Two of the biggest names in the industry have recently taken the scalpel to two of their most beloved, abuse proof designs. The Ripley LS Special Blend Complete Mountain Bike combines Ibis' reimagined 29er chassis with Shimano's re engineered XT M8000 drivetrain a match made in trail heaven. The Ripley LS enjoys some trickle down from the general all mountain trend that's engulfing the industry, and the new XT is basically a scrappier, heavier version of Shimano's top tier XTR race kit. We've been relying on XT's various iterations for years, so the newest version will feel a bit like coming home. The Ripley LS sees some pretty radical changes, though, bringing it in line with the trend of 29er platforms styling on mid to big hit terrain. The two little initials tacked onto the Ripley LS may seem innocuous, but they've got some outsized importance. LS is an initialism for Longer Slacker, a pair of awkwardly free floating modifiers that apply primarily to the top tube length, which gains 15mm, and the head tube angle, which loses almost two degrees. The effects of these changes are felt throughout the frame in the form of a wheelbase that increases from the standard Ripley's 1,125mm to the LS's 1,167. Combined with a head tube angle that drops from 69. 2 to 67. 5 degrees, that bigger footprint empowers those of us who have already been treating the Ripley as a baby enduro sled. As Ibis puts it, the LS modifications take the Ridley from sporty to gnarly. Other than those geometry changes, this is still the classic Ripley that we've been beating the hell out of across all manner of terrain. The construction process remains the same, beginning with an internal bladder that's wrapped in a monocoque carbon layup that keeps the carbon fabric intact through joints. The precision of this method means that no additional molds or fillers are needed to keep the frame light and strong. The Ripley LS's swingarm and clevis are still filled with foam glass microsphere c...