The Ibex Maroc 29er has multiple personality disorder – but it’s the most wonderful disorder a mountain bike can have!
Any bike that shows up on my doorstep is bound to get the snot kicked out of it. The only question is whether or not it’ll get up and beg for more.
I have put well over 400 miles on the Maroc over the last 3 months, and have ridden it on trails all across the nation. I thrashed epic alpine rides in Crested Butte, Colorado (check out one of those ride reports here), punished it on my local trails in the mountains of North Georgia, and raced it in an endurance race in Sumter National Forest, South Carolina.
Over the course of my testing I’ve destroyed 1 WTB Laserdisc 29er wheel, 2 SRAM X-9 derailleurs, 2 derailleur hangers, and 1 jockey wheel. Despite all of this abuse, the Ibex Maroc got up off the ground, dusted itself off, and asked for more!
Personality #1: Lightweight Race Whip
As I recently demonstrated, the Maroc 29er is light enough and fast enough right out of the box to be competitive on the race course! The carbon fiber frame, carbon bars, carbon seat post, WTB Wolverine and WTB Nano tires, and X-9 2×10 build all contribute to the low stock weight.
As I mentioned in my initial review, my 16.9″ Maroc weighs in at just 24.82 pounds with a cheap pair of Wellgo SPD pedals installed. A number of crucial upgrades could drop this number by 2-3 pounds quickly:
- Lightweight Eggbeater pedals
- Tubeless conversion
- Lighter wheelset
The first two upgrades are fairly inexpensive, and while the third may cost more money, it would really help shed weight where it counts. If you really want to make this bike go anorexic, there are any number of parts that you can continue to upgrade. With a frame that only weighs 1,050 grams (2.31 pounds), the sky really is the limit!
While there are components that could be upgraded, whenever I am out riding the Maroc, either in an endurance race or just in a fast-paced group ride, I never feel like there is one single component that I can point at and say that it is holding me back. This bike was well-planned and features an excellent build. I’ve even had several friends remark that I climb way faster on this bike than on any other rig in my shed. No, the only thing that ever holds me back when riding the Maroc is my personal fitness–the amount of time I do (or do not) spend out on the bike.
Personality #2: Aggressive Trail Bike
While I do go on a lot of fast-paced rides, the majority of my time on the bike isn’t competing in races… it’s just riding around on trails. To that end, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Maroc 29er is a very capable trail bike!
A number of factors contribute to the Maroc’s general trail-worthiness. As maddslacker astutely pointed out, the Maroc sports a 70 degree headtube angle, which is rather slack for a hardtail. Even so, the Maroc still climbs superbly, while the 70 degree headtube allows it to descend like a demon!
To guard against rocks and random trail debris, the bottom of the downtube and chainstays are Kevlar-reinforced. Any worry that you might have about destroying this carbon frame from a random rock hit should be easily assuaged!
You can see the Kevlar weave (the tan color on the underside) through the outer clear coat.
A few critical components help the Maroc perform admirably as a trail-attack bike. First up, the carbon fiber Race Face Next handlebar measures a glorious 685 mm wide with a nice, low rise. This provides precision handling at high speeds and a comfortable posture when descending steep slopes. I have to be honest, I’m a big-bar-lover, and I think the wide Race Face Next is perfect for this trail application!
The Rock Shox Reba RLT tapered 100 mm fork handles suspension duties and performs perfectly in all sorts of chunky conditions. I’ve ridden a couple of 29ers with 80 mm forks, and 3 inches of travel never seems like enough squish to my trail sensibilities. Bump it up to a 4 inch fork like the Reba RLT, though, and in my book, that’s just about perfect for a hardtail 29er! It’s enough travel to absorb all sorts of chunder-inducing ‘nast without harshing the climbs. Also, the Reba RLT features a mechanical pop-lock on the handlebar for easy-access remote lock out.
Many hardtails just run 160 mm rotors front and back. The Maroc, however, features a nice big 185 mm rotor up front to provide maximum stopping power while bombing at speeds. Yes, it’s obviously a bit heavier than a 160, but I really appreciated the additional stopping power during epic descents in the mountains of Colorado and north Georgia.
I’ve ridden a number of 29er hardtails with rotors that felt severely undergunned… not so with the Maroc!
The Maroc 29er comes stock with a WTB Wolverine 2.2″ tire up front and a WTB Nano 2.1″ tire in the rear. As I mentioned in my initial review, the choice of the Nano 2.1 is due to the tight rear tire clearance between the rear chain stays. While the Nano doesn’t rub, it still runs very close to the stays.
Out on the trail, though, this tire combination is definitely aggressive enough to tackle some serious terrain. The 2.2″ Wolverine is surprisingly aggressive for being so lightweight, and while the Nano is the most aggressive tire that will fit on the rear of the bike, it tracks true through a surprising amount of varied terrain.
SRAM X-9 2×10
While this is my first time on SRAM’s X-9 2×10 group, I’ve spent a significant amount of time on their X-7 2×10 and X-9 3×9.
Color, Tube Shape, and Other Details
The tube shape and general attention to detail is truly the icing on the cake. Riding a mountain bike that performs superbly is one thing… riding a mountain bike that performs superbly and looks good doing it is just that much better!
The naked carbon look is definitely “in” right now, and I love the stealthy black with the red highlights from the X-9 group.
The large curved tubes definitely add to the aesthetic appeal. Where the color and graphics end, the curves and cleanliness of the internal cable routing take over.
Finally, Ibex spared no expense and included a custom stem cap and custom head badge (not a decal).
Negatives, what negatives? This is such an excellent bike that it is hard to complain about anything!
Nevertheless, it is worth noting (as I mentioned in my “on-test” blog post) that the clearance in the rear chainstays is very tight.
And while I think the Nano provides excellent traction for such a low-profile tire, after 400+ miles it is already showing significant wear:
Before / After
I suppose that’s the trade-off, though: tackier rubber = shorter life span. It’s a tough choice, but with the performance that the Nano has been giving me, I think Ibex made the right choice.
In my opinion, the Ibex Maroc 29er is everything that a 29er hardtail should be: lightweight and fast, but at the same time aggressive, and more than capable of holding its own against some rowdy singletrack and equally rowdy riders! In spite of the issue with the rear tire clearance between the chainstays, this is one mountain bike that I could see myself riding for a very long time!
Many thanks to Ibex for loaning me the Maroc 29er for review!
To view the large images, click on the thumbnail, then click on the thumbnail again on the next page and you’ll be there.