Ibis Cycles Mojo SL-R  2013 Mountain Bike Review

Ibis Cycles Mojo SL-R 2013

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Ibis Cycles 44,582

At a glance

Having ridden and enjoyed the HD version of the Mojo a while back I was a little concerned that this lighter weight version of the Mojo might be something of a let down in terms of stiffness and thrash ability.

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The SL-R soon had me swooning over its good looks and light weight though and it was with a happy heart I set off for a road trip to the mountain biking mecca that is Wales with it nestled in the back of the van.
Tech heads

Through some fancy moulding technology Ibis have managed to replicate the geometry of the SL and blend that with a level of stiffness close to that of the HD but without the weight penalty.

The frame features a tapered head tube that will take an angle set headset, direct mount front derailleur, BB92 press fit bottom bracket and a 142x12 rear axle.

As with all the Mojo models a DW-link anti squat suspension system is used, Fox’s latest CTD suspension units are used both front and back.

Shimano XT kit takes care of braking and drivetrain duties with the rear derailleur being a clutch type.
The 26’’ wheels are Speed Tune hubs laced to a ZTR Flow EX shod with a Specialized Purgatory up front and an Arch EX shod with a Specialized Fast Trak on the back.

The WTB Rocket saddle sits atop an Ibis seat pin and an excellent set of Easton Haven carbon 711mm bars are held in place by a lengthy 90mm Ibis stem.

Ibis Mojo SL-R Medium

Seat tube 435mm
Effective top tube 580mm
Head tube 115mm
Chain stay 429mm
Front triangle 656mm
Wheel base 1085mm
BB height 336mm
Head angle 69°
Seat angle 73°
Reach 397mm
Stack 600mm

Weight w/o pedals 26.8lbs

On the trail

As my first ride on the SL-R was to be at the new Garw trail in South Wales I decided to make use of the cable guides provided and popped a dropper seat post on it. Following a quick spin I also decided that the 90mm stem was a touch too long for me and a 70mm stem went on, this improved the bikes responsiveness, but still left plenty of room to stretch out for climbing and XC duties.

With the Ibis suitably set up and tweaked it was straight into what is a fairly brutal climb and the Ibis very quickly showed what it is capable of. Pedalling efficiency is right up there as you would expect from a DW-link frame and the geometry puts you in just the right spot to get the balance right as you power your way up. I had expected the bike to climb well and it did, I had also expected the rear tyre to struggle for grip and it did, wet rocks bought about a fair bit of rear wheel spin which made the central position on the bike all the more important.

Having topped out the dropper seat post came into its own and on the descent back to the car park the bike was rapid, fun and a little hairy. The combination of 32mm stanchioned forks, a 69 degree head tube angle and a near slick rear tyre made it feel a little skittish. This was offset however, by the central position, very comfortable bars and well controlled suspension.

As the trip went on my understanding of what the SL-R is all about grew and so did my affection for the bike.
The blend of fast rocky trails, flowing single track and epic ascents meant that, at times, I had to look after the bike, but for the most part the Ibis looked after me.

Climbs are best tackled with vigour; the SL-R will race up pretty much anything when power is laid down. In singletrack and on pedally trails the steering is precise, the suspension taut and fun is guaranteed. Hitting very steep and technical downhill sections is where the SL-R reminds you that it is not actually an AM rig, the frame is stiff and the suspension tune on the shock is the best ‘stock’ tune I have felt on a Mojo, but the 32mm stanchioned forks simply cannot match the stiffness of the frame and the excellent trail geometry feels a touch steep when the hill pitches away from you aggressively.

Kit wise the Shimano brakes and drivetrain all worked flawlessly, the wheels are stiff and stayed true and once I had adapted to the tyres I grew to love the easy speed they gave while still allowing me to have confidence when pushing the front into corner.

For

Ibis have been refining the Mojo frame for a while now and the SL-R reflects that.

For a 5lb frameset it is plenty stiff enough for general trail riding duties and will handle the gnarly side of life better should you choose to go down the route of a head angle changing headset.

The suspension is controlled and provides good small bump compliance yet will swallow up multiple midsized hits and deals with square edged lumps without losing momentum.

The geometry is a touch out of step with current trends but it does make for a bike that climbs wonderfully and has a real snap to its handling when pinning anything other than steep downhill sections.

Against

By keeping the Mojo SL geometry Ibis have created something of a conflict of purpose with the SL-R. A degree off the head tube angle would compliment the more muscular frameset and place the SL-R neatly between the SL and HD models. It would make the SL-R a more confident all rounder without compromising its climbing abilities and then a shorter stem could be fitted to maintain the precise handling.

Kit wise the Fox 32 was noticeably less capable of holding its line in rough terrain than the frame, a little more beef up front would have helped.

Overall

The Ibis SL-R is something of a contradiction in terms, on the one hand strong and capable yet on the other a touch nervous in this set up.

For the wheels on the ground trail rider that tends not to charge downhill the SL-R is an excellent long travel XC/trail bike that will see them through many an adventure and it will do it with class.

For the more hard hitting trail rider that is looking for an all day bike that is fast and fun then the Ibis SL-R should not be overlooked as it is just an angle set away from being an out and out stunner.

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This review was in Issue 23 of IMB.

For more information visit Ibis Cycles

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By Nigel Garrood
Nigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!

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