
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    Look at the YT Izzo too. The Pro Race at 5299 it comes with a X01 group, Fox Factory fork, and DT Swiss carbon wheels. The Trek EX 9.8 at 5499 comes with a fork and component group thats one step down. Same with the Ripley...at 5399...you're also getting a GX group and a Performance level Fox fork.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    Look at the YT Izzo too. The Pro Race at 5299 it comes with a X01 group, Fox Factory fork, and DT Swiss carbon wheels. The Trek EX 9.8 at 5499 comes with a fork and component group thats one step down. Same with the Ripley...at 5399...you're also getting a GX group and a Performance level Fox fork.

    Interesting company, thanks for the tip, looks like a super deal but I know nothing about this frame. Also long lead times on it it seems. I gotta find reviews about it. What's the rear suspension like compared to DWLINK?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idawho View Post
    I've ridden 3 of those bikes....Ripley, Mach 4, and Giant Anthem all at separate demos and would happily ride any of them for the xc/trail riding I do. 2018-2019 models

    Giants are usually a great value. The Anthem was a great bike with dialed suspension. I liked it a lot more than the 27.5 Trance. I probably would have bought one but they were completely sold out. I think the 29 trance would be even better but it wasn't out yet when I went to the demo.

    I have liked every Pivot I have ridden but I just can't justify the price. They are solid. Climb well, descend well, and are a lot of fun.

    The Ripley was awesome, but again above my price point for the spec I wanted. The newest Ripley is longer slacker (of course) and supposed to be fantastic.

    In the end, I found a new old stock 2017 AL Transition Smuggler for a great price. Bought it online without a demo and absolutely love it. It's not as rowdy as the current model which suits my riding. Another bike in this genre which is a blast is the Devinci Django.
    I'm curious on the 27.5 bikes, I am coming from a 26er and never ridden a 29 being 5'6, worried and wondering if i should go 27.5 to be safer....

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    I have a trek fuel ex and itís climbing ability it superb, Iím the same height and weight as yourself and havenít issues with the 29r , I came from a 26r too, donít think you an wrong with it mate , descends as well as it climbs too


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Not to be pedantic, but are you talking about the Fuel or Top Fuel?

    Iím currently trying to decide between the Top Fuel, new Hei Hei, and Spotís Ryve 115....there are so many good ones....seems to be the ďitĒ category right now.

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    Not to be pedantic, but are you talking about the Fuel EX or Top Fuel?
    What, me worry?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jank View Post
    I'm curious on the 27.5 bikes, I am coming from a 26er and never ridden a 29 being 5'6, worried and wondering if i should go 27.5 to be safer....
    Depends on your current cockpit - if you're not using a low bar height, the higher stack of a 29" might fit you ok. 27.5" generally have lower stack heights which give more low bar height options for shorter riders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jank View Post
    I'm curious on the 27.5 bikes, I am coming from a 26er and never ridden a 29 being 5'6, worried and wondering if i should go 27.5 to be safer....
    I'm 5'8" and was worried about the same thing until I road a few 29ers. I ride medium frames and have not had any issues with the fit/standover etc. For an xc leaning trailbike, 29" has worked very well for me. If I were riding super technical, rowdy trails all the time I'd probably get a 27.5. Bikes are pretty dialed and versatile these days regardless of wheelsize. I think it's more down to personal preference than one being specific to a style of riding. You should definitely take a ride on both wheelsizes to make sure though. Even a budget bike is a major purchase these days.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by smartyiak View Post
    Not to be pedantic, but are you talking about the Fuel or Top Fuel?

    Iím currently trying to decide between the Top Fuel, new Hei Hei, and Spotís Ryve 115....there are so many good ones....seems to be the ďitĒ category right now.
    I'm lookin at the Fuel EX 9.8
    https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...=teal_tealdark

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Not to be pedantic, but are you talking about the Fuel EX or Top Fuel?
    For me at this point I'm lookin seriously at Ibis Ripley vs Santacruz Tallboy vs Trek Fuel EX 9.8. I like the YT Izzo too but I'm 5'6 and it falls right square in the middle of a Small and medium and I don't want to deal with a sizing issue like that or deal with the crazy lead time.

    Also was considering the Banshee which I saw in a youtube review. Also hear Giant is a quality deal as well.

  14. #14
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    I have a 20 Trek Top Fuel and an 18 Fuel EX. For what you said you will be riding I would suggest that you give the new Top Fuel some consideration also. Between the two, for what I ride the TF just does everything a little better/easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jank View Post
    I'm curious on the 27.5 bikes, I am coming from a 26er and never ridden a 29 being 5'6, worried and wondering if i should go 27.5 to be safer....
    The 27.5 wheel size FS bike is great for our height, i'm 5'3". I rode the medium Ibis Mojo 3 for the pass 3 years and occasionally the SC Bronson. I thought I wont like the 29er bike, but I do. I just built a medium 2020 Ibis Ripley. Took it out last Sunday for the first time and I can tell that the Ripley pedal more efficient and climb better than the Mojo 3 and also handling as good as the Mojo 3.
    '20 Ibis Ripley
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
    '17 Ibis Mojo 3
    '17 SC Bronson CC-Spare

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jank View Post
    For me at this point I'm lookin seriously at Ibis Ripley vs Santacruz Tallboy vs Trek Fuel EX 9.8. I like the YT Izzo too but I'm 5'6 and it falls right square in the middle of a Small and medium and I don't want to deal with a sizing issue like that or deal with the crazy lead time.

    Also was considering the Banshee which I saw in a youtube review. Also hear Giant is a quality deal as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bills View Post
    I have a 20 Trek Top Fuel and an 18 Fuel EX. For what you said you will be riding I would suggest that you give the new Top Fuel some consideration also. Between the two, for what I ride the TF just does everything a little better/easier.
    Thatís why I asked. Bc the TopFuel seems more in line with the XC/DC type bikes like the SB100, Pivot Trail429, and Spark; while the Fuel.....EX seems more related to SB130, Revel Rascal, Process 134 type Trail bikes.

  17. #17
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    I've had 3 of these bikes, the Ripley, Mach 4sl, and SB100. The SB100 is definitely not plusher than the Ripley. I found it kind of harsh, actually. The Pivot is a great bike, more of an XC bike really, no matter what fork you put on it. The Ripley is the best, most fun bike for the most types of trails short of DH-type terrain I've ridden. And at 5'6", you'd fit fine on a medium, don't even worry about the 29'er issue. I'm 5'7" and won't go back to 27.5 except for long-travel, gnarly trails that I don't even ride much anymore. lol
    Ibis Ripmo V2
    Ibis Ripley V4
    Ibis Mojo HD5
    Pivot Mach 4SL
    Pivot LES SS
    A road bike

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by smartyiak View Post
    Thatís why I asked. Bc the TopFuel seems more in line with the XC/DC type bikes like the SB100, Pivot Trail429, and Spark; while the Fuel.....EX seems more related to SB130, Revel Rascal, Process 134 type Trail bikes.
    Yea you guys are completely right. I meant the Top fuel EX 9.8 rather than the Fuel EX 9.8. Trek's naming scheme got me mixed up. I want the 120mm front and 115mm back.

    How does it compare to a ripley though or that YT izzo?

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    Give the pivot trial 429 a look, itís awesome.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jank View Post
    Yea you guys are completely right. I meant the Top fuel EX 9.8 rather than the Fuel EX 9.8. Trek's naming scheme got me mixed up. I want the 120mm front and 115mm back.

    How does it compare to a ripley though or that YT izzo?
    I demoíd the TF 9.9 about a month ago. Itís a rocket ship...fast fast fast. Thereís a bunch of reviews in the TF thread, including mine. It is at the top of my list right now, but still want to demo the new Hei Hei.

    Tons of people love the Ripley. I havenít ridden the new one, so I dunno. And I donít hunk youíll find too much on the Izzo yet...but you will; theyíll prolly sell a billion of them.

    I will say: Iíd take the TF over the Pivot every time....but thatís the great thing about all the options: one man picks the TF and another prefers the Pivot.

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    I was away from MTBing for about the last 20 years. Back then I was on an Ellsworth Truth and Santa Cruz Blur. Getting back into it a few months ago, I was torn between the Ripley, TF 9.8 and Giant Trance Advanced as well. The TF 9.8 build I was looking at was the XT build. I was always a SRAM fan but in riding both back to back, I preferred the current Shimano SLX and XT over the X0.

    I went with the Ripley SLX build and upgraded to the Factory suspension and carbon bars. I am really impressed with the shifting and brakes on the SLX. The bike climbs amazing and descends really well too. There was mention of some pedal bob above but I have not experienced any. Really really impressed by the Ripley but don't think you would regret either of the others choices. All three are great options. Good luck with your new bike purchase.

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    Whatever you do likely gonna be really happy over your old 26 Turner. I will offer this own a V3 Ripley and current Top Fuel. Similar Travel differenet bikes. If you want a firmer bike that uses its travel when needed on big hits and feels very XCish try that shorter travel bikes like the Top Fuel. If you want more a plush bike that is constantly active seeks out rock lines and is superplayful but still plush something more like the Ripley or Fuel EX (never rode the Fuel EX)

    What does your local shops sell and support that should play into your decsion.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  23. #23
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    Your riding style and trails made me think of a Mojo 3, 5010, or Mach 5.5. The Mojo 3 is light, pedals like an xc bike but can keep up on the chunkier stuff; it's 130/140mm and well in your price range. 2300g for size s to m.

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    I would recommend the Santa Cruz Tallboy because it climbs well but descends great for its travel. It's one of the best examples of "down country" short travel with downhill capability. The other one if you want playful, bunny hops, and is maneuverable & fun is the new 5010. There are fewer and fewer 27.5 bikes left and this one is one the most fun bikes I've ridden. On my last search a year and a half ago, I ended up loving the 5010, but got caught up in thinking I needed a slacker 29er with longer travel because that's what EVERYONE seems to be pushing and bought the Santa Cruz Hightower and should have gone with what felt great. The Santa Cruz build, quality, finish, and warranty on their carbons is second to none, so you'll know you'll own this bike for another 10-15 years like your last one. Now here comes a caveat, I just bought the YT Izzo Pro Race. Why did I buy it instead of the 5010 or Tallboy this time? I'm a lot older than you and climb about 2,500-3500 feet 3-4 times a week and lightweight is now extremely important, but I also wanted at least 130 mm of travel for flexibility of terrain. I also don't want to pay the $8,000-$9,000 for that weight savings with a Santa Cruz, Yeti, Pivot, etc.since I'm still keeping my expensive new-ish Hightower in case I need the extra capacity. Also, since I have a very capable back-up bike, I don't have to worry as much about waiting for warranty issues YT should something go wrong with since this is a direct-to-consumer brand. The Izzo is pocket rocket climber with 130 mm in the front and back.

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    I agree that you don't really want an up-forked XC bike. Light trail bikes climb so darned well these days that there's not much downside to getting 120-130mm rear travel.

    The Top Fuel rips. So does the Fuel. Both are kinda pricey for what you get, for sure.

    The Tallboy is great but not as nimble or playful as I think you want.

    I have an SB100 and it's excellent for Upstate NY trails. But I race XC on it as well, and I would absolutely have a little more bike if I wasn't seriously racing it. This also rules out the Mach 4 SL, which is similar in mission.

    The Pivot Mach 429 Trail looks very good, but I haven't ridden one.

    The Ripley is very popular around here. I think it would tick all the boxes for sure.

    The Stumpy ST is the most popular bike around Binghamton for sure. It's not a standout in any area, but it does just work really well and has been problem-free.

    There are another dozen bike that work great. Horsethief, Process, Neuron, Trance, etc. I haven't ridden any of them, but if you like the review copy and spec... go for it.

    27.5 works fine. Salsa Rustler, 5010, etc. But you're not going to have any issues on a 29er, they have the geo nailed these days on size M. Size S and I'd think about maybe a 27.5, depending on the company and geo. For the roots and rocks around here, 29 just rolls so nice it's worth the slightly less responsive bike IMO.


    So... buy whatever 120-130 or even 140mm trail bike looks good and makes you excited to ride. They are all really good these days. Don't sweat +/-10mm of travel, DW Link vs 4-bar, Rock Shox vs. Fox, Sram vs. Shimano... it all works fine.

  26. #26
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    Now there's the '21 SB115, 115/130 travel to consider.
    What, me worry?

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    It would be wise to look at Revel bikes. They've just realeased the Ranger model which fits in to this category. They are impressive bikes and technology with a group of people behind the scenes that seem to be a great team.
    I hope to own one of their bikes someday, just not ready to retire my ol' Yeti SB66c

  28. #28
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    Its a good time to be looking for a 120mm bike...more choices than ever. Looks like the short travel is what bike companies are trying to sell you on now. Transition recently released a new 120mm bike too.

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