I like a fair amount of different bikes and bike related companies - for various reasons - however, I'm only an actual fan of a select few companies. To say you're a fan of a company may sound weird - then again maybe not. There's a few criteria that seems to permeate my list of favorites - make cool stuff, be run by people that "get it", and have sense of humor about it all.
One company on my list would be Ibis. Ibis was founded by Scot Nicol, back in the early days of mountain biking. Later, during the '90s, some would argue their "heyday", they came out with an incredible collection of bikes - mountain, trials, road, tandem, full suspension designs - really well done, ultra cool stuff, with a whacked sense of humor.
I don't have the dates off the top of head - and the intent of this post isn't to document Ibis history - but around 2000 or so, Ibis was sold to people looking to get into the bike industry. They failed big time and sank Ibis, much to the dismay of fans like me. With the end of Ibis, it joined Fat City and Bridgestone, creating a trio of dead companies that I really dug and thought contributed great stuff to the bike world.
Lucky for Ibis fans, a few years later Nicol resurrected Ibis with a few other smart folks. They've since gone all carbon and use the designed in USA and manufactured off shore business model. To be honest, at first that turned me off a bit to the new Ibis. However, after reading up and seeing the bikes in the flesh, uh carbon, I've since changed my mind. Welcome to the new world. To really prove the point, I bought a Ibis Silk Carbon road bike and it rides incredibly well. It compliments my old school '97 Ibis Hakkalugi, the most ridden bike out of my garage. I also owned a '88 (or so) Ibis Trials Comp that I recently sold off.
If I could afford it, a new Ibis Mojo would be in my garage, with maybe the new carbon Hakkalugi as well. That may be awhile off. A boy can dream though, can't he?
Over the years, Scot Nicol has become a bike industry icon, in a hip indie way, which is right up my alley. I had a chance to hit Interbike in 1995 and met Scot and John Castellano at the show. At the time, they were using Castellano's rear suspension design for the Ibis Bow Ti - a wild titanium bike with 6" of rear travel - with no pivots. Having 'em show me how the design worked was the highlight of the trip.
With all that, if you're not familiar with Ibis, check out the site and bikes. If you already know the Ibis deal, check out the redesigned site for the super cool illustrations. It's the not the usual bike site.
Then again, Ibis is not the usual bike company. I hope Ibis Phase II sticks around for many more years.