Ibis are a long established American brand who have a history with only releasing new bikes every few years. The bikes they make are made to last and usually have some very individual features that make them category winners. The DV9 is no exception..
The DV9 is a carbon hardtail designed to accommodate 29 inch tyres up to 2.6 inches wide with a fork ranging from 100mm to 120mm. And it only weights ~1210g depending on your frame size. This allows you to build a super lightweight XC race bike or a fun and agile trail bike.
I’ve never owned an all out XC race bike so I decided to aim for a sub 10kg bike weight on this build. However I’m also a downhill rider at heart and therefore needed to be realistic with the bikes durability and also longevity as my go to bike for coaching and guiding. There fore I chose to run an older spec Fox 34 fork with a Fit Grip damper as they are only 100g heavier and a fifth of the cost of the much more expensive Step Cast version. They are also set at 120mm travel to maximise grip and comfort. The ease of changing the compression damping with a twist to lock out isn’t going to be a limiting factor for me. The fork contains 4 volume tokens with around 70psi in the fork. This feels very plush compared to my previous hardtail.
The wheels were a tricky choice. I planned to use the standard Kore wheels I had from my previous 29er which have extra grippy and wide downhill casing WTB tyres for the majority of trail riding as this bike can take up to 2.6 tyres. However I asked Tyred n’ Cranky to build up a wheel set for racing only. Using an older set of non-boost Hope Pro 2 Evo hubs converted to boost (thanks to some custom adaptors from DK Racing, laced onto a set of Ibis 729 carbon rims, we have a sub 1700g wheel set. Specced with 2.25 width Maxxis Aspen tyres they roll incredibly fast! Both wheel sets are set tubeless and have a Nukeproof ARD fitted to the rear wheel as it only adds 100g. This will avoid a huge amount of hassle in the event of a flat tyre as the rear wheel can be ridden flat until you reach a technical zone to change wheel and also smooths out some of the trail chatter that can be experienced on a hardtail bike.
The frame has a Hope headset fitted and a standard threaded bottom bracket. Both are reliable options and the bearings can easily be replaced. The Hope theme continues with the brakes. Hope tech 2 silver levers are paired with black Hope X2 calipers with 183mm rotors providing more than enough power and modulation for the wide range of trails this bike will ride on. A pre-loved Shimano XTR crankset mated with a standard 36 tooth chainring and a Stages Cycling left hand crank power meter reduce unnecessary weight and shifting is done by the reliable and cost effective XT 11 speed cassette, derailleur and shifter. A Funn chain guide helps retain the chain in the choppier terrain it’ll experience when riding ‘off piste’.
To keep the weight down I chose a Funn Black Label carbon handlebar cut down to 750mm. It has very little rise so it has taken me a while to get the correct number of spacers under the stem. That stem is a 35mm long stem for 31.8 width bars. Combined with the lightweight Funn bar to keep the handling quick and to avoid unnecessary vibrations.
Riding the bike uphill the difference compared to a steel bike is phenomenal! Its short chain stays make the bike feel responsive as it zips around. The ground that can be covered is astounding. It’s agile and very quick to accelerate. On a 25 minute XC loop I’ve knocked almost 4 minutes off the time it takes to complete. That’s a 16% decrease in time! Assuming I maintained the same fitness and the course conditions are the same of course. With the lightest wheels fitted this build comes in at 9.79kg! With the heavier wheels it’s a touch over 10.31kg. It could easily be reduced further for XC racing although it’d lose its versatility and comfort for XCM and all day trail rides.
Descending the bike has required a different approach. The Fox fork is very plush for only 120mm travel and I have found it prefers to hug the ground and absorb bumps. This enables you to hold a line very easily although the fork does dive in rough conditions and is tougher to pump through the terrain. Fitting more volume spacers has helped provide more progression but hasn’t made the bike too poppy or playful. The rear end doesn’t flex much so square edge bumps are brutal unless you pick the most smooth and efficient lines to maintain your speed. The DV9 remains very balanced when jumping in the air and is easy to control when doing a manual thanks to the short rear chain stays. Overall this bike is excellent bike for trail riding or hardcore XC and marathon racing!