Rocky Mountain Instinct C70: First Ride Review

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Rocky Mountain Instinct at a glance: longer chainstays, steeper seat angle, longer dropper posts plus adjustable reach and chainstay length.

  • Brand: Rocky Mountain
  • Product: Instinct C70
  • Price: £7,900
  • From: Rocky Mountain
  • Tested by: Tim Wild for a day

Pros

  • Great geometry
  • Useful range of adjustment options
  • Built for wet and mud

Cons

  • Only two colourways, one of which looks like Liberace’s puke
  • UK prices are a little, er, zesty

Change is possible

There’s a four-position chip at the base of the rear shock that allows you to select one of four different geometry setups, each offering more/less stability and progression, depending on your ride style. Not as convenient as a flip-chip, and not something I’d want to do trailside, but it’s a lot of options with a relatively simple procedure – it just requires two allen keys and some time- so you could try out all four without having to know much about the maths or the mechanics. It’s the first Instinct to have it, although it’s been out on the Powerplay e-bike and some other models for a while.

That drive to increase adjustability also extends to the reach – you can remove the stem, then change the position of an oval cup underneath, to give you +/-5mm on the stock reach length. Again, it’s an adjustment that takes workshop time, but reach makes such a huge difference to ride feel that it’s nice to be able to try three different positions to make this your perfect bike. There’s also the option to have two different chainstay lengths for agility/stability tuning.

At this level of bike, and this kind of money, the ability to fine-tune your setup and solve those pesky ‘between sizes’ problems feels like a rider-focused decision – one designed to help you enjoy the bike for longer, rather than drive desire to replace it within a year.

Garnishes

There’s an elegant storage compartment in the downtube of the carbon models, with a custom-made tool wrap and space for tubes and gels and lucky rabbit’s feet and whatnot. The downtube bottle mounts are on its lid, but the cage is sized to allow you to open the storage without removing the bottle or the mount, so you can leave everything be while you rummage for an allen key or whatnot.

The bike I tried

I got the chance to ride an Instinct Carbon 70 29” in a Large running in the neutral ‘Position 1’ setting of the Ride-4 system.

150mm Fox Float up front, Float X Performance in the rear (140mm travel), full Shimano XT groupset and brakes, with tons of swishy components – Raceface cranks, BB and rims, WTB saddle, ODI groups etc. It’s excellent spec, and you’d only want to change any of this for personal preference. The Maxxis Dissectors front and rear were perfect for the dry, grippy rocks of the Sedona trails too.

The less said about the gold/sickly lime colourway the better, but maybe that’s just me. You may love something that reminds you strongly of Hulk Hogan’s crotch.

Riding

First thoughts? This bike is really balanced. I’m a crappy trackstander at the best of times, and anything over five seconds feels like a triumph to me, so when a mid-climb pause at the start of the ride leads to the longest successful ride-away-after track stand I can remember achieving, it tells me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

That’s probably not very scientific, but it does make me warm to the bike immediately. If you feel at home with only cursory set-up time (including riding with US brake setup), that;s got to be a good sign.

Upward mobilty

The climbing in Sedona is no joke. There’s no winding fire roads or gentle singletrack traverses round these parts. Every serious climb throws you straight into the tough stuff – sharp, right-angled rocks, tight switchback turns, narrow ledges and everything else you can imagine. So if you’re on a bike where it feels hard to pull up the front wheel, or hop the back wheel over a lump, or quickly shift weight and power to get out of trouble, you notice immediately.

Given that this particular Instinct is a 29er, with fairly descent-happy geometry, a chunky frame design and 150mm travel upfront, this thing climbs with the confidence and agility of a much lighter and more trail-focused bike. Any problems I have on the way up – and there are more than I’d prefer – are entirely of my own making.

The XT drivetrain delivers power really nicely, particularly on the nuanced, half-a-crank applications that this technical climbing demands. I crept slowly up some very steep rock slabs without ever threatening to tip over backwards, and I’d be happy to take it out all day on longer, more endurance-focused climbs without locking out the suspension. And you could even put your tools in your pocket and stash a little picnic in the downtube storage unit.

This is a borderline enduro bike, but one I’d be happy to own for just about everything.

Get down on it

Let’s be honest – at this price point and build quality, any 150mm carbon full-suss would have to be an absolute howler not to work perfectly on the downhill. But that balance I sensed in the first few minutes really comes into play when riding this Instinct on Sedona’s famously sphincter-tightening descents.

In the spirit of trying to get one reasonably exciting photo of me riding the thing, Evan the snapper is forced to get me to try out a bunch of different moves. I roll big, steep rock chutes with alarming g-outs, launch off slab ramps and land with graceless thunks, and hit sandy berms faster than I’d like, and the Instinct feels natural, composed and ready for more in every circumstance.

I felt none of the slight hesitancy that a 29er can prompt in tight drops and turns, the suspension was smooth and forgiving without being soggy, and I only handed the thing back with reluctance. In other words, a big, go-fast-downhill bike handled delicate, technical rock descending with a grace that belies its heft.

One other thing

It might seem a bit abstract, but Rocky Mountain design and build their bikes in Vancouver. Where it’s wet, and muddy, and the roots are the very slipperiest known to man. So to my mind, that gives their bike an edge over its many similarly-specced and priced competitors, because they know it’s going to get covered in filth, and designed it accordingly. Not so with every brand out there. Just a thought.

Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 specification

  • Frame // SmoothWall Carbon, 140mm
  • Shock // Fox Float X Performance Elite, 210×52.5mm
  • Fork // Fox 36 Float EVOL GRIP2 Performance Elite Series ,150mm
  • Wheels // Race Face AR 30 rims on F: Rocky Mountain SL R: DT Swiss 370 hubs
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Dissector 2.4 WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Dissector 2.4 WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO
  • Chainset // Race Face Turbine Cinch, 170mm, 32T
  • Brakes // Shimano XT Trail 4 Piston
  • Drivetrain // Shimano XT, 10-51T
  • Stem // Rocky Mountain 35 AM, 40mm
  • Handlebars // Rocky Mountain AM Carbon, 780mm
  • Grips // ODI Elite Pro Lock-On
  • Seat Post // Race Face Turbine R, 30.9mm, 200mm
  • Saddle // WTB Volt Race

Geometry of our size L

  • Head angle // 63.5-64.3°
  • Effective seat angle // 76.5-77.3°°
  • Seat tube length // 440mm
  • Head tube length // 125mm
  • Chainstay // 440-450mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,259mm
  • Effective top tube // 634-640mm
  • BB height // 32-44mm BB drop
  • Reach // 474-483mm

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Review Info

Brand: Rocky Mountain
Product: Instinct C70
From: Rocky Mountain
Price: £7,900
Tested: by Tim WIld for A day

  • This topic has 14 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 3 months ago by BB.
Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Rocky Mountain Instinct C70: First Ride Review
  • 1
    GolfChick
    Free Member

    RM is definitely a brand I’d love to own, I demoed an altitude before its overhaul and on its first ride it retook some QOMs I already had. I think (this particular colourway aside) they have some amazing looking bikes. However, I will never own one, the reason? (and why I think this is missing a big ‘con’), the price. There’s no way this build is worth £7k and the other builds are just the same. They’ve completely out-priced themselves in the UK market, the only way to own one is wait until those few that have made it here get massively reduced and you just hope there’s one in your size.

    2
    kimbers
    Full Member

    Have to agree those colours are yuck!

    Rocky’s 24 models just aren’t there. The 2020 onwards overhauls and updates were great, the colourways were on point and the lack of frame storage wasn’t really an issue.

    They’ve made some compromises in seeking ‘improvement’ for 2024 that I think will put them on the back foot.

    I have have a 2020 Slayer, my buddy and 2020 Altitude and both can’t see the evolution in this year’s bikes.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    It might seem a bit abstract, but Rocky Mountain design and build their bikes in Vancouver. Where it’s wet, and muddy, and the roots are the very slipperiest known to man. So to my mind, that gives their bike an edge over its many similarly-specced and priced competitors, because they know it’s going to get covered in filth, and designed it accordingly. Not so with every brand out there. Just a thought.

    I think this is a thing. Eldest_oab has a ’21 Altitude and there’s great mud clearance and lack of places for it to hide. There’s a wee cover to access cables on the front of the chain stay – but shield them from crap. Etc.

    Best riding bike he’s ever owned, he doesn’t want to change it even though it’s really wearing out after 3+ years of Alps and Highlands riding and racing.

    Agreed that some of the colours are ‘challenging’ and prices are not the most VfM, but they’re often in the sale.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Oh, and getting hold of mech hangers is also difficult at times.

    2
    endoverend
    Full Member

    Its a mountain bike. With some average kit on it. Which costs £8000. Pass.

    bitmuddytoday
    Free Member

    I was thinking Rocky Mountain have gone a long way to copying a Stumpjumper Evo. Nothing wrong with that and I want to like Rocky Mountain as a brand. Except they’ve arrived late to the party, with something that by some reviews doesn’t pedal so well and is £650 more than a Stumpjumper Pro. Factory suspension, X01 AXS and carbon cranks/wheels on the Stumpy.

    I saw a computer image of a new Altitude the other day. Looks a awful lot like a Intense Tracer…VPP and all

    Macgyver
    Full Member

    “Agreed that some of the colours are ‘challenging’ “

    I bought an Instinct in 2021 and love the bike, but other than the colour scheme I got, I don’t think I have liked any of the colour schemes they used that year or any year since.  But colour is a very individual thing I guess. It’s kinda low key on the front as the Rocky Mountain logos are black on black so other than the head tube badge it’s not easy to identify what brand it is from a quick glance. Prices were a little more favourable in the US however (until you get stiffed for local sales tax!) IMG_0753

    desperatebicycle
    Full Member

    endoverend
    Its a mountain bike. With some average kit on it. Which costs £8000

    Inflation eh!? My carbon Instinct 970MSL was less than £2K in 2016! Still going strong… I’d love a new model, but way out of my budget.

    roger_mellie
    Full Member

    I was thinking Rocky Mountain have gone a long way to copying a Stumpjumper Evo.

    Except they’ve painted it turd brown!

    Sea-Urchin
    Full Member

    I probably agree with the first ‘Con’ but the second doesn’t seem right.?

    The rest of the review states you can leave the bottle cage in-situ while you access downtube storage.?

    “Cons:
    Only two colourways, one of which looks like Liberace’s puke
    Forced to choose between downtube bottle mount or frame storage access”

    nickc
    Full Member

    Nice review

    The rhubarb and custard colourway of the 2022 model was the least offensive of RM recent Instinct offerings. Its as if they go out of their way to use the “unpleasant” end of the RAL numbers

    bitmuddytoday
    Free Member

    What Rocky Mountain used to do really well was a nice simple colour with a few maple leaves, nothing weird. They seem to avoid maple leaves like the plague nowadays. Not sure what the selling point of a Rocky Mountain is, until they pop up on Pauls Cycles for half price.

    1
    BB
    Full Member

    The selling point for me was that they were solid bikes with a tonne of adjustability…

    … And they were on Paul’s Cycles for half the price…

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

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