A Grand Day Out With Rocky Mountain Bicycles

by
April 26, 2017

As part of our “A Grand Day Out With” series, we were recently treated to a visit by Jason Burkett from Greenover Sports; the UK distributor for Rocky Mountain. With a van full of demo bikes, Jason paid us a visit to come drink coffee, eat fish ‘n’ chips, and to show us through some of the bikes from the Rocky Mountain range.

Straight Outta Todmorden

We’re pretty lucky in Calder Valley when it comes to mountain biking. It’s an area well known for its strong mountain biking community, with a plethora of trails on offer both in and around Todmorden and further along the valley over in Hebden Bridge. Alongside a squiggly network of bridleways, rough 4WD tracks and packhorse trails, there is loads of variety on offer for those who want to string together a ride with loads of vertical gain, without ever having to stray too far from civilisation (though we use that term loosely – League Of Gentlemen was filmed in the ‘hood after all…)

Once we’d loaded up with caffeine, Jason unloaded bikes out of his van for Hannah, Ross and myself to get setup on. With a short 1.5-hour ride in mind, we set off from the office aboard our demo bikes to tackle one of my favourite local test loops that leaves straight from the front door of Singletrack Towers.

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The Pipeline plus bike from Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain Pipeline

Hannah and Ross had the opportunity to ride the Rocky Mountain’s latest fun-machine called the Pipeline. The Pipeline is Rocky’s 27.5+ full suspension trail bike, and it features 130mm of rear wheel travel combined with a 150mm travel fork up front. The front triangle of the Pipeline is actually the same as the Instinct 29er, though a specific rear-end has been used to accommodate 2.8in wide plus tyres.

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Rocky specs 27.5×2.8in Maxxis Rekon plus tyres on the Pipeline.

Rocky has spec’d Maxxis Rekon tyres front and rear on the Pipeline, with an intermediate tread pattern spread across a 2.8in wide casing. These have more beef to the tread blocks than a lot of other plus tyres on the market, which are often only designed for riding in Californian dust.

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The Ride-9 geometry adjustment chip on the Pipeline frame.

Using the same front triangle as the Instinct, the Pipeline also gets the Ride-9 geometry adjustment chip for the forward shock mount. By moving around the two square chips, the rider can alter both geometry (head angle and bottom bracket height) and suspension feel (progressive or linear). Our demo bike came setup in the goldilocks setting.

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Grease ports for the BC2 bushings on the Pipeline rocker link.

Rocky Mountain uses a combination of bushings and bearings in its rear suspension design, with the rocker link on the Pipeline featuring the former. The claim is that the bushing system delivers a lighter and stiffer pivot point, all while being easier to service too. For maintenance, grease ports are built into both pivots on the rocker link, so you can utilise a grease gun to pump fresh lubricating grease into the bushing.

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The Pipeline is built as a fun trail bike with 130mm rear travel, a 150mm travel fork, and geometry geared towards tackling rocky and rooty singletrack.

The Pipeline comes in five sizes from Small through to XX-Large, so it covers a broad spectrum of rider heights. Depending on the position of the Ride-9 chip, the head angle kicks out to 67.2° in the slackest setting (68.8° in the steepest), while the seat angle sits at 73.7° – 75.5°. Like other Rocky Mountain full suspension bikes that we’ve tested, the Pipeline frames size up small, with our Large test bike featuring a reach measurement of 422mm, which is now what you’d expect on a Medium frame size. So consider upsizing if you can.

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Looking for something a little lighter and tighter? That would be the Thunderbolt.

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt

The other test bike we had for our day out with Rocky Mountain was the Thunderbolt. Positioned between the Element XC race bike and the Pipeline, the Thunderbolt is a lightweight full suspension bike that pitched towards technical trail riders. It has 120mm of rear wheel travel and a 130mm travel fork, though unlike the Pipeline it’s built around regular 27.5in wheels.

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120mm of travel out back via the SmoothLink suspension design.

The suspension platform is the same as the Pipeline, Altitude and Element models, with a four-bar design using a pivot just forward of the rear 142x12mm thru-axle. Rocky calls this ‘SmoothLink’, and the kinematics have been tuned to minimise pedal feedback with the goal of providing snappy pedalling, and smooth bump response. Or at least, that’s what the tin says.

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A supple Fox Float EVOL rear shock controls the rear travel.

I rode the Thunderbolt with the Ride-9 chip in the “rad” setting, which basically puts the bike in its longest and most raked-out position. Despite Rocky listing the Thunderbolt in its XC category on the website (that’s so Canadian right?), the head angle for the bike in this position is 66.5°, which is damn slack for a short travel trail bike.

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Fox handlebar remote for controlling the rear shock compression settings.

Fox provides the suspension package here, with a Float EVOL rear shock out back controlling the 120mm of rear wheel travel. Rocky has also connected the shock up to the handlebar remote to allow for fingertip control of the Open-Medium-Firm compression settings.

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Being the BC Edition, this Thunderbolt uses a smooth Fox 34 fork up front, wider handlebars, and chunky Maxxis Minion tyres.

While we were out on the trail, we got the cameras rolling and went live via Facebook to see what you guys thought of the Pipeline and Thunderbolt trail bikes. You can check out that video below, where Jason takes us through some of the details of both bikes, and we give you a bit of an idea of our experiences from riding each bike.

Got a question about the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt or Pipeline? Then why not pop it into the comments section below, and we’ll do our best to answer them for you!