I know it ain't a CX bike, but so effing what? Most people around here seem to know what a mountain bike is. I drooled over a number of CX rigs during my SF vacation and I will talk about that in the not too distant future. Finish reading this, go ride and disseminate chaos.
Dr. Evil: Mojo: "The libido. The life force. The essence. The right stuff. What the French call a certain... I don't know what. "
Yeaaaaah Baby! I know what, let's talk about my four days aboard the Mojo SL, Ibis Cycles bold return to the market. This bike has been around for a few years now and they are rather coveted. Lately, Ibis' newer offerings like the HD as well an updated version of this frame (the SL-R) have stolen some of this rig's thunder. Still, this is a sexy beast that has become more ubiquitous than the new jacks of the Ibis stable.
Disclaimer: I am not a pro rider by any stretch of the imagination. I race occasionally mostly as an excuse to drink beer, start trouble and heckle other riders. I ride bicycles nearly everyday including commuting to work. While I am no longer a Clydesdale, I am no ballerina. I ride aggressively and value durability over weight savings. I could stock a bike shop with the parts and frames that have worn out or broken over nearly 25 years of mountain biking. My experience with carbon fiber in parts and bikes is a mixed bag. Some stuff has held up and some have crapped the bed. My current personal steed is a Santa Cruz Butcher and I have spent time recently on a Nomad, Heckler, some steel single speeds both mountain and road and a cyclocross rig. In addition, I have ridden a several iterations of DW-link bikes which the Mojo SL is including an Iron Horse, Turner and a Pivot. Thus, I was interested to see how the Mojo SL, a full suspension carbon rig would fare.
Additionally, I will not regurgitate the specs on the bike as they may be found here on the well done Ibis site. They have a swanky bike builder function similar to that found on the Santa Cruz site whom pioneered this approach. I will discuss the the build kit and the ride. The model I rode was the baseline SRAM X-9 equipped package sans any upgrades. The medium demo I rented from Roaring Mouse was matte clear with red links and weighed in at approximately 28 lbs. I shot the bull with Chris the owner and my bro's fav mechanic and all around way rad guy Charlie while another cat got the sled ready and vaguely dialed it in for me (more on this later). I have to give a plug for Roaring Mouse. This is one of the best shops I have ever visited. No attitude, kick a$$ service, cool product lines and a bunch that knows their shiz. I have been in a handful of other Bay area shops and Roaring Mouse makes it hard for me want to go anywhere else.
Four days on a bike will tell you nothing of it's durability, but I did get a very good sense of this bike's pros and cons regarding it's ride, set-up and well...mojo. Sorry; I cannot resist a bad pun. It is hard to knock the Mojo aesthetically as it is a sharp looking rig that does not resemble much of anything out there and the matte carbon on the bike's undulating highly manipulated monocoque frame echos a stealth fighter. The stealth attributes continue as this is not a noisy frame as many monocoques are. The multiple links/pivots that make up the DW-link system made not a peep either. I wonder how this will play out over the bike's lifespan.
The pivot/linkage area is quite busy as is par for DW-link bikes making derailleur installation/adjustments a game of "Operation". Fortunately I did not have to mess with it during my rides. However, this area collects every bit of crud possible from the trail. I cleaned it up with some trepidation after an extremely nasty ride. Hosing this spot down without blasting the gunk into seals takes some patience.
Now ride the damn thing
Patience was in short supply as I took off with my brutha on my first ride on the Mojo SL to ride Camp Tamarancho across the Golden Gate bridge in Fairfax. I had to do some additional fiddling with the bike to get things comfortable. Nothing out of the norm, but I did immediately notice some differences between my usual steed and the Mojo. The geometry is more forward biased in keeping things clearly in the XC/Trail category. The weight on this bike was not crazy light, but it could easily be built up in the low 20 pound range. These two factors made it feel much more skittish and unstable than what I was used to. Sure it climbed well, but not noticeable better than my heavier rig. Descending was good on the Mojo but not amazing requiring me to be picky with my line choices. The suspension was great rolling over the small chop, but bottomed pretty harsh on any medium drops or g-outs. Most of the terrain at Tamarancho was not that tough and this bike's 140mm's of travel was overkill in all but a few sections. The Mojo's wiggly feel on the harsher stuff made it feel flexy even though the frame was solid as could be. I later was able to fix much of this by spending a few more minutes dialing in the fork and shock. Nonetheless, the geometry was still steeper than I was used to. The first ride was still a blast and we ended up with big smiles, beers and a brat at the Gesalt Haus. Bring yr bike in, hang it up and get yr drink on...awesome!
Now it's Golden
The next day after a morning of running errands, I was itching to go turn some cranks. I decided to ride around town and hit the mild footpath trails in Golden Gate park and some urban as well. I added more air to the shock and tweaked the fork adjustments. Apparently, I found that the rear shock, Fox's popular RP23 had lost a great deal of air and caused the floppy feeling the Mojo had the day before. Hmmmmm...I stayed away from air shocks for a very long time and this was not very inspiring, but once the pressure was dialed the bike felt way better. The sloppy feeling was mostly gone and the suspension was not bottoming out as it had the day before. I still had to contend with geometry differences, but at least the tail was not a mess. I pedaled all over the park which has many rolling flowy paths. Nothing technical, mind you but fun stuff to just pump and carve around on. I then pedaled down towards the Haight stopping at American Cyclery to geek out over all the sweet road bikes and associated paraphernalia. The Mojo is a very distinct bike and even the shop rats were asking me all about it. I drank some espresso at a coffee shop and then pedaled my way back up to my brutha's place. The bike climbed without any bad manners and was not abominable on the street as many mountain bikes are. I chased down a couple of road bikers and a guy on a fixie without being too schvitzed. I took it easy that night as the next morning I was out run the Bay to Breakers 12K. I actually ran it too versus the bulk of the participants who are partying harder than is legal pretty much everywhere else in the US. 55, 000 + people, many in costume and many nude running down the SF streets. Lotsa left-handed cigarette smoke wafting throughout too. Gotta love the place.
Tired? My a$$; let's go!!!
I ran the 12K quite fast according to my brutha and his friends. Then I meandered back to his pad only to turn right around still in costume as my brutha and his entourage said they wanted to go down and check out all the freaks. I was pretty tired, but I soldiered on and was rewarded with a big organic cup of joe from a bakery on our way. My brutha asks if I am not too beat if I would like to check out the trails down past Half Moon Bay at Skeggs point/El Corte de Madera. Ab-so-freakin-lutely!!! We packed up the bikes and went for it. I was a lil' tired, but the trails were so killer I found a second wind. These were the best most technical trails I had ridden in all of my visits out to SF. It really helped me see just how the Mojo would handle. It was also still somewhat wet from the previous nights rain adding to the technical demands. The Mojo climbed up even the steepest pitches admirably. I found that I was searching for traction though as there was a very specific point in which the wheels would break away on a climb. Conversely, descending still required me to pick lines and use a lot of body English to get the Mojo to dig in. I was not crazy over the WTB meats as the they just did not grab despite fiddling with different pressures. One thing that I would recommend for this bike as an immediate upgrade is some kind of adjustable seatpost. This is true for any all mountain or trail rig though as far as I am concerned and it is an upgrade option that is available through Ibis at the time of purchase. Having to stop to fiddle with lowering your seat is annoying. This bike just like many others comes alive when you remove the a$$ hatchet from your posterior. My bro and I stopped to drop our seats on one of the really steep descents and were damn thankful as we would have certainly endoed down some of those pitches. The bike felt pretty damn good now going down and with air pressure dialed soaked up the big stuff far better. We barely scratched the surface there as the place is littered with ripping well signed trails. I want to go back sooner than later.
A rolling finish
I spent my last ride with the Mojo once again riding through the San Francisco streets. I now was pretty comfortable with the feel of the bike and now I could get it to perform as I desired on command. I found myself effortlessly bunny-hopping everything and tearing down the steep hills with abandon. Chris from the Roaring Mouse said if want to have a good time this was the bike to ride and I agree. I had a great time with it and I know in time I would have dialed it in to feel like just an extension of me (Eeeeeeeek!!! that is a horrifying thought to anyone that knows me).
The Mojo SL is great all rounder do-it-all trail bike and actually is quite a bargain compared to it's closest competitors with the X-9 kit mine was built with. The X-9 drivetrain worked flawlessly during my time with it. I did have a few minor complaints with it though. First, the new 10 speed X-9 looks cheap compared to the previous versions. The matte black finish with white accents and big logos screamed department store. Others I was with also noticed this. Second, I have not run a "big" ring in more than 10 years so it was kinda weird having a triple. I realized that I had to actually use it going down as the chain dropped a few times when I forgot. I would go with a 2X10. Finally, that crisp audible clank that is ubiquitous with SRAM shifting was more subtle. This did not effect the performance, but I missed hearing that noise. The Ibis branded cockpit (stem, bars, grips) were adequate but nothing special. I think the bars at 660mm were too narrow and the stem at 100mm was too long. Maybe Ibis was feeling nostalgic for the late 90's, but not my cup of tea. Ditto for the foam lock-on grips. I prefer very thin grips and these were a bit too thick for me. The brakes, Formula's RX did not impress me. While, they had tons of power they were way too grabby and very on/off with lil' modulation available. They reminded of the early Hayes brakes so maybe that was in keeping with retro cockpit. I was not crazy about the WTB tires, but to each their own. Enough bitching.
In closing I would like to thank...
The Mojo SL is a damn fine bike and overall a blast to ride with really minimal bummer issues. It is a proven winner and will satisfy a multitude of riders looking to build a lightweight and fun trailbike. I suppose my biggest issue is that I do not ride a trailbike and I was pushing the bike to more than it was designed for. I likely would have been in hog-heaven aboard the Ibis Mojo HD with its slacker geometry and increased travel. The SL for a rider like me feels almost XC in nature. I have said for years that one should chose a bike for not only the way they ride, but on the way they want to ride. When riders ignore this bikes fall apart quickly. I know that I would beat the tar outta the SL and would be dealing with maintenance issues at least if not warranty issues at worst. That said, who would love it? Certainly the trailbike contingency and riders coming from an XC background. This bike would be terrific as an enduro racer as it can built really lightweight. I loved it as it got me out riding around SF on a seriously sexy rig and out to some ripping local trails. Je ne sais quoi? No baby, it's got mojo to spare!