Rocky Mountain Bicycles have released a new Element – their flagship XC full-suspension bike, sporting 120mm front travel and 100mm rear. The new frame design is the result of over two decades experience. The new Element has a more efficient suspension design, refined marathon geometry, Ride-9™ adjustability, and room for two bottles inside the front triangle – which brings the number of manufacturers to do that to about… 4?
“This new Element is a full-on XC marathon weapon, but with the confidence of a trail bike” said product director Alex Cogger. “People used to show up to BC Bike Race expecting to grind fire roads all day, only to walk the descents and snap their made-for-the-scale bikes in half. XC racing has evolved, and bikes that can’t handle the real world have no business on the course.”
We know all that – have you watched a World Cup recently? Have you seen what the stages of technically demanding stage races like the Swiss Epic are like – let alone BC Bike Race as mentioned above? The demands on your bike, and your skills and stamina, are immense. Bikes like the Norco Revolver and Trek Top Fuel have made the switch to designs that mimic trail bike traits – with a race guise.
Details on the Element
The Rocky’s full carbon frame comes in at 2250g in a medium, including the shock and hardware. While Rocky Mountain still have the Ride-9™ chip for geometry adjustment, moving it into the link on the frame has saved weight.
The reshaping of the frame, shifting the lower part of the downtube forward, has created room for a 2nd bidon mount on the seat tube. On all sizes. The Element is also future-proofed to run Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post concurrently.
The Element runs a single-sided chainstay pivots for a narrower rear triangle— Rocky says this eliminates heel rub, even with Boost spacing. The frame is 2c compatible and will still let 2.35″ tyres clear the frame,
With full-length internal shift, dropper post, and lockout routing, plus internal brake routing in the front triangle, maintenance should be low, but oversized headtube and downtube ports for the cable routing should make it easier.
Five frame sizes are available, from S through to XXL
Suspending the Element
The suspension has been tuned to increase the anti-squat values and improved performance under power without sacrificing the traditional Rocky Mountain ride feel. It’s said to be supple off the top with good progression to avoid bottoming out on big hits. There was a focus on mid-stroke support to keep more travel available, with lowered the shock leverage ratio for better suspension performance and adjustments. This should also keep a little less load on the shock and possibly help with service life.
The new Element was designed around a longer 120mm fork – the result is a bike that pedals like a rocketship, but doesn’t get hung up or turn skittish when things get technical.
The new Element received a substantial geometry update, while retaining the confidence and handling that people loved about the previous generation. It’s slacker to keep things stable when you’re seeing stars four hours in, but uses a longer fork offset to keep steering dynamics precise.
With a shortened rear centre, and a slightly longer reach, and steepened the seat-tube angle— Rocky Mountain have made sure the Element allows for shorter stems and wider bars without sacrificing a powerful pedaling position. The bike hasn’t been stretched into downhill sled territory, but an XXL size is offered.
With the increased demands of modern XC courses and stage races, the Ride-9™ adjustment system allows riders to fine-tune the Element’s geometry and suspension. The headtube angle can be adjusted from 69° to 70° and the suspension rate can be tuned for an XC race feel or a more aggressive trail feel. For multi-day stage racing, marathon racing, and real world XC, this makes it easy to dial in the perfect balance of snappy, confident, and responsive.
Want more details? Ask your local dealer.
Photos by Dennis Stratmann