Mid-to-Long Travel 29er Overview (Ibis Ripmo, Yeti SB130, Yeti SB150, Pivot Firebird 29)

February 21, 2019

In the last year or two, the fastest growing and best-selling category of bike for us has been the mid-to-long travel 29er. Equally at home on 10-mile fire road grinds and lift-assisted downhills, these bikes open up new possibilities for riders of all skill levels and disciplines. Even among the select few brands we carry, there are so many good bikes out that choosing one can be hard. It is common for our customers to get stuck choosing between the Ibis Ripmo, Yeti SB130 and 150, and the Firebird 29. Hopefully after reading this, you might know why you would choose one of these bikes over the other!

Ibis Ripmo

The Ibis Ripmo may just be the most well-rounded bike on this list. It has the steepest head angle at 65.9 degrees, 145mm of rear wheel travel, and very natural feeling handling. Its fairly long reach (473mm for size large) is offset by a more modern 76 degree seat tube angle, so although you may think about sizing down if you already ride an Ibis, you may want to rethink that. It has the shortest seat tube of all the bikes in this category giving just about everyone the option of running an extra-long dropper.  Want a little more descending prowess? Stock 2019 forks are all 170mm compatible and the bike handles the extra travel very well.

Hitting the best price point on this list, Ripmo frames start at $2999, while builds start at $4199 with several upgrade options available directly from Ibis. The most popular being carbon handlebars ($68), Carbon 942 Logo wheels ($800), Factory GRIP2 Fork ($400), and Factory X2 shock ($270). Interested in a build that doesn’t exist on Ibis’ site? Send us an email and we’ll be happy to accommodate!

Ripmo Frames
Ripmo Complete Bikes

 

Yeti SB130

 

This bike is for you if you want the stiffest pedaling platform and the sharpest handling. At just 130mm of rear wheel travel the SB130 may not seem like it fits on this list, but one look a the geometry and you know it does. Numbers you may want to know are the 65.5 degree headtube, 77 degree seattube, and a whopping 480mm reach on a size large. Like the Ibis, it does not feel as large as you’d think while in the saddle (mainly due to the steep seat tube).

Yeti’s forward geometry is fairly aggressive and does take some riders time to get used to. Weighting the front wheel through turns may seem counter intuitive, but once you get the distribution right this bike can cut through corners like a knife. Although the geometry is very confidence inspiring downhill, small bump compliance and big hits are not quite on the level of the other bikes on this list (to be expected of a shorter travel bike).

SB130 frames retail for $3500, while completes start at $5199 for GX builds on Yeti’s lower end carbon series frames and $7199 for X01 builds on Yeti’s top-end Turq series frame. Full custom builds are available in Turq Series only, but we are happy to make changes to any build’s spec.

Yeti SB130 Frames
SB130 Carbon Series Complete Bikes
SB130 Turq Series Complete Bikes

 

Yeti SB150

 

With geometry almost identical to the SB130, you may wonder if these bikes even ride that differently. In addition to the 20mm more travel, the SB150 has a 64.5 degree head angle and the longest wheelbase of any bike on this list. Reach (480mm for size large) and the 77 degree seattube are no different than the 130.

On the higher end builds, you really notice the upgraded Float X2 shock and GRIP2 damper in the fork. This bike seems to soak up bumps better than any other that we carry. You will notice that you don’t need to use as many/as big of volume reducers as you may have on previous Yetis, since more progression is built into the frame. The long travel frame and fork is noticeable on long gradual climbs and flats, but the extra travel really hugs the ground on steep techy climbs and in scenarios like that, it may be the best climber of the bunch. Compared to the Pivot and Ibis, tire clearance is not quite as generous. Yeti recommends maxing out at a 2.4” but we’ve been running 2.5” Aggressors on that back of many builds with only minor tire rub.

SB150 frames are not cheap at $3800, but complete bikes start at $5199 for GX builds on Yeti’s lower end carbon series frames (same as the 130) and X01 builds on Yeti’s top-end Turq series frame bump up to $7599. Full custom builds are available in Turq Series only, but again, we are happy to make changes to any build’s spec.

SB150 Frames
SB150 Carbon Series Complete Bikes
SB150 Turq Series Complete Bikes

Pivot Firebird 29

The Firebird 29 may be the most underrated bike on this list. Of the four it has the most travel and the stiffest frame, which translates to a planted rear wheel on nearly every occasion.  Pivot’s signature DW-Link feeling is there, which compared to the Yeti or even the Ibis, gives somewhat of a muted ride quality. “Monster truck” may be the first word to come to mind, so if you like to plow through rather than finesse around this may be the bike for you. It has the same reach as the two Yetis (480mm for size large), but definitely feels like a larger bike size-to-size. This is despite having a centimeter shorter wheelbase than the 150 (thanks to having the shortest chainstays of any of these bikes). The Firebird is the only bike on this list to have adjustable geometry, utilizing a flip-chip that swaps the head/seatube angles from 65.5/76.25 in high to 65/75.75 in low. Tire clearance is generous, as the frame fits up to a 29x2.6” with ample room for mud. This is also the only frame here that can accommodate 27.5”+.

Unfortunately, the Firebird 29 is not available as a frame only. Builds start at $5299, and yes, we can still swap out the parts you don’t like.

 

Other bikes we carry that fit into this category include the Pivot Switchblade, Evil Offering and Wreckoning, and the Transition Sentinel (yes, Transition is a new brand for us!). Which of these would you like to see an overview of?

 

Are you ready to build your dream bike yet? Maybe you just have some questions that weren't answered in this post. Leave a comment below or contact orders@probikesupply.com and we'll be sure to help however we can. Remember, reading things on the internet is great, but the best way to know if you like a bike is to ride it! All bikes pictured are actual demos, available here at our Newport Beach, CA store.

 




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