The Landing and Initial Flight
The Ibis HD6 debuted at Flow HQ amidst the anticipation of a ‘big bike park summer’ and quickly proved to be more than just an ordinary enduro bike. Assembled with a mix of components borrowed from other bikes and projects, the HD6 was prepped and ready for rowdy riding. Weighing in at a commendable 15.4kg as pictured here (without pedals) and equipped with 165mm of DW-Link suspension travel, the HD6’s reputation promised a blend of agility and robustness that I had been drawn to.
Before its big-mountain baptism, the HD6 had a brief flirtation with the flatter coastal trails around Newcastle. This ride was more about shaking hands than pushing limits. It was clear from these gentle rides that the HD6 was itching for something more… something steeper. Next up: Maydena, Queenstown, Silver City, Barrington Bike Park, and Thredbo. Yew yew!
Maydena and the Realisation
It wasn’t until Maydena’s rugged arms embraced the HD6 that the bike showed its true colours. The steep, fast and at some times relentless trails were a stark contrast to the flat flirtations back home, and here, the HD6 felt more in its element. It was my ticket to pushing faster and faster, riding aggressively, and valiantly keeping up with Grant Allen, locals and JetPack Jono. Lap after lap, I pushed harder.
The fork in particular, way out in front of me, raked out at 64 degrees, felt invincible. We took on the steep and natural trails of the EDR World Cup earlier in the year and the speedy classics with huge turns and features coming at you like a random automatic tennis ball machine on full.
Among these, the tranquil walking track known as Zen Garden stood out for its serenity, offering a peaceful place to take your bike for a walk at speeds under 4km/hr—a hidden gem I’d highly recommend. 🙂
West Coast, A Back Country Rock Munching Paradise
My first time riding the trails on the West Coast (since Tassie Wildside, circa 1976) was sensational. Highly recommend! I’d heard mixed reports that the trails were hard, harsh, and unpredictable. Well, yes, at times they are, but taking a look around, this ain’t no asphalt pumptract of Air-Flow loam vibe, it’s wild, raw, and I absolutely loved it. I regret not spending more time there.
Our trip out west took in Mount Owen and Zeehan’s Silver City Trails on the Heemskirk Range. We took a helicopter that day; it was EPIC. Check that feature out here, and watch this video. It’s so good.
Yet, amidst the thrill of a gravity and backcountry trip in Tassie, there was a whisper of doubt – was this behemoth too much beast for my liking? We’re still working that out.
Geometry and Comfort
Right from the start, the HD6 presented a long and comfortable riding position when pedalling seated, thanks to its 76° seat tube angle, which places the rider well with effective power transfer without putting too much weight on the hands or making the steering feel awkward or floppy on flatter sections. This geometry, combined with the bike’s lightweight for its category, made climbing more enjoyable than expected, marking a pleasant departure from the norm for long-travel machines, especially with such a long fork.
I’ve experimented with sliding the saddle back and forth and nosing the saddle down a touch but have reverted to a neutral fore/aft position and a flat tilt.
During my time puzzling with the Ibis HD6, I paid particular attention to how the bike’s setup and components could mitigate hand fatigue and provide comfort, primarily given my history of wrist injuries (ouch, my weakling hands!). My search for the optimal front-end setup was driven by a need for damping characteristics that could ease the pressure on my wrists under the brakes over extended descents.
The choice of soft compound tyres, the OneUp cockpit, massive disc rotors, the setup of the fork, and even the selection of the Zipp Moto wheels were all influenced by this search.
Adjusting the Fox 38 fork was key. Finding the right balance between air pressure, compression settings, and the upcoming addition of a TrueTune Fork Insert is all part of the search. The aim was to achieve a suspension feel that was both supportive and supple, minimising harsh feedback to my hands and wrists while maintaining the bike’s balance. A very common predicament, right?
Suspension Tuning: A Personal Journey
Dialling in the HD6 was no Sunday picnic; the Fox Factory kit is unreal, but I commonly flounder to get comfortable quickly the way I can with RockShox. Using the suspension setup guide on the Ibis website as a starting point, I set to work to tune it to my liking, aiming for a supple ride with dynamic ride height support and balance. I ended up erring on the lighter side for high-speed compression and a faster setting for the slow-speed rebound.
Thanks to our magnanimous tech editor, Wil Barrett, we all have a very well-worded and comprehensive setup guide for Fox forks and shocks; check them out; it’s brilliant Wil Barrett at his best.
Fox shock setup guide
Fox Fork setup guide
The 180mm fork, a colossus in its own right, initially felt like an awkward handshake – too firm, too eager. Achieving full travel without compromising ride height and support became difficult, one that no amount of sag adjustments or compression tinkering seemed to solve fully, and the big stiff chassis was transmitting too much trail feedback to my hands. I’ve encountered a similar feeling with the RockShox Zeb on my Specialized Levo and have since found comfort in the silky and plush smaller-legged RockShox Lyrik in its place.
Though, at 180m travel, this is my only choice. The incoming introduction of a TrueTune Fork Insert seems promising, potentially offering a way to deepen the fork’s travel utilisation while taking advantage of the compression adjustability to fine-tune the dynamic ride height and stability. So, stay ‘tuned’ for how that pans out.
The HD6’s lack of frame geometry adjustability, initially a potential concern, turned out to be a hidden blessing. Trusting in Ibis’s design, I found freedom in the simplicity, allowing the bike’s inherent characteristics to shine without the temptation to tinker with geometry settings that we get bogged down with many bikes. Would it be a good 29-inch bike? Hmmm, nah, bring on the mixed-wheel bikes. Fun is fast! The balance is nice.
Climbing and Descending: A Balanced Act
What stood out with the HD6 was its surprising climbing and all-day pedalling ability, contradicting the typical expectations for a bike with such generous travel and laid-back angles. The efficient dw-Link suspension platform, paired with the tuneable Fox X2 and its climb switch, felt like a nice match and wasn’t a chore to grind around at all.
Descending on the HD6 revealed its true prowess. The suspension has a fluttery and cloud-like feel to it, deep and generous. It’s a traction-rich bike that lands into big holes under the brakes well and takes sharp-edged impacts on the chin. I won’t be able to comment too much on how it takes off big jumps, as I am retired from those shenanigans… Well, I did a few, and it felt great, touching down to terra firma with a nice, quiet thud.
I really appreciated the HD6 when riding blind with the bike pointed down. A fistful of brakes would rein the bike in and stop on a dime if I needed, or I could simply trust in the Bin Chicken’s guts and hold on tight. And, well, I’m still here!
Tyre Choices and Handling
With their unyielding grip, the Pirelli Scorpions Race tyres occasionally felt like overeager dance partners; their insistence on holding tight made it hard to let loose and flow while providing exceptional grip. It felt like overkill on a day when I was testing another bike alongside the Ibis, and it threw me back to the puzzle board. While advantageous in turns, their aggressive grip pattern and gooey rubber compound made quick, successive maneuvers at moderate speeds more demanding due to the increased effort required to alter the bike’s direction by steering with a slide.
This has led me to consider alternative tyre setups that might offer a more balanced feel, especially for riders who prefer more nimble handling. I may try a Schwalbe Magic Mary combo or a Maxxis Assegai/DHRII combo to be like everyone else. What’s a good tyre, then? I’ve always thought that the best tyre for me is the one I know: opt for the lightest option that doesn’t compromise reliability and dedicate time to learning and understanding its grip limits.
Ibis HD6 – Mick’s Custom Build
- Frame | Full carbon, dw-link Suspension Design, 165mm Travel
- Fork | Fox 38, Factory Series, GRIP2 Damper, 44mm Offset, 180mm Travel
- Shock | Fox Float X2, Factory Series, EVOL, 230mm x 65mm
- Wheels | Zipp 3Zero Moto, carbon rims, 30mm inner width, Zipp ZM2 hubs, 29/27.5in mixed
- Tyres | Pirelli Scorpion Race, EN T & M, Dual Wall, 2.5in
- Drivetrain | SRAM XX Eagle AXS Transmission 1×12 w/32T crankset & 10-52T cassette
- Brakes | SRAM Code Ultimate Stealth 4-Piston w/220mm front & 200mm rear rotors
- Bar | Oneup Carbon Handlebar, 20mm rise
- Stem | Oneup Stem, 42mm
- Grips | ODI Elite Pro
- Seatpost | RockShox Reverb AXS, 170mm
- Saddle | SDG Belair 3
Current Thoughts and Future Adjustments
The journey with the indomitable HD6 is far from over, with plans to continue refining the suspension setup at both ends, testing new brakes and exploring alternative tyre and wheel options. I won’t say I’m 100% set with the setup; the quest for the perfect setup remains elusive, further complicated by the constant comparison and contrast during back-to-back testing with other bikes. I know; just ride your damn bike, Mick!
I’d say that the HD6 stands out as a versatile, high-performance rig that caters to quite a wide range of riders and terrain for a bike of its size, reasons it would make a competitive enduro race bike. Its ability to balance climbing efficiency with descending capability, combined with the potential for personalisation in setup, makes the HD6 a compelling choice for riders seeking a bike that doesn’t shy away from hard-handed riding and steep trails but isn’t disturbed by long days of pedalling.
This won’t be the last of the Ibis; I’ve still got time.