The early 1980s in California saw many early mountain bike brands begin their trail to off-road dominance. 1981 was the year Ibis came into being. Scot Nicol was hugely involved in the California mountain bike scene, he set up shop, in an old greenhouse, near the town of Mendocino.
Before he set up his shop, Scot was a hippy in the 1970’s. Hippies had their own magazines and one magazine, CoEvolution quarterly ran a story about the ‘Clunker Bike’ movement in the US. Clunker bikes were the early mountain bikes and Scot was interested enough to make contact with the people featured in the article, these included Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher – they met up for a ride in Colorado and the new mountain bike movement gained pace.
Fly like an Ibis…
When it came time to name his fledgling bike brand, Scot thumbed through a Bird Encyclopaedia scouting for names. Why birds? Because they are light and fly… The Ibis also looks incredibly graceful in flight… The Ibis is also known as the ‘Bin-Chicken’ in Australia due to their ability to use their long beaks to gain access to food left in rubbish bins. However, I think Scot Nicol was more likely thinking of the graceful Ibis in flight, not the ability to scavenge half-eaten fast food from a bin.
Ibis were known for having fun along the way – as well as producing beautiful bikes. A great example is the steel tubing they named ‘Moron’ because it had More On the ends – butted tubing. This was at the time when Columbus were producing ‘Genius’ steel tubing. The brand also became well known for their ‘hand-job’, this was a tiny sculpture-like hand, crafted from cast bronze to hold the rear brake cable on their steel bikes of the 90’s – exquisite!
Ups and Downs
Founder, Scot Nicol, sold Ibis to an investment group in the year 2000, they went bankrupt 20 months later. In 2005 Ibis took flight again with Scot Nicol joining Hans Heim, formerly of Bontrager and Santa Cruz bikes – re-launching at the Interbike Show.
Today Ibis is a much revered brand, having navigated through the ups and downs of the industry for forty years. The brand are primarily focussed on well-equipped All-Mountain and Trail bikes featuring carbon fibre and aluminium frames. The Hakka gravel bike is a versatile, light-weight, do-it-all bike. The Hakka is also a great reminder of where Ibis began, rigid off-road bikes designed for practicality and above all else, fun..
See the full range of Ibis bikes here