A few months ago I traded-in my Orbea Wild for a new Ibis Oso e-bike. This was a big change. Those of you who know me understand that there’s a special place in my heart for Orbea bikes. Their geometry & performance numbers just seem to match my concept of a perfect bike. But, I needed to put an Oso through its paces so that we can tell interested customers about its strengths & weaknesses. I’ll be honest, I was nervous to try something new. I quickly learned that I had nothing to worry about.
The Frame’s Design & Performance:
Ibis uses top-notch carbon to craft their frames. Its large swing arm is built to handle just about anything; there is absolutely NO flex when railing into hard corners or blasting rock gardens. I’ve railed this sled off ledges, over roots & down hollers as hard as possible & the Oso just eats it up. But, don’t let the fact that the Oso is a great descender fool you into believing that it’s not a great climber. The DW Link design still ensures a snappy transmission of power to the ground. Like its smaller siblings, the Oso puts your cranking power directly to the ground, motivating you up hills & over obstacles with ease. The rear swing arm’s configuration is a real divider; either people really like it or they don’t.
Regardless of how you like the aesthetics, the Oso’s design is as much function as it is form. That big rear swing is torsionally strong, like that of a moto-cross motorcycle. That arm also houses a newly revised DW Link. As noted above, it still facilitates one hell of an efficient pedal stroke. But aside from efficiency & strength, the rear suspension set-up is even more impressive in how it handles the square-edged rocks that frequent NWA’s trails. I’ve always thought that the Ibis bikes were a phenomenal all-around bike. If there’s one complaint that I ever had, it’s that the rear suspension hangs a bit in chunky trail segments. Most Ibis owners know this & are willing to deal with it because of the huge list of benefits that these bikes bring to the table. This concerned me before I rode the Oso. I love blasting rocks & was loath to give up a suspension that was not perfect for this.
My concerns were unfounded. Completely. Seriously.
The Oso’s newly-revised DW Link provides a slightly rearward axle path. That kinematic makes ALL the difference. The rearward axle path enables the rear wheel to move up & over objects that the wheel encounters as it rolls down the trail. Riders will find it easier to maintain speed on their descents, even through the rough stuff. In fact, this suspension works SO WELL that I expect to see some variation of it on other Ibis bikes soon…(contingent upon frame shapes & mounting points).
Finally, the Oso is built for the hard riding that riders will feel comfortable dishing out while on it. Consequently, the bike is ready for anyone to modify it with a triple-clamp style DH fork or a longer travel shock with a coil. So, let your imagination run wild because the Oso will enable you to have your cake & eat it too.
The Drive System:
No e-bike review would be complete without discussing the drive system’s details. A Bosch Performance Line CX motor multiplies your cranking power & smoothly puts it to the ground. The Oso’s powerful, yet quiet, 83NM drive unit makes it easier to hear the nature around you . . . or hear what the bike is doing. Power is supplied by a 750watt battery in medium & larger bikes. Small sized bikes use a 625watt cell. Bosch’s CX motor engages smoothly, without the herky-jerky action of many brands’ previous motors. The color display is phenomenal. However, I find the numerous buttons on the control unit a bit awkward to use while bumping down the trail. For me, this is not too big a deal because I’m kind of a “set it & forget it” kind of guy. But, if you regularly toggle between displays or assistance levels, this unit will take a bit of practice to master.
Where The Rubber Hits The Trail: Riding The Oso
It’s all about how this mélange of parts, materials & geometries comes together to make the final soup. Is it tasteless broth or a full-on stew? My opinion: It’s one heck of a stew! I quickly oriented to the Oso. Some bikes can take weeks or months to really become part of you. Not so, for the Oso. Within days I felt comfortable “opening-up” the bike on descents. I believe that, on this bike, I’ve railed some trails in Little Sugar faster than I ever have. It descends so smoothly, so confidently, that I find myself approaching corners at speeds that would have previously drained blood to my toes. In those corners, the bike beds-in well, carving deeply & launching me out the far end quickly & smoothly. The Oso’s motor sits quite low. Occasionally, I smack it on obstacles. It’s taken me a bit to get used to the Bosch’s height. But that low slung height is also one of the reasons why the bike corners so well. That low break-over also helps it in the air. The Oso flies level & true. I never have to fight to keep it on the mark. It lands smoothly & with confidence-inspiring control.
My consensus: the Oso is a party on wheels.