Small and perfectly formed
In 1980 a young hippie living on the US west coast read an article about this new “Clunker Bike” movement that was happening in various places around the country, especially in Marin County, California, and Crested Butte, Colorado.
In amongst doing what hippies did in California at that time, Scot Nicol was intrigued by the article as it turned out he had been riding these ‘paperboy’ bikes since the mid-sixties. In fact, by 1976, he had already converted his 1947 Excelsior to a geared bike with cantilever brakes and like any young rider, rode it in the dirt and drifted corners whenever he could.
With no plan and no money but bucket loads of hippie energy and bike movement inspiration, what followed in the Spring of 1981 was a frame-building exercise that forged the Ibis bike company we know today; unique, innovative, and with lots of soul.
As Scot says, “Bikes represent your first taste of freedom… the second I get on a bike, any problems or challenges fade into the background. I often think that if more people rode bikes more often, our world would be a much better place.”
Fast forward to the present and Ibis is now a well-known and highly regarded bike manufacturer, still focused on the craft of bike building and innovation. Coupled with a belief in the opportunities that bikes represent and a west coast attitude, they continue to do things their way, skillfully negotiating the obstacles of a global marketplace while spearheading all that’s good about riding bikes.
Their philosophy is perfectly encapsulated in their ‘Ibis Cycles Enduro race team’. With pioneering rider Robin Wallner now managing the program, he leads an exceptional team, consisting of Zakarias Johansen, Raphaela Richter, and Cole Lucas. These three riders have the talent to compete at the sharp end of any competition, but sit down with the team, and you will notice something else.
When you are on the road for large parts of the year, extracted from your creature comforts, whether you like it or not your teammates become a new family, and it’s here the success of the Ibis Cycles Enduro team lies. Traveling with friends, talking set up, living together, experiencing new cultures, sharing many highs and lows, track walk banter, etc. The list goes on and on, but the core and what inspired Scot Nicol stays the same; the bike movement started all those years ago because friends were out riding bikes, wanting to have fun and share things.
This season, after more than thirty years of independence, the Enduro World Series joined the fold of Union Cycliste Internationale as an official category of the UCI Mountain Bike World Series. While Enduro racing may have gone mainstream, the Ibis Cycles Enduro team continues to be a group of individuals who do things in a different way. Because for Ibis, one thing is a constant and something that goes all the way back to Marin County in the 1970s. Regardless of your bike or your training, whether it’s hero dirt, roots or rock slabs, the most enjoyable ride will always be the one you share.
The Ibis way is to approach racing from a broader perspective; when you get the whole right, the seconds will follow. Ask any of the team riders about how to deal with the pressure of competition or how to get the best speed on course and the answer will almost always be the same; relax, ride with a smile and the rest follows.
The Ibis Cycles Enduro race team may be small, but they are perfectly formed.
Photos by: Niklas Wallner