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Product Review: Ibis Mojo HDR 650B

Photos: Re Wikstrom

It’s been over three decades since Scott Nicol built the first Ibis frame. In that time, the brand has innovated, grown, been sold, been put to rest, and ultimately, resurrected. But not everything has changed outright over the course of history. For some time, Nicol has been back at the helm, and Ibis is just as strong, if not stronger, as ever. With all of this experience, it’s not surprising that Ibis prefers to refine existing designs rather than reinvent the wheel on a seasonal basis. Perhaps this explains how the Mojo HDR 650B came to be? Befitting of its heritage, the Mojo HDR works on a proven platform that brings traditional handling into the current age, while also incorporating a bombproof chassis and nearly all of the modern fixings that you could ask for.

Suspension

Yes, the HDR 650B can be built with either 26- or 27.5-inch wheels, but a 27.5-inch build requires a shorter stroke shock that yields 130mm travel. As has been the case since the original Mojo, a DW-Link suspension design keeps the back end in check. And as anyone who’s ridden a DW-Link bike will attest, the platform makes for a remarkably firm feel under acceleration, while also remaining soft enough, early in the stroke, to smooth out all manners of trail chop.

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It’s a design that provides a remarkable amount of traction and rides high in the travel, even at recommended sag settings. It’s something of a magic bullet, certainly making the HDR more capable than the modest 130mm of travel might otherwise suggest.

Geometry and Handling

When looking at the geometry chart, the HDR’s angles look fairly conservative. The 67-degree head angle turns on a moderate arc, and it keeps the steering predictable on steep trails without wandering on climbs. The bottom bracket isn’t particularly low, which adds pedal clearance on rocky trails, while keeping it highly maneuverable. However, the bottom bracket isn’t exactly high either, but as compared to some of the new-school trail bikes with ground-scraper foot placement, it doesn’t feel quite as planted in turns — a tradeoff that some riders will be glad to accept.

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Arguably, though, the one thing that sets the HDR apart from other bikes in its class is the reach — it’s typically an inch shorter per size than similar bikes, if not more. These traits all add up to a ride that’s more responsive than it is stable, at least in comparison to the other 27.5-inch trail bikes that I’ve been testing. That being said, it’s still capable of being ridden astonishingly fast, as evidenced by a handful of Crankworx Air DH wins.

Construction

First of all the HDR is incredibly stiff — definitely one of the stiffest bike that I’ve ever ridden. So, if you’re heavy, or if you ride really aggressively, you’ll appreciate the solid feel. Very light riders have reported that this trait causes the bike to skip out, especially on flat turns, although I haven’t found this to be a significant issue. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not quite as forgiving at the limits of traction as some other DW-Link bikes.

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There are mixed opinions about the cable routing, though, with public consensus tending to fall into either the “it’s unrefined” or “it’s functional” camps. Personally, I really like that it’s simple and mechanic-friendly. And then there’s the aesthetics. With the organic lines, the frame is certainly nice to look at, which really shouldn’t be undersold when considering putting a dream bike together.

Drawbacks

The tire clearance isn’t as generous as with some other bikes, which is especially relevant if you prefer massive tires, or you find yourself riding in wet conditions on the regular. Additionally, the Mojo HDR lacks the molded down tube and chainstay guards that some of its competitors have, although this is admittedly an aesthetic issue. It would be nice to see stealth dropper post routing as well, but the DW-Link’s upper pivot simply gets in the way. My personal beef is that the reach just didn’t feel long enough. It’s a complaint that ultimately comes down to physiology, but it was a deal breaker for me when considering a Mojo HD a few years back, and that still hasn’t changed.

Conclusion

The Mojo HDR 650B is new-school classic. In other words, if you find the modern generation of long, low, and slack trail bikes to be cumbersome in comparison to the bikes of yesteryear, you’ll really like the Mojo HDR. The construction lends itself to hard chargers and heavier riders — you know who you are. So, if you need something quick, responsive, and burly, the HDR certainly won’t hold you back.

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- Ibis Mojo HDR 650B Frame

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