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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer 70

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jun 16, 2020
Reading time

First introduced to the Rocky Mountain lineup in 2001, the Slayer has morphed over the years into one of Rocky's burliest platforms. As downhill bikes become specialized race weapons, bikes like the Slayer are attracting riders looking for an aggressive, big mountain bike that can smash bike park laps, and still be pedaled to, from, up, and down local trails.

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It's hard to take a bad shot of the Slayer.

The 2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer was launched in August 2019 and comes in both 29 and 27.5" wheel options. The front triangle can be had in carbon or aluminum while the back end is aluminum on all versions. All Slayers are spec'd with coil shocks, proper forks, beefy tires, 4-piston brakes and 203 mm rotors. Travel-wise the 29ers are 170mm front and rear, while the 27.5" bikes come with 180 mm at both ends. The 29er comes in Medium, Large and XL, while the 27.5" version is available in Small, Medium, Large and XL.

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The new Rocky Mountain Slayer in "heartbreaker" red.

Key frame features

  • The RIDE-4 adjustment system allows riders to quickly fine tune their geometry with a pair of Allen keys.
  • Size Specific Tune ensures that riders of all sizes get the appropriate rear shock tune.
  • Tuned kinematics for better small bump compliance, increased mid-stroke sensitivity, and increased end stroke progression.
  • Updated geometry, including longer reach, steeper seat tube angle, and slacker headtube angle.
  • Carbon fiber front triangles use tube in tube cable management in order to easily route the shift and seatpost housing, and brake hose through the front triangle.
  • Alloy front triangles feature large headtube ports and internal foam tubes to keep shift housing and rear brake hose quiet and easy to manage.
  • Revised chainstay, shuttle guard, and downtube protectors all included.
  • Integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide.
  • All sizes fit a water bottle in the front triangle.
  • 2.6" tire clearance.
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The RIDE-4 adjust on the rear shock mount is a clever little square mount that allows 4 different geometry options for the Slayer. Shown here in the slackest setting.

Rocky Mountain Slayer Geometry

Geometry on the Slayer is complicated because there are two wheel sizes, four different frame sizes, each with 4 geometry positions. The RIDE-4 setup guide has good charts of all the numbers you'd want. But the quick Coleman's notes are:

  • Head angle: 63.8° to 64.8° adjustable with RIDE-4.
  • Chainstay: 442 mm on the 29er and 430 mm on the 27.5 inch version.
  • Wheelbase 27.5": 1177 mm (S) - 1273 mm (XL).
  • Wheelbase 29": 1215 mm (M) - 1286 mm (XL).

It's a bike that has opened up some new possibilities for me, I have a lot of fun when I ride it and can't help but feel a bit nostalgic, too. – Thomas Vanderham
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The integrated chain guide moves with the swing arm, which better maintains the chain line. The cable routing is slick, and the port for cables back into the front triangle is an elegant solution.

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Rocky always seems to do an amazing job on their paint. I really like the finish on this Slayer.

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Integrated shuttle and downtube guards protect the Slayer from shuttle and rock damage.

The Slayer comes in four build variants and two different frames - Carbon and Alloy. There are 30, 50, 70 and 90 build kits, with the 90 being the fanciest. I'm going to be testing Carbon Slayer 70, which is one step down from the top tier Carbon 90 and retails for $7,699 CDN. There are a ton of variations of the new Slayer, with a well thought out build at almost every level.

Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 70 Test Build Details

Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate RCT
Brakes Shimano XT Trail 4 Piston 203 mm front and rear
Shifter and Derailleur Shifter and Derailleur: Shimano XT
Crankset Race Face Turbine Cinch 29: 32T / 27.5: 34T
Chainguide Rocky Mountain Spirit Guide + OneUp
Front Wheel Race Face AR 30 rim on Rocky Mountain hub
Rear Wheel Race Face AR 30 on DT Swiss 370
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF WT Double Down Maxx Grip 2.5"
Rear Tire Maxxis Aggressor WT Double Down 2.5"
Stem Stem: Rocky Mountain 35 AM
Handlebar Race Face Atlas 820mm
Seatpost OneUp Dropper Post
Saddle WTB Volt Race 142
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Rock Shox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate delivers 170 mm wheel travel for this 29er version, with a Rock Shox Lyrik Ultimate dishing out 170 mm of travel up front. An excellent pair of dampers.

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Simano 12-speed XT drivetrain.

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Shimano 4-Piston XT brakes all round.

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I like big brakes and I cannot lie. 203 rotors, with proper 4-piston calipers and metallic pads all round. Yes, please.

I have to commend Rocky on the workhorse build kit. It's not overly flashy, and it's not light, but I think each component offers good performance at a reasonable price. All the small details that many manufacturers miss are considered and well executed. For most review bikes I'll switch tires, replace the brake pads, toss on a bigger front rotor, maybe a saddle, often a handlebar, maybe change the stem and almost always change the grips. This is one of the few bikes I've tested where I haven't changed a single component. The Slayer comes with good Maxxis Double Down tires sporting a MaxxGrip front and harder compound rear; awesome! There are metallic brake pads (THANK.YOU.ROCKY!). There are 203 mm rotors front and rear. The handlebar is a wide 820 mm Race Face Atlas unit that I trimmed down to 800 mm. Even the Rocky Mountain grips work well for me. This speaks volumes. It's clear the folks spec'ing the Slayer ride this bike like it's meant to be ridden, and they care more about how the bike rides than how it appears in a spec sheet or how heavy it feels on the sales floor.

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Race Face Atlas bar held up by a house brand stem.

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Race Face ARC 30 rims wrapped in Maxxis 2.5" Wide Trail Double Down rubber on both ends. Serious business.

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Nice detailing on the WTB Volt saddle, and a comfy one at that. The OneUp post has ample drop, and a nice lever feel. Not a bad spot to park your bum.

I asked the Rocky folks about how and why they developed the Slayer into what it is today. I particularly liked Thomas Vanderham's comments about the new Slayer:

"The Slayer has long been my favourite Rocky Mountain platform. I feel that it's the bike we can push the limits with a bit, and that was no different with this version. When we started to discuss the evolution of the Slayer, I got pretty fired up when the goal was set to make a 170/180mm travel bike that was a really capable descender but could still be climbed up the mountain. To me it is the evolution of the freeride bike that I grew up riding on the Shore, we used to push our 50 pound DH bikes up the mountain with nearly the same amount of travel. Modern design, materials and geometry have made it possible to make a bike that is more capable and confidence inspiring on the way down at 60% of the weight... very cool. It's a bike that has opened up some new possibilities for me, I have a lot of fun when I ride it and can't help but feel a bit nostalgic, too."

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While there is also a left line, the Slayer has me regularly asking, "Can I jump that?" Yes. Yes you can.

That's a quick look at the 2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer C70 then. To say this is merely a first look is a bit misleading. I've been out riding the Slayer for well over a month now. But I'll save my ride impressions for an upcoming article, filled with some gorgeous photos from Deniz. Besides, I can't spill the beans just yet. Like at any good Scotch tasting ... more research is required!

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Comments

Vikb
+7 Mammal Tim Coleman DanL Cr4w Dan Pete Roggeman Reaper
Vik Banerjee  - June 16, 2020, 6:55 a.m.

A complete bike you don't change any parts on is a beautiful thing. Nice work RM. I've lucked out on a couple bikes like that lately and they've changed my usual aversion to complete bikes.

Reply

DanL
+2 Dan Pete Roggeman
DanL  - June 16, 2020, 8:12 a.m.

I completely agree. It's a battle to find a new bike that I wouldn't want to strip things off and swap out instead of pay and ride.

Reply

tehllama42
+2 DanL Pete Roggeman
Tehllama42  - June 16, 2020, 10:41 a.m.

Yeah, I'd be in the same boat, which is impressive.  Really one of those things that is underrated in terms of actual brand cachet - to the point where I'm confused anybody would ask me to spend $8k on a bicycle that comes with parts I consider completely not up to the task, why am I supposed to believe the non-recurring engineering elsewhere on that vehicle is worth that expenditure?
Also, the degree of future-proofing built in through the adjustable Ride-N stuff is great - I'd actually love to see a reappearance of the Ride9 system in some of the other trail bike segments.

Reply

DanL
+2 Dan Pete Roggeman
DanL  - June 16, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

It’s also of note to see how much just the frame kit is compared to a full, good build that one can ride straight out with warranties fluttering in the wind

Reply

D_C_
+3 Niels Velocipedestrian 4Runner1
DMVancouver  - June 16, 2020, 3:39 p.m.

The only weak point on the spec is the DT 370 hubs. At that price, you should get 350s. If they need to cut costs somewhere, the rear hub is not the place to do it. Give me an SLX derailleur if that's what it takes...

Otherwise, the build looks well put-together.

Reply

velocipedestrian
+2 4Runner1 DMVancouver
Velocipedestrian  - June 16, 2020, 6:47 p.m.

SLX derailleur / better hub is a perfect swap, shame about the showroom floor factor.

Reply

Jenkins5
+2 Pete Roggeman 4Runner1
Jenkins5  - June 17, 2020, 10:06 a.m.

I agree about the hub. The 370 engagement is pretty poor.... The only other place I'd like to see some slight improvement is the  AR rims (should be the welded and stronger ARC rims). I haven't had good luck with the AR rims in the past but that's just me...Other than those, the spec is pretty solid for sure!

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Pete Roggeman
Tim Coleman  - June 17, 2020, 4:25 p.m.

Fingers crossed, but so far the AR rims have been ok for me, and I haven't been kind to the back wheel. Now that I think about it I've had better luck with these AR rims, than the ARC30 rims that were on the V10 last year.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - June 18, 2020, 11:11 p.m.

I’m less fussed about the rims. In my experience, most alloy rims are pretty similar, in that I kill them sooner or later. Having a good 32 hole non-proprietary hub that is worth building the next rim onto is far more important to me.

Reply

prairiedirt
0
prairiedirt  - June 20, 2020, 4:44 p.m.

I actually bought the take-off wheelset from someone's 2019 Slayer for my winter/ratbike.   The DT 370 has held up through a salty Alberta winter and somewhat sloppy spring before routine maintenance.  I can't say that about my experiences with Novatec or Sun Ringle.

Reply

Reaper
+2 Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman
Reaper  - June 17, 2020, 4:05 a.m.

Amen to that. A cousin bought a Slayer 50 29" recently because A) it's a Rocky Mountain Slayer. B) because she wouldn't have to change a thing (except for the grips because small hands).

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - June 16, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

the down tube frame protection always shows big gaps in these RM demo bikes. my C70 in size xl has no gaps, the shields are butted together.

Reply

DemonMike
0 Aaron Croft IslandLife
mike  - June 16, 2020, 9:06 a.m.

Killer bike , but as a machinist. I look at the shock linkage and cringe!!!!$7600 with a poorly profiled part. Rocky was once known for precise epic quality. Work like that screams all about the $$$.

Reply

mammal
+1 IslandLife
Mammal  - June 16, 2020, 9:50 a.m.

I definitely see what you mean. But to avoid any chance of that making it's way into production, they'd likely need to procure from a much more costly supplier, and 99.7% of riders won't give a rat's ass about that profile transition. Probably a good cost/benefit decision by Rocky.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 IslandLife
Tehllama42  - June 16, 2020, 10:45 a.m.

Forgings are cheaper, and running a ball end mill across every surface isn't necessarily worth the cost if it's effective... odds are the paint finish is just making one part at the thin end of within spec look particularly bad, and functionally zero difference.
I suspect if you bought one that looks just like this, RM would replace it (and proceed to slap that onto a bike for internal or demo fleet use)

Reply

dan
+1 IslandLife
Dan  - June 16, 2020, 12:42 p.m.

Can you explain a little further what you're seeing that my untrained eyes can't? :)

Reply

JBV
+1 IslandLife
James Vasilyev  - June 16, 2020, 2:25 p.m.

yeah i have no idea what they are seeing. i'm not sure what to look for. every part on this bike, and i've poured over mine at great length, looks incredibly top notch. more so than anything else i've owned (with the price tag to match)

Reply

DemonMike
+3 James Vasilyev LWK Dan
mike  - June 16, 2020, 4:01 p.m.

https://nsmb.com/media/images/DSC07052_denizmerdano_timmigrant_slayer_denizme.original.jpg

It,s the rough looking finish . The tool either dwell , or the part rattled. I have scrapped parts for less . I see that and start to question other stuff. Like was the part not properly fixtured. That can lead to twisted alignment points for bearing and such.It,s a habit from having to inspect parts.

Reply

JBV
+2 mike Dan
James Vasilyev  - June 16, 2020, 11:10 p.m.

oh i see, the bit just above the ride 4 chip?  yeah that does look like a second grade part. mine sure doesn't look like that, it's all smoove.

Reply

UFO
0
UFO  - June 16, 2020, 11:15 p.m.

These are the linkage plates that Wade's dreams brought though!!

Reply

Timmigrant
+2 mike Pete Roggeman
Tim Coleman  - June 17, 2020, 9:12 a.m.

I see what you're saying now. Keen eye!

Reply

DemonMike
+3 Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman Dan
mike  - June 17, 2020, 12:26 p.m.

OCD/ADHD and working to 0.0005" tolerances does not help LOL.

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - June 18, 2020, 11:05 a.m.

Yeah... but having done aerospace and bicycle machining in the same shop, the difference in what's needed are pretty drastic.  Feels bad to say, but bicycles are a completely different thing in terms of the machining precision required, and while beautiful cosmetics are nice, they're ot actually that critical.  
It's probably the 'wrong' approach, but as an engineer I'm no less happy with something that has the closer to nominal forging as the starting billet instead of just throwing money at tool life and making more chips just to achieve that, I have actually more respect for the process that will turn out ugly parts 1% of the time.

dan
0
Dan  - June 17, 2020, 9:21 p.m.

Thanks for helping us out! One more question: is 'tool dwell' the phenomenon of the machining bit uh 'staying in place' when it should keep moving?

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - June 18, 2020, 12:49 p.m.

Yes pretty much.

mammal
+2 Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman
Mammal  - June 16, 2020, 9:46 a.m.

Although I'm pretty familiar with the bike, I'm looking forward to your long-term, Tim. We hop-scotched a bit near the beginning of the Seymour climb trail the other day, and I found myself thinking "Is that Tim? No, probly not on a Slayer". I'm too used to seeing you on various Norcos.

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Pete Roggeman
Tim Coleman  - June 16, 2020, 11:10 a.m.

You should have said hi! I've been out a lot on the Slayer, and should have a ride impressions article shortly.

Reply

mammal
+1 Tim Coleman
Mammal  - June 16, 2020, 1 p.m.

I know, I seriously convinced myself it wasn't you. I was on the Ripmo AF, if you remember, and sprang up out of your way when I stopped for a drink at the beginning of the climb.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - June 16, 2020, 1:13 p.m.

Oh yeah, neat! Hopefully I'll see you out on the trails again soon.

Reply

morgan-heater
-1 IslandLife
Morgan Heater  - June 16, 2020, 10:08 a.m.

The metal around the drop-out really does look skinny!

Reply

saskskier
+2 Tim Coleman IslandLife
Jason Fischer  - June 16, 2020, 1:36 p.m.

Literally walking out the door to go pick up my A50 29 right now. I can't wait to hit the trails this afternoon!

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Jason Fischer
Tim Coleman  - June 17, 2020, 9:13 a.m.

So how was the bike?!

Reply

saskskier
+1 Tim Coleman
Jason Fischer  - June 17, 2020, 11:01 p.m.

Amazing! I'm coming from a 2016 Canfield Riot, so going from a bike that was a touch small (I'm 6'4) with SUPER short chainstays to something that feels like it actually fits is unbelievable. It's definitely a different style of bike than the Riot, but I'm already riding faster over stuff I was picking my way down last year. I finally understand what people talk about when they talk about plowing through stuff.

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