The New 2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL Carbon and BC Edition
While the Enduro segment of the bicycle market gets all the attention, new components and aggressive geometries have begun to blur the line between XC and trail bikes. At the forefront of this movement are short travel bikes like the 120mm travel Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt.
Announced last year as an XC oriented 27.5″ model, the bike has proven it’s versatility across an incredible array of terrain. So for 2015 Rocky is introducing a carbon model with subtle geometry modifications that include a longer top tube, shorter chainstays, and given it a more aggressive spec.
In addition to the obvious geometry changes, they’ve redesigned their ABC bushing system to reduce stiction and have included grease ports for effortless maintenance. For further weight reduction and improvements in stiffness, they’ve also gone to a hard anodized expanding collet for the main pivot.
These improvements combined with an advanced carbon construction that uses rigid internal molds rather than traditional air bladders, plus the interlocking Ride 9 chip inserts for adjustable geometry, have produced a bike that is incredibly versatile and light weight.
Learn more after the break…
Prices start at $4,299 for carbon completes. The base level model, the Thunderbolt 750 MSL, pairs a mixmatched mid tier SRAM drivetrain with segment leading Shimano SLX brakes.
The wheels also utilize Shimano proven SLX hubs which are mated to SunRingle hoops, although Rocky has taken the unusual step of using centerlock specific hubs and rotors. The rest of the build kit is finished with Fox suspension, RaceFace components, and a dropper post from X-Fusion.
The mid-tier 770 retails for $5,499, a $1,200 premium over the entry level model, but upgrades the drivetrain and braking duties to Shimano’s excellent XT groupset.
Squish duties are still performed by Fox units, but the best-in-class Rockshox Reverb dropper post is now standard. The wheels still feature centerlock rotors, but XT hubs are now laced to Stan’s ZTR crest rims.
Every bike manufacturer seems to have a ten thousand dollar bike in their stable and the 799 MSL is Rocky Mountain’s answer to this five digit Gucci price point.
Featuring Shimano’s XTR everything, including a Di2 drivetrain, Stan’s Valor Carbon Rims (laced to their 24/28h 3.30 hubs), Kashima coated Fox suspension, and a carbon railed WTB Silverado saddle, buy this and you wont be researching upgrades any time soon.
All of the carbon Thunderbolt frames have a revised internal cable management system which makes routine maintenance easier, and have an integrated Di2 battery stealth port in the downtube.
Retail is an unholy $10,999. What’s that saying – You get what you pay for?
Putting a playful spin on the standard build kit, Rocky’s BC edition swaps in a wider bar, shorter stem, bigger tires, a 1x drivetrain, and a 130mm travel fork.
This is the way most of the Rocky Mountain Employees set up their own bikes. Retail for the X01 equipped bike, with Rockshox suspension, Stan’s ZTR Flow Wheels, Titanium railed WTB saddle, and Raceface finishing kit is $6,399. A frame only option will be available and retail will be set for $2,899. They are still in the process of finalizing weights for the production models, but we’re told the new bike will be lighter than the 150mm travel Altitude.
For those that claim mountain biking is getting too expensive, Rocky Mountain still offers an aluminum version of the Thunderbolt. Completes start at just over two thousand dollars and if our first impressions are to believed – it’s still a ripping good time.
As with all Ride 9 equipped mountain bikes, the geometry is as variable as the trail conditions. You can set the bike up DH slack or XC steep depending on your riding style and local conditions by simply playing around with the flip chips.
The short stays, compact wheelbase, and roomy top tube, should all help contribute to a lively ride.
Rocky Mountain is showing the bike for the first time next week at Crankworx, so please stay tuned for more pictures, information, and (fingers crossed) some first ride impressions.