Road Test: Ibis DV9

Feb 20th, 2024

This article first appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

During my test period with the updated Ibis DV9, I drove past a Subaru adorned with a bumper sticker reading, “Life’s too short to ride a hardtail.” First of all: great bumper sticker. Second of all: I’m not so sure about that.

The DV9 started life in 2018 as a budget-friendly cross-country-adjacent hardtail inspired by Ibis CEO Hans Heim’s desire to “build a light and fast bike that a high school student could pay off with a summer job.” Specifically, Heim was thinking of his daughter Lili, a high school student who raced and ripped. Completes started at a legitimately amazing $2,199 — a bargain by any measure. Including mine. I reviewed the original DV9 in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Adventure Cyclist and came away impressed by its versatility and value. But hmmm, January 2020 — didn’t something happen not long after? We’ll get to that soon enough.

The new DV9 2.0, launched in February 2023, sets out to mimic the inspiration behind the original, but as with everything else in the post-pandemic world, it feels just a bit … different.

road test ibis dv9 review

“Light and fast” is still true, though. The DV9 is both, with my SLX-equipped, size large tester tipping a home scale at 24.7 lbs. without pedals. It rides light too, with a stiff rear end transferring every bit of power to the rear tire, if not the ground. Ibis shod the DV9 with Maxxis Rekon Race tires, light, fast-rolling cross-country rubber that made waves a few years ago when Nino Shurter pedaled prototypes of the “big” 2.4in. Rekon Races to his eighth world championship at the rocky and rooty Mont-Sainte-Anne course. Well, if they’re good enough for Nino, they’re far too good for me. And indeed, while I was blown away by the straight-line braking performance, I found the semi-slicks too slick in anything other than perfect hero dirt and struggled to keep the rear hooked up on rooty or rocky climbs. I suspect Nino didn’t have this issue.

If it were my personal bike, I’d quickly swap the tires for something a bit wider and with more tread, which brings up the other problem with the revised DV9: Fox’s new 34 Step-Cast fork. In the spirit of the bike, it’s light — a hair under 1,600 grams thanks to a narrowed chassis made possible by Fox swapping the “steps” in the name to the inside of the legs. This means you’re limited to a 180mm front rotor (no big deal) and a 2.4in. tire (big deal). The original DV9 sported 29 x 2.6in. rubber, which complemented the stiff and fast frame by offering a little extra damping along with gobs of traction. To me, the cost in grams and rolling resistance was well worth it to blunt the edges of a bike I found a little on the sharp side the first time around. With the narrower wheels — Ibis’s 933 rims laced to Ibis-branded hubs — and tires, the V2 DV9 feels even sharper than its predecessor despite a one degree–slacker headtube angle.

If this all sounds a bit harsh, rest assured I’m not grading this bike on a curve. After testing the original bike, I proceeded to deeply regret not buying one until, well, until this one showed up on my doorstep nearly four years later. That’s not to say I didn’t shop for one — quite the contrary. But as pandemic-snarled supply chains put pressure on nearly every potential purchase, the DV9 quickly became unobtanium, its relative value and potential across a range of terrain making it the ultimate COVID bike. 

road test ibis dv9 review

Before the end of 2020, the DV9 was sold out — for years

Between port delays, parts delays resulting in not-quite-ready-to-ship bikes, and 2020’s unexpected bike boom, manufacturers making everything from carbon hardtails to reflectors were scrambling. And in the case of the DV9 it meant that the V1 edition sold through multiple years-worth of inventory and wouldn’t get another run of frames. It didn’t return to retailers until V2 launched in February 2023.

Like pretty much everything else in the world, it’s more expensive than its predecessor, with framesets now starting at $1,499 instead of $999 and Deore or SRAM GX builds kicking off at $3,499 instead of the original’s truly budget SRAM NX build at $2,199. Maybe that uptick in entry cost siphons a bit of magic from the second gen bike; maybe other, more interesting options have cooled my jets for the DV9; or maybe the bike really isn’t much sharper and spendier than it was back in pre-pandemic times and it’s the rider who’s dulled a bit. That could very well be. I tested this DV9 in the final weeks up to and the months after the birth of twins, so between sleep deprivation and an extremely strict “do NOT crash” mandate, a pointy ride deserved a better pilot.

Load up the Ibis, though, and perhaps it’s a better all-rounder? The DV9 has consistently shown up at the start lines of fast bikepacking events around the world like the Tour Divide, Arizona Trail Race, Hellenic Mountain Race, and Silk Road Mountain Race. And if riding fast and super-light across a continent isn’t your thing, you could always load it up for a weekend — just don’t pack the kitchen sink. Like its predecessor, the new DV9 has a small main triangle (smaller even, thanks to a controversial kink in the top tube that either a: improves standover, allows for longer dropper posts, and is an homage to the brand’s namesake bird, or b: makes the bike look like it’s begun to melt) and will never swallow up weeks of luggage with aplomb. Singletrack overnights? Absolutely. Though if you opt for the “Muddy Waters” colorway, prepare to do some serious heli taping or risk rubbing the matte finish shiny where bag straps attach. It’s a very handsome color in person, but a matte finish and bags are never going to be an entirely happy combo.

road test ibis dv9 review

The SLX build kit is excellent, perhaps the sweet spot in Shimano’s range with more shifting precision and less weight than Deore at significantly less cost than XT, and Bike Yoke posts remain the best-feeling droppers in the business. Ibis-branded cockpit parts — including a carbon bar at this spec — and wheels are high quality and low fuss, and WTB’s Silverado saddle is a crowd-pleaser for a huge range of riders. If it were my money, I’d probably spend the $500 extra for SLX over the SRAM GX build for my preferred brakes and Shimano’s tolerance for shifting under load.

So then: the bike is too stiff, too fast, too restricted by its fork, and too expensive? Not exactly. The “shreddy” hardtail is stiff, fast, restricted, and pricey, but it’s also a very, very fun bike. It just needs a very specific rider who values it for what it is. In my review of the V1 DV9, I opined that with the beefier 2.6in. rubber, it could be a one-bike quiver for a budget-conscious rider. I don’t think that’s still true of the new version — it would be a fine stablemate to a trail bike or even a dedicated bikepacking rig, but unless you really want to cross some country at speed, you’re going to be frustrated by its cross-country DNA. 

Life may not be too short to ride a hardtail, but it might be too short to buy a DV9 if you’re looking for a (relatively) affordable, do-it-all mountain bike/light bikepacking rig. The good news is that Ibis happens to make a bike that fits that bill perfectly. An SLX-equipped Ripley AF is the exact same price, about six pounds heavier, and a better option for most riders in most cases. It’s the kind of value buy the DV9 used to be. 

But if a DV9 comes up for sale on my local craigslist, life might be too short not to buy it.

Ibis DV9


Best uses: Light and fast bikepacking, XC mountain biking

Price: $3,999

Weight: 24.7 lbs. (without pedals)

Available sizes: S, M, L, XL

Size tested: L



Frame: Carbon fiber, Universal Derailer Hanger

Fork: Fox Float 34 Performance Series, Step-Cast, Grip damper, 120mm

Cassette: Shimano SLX, 10-51T

Derailer: Shimano SLX 12spd

Handlebar: Ibis Carbon Hi-Fi, 800mm

Seatpost: Bike Yoke Revive dropper, 185mm

Rims: Ibis 933 Aluminum

Hubs: Ibis

Tires: Maxxis Recon Race 29 x 2.4in.

Brakes: Shimano SLX hydraulic disc

Notable Geometry

Head tube angle: 66.5°

Seat tube angle: 75°

Chainstays: 425mm

Reach: 470mm

Stack: 635mm

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