We’ve seen what’s new from Kona for next year as they switch to new UK suppliers, but Rocky Mountain also get a big push thanks to new importers Madison – the Shimano uberlords. So while they might not have been in many shops before expect to see a whole lot more of them about – especially as the future of Schwinn / GT looks uncertain. Anyway enough business and on with the show…
(We’ll apologise for picture quality now, it’s a simple camera with even simpler operator issue).
Rocky have achieved huge publicity over the last few years, thanks to the big haired, big hucking ‘Fro-riders’ extreme team and all the video’s and magazine shoots they’ve appeared in. No surprise then to see Rocky bulking up their already substantial “All Mountain / DH” Range.
The RM9 gets a flamed Hot Rod paint job on it’s Easton Rad tubed front end. This now features an oversized extra thick headtube and specially designed PIG Aheadset to handle the leverage and weight of the huge Marzocchi Shiver DH fork.
9″ of rear wheel travel is delivered through the box section ThrustLink (sic) swingarm which is now stiffened with a bolted axle and a 24″ rear wheel stops you ripping the arse out of your shorts at full compression. A long stroke 2002 Fox Vanilla RC shock takes care of damping duties via a beefed up 2 part linkage and the whole set up gets high load needle bearings for smooth swing.
The RM7 DH uses a very similar layout with slightly different swingarm and mainframe brace design but the same Easton Rad front end and same oversize head tube / Aheadset. The same 24″ rear wheel and bolted axle moves are maintained but it’s XT level kit and Super T forks to complete the picture. For those who hate to walk, the same frame also comes dressed as the RM7 FR, which uses a shim to mount a front changer for a double ring and bash guard transmission, with a slightly lighter Junior T fork to ease your uphill load.
The old freeride war-horse that is the Pipeline still keeps it’s URT rear end (years after everyone else has abandoned it) but gets an Easton Rad front end and head tube as well as a few detail changes elsewhere.
Last year’s Slayer was a burly freeride bully but for 2002 Rocky tell us they have lopped nearly 8lbs out of the complete bike weight (we’ll wait to play with one properly before we confirm that rather large claim). Main differences are a rear air shock and tweaked Easton Rad FS tubing but the small ‘3-D’ linkage is unchanged and still provides 4.75″ of travel from the “looks like a 4-bar swings like a low single pivot’ rear end. The Edge takes the same frame and downspecs to coil shock and LX / Deore but you still get hydraulic discs and a splined Race Face chainset.
Pride of the show was their new Switch bike. This uses the RM7 front triangle with a 4-bar rear end that gives 5″ of travel. Apparently the new “triangulated 4-bar linkage” creates “one of the most versatile freeride bikes on the market”.
How you triangulate a 4 bar linkage we’re not quite sure (a 3-bar linkage won’t move and the Switch is a pivot on seatstay, swingarm path set up anyway) and the switch doesn’t have adjustable travel (which Rocky started with the Pipeline) but the Fox coil-over shock does have a compression lock out lever for schlepping up smooth stuff. Hype quibbles aside, the mixture of XT, Hayes and Race Face stuff with a Manitou Black fork makes the complete bike look superb.
The Flow takes the square headed freeride looks to the hardtail range, with fat Marzocchi Wedge forks and Shimano discs, with the Grind using the same frameset with Manitous and V’s.
Pimpy, pimpy, pimpy is the immediate reaction to the Element Team SC bike tart dream machine. White-spoked Spinergy wheels and Race Face Next LP chainset with carbon inserts, plus Easton carbon bar and post all plug into a Scandium mainframe using Rockies’ proven 3D-link suspension system. Superb red metallic to white maple leaf paint job finishes the Kleenex clutching looks.
Rest of the XC sus range uses the same layout on Easton Ultralite or Elite framesets, with varying levels of kit from XTR to Deore. Fox Float family air shocks fitted throughout for lightweight plushness.
The Vertex Team SC hardtail gets the same fantastic finish and kit spec. as the Element Team SC on a claimed sub 3lb hardtail frame. The Oxygen and uses Easton Ultralite, while the Stratos, Elevation, Trailhead and even the Acera / Deore level Fusion get Easton Elite framesets, which is impressive.
Those rusty retroheads out there will be delighted to hear that Rocky still produce the Blizzard (Reynolds 853) and Hammer (Reynolds 725) hardtails and the Blizzard even has a paint finish that’s pretty much identical to the one they had ten years ago (or was it black at the front, white at the back, can’t quite remember). Both get top quality riding gear with Manitou Mars forks.
We’ve no confirmed prices as yet, but they should be more competitive now they’re in the hands of a big supplier. To explain the slight price premium, Rocky are always keen to point out that their bikes are actually completely designed and hand built in Canada from the ground up (rather than designed just over the border and made out East like some we could mention) to ‘ensure the highest finishing standards’. While we generally can’t fault Taiwanese production it might mean a lot to some to keep it Colonial, and finishing is definitely sweet throughout.
For rest of the range details, and more info about the highlights here, head for the moose and bear tinted pages of the ‘wow they must have registered that early’ www.bikes.com Rocky Mountain web site.