We’ve already brought you the news of
Rocky Mountain’s brand new SuziQ carbon fat bike, but there were some other tasty morsels on display at Eurobike from the premium Canadian bike company. As we mentioned previously, Rocky Mountain has been on quite the roll in the lead up to the company’s 2017 model year launch, having already unveiled the new Element 29in cross country race bike and the Slayer long-travel enduro bike.
However, this was the first time we’ve had the opportunity to see the new bikes in the flesh. And so with camera in hand, we got all up in the new bikes’ grills to give you a better look at what’s hot for the 2017 Rocky Mountain range.
The 2017 Rocky Mountain Element adds in some substantial updates over the outgoing frameset, which was starting to date a little alongside the competition. The new frame is lighter, sleeker and equipped with all the latest mod-cons to make it one of the most well-appointed XC trail bikes Rocky Mountain has ever produced.
Claimed weight for the new carbon frame is just 2250 grams including hardware and the rear shock. While many other brands quote their frame weights sans shock, we like that Rocky Mountain quotes frame weight with the shock, because it’s kind of hard to ride a full suspension mountain bike without one.
The shock still sits under the top tube, but the new Element features a redesigned forged alloy linkage. Also new is the move to sealed cartridge bearings rather than the ABC bushing design of old. We spoke with Rocky Mountain about this change, and it’s apparent that we’ll see future Rocky Mountain dual suspension bikes go this direction too. While the ABC pivots had their advantages, they required much higher manufacturing tolerances, and consumers also found them a bit fiddly to maintain.
Another new feature for the Element is the Ride9 system. This allows riders to adjust the geometry and suspension rate. You can setup the Element with a head angle between 69/70-degrees, and you can also adjust the suspension rate to be more progressive or more linear. Nice.
And how sleek is that new rear end? That’s a single-sided pivot on the chainstay, rather than the clevis-style pivot used on the old Element. Something that Rocky Mountain wasn’t discussing too much was a sneaky change in pivot location. Up until now, Rocky Mountain was using their ‘Smoothlink’ suspension design, which used a chainstay pivot above the line of the rear axle. That design was largely employed to get around Specialized’s FSR patent. However, that patent ran out recently, and it looks like Rocky Mountain have taken full advantage of it, and discreetly moved the chainstay pivot back down below the rear axle line. The difference? We’ll just have to ride one to find out, but with 100mm of rear wheel travel, it’s likely to be negligible.
Looks neat huh?
We love this paint job. It’s the ‘Team Edition’ paint job, which makes liberal use of the Canadian flag colours. Interesting side note: white is the heaviest paint to use on a bike, because it’s the thickest. As such, the Team Edition frame is 30 grams heavier than the other Element RSL carbon frames. Totally worth it but.
Redesigned internal cable routing for easier maintenance. Maple leaves as standard.
And a big ol’ port on the downtube where the cables pop out. This is an excellent change over the old Element, which had the cables coming out underneath the bottom bracket shell, which is a total dick-around when you have the bike in the workstand during cable replacement.
The rear brake line runs externally along the rear swingarm. This internal-cable-routing-through-the-main-triangle-and-external-routing-for-the-rear trend is one we noted on a lot of bikes at Eurobike. Also of note in the above picture is the addition of bottle cage mounts on the seat tube, which means the new Element RSL will take two bottle cages.
Geometry on the new Element RSL leans towards the trail end of the spectrum, with longer top tubes designed to pair with shorter stems. Being based in BC, Rocky Mountain have equipped the Element with a dropper post and wide bars for tackling the steep and technical local trails.
Fork travel sits at 120mm, and Rocky Mountain are speccing the bigger Fox 34 fork up front. That should offer more stability and confidence for riding technical mountain bike trails. If you’re searching for the lightest weight possible, you could always wang on a Fox 32 SC fork with 100mm of travel to ‘race up’ the Element. But that beefy carbon frame just looks so right with the 34mm fork on the front doesn’t it?
Just as we thought we’d exhausted all the drool we had, Rocky Mountain then showed us the new Slayer. Launched barely a fortnight ago, the new Slayer represents an entirely ground-up approach compared to the old Slayer.
With 165mm of rear wheel travel and a 170mm travel fork, the Slayer is built super burly for tackling the steepest and roughest of enduro trails. Rocky Mountain used to call this a ‘freeride’ bike, but that’s not fashionable anymore, and the Slayer is designed to be pedalled uphill too.
Like the Element, the new Slayer features a reworked suspension design that offers some of the cleanest lines going. The shock is fixed to the bottom bracket junction however, with a rocker link driving it from above. The reason? There’s more strength in this section of the frame for a big-hitting bike like the Slayer, it also helps to get the shock weight down lower (those Float X2 shocks are about half a kilo), and there’s also less need to squeeze in two water bottles into a bike like the Slayer.
Adjustable geometry comes via the Ride-4 chip. Unlike the Ride-9 system used on the Element and Altitude models, the Ride-4 system only affects geometry. It allows you to fine tune the head angle and bottom bracket height, without affecting the spring curve on the rear suspension.
No more clevis pivots on the Slayer’s rear end, with Rocky Mountain’s engineers weaving some magic with a single-sided pivot junction that keeps those clean lines.
It’s almost like the pivot isn’t really there at all!
A lack of a seat stay bridge means there’s masses of tyre and mud clearance in the Slayer. In fact, Rocky Mountain have advertised that the Slayer is 26+ compatible, so you could actually fit in old-school 26in wheels with super wide rubber if you wanted to ride around on your own personal grip-factory.
You want a front mech? Your frame options are drastically shrinking. The Slayer is 1x only, and runs a slick integrated guide to watch over the chain.
Along with the new single-sided pivots the 1×11 drivetrain on the Slayer gives it a really clean look.
Yes, it is indeed the Slayer. What will you slay with your Slayer? The trail? Some jumps? Berms? Perhaps even some gnar?
This would be a nice thing to see while solo night riding.
You want slack? How does a 64.75-degree head angle sound to you?
One more photo? Ok, go on then!
In addition to the Slayer and Element models, Rocky Mountain had some updated build kits on their existing models such as the Vertex carbon hardtail.
A flat-out XC race machine, the Vertex uses a carbon frame and a 100mm travel fork up front for those who measure their rides in BPMs and average Watts.
More maple leaves from the lightweight Vertex T.O frame.
Super light Race Face Next SL crankset completes the Canadian contingent on the Rocky Mountain Vertex.
Released earlier this year, this is the Rocky Mountain Pipeline. It’s the company’s first ‘plus’ bike, with clearance for up to 3.25in wide tyres, a 150mm travel fork and 130mm of rear wheel travel.
The Pipeline makes use of the front triangle off the existing Instinct 29er trail bike. It’s carbon fibre, with internal cable routing and adjustable geometry via the Ride-9 chip.
The rear shock mount is the same as the Instinct, but the linkage and rear end are different. The Pipeline does feature the same 130mm of travel. Note the grease ports on the alloy swing link.
The alloy sub-frame offers masses of tyre clearance for plus rubber, though Rocky Mountain have chose Maxxis Rekon 27.5×2.8in tyres for the Pipeline.
Heaps o’ clearance here, but it does look like there’s some room to move the rear tyre in closer to the bottom bracket. Rocky Mountain admitted that the Pipeline was their first dip into plus tyre territory, so it would be reasonable to assume that they would develop a ground-up bike in the future if the demand is there.
Smoothlink suspension out back with ABC pivots. Given that the new Slayer and Element models are running single-sided pivots and cartridge bearings, perhaps we’ll see that design carry forward to future Pipeline models?
With masses of grip and plenty of suspension travel, the Pipeline looks like a lot of fun. So much so that it’s become the trail bike of choice for Rocky Mountain sponsored rider Wade Simmons. If it’s good enough for Wade, we guess it’s probably good enough for us 🙂