In the past few seasons we’ve seen a major resurgence of hardtails, and for good reason. Modern geometry and multiple wheel / tire size options have made hardtails both a fun and affordable alternative and / or supplement to a suspension bike.
The Ibis DV9, a full carbon hardtail available in a host of kits, slots into its own niche in the hardtail market. It’s fairly conservative geometry puts it well outside the realm of “all mountain” and, depending on configuration, it’s not nearly steep enough to be true XC. Yet it’s a bike that just about anyone can ride, and more importantly, have a damn good time on.
Ibis eschewed the trend of niching into a specific category with the DV9. Perhaps a cop-out, the DV9 is best described simply as a mountain bike. Based solely on its off-trend numbers it would be easy to peg this bike as Ibis’ attempt to passively fill a hole in its lineup: 67.4 degree headtube angle on my size large with a 120 mm fork, 439 mm chainstays, and a 422 mm reach. (422 mm?! Unrideable!)
But don’t sleep on the DV9. Beneath its buttoned up exterior lies a broadly capable machine that’s as fun as it is fast. As mountain bike consumers, we’re entrenched in a game of numbers, and while stats and geometry are a good jumping off point, they’re not always able to tell the full tale of how a bike will perform on the trail. Such is the case with the DV9.
Rolling on 29” hoops, Ibis designed the DV9 around either a 100 mm fork for purebred XC applications, or a 120mm fork for general trail shenanigans. The overarching goal being a relatively affordable bike ($1000 for the frame only option) that can race on Saturday and then goof off on Sunday. I opted for the 120 mm fork option, the GX kit, and added some Ibis 942 carbon wheels that I had from a previous build.
In procuring my personal DV9 I had a few goals: I needed an efficient climber for my daily commute (mostly gravel with a bit of pavement, a big ol’ up and over climb, and some singletrack mixed in); a lunch ride trail bike for hitting jumps and behaving badly; and the occasional endurance race steed to satisfy my over-the-hill urge to compete. And I’ve found that with a few (affordable) component tweaks, these boxes are all very easily ticked.
Performance wise, it would be far too easy to pine about the climbing prowess of my DV9. It’s a freaking carbon hardtail. Of course it climbs well! But as a trail bike, the DV9 truly shines in a way that it’s pedigree absolutely does not suggest and that I did not anticipate. I’ll be the first to concede that I too found the stats on the DV9 uninspiring at first glance. Yet I find the reach perfectly comfortable with a 50 mm stem / 800 mm bar combo, the chainstays to have a perfect mix of playful and stable, and the headtube adequately slack to descend some of our classic northeast tech.
As a daily driver, I have the Ibis 942 wheels currently shod with 2.6” Specialized Butcher / Purgatory tires (pictured with 2.5” Maxxis Minions), and flat pedals. Watch the shenanigans ensue. But for the one-off suffer fest, the DV9 goes all Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when outfitted with some clipless pedals and faster rolling / lower profile tires (in this case the 2.3” Specialized Fast Tracks).
At the risk of gushing, I’ll state that I flat out love this bike. It’s a magical mix of utterly savage uphill efficiency, bmx-like playfulness, and (very) surprising descending capability. It’s lightweight surely contributes to both it’s climbability, as well as its playfulness, and Ibis’s mastery of carbon fiber layup results in a bike that’s both supple and compliant.
The truly interesting aspect of the DV9 that bears repeating, is that the numbers absolutely do not tell the true tale of how capable this bike is. It makes no sense actually. But it works. I was a little concerned that the carbon frame on carbon hoops would be stiff and jarring, but not so. At least not compared to my last hardtail, a Trek Stache 8 (alloy frame on alloy wheels).
Bottom line: not only is this bike my hot-lapper on the magical trails behind the shop (ever heard of a little trail called Florence?), but it’s also an all-day soul crusher when paired with some nerdy tires and clipless pedals. Cliches be damned, it’s a bike that is absolutely greater than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking for a playful, lightweight bike that’s got the chops to slay trail and the pedigree to stack miles too, then the Ibis DV9 should be at the top of your list…
More info on the DV9 from Ibis: https://www.ibiscycles.com/bikes/dv9/
Interested in demoing a DV9 or other Ibis bike? Visit Evan at Ranch Camp or reserve one on their site today: