IMC 1069

Pre­dictable han­dling is a good thing.

For years, Ibis bikes have been laud­ed for their abil­i­ty to float over ter­rain — up and down, dry and wet, rocky, rooty, steep, grad­ual, smooth or dec­i­mat­ed. It doesn’t mat­ter, our bikes hov­er indif­fer­ent­ly up, and hov­er indif­fer­ent­ly down.

And all of our sus­pen­sion bikes rely on the dw-link plat­form to do this. You gain ped­al­ing effi­cien­cy though piv­ot place­ment alone — no reliance on shock tune nec­es­sary here. This means that unlike many oth­er sus­pen­sion lay­outs, our bikes don’t require over­damped com­pres­sion to con­trol ped­al bob. Ibis kine­mat­ics do the hard work, shocks can breathe more freely.

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Because we don’t need exces­sive com­pres­sion damp­ing, we’ve pushed our sus­pen­sion part­ners to devel­op lighter com­pres­sion tunes. These lighter tunes make it eas­i­er for the rear wheel to get out of the way, allow­ing the bike to bet­ter absorb an impact. But as we went pro­gres­sive­ly lighter, we found the shocks couldn’t rebound as fast as they could compress.

Bikes could soak up hits but couldn’t push the wheel down fast enough to track the back­sides of bumps, rebound was lag­ging. If the sus­pen­sion doesn’t move fast enough to track ter­rain, the wheel gets hung up and you lose speed, steer­ing, and brak­ing control.

Time for sci­ence: We record­ed over a thou­sand DH runs using data acqui­si­tion from Motion Instru­ments, quan­ti­fy­ing crit­i­cal wheel speed in both direc­tions — com­pres­sion and rebound. We ran mul­ti­ple shock tunes (from six dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers) through the wringer ana­lyz­ing data, going back to the draw­ing board, and hon­ing in on what wheel speeds should be. 

"Predictable handling is a good thing."

Ibis Cycles

And as we refined rear-shock tunes, the data also proved we need­ed to cus­tom tune our forks. We don’t want to have the back of a bike doing some­thing dif­fer­ent than the front, we need­ed to bal­ance the sus­pen­sion and keep the bike chas­sis flat rel­a­tive to the ground. This keeps geom­e­try con­sis­tent and gives you pre­dictable han­dling. Pre­dictable han­dling is a good thing.

The result of all this test­ing is some­thing we call Trac­tion Tune. This new tun­ing phi­los­o­phy deliv­ers unpar­al­leled trac­tion and con­trol. It’s like high-end motor­sports after­mar­ket tun­ing except that it’s built into every Ibis. And it’s not just at speed through rough ter­rain that you’ll notice it; you’ll also find it eas­i­er to lift the front over obsta­cles, sit back into a man­u­al, and bun­ny hop. It needs to be rid­den to be under­stood, it’s sig­nif­i­cant enough that it feels like you’ve found hero dirt that gives you more grip yet some­how doesn’t slow you down. We had to relearn brak­ing points on our favorite trails. Sim­ply put, Trac­tion Tune unlocks speed.

It’s how sus­pen­sion should be and we’re thank­ful we invest­ed the time in close analy­sis and con­tin­u­al refine­ment. The end prod­uct is more than worth it.