Staff Bike Check: Neil's Ibis HD6

Ibis HD6 in Innerleithen

Shop Manager, Mountain Bike Guide, Dirt School Coach, and long term local trail builder, Neil probably knows the trails of the Tweed Valley as well as anyone out there, and is out riding them all year round for both work and fun. Safe to assume then, that he can put together a bike that will be a good fit for the varied demands of our local riding.

TVB: Ok, let’s start with the basics. How tall are you and what size HD6 did you go for?

Neil: I’m 5,10 and went with a size Medium. I’m between Medium and Large on the size chart but I find going with the slightly smaller size helps me get weight onto the front tire, prevents the reach getting out of hand when the trail is steep and the bars drop away, and also allows better range of motion to weight shift and work the bike. 

Neil riding Cresta run on the Ibis HD6

TVB: How are you finding the HD6 so far?

Neil: I’m loving it. It’s the first mixed wheel size bike I’ve owned and I wasn’t sure how that would go but so far so good! The easier climbing gears are very noticeable immediately and it seems to get into a change of direction more easily than a full 29er bike. It climbs really well with good traction, but doesn’t rely on the shock lockout and it’s noticeably light for an enduro bike. Descending it’s just nicely neutral, has plenty of support and is very easy to preload and unweight. It’s rare for me to get on a new bike and just feel comfortable immediately so it’s a very positive start indeed. 

Neil riding the Cresta berms at Innerleithen on the Ibis HD6

TVB: Talk me through the thinking behind your build. This clearly isn’t a standard bike.

Neil: It’s a bit of a mix! I’ve picked some new parts to try, brought a load of parts  from my previous bike that I especially liked and plugged the gaps with some spares and borrowed bits. As usual for me, the goal is to build something totally reliable, comfortable to ride and simple to work on, but without adding excess weight where it's not needed. 

Neil Ibis HD6 in Innerleithen after riding

TVB: Cockpit parts all moved across from your previous bike?

Neil: Yeah, a straight swap over. I just moved the full setup across and it’s bang on for the HD6 too. The Burgtec Alloy bars work perfectly for me in shape and I’m pretty settled on 760mm as my preferred width. They’re wide enough to provide decent stability at speed without limiting range of motion in the tight or steep sections. Mine are 30mm rise, which happily seems to play nicely with the HD6 and give a bar height that works well for me. 

Burgetc Enduro Stem on Neils Ibis HD6

As with my last bike, the 50mm stem is proving comfortable again. The slightly longer stem opens up a little room on the Medium frame compared to the stock 40mm option and I prefer the steering feel. It does depend on the bike but I often find the very short stems (under 40mm) can make the steering feel a bit light and hyperactive. 

Grips are Bartender Pro, I really like the size and amount of cushion. They might seem like a small part but they’re what connects you to your bike, so getting them right or wrong can make a big difference.

TVB: Reserve Carbon wheels on this build, bit of a change for you?

Neil: They are, I’ve been alloy wheels only for a few bikes in a row now so this set is a bit of an experiment for me. They’ve come from Andy Barlow’s retired Bronson and despite having already covered more than 5000km+ are still perfectly true with all the original spokes intact. It’s quite an amazing testament to their durability and we’ll see how many more km they rack up on this bike! I’m liking them so far to ride, not noticing any extra harshness and they definitely cut a bit of weight compared to most of the tough alloy sets. 

Maxxis Assegai tire on Reserve Carbon rim

TVB: What tyres and pressures do you run?

Neil: Nothing too unusual here. I’ve got a Maxxis Assegai in 2.5 out front, which has been my go to front tire ever since I first tried one. They’re incredibly predictable, grippy and easy to ride. I always use the Maxxgrip versions for the front tire on my longer travel bikes, I think it’s the best rubber out there on root and rock when the ground isn’t perfectly dry.

Assegai Exo+ Maxxgrip Tire

Rear is a Maxxis DHR II which must be up there for best rear tire ever made. Maxxterra compound to help with rolling speed and EXO+ again to keep weight and resistance down during climbs and mellower descents. I rode the whole of last year on EXO+ tires and only had one small cut (which I plugged) so it seems tough enough for me, at least for local use.  

TVB: You weren’t tempted by some new brakes for the new bike?

Neil: Just no need! I’ve been a Hope brake fan for a long time and the Tech 4 E4s on this bike are the best ones yet. Their lever has a better range of adjustment and modulation than anything else and the power of the E4 calliper is more than enough for me. Compared to the old Tech3 brake which was my previous favourite, they’re both more powerful and easier to control, so a big step forward.Durability seems every bit as good as ever, I think I bled these once in a year of use on my previous bike and spare parts support is exceptional. 

Hope Tech4 brake on Burgtec Enduro Bar

I’m on 200mm floating rotors front and rear, and mostly ride the Red (resin) pads as long as it's not too wet out. For full mud and winter conditions, I switch to Gold (sintered) pads for the extra durability and bite.

TVB: How about your drivetrain? Still not tempted to go to Wireless?

Neil: Still a cable groupset for me. Easy to fix, cheaper, lighter and I can't forget to charge it! The SRAM X01 Eagle group I used on the last bike was super tough and after a year of use I can’t fault it so I’ve just kept things the same again. 

SRAM X01 Eagle cable drivetrain

The crankset I just swapped over from my old bike. The new Hope Evo crank is just completely bulletproof, doesn’t visually wear (in silver) and is barely any heavier than a carbon option.

Hope chainset with Burgtec chainring

Pedals are Burgtec Penthouse V5 which follow the same philosophy. They’re almost infinitely rebuildable with great support and the shape and size work really well for me. 

TVB: Ok, now into the nitty gritty, let’s talk suspension. Talk us through the setup for your fork and shock.

Neil: It’s a 180mm Fox 38 Factory fork on the HD6 which is the most travel I’ve had out front since I owned a downhill bike and that was a long time ago! I was initially unsure whether it might feel too much but I can’t find any negative so far. They don’t seem to make handling the bike any harder than before and are by some distance the smoothest and calmest single crown fork I’ve ridden through rough ground. I’m extremely impressed with them so far. 

Fox 38 Fork detail

I removed all the tokens after the first few rides, which is definitely going to be how they stay, as it’s giving me better use of travel without having to go too soft on spring rate. At the moment I’ve got them set up with a touch more sag than I would normally use, though I still want to experiment with some slightly firmer settings again now the tokens are out.

Fox X2 Factory shock on Ibis HD6

Rear suspension is handled by a Factory X2 in 230x65mm. Setup proved very easy this time (I had one on my previous bike also) and once again I’m enjoying the extremely supple ride quality and ability to fine tune the shock. This Ibis comes with quite a light tune, so I’ve gradually added some extra LSC for a bit more support and stability when pedalling and pumping the bike. Despite a bit of an online reputation for unreliability, my last X2 was perfect so hopefully this one is the same! Sag is set at just the normal 30% and that seems to work well everywhere, with enough support to drive off while still being able to use full travel on the bigger hits.

TVB: So, sounds pretty good overall?

It's amazing so far. The Ibis had a big act to follow, but right from the start it’s been a pleasure to ride. I’ve rarely got up to speed so quickly on a new machine and it already feels like I’ve ridden it for ages, which I think is the best compliment I can give a new bike. 

Neil riding Green Wing at Innerleithen on the Ibis HD6

Neil’s full build details below:

Frame: Ibis HD6, Size Medium, Emerald Green

Fork: Fox 38 Factory 180mm

Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory, 230x65mm

Wheelset: Reserve 30HD I9 1:1 Torch hub, XD driver, 6 bolt

Tyres: Front: Maxxis Assegai, 29 x 2.5WT, EXO+, MaxxGrip, 18psi

Rear:  Maxxis DHRII, 27.5 x 2.4WT, EXO+, MaxxTerra, 22psi

Brakes: Hope Tech 4 E4, 200mm floating rotors, Red Hope resin pads

Cassette: SRAM X01 Eagle, 10-52t

Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle

Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle

Cranks: Hope EVO, 170mm 

Pedals: Burgtec Penthouse mk5

Chainring: Burgtec, 30t

Handlebar: Burgtec Ride Wide alloy, 760mm, 30mm rise, 35mm clamp

Stem: Burgtec MK3 Enduro, 50mm reach, 35mm clamp

Grips: Burgtec Bartender Pro

Seatpost: One Up 180mm drop, 34.6mm

Saddle: Burgtec The Cloud

Mudguard: Mudhugger EVO Bolt-on Long

Suspension settings:

Shock: 165 psi (21mm sag)

LSC: 8 clicks from full open

HSC: 2 clicks from open

LSR: 12 clicks from closed

HSR: 2 clicks from closed 

Fork: 64 psi, 0 tokens

LSC:  5 clicks from open 

HSC: 1 clicks from open

LSR: 12 clicks from closed 

HSR: 3 clicks from closed 


Interested in an HD6? Our Innerleithen shop has Medium and Large demo bikes and we’re always happy just to answer any questions you might have, whether that’s in person, over the phone, or by email. 

☎️ 01896 831 429


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