First Look: Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_0

The Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt is an XC bike with a fun streak. Initially introduced as an aluminum model last year, this year it’s been given the carbon treatment, and received some subtle updates to make it stiffer and more reliable.


2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_1

At first glance, it’s easy to just see cables. Lots of cables. But like the various controls on a television remote, they all serve a purpose, which allows an adept rider to truly maximize the performance of the bike.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_2

ESI grips help keep the weight down and comfort factor high.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_3

The carbon Thunderbolt utilizes an interlocking flip chip system to adjust geometry. This feature, called Ride 9, is found on several other Rocky Mountain models, but is not available on the aluminum version of the Thunderbolt.

The top tube has a downward slope, a first for Rocky, which combined with the recessed shock mount, gives the Thunderbolt one of the lowest stand over heights on the market.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_5

The bike utilizes Rocky’s four bar Smooth Link System to provide 120 mm of suspension.  The main pivot now utilizes a large hollow axle with an expanding collet, that locks into the frame, and acts as a structural member. This gives the Thunderbolt a wider pivot stance and is stiffer.

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Grease Ports

Like all Rocky’s, the bike uses bushings throughout. When we test rode the Altitude last year, this bikes 150mm travel brother, we noticed the bushings had a tendency to creak after several months. To mitigate this issue, the carbon Thunderbolt has grease ports throughout. The interval service varies depending on ride conditions, but Rocky suggests pushing new grease though after ~30 hours.

Currently, they have approved Slickoleum ( a personal favorite) and Belray. This is important to note, because greases can affect the quality of the bushings, causing them to shrink/swell, or turn brittle.

Rocky Mountain ABC Bushing

In the past, they used conical ABC bushings throughout (shown above), but based on testing with their new DH platform, they’ve switched to top hat style bushings on the larger pivot points, because they’re stiffer and last longer.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_9

A port on the top of the down tube makes the frame compatible with Shimano’s new Side Swing Front Derailleur Standard. This routing method helps reduce the bulk of the FD, for increased rear tire clearance.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_8

The top-of-the-line Thunderbolt will be sold with a Shimano XTR Di2 drivetrain, but several more affordable completes, and a frame only option will also be available.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_4

The port for the battery, electronics, and other assorted wiring will be located on the downtube. This large access port can be removed via three hex head bolts, which makes routing simple.

It’s not quite as easy as some systems which have internal guides, but it’s a huge improvement over the much narrower port found on the 150mm travel Rocky Mountain Altitude. 

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_6

Rocky bikes have typically had black/red/& white color schemes, but in recent years the company has been experimenting with new graphics and color ways.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_7

The new accent colors are seamlessly integrated throughout the frame and the little details really help make the new bike stand out.

2014 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon_10

On the rowdier end of the spectrum, Rocky has outfitted the Thunderbolt with a larger fork, shorter stem, wider bar, and burlier tires, to create the B.C. Edition. Worthy of what they’d call  Canadian Cross Country, this model should appeal to any gravity rider seeking an all purpose trail bike.

We’ve covered the different price points and spec previously, so head here to read up, or visit the Rocky Mountain Website.

 

Comments

Crohnsy - 08/25/14 - 9:50pm

That’s a misstep not seeing Fox iCD fork and shock on the XTR Di2 bike…..

ABio - 08/26/14 - 1:31am

Long time reader, first time poster,,, and Rocky got my response. As an East-coaster, and trend questioner…I understand what Rocky is….pure West coast and they nail it. They don’t spend time pushing the markets. They bring some true innovation within their geological experience….ask Yeti. As an East coast rider, I noticed that there is not a single company/bike that can balance the East coast terrain. Although, Rocky/Yeti did it for the West.

I think we should we have an Endureast challenge…with all the trappings of new suspension and drivetrains (and better tires)….somebody bring the East the Cornucopia

iperov - 08/26/14 - 4:46am

I have no time to maintenance shock absorbers.

CeeJay - 08/26/14 - 6:06am

That Xtr looks great!

carbonfodder - 08/26/14 - 6:48am

25 years ago, when Rocky was just a “local” builder, the Tbolt was a fillet brazed, tange prestige semi-custom handbuilt. This is definitely not a “new” name for the brand. but that is just me be grumpy.

jd1072 - 08/26/14 - 12:16pm

Though it is buried in the link-back at the end of the article, it would be nice if BR could at least state this is a 27.5″ wheeled bike.

29″ would have been better!

Speedy - 08/26/14 - 3:41pm

Pure Sex! I’ll take two please.

PR - 08/27/14 - 12:56am

29″ would have been weaker and harder to corner!

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