Is it a Gravel Bike? Andy’s Drop Bar 8-Speed 1996 Ibis Mojo

“Gravel bikes are just XC bikes from the 1990s.” “What is this, a 90s XC bike?” “Everything old is new again!”

Read any “gravel” bike review here and you’ll see some version of one of these statements in the comments section. People love to say that modern gravel bikes are just mountain bikes from the 1990s. Well, I hate to break it to ya but they’re not. They might be the same in that a 1996 Lemond road bike is like a 2020 Specialized Roubaix. It has two wheels, a crank, bars, seatpost, and a saddle, plus a lot of other parts but let’s be honest, nuanced bike design is a lot of what we cover here at the Radavist.

This is a 1996 Ibis Mojo built up like a “gravel bike” and yeah, it might be similar in spirit but there’s a lot going on here. Let’s take a closer look…

Andy works at Argonaut Cycles. He’s been a bike mechanic for 20 years and like many cyclists, he loves to tinker. When Ben from Argonaut gave Andy this Ibis Mojo, which Ben bought when it was new in 1996, Andy wanted to make it into a drop-bar bike but as you can imagine, that took some tricky problem-solving.

For starters, the drivetrain took a bit of wizardry to make work. The M952 cranks originally came as a triple. The inner two rings were removed, leaving the outer, bigger ring. The XTR 10 speed cassette was converted to 8-speed by removing various cogs, and finally, a SRAM Red short cage derailleur was machined down to clear the new, longer M3 limit screw. Those Force shifters work with the rear mech and believe it or not, the whole system operates flawlessly.

I love, love, love bikes like this, and Andy’s had a lot of fun building it up. Kudos to giving an old bike a new life!