It’s no secret that I’ve really been liking the shorter travel “all-trail” bikes I’ve been riding lately after years of riding 5.5-6.5″ all-mountain bikes. With the new updated geometry of slacker head angles, longer front center and shorter rear they are really quite capable yet still feel great on tamer trails and all day epics. I’ve also had a couple of short rides on some of the new 27.5 plus bikes that are becoming all the rage and was quite impressed with the added traction, cushion, and competence these bigger tires provide. So when Ibis recently announced their new 130mm travel Mojo 3 that not only has the new geo updates but Plus compatibility, it immediately moved up to the top of my “must ride” list.
I was able to attend the 6th Annual Hurricane MTB Festival this past weekend and was at the Ibis tent bright and early to score the only large Mojo 3 they had. All their M3’s were set up with Plus size tires so that must be where most of the interest is. This one was sporting Ibis 741 rims and 2.8″ Nobby Nick tires. The tech allowed me to adjust my own suspension once he was convinced I knew what I was doing, but he insisted on using the digital tire pressure gauge and my weight to get the tire pressures just right. Exactly 12.5 lbs in the front and 18 (I think) in the back. Like fat tires, ride feel is very dependent on correct tire pressure with plus tires: Too much equals too bouncy and too little equals to wallowy and sometimes a half pound of pressure can make the difference.
Like the HD3 I rode in Sedona last year, the size large fit my 5′ 11″ body like the proverbial glove. Ibis has chosen to not go too extreme in the long-low-slack direction, keeping to a more moderate iteration of the genre. The rear suspension duties were handled by the Fox Evol shock and SRAMs excellent Pike RCT3. The recommended starting pressure for the Evol is 10% above body weight (about 180 for me… but I didn’t believe him and fudged to 175 lbs) which is quite different than the old fox shocks, whereas most techs recommend going less than the SRAM recommended starting point on the Pike so we started at 50 lbs for my 165 lbs ready-to-ride weight. I ended up being very happy with the small bump compliance and ramp up on the Pike, but kept letting out little bits of air from the Evol until I was closer to 160-165lbs before it felt right. I also let a little air out of the rear tire before I got the small bump nirvana I was craving. I didn’t have a digital gauge with me so don’t know where I ended up in back. The rest of the spec was appropriately mid to high end with SRAM’s Guide brakes and X1 single ring drive train and Race Face NW chain ring and cranks.
Our ride destination for the day was Little Creek Mesa, one of my favorite rides in the area. It provides a good mix of singletrack with gradual descents, steep climbs, techy rock moves, drops, and butt dragging slick rock rollers. We had a couple of semi-local friends with us that were able to show us some of the alternate lines and less known routes, so we had a great day of riding and a good test for the Mojo 3 plus.
First off, I can’t remember when I last stepped onto a bike and felt so immediately comfortable. The sizing, the pedaling, the cockpit, and the suspension dynamic all just gelled together to make me feel right at home. The big tires rolled nice and seemed to absorb all the small inconsistencies in the rock surface and small roots and rocks on the dirt parts. Grip was very good in both loose climbs and steep off-camber slick rock moves but not worlds better than a good 2.3″ triple compound tire. Once I got the rear tire and rear shock pressure sorted out the rear not only gripped better but smoothed out undulations and small to medium sized rocks and square edges better.
The Mojo 3 was easy to maneuver and liked to stand and hammer as do many DW link bikes, but still remained active when needed. The geometry allowed me to get the front wheel up easily for lofting up onto ledges, pedal-kicking off of drops, and manualing through rolling drops. So much fun. It’s super important to me to be able to bring up the front end at a split second notice for those “oh-crap-that’s-a-drop-not-a-roller” moments.
Climbing was a mixed bag. I cleaned some tough techy moves without issue but struggled on a couple longer, more complex surfaced climbs that I usually clean. Not sure if it was user error or set up or just one of those days, because the M3 felt like a superb pedaling rig in most every situation. The overall weight was quite light despite the bigger tires, and despite a good four hour ride with plenty of steep ups and downs, my legs never got fatigued. In fact when we removed the front wheel to load it inside the vehicle I was shocked at how light the wheel/tire combo was. All day epics even at altitude should not be a concern with this plus set up.
Cornering was accurate in both longer sweepers and tighter techy stuff. The Mojo didn’t feel too long or awkward and didn’t have any slow “self-turning” weirdness that I’ve felt with large fat tires in the past. Placing the tire in exactly the right spot on sketchy lines wasn’t quite as critical as it would be with average sized tires because the wider, grippier stance just seemed to give me more margin for error. In fact the plus tires were pleasantly inconspicuous most of the time except that they gave me a ton of confidence to bomb some rough sections and drop some big bike-worthy features without a second thought. In fact, so much confidence that I did not shy away from some pretty full-sized moves that were probably a bit above the Mojo’s pay grade. The rear suspension bottomed hard when I started pushing it beyond its intended purpose and travel (remember I lowered the pressure in the shock to get better small bump compliance) but I think with an additional spacer or two the ramp up would’ve handled most anything I tried with more, ahem, composure. No long fast rough descents were to be found on Little Creek but I was able to get up to speed on a few short rough descents and the bike felt quite stable and predictable. I’m sure with steeper, fast, rowdier downhills a little longer wheel base, slacker angles, and more travel would be appreciated, but I wouldn’t give up the all-around nimbleness and maneuverability of this bike to get that little extra edge. That’s not what the Mojo is about…. but everywhere else it really shines.
As you can probably tell, I really, really liked the Mojo 3 plus. It just does everything so well and feels so right and so confident doing it it’s like a natural extension of your imagination. If you’re looking for a fun, light, all-trail bike that displays huge competence in a wide range of trail conditions, you can’t go wrong with the Mojo 3 plus.