2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer C70
Rocky handed me the keys to this Slayer C70 a few months ago. In case you missed it, I published a first look article that details the frame, geometry and build spec. Rocky Mountain defines the Slayer as a bike for 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. That's a tall order. So I've been bashing the Slayer around the trails in Whistler and Vancouver to find out if ticks all of those boxes.
Sizing and Geometry
I've been testing the 29er version, in a size XL, with the C70 build. The XL fit me well, and the Slayer felt comfortable going up and down. That said I'm only 6' tall, so while I really liked the sizing of the XL, I think there should probably be one size bigger for the tall guys. I like the geometry balance on the Slayer. The steep seat tube angle made for a comfortable seated position while climbing, and kept the front wheel weighted on steep technical climbs. The balance of head angle, reach, front center and rear center, made for a balanced riding position when descending. The Slayer geometry isn't extreme in any one area, and that makes for a great all-rounder. Rocky nailed the numbers on the Slayer making an excellent all-rounder that fits the spirit of the travel and intended use for the bike.
I rode the Slayer in Position 2 setting for the majority of the review. I tried all of the Ride-4 settings, but found that position 2 gave the best compromise of characteristics over an entire ride. For pure bike park riding I'd use Position 1 (Slackest). I like that the Slayer has a geometry change option, and that the preferred setting for me isn't at one extreme or the other. Having chatted with some other Slayer owners, some like Position 4 (Steepest), while some prefer Position 1 (Slackest). The bike handling changes noticeably with each Ride-4 setting. I like this flexibility that allows you to tailor the geometry to your riding style, and local trail types.
Fork: Rock Shox Lyrik Ultimate
- Air Pressure: 93 psi with 3 tokens
- High Speed Compression: 3 clicks out
- Low Speed Compression: 8 clicks out
- Rebound: 6 clicks out
Shock: Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil
- Spring: 500 lb/in with 2 turns of preload
- Compression: 7 clicks out
- Rebound: 8 clicks out
Tires: 22 psig front, 27 psig rear with no inserts.
From a high level I really enjoyed my time on the Slayer. I was surprised by with how easy it was to pedal for its travel and weight. This seems like an odd place to start a ride impressions piece for an aggressive, long travel trail bike but I was expecting the Slayer to be a real chore to pedal. I found myself grabbing the Slayer and taking on big, technical, almost XC rides, and never once thinking it was a drag to ride. Most of the test has occurred during the COVID period where there was no shuttling, and no bike parks open. I pedaled it almost every day, and it always seemed adequately efficient at getting me to the top of my favourite trails. I think this is an important point to make because some folks might dismiss the Slayer based on its weight and travel. I think that's a shame. Besides noticing a bit of extra gravity when lifting it off the bike rack, the Slayer never felt heavy or lethargic. If anything, the Slayer remains lively and engaging to ride even when the grade flattens out, and the trail is smoother.
When descending, the Slayer proved to have a sporty and playful character, but with a depth of travel to save you when things got rough. That sportiness comes at a cost however and the Slayer isn't the most supple bike on the market. You're going to feel a bit more trail feedback through the bike than some other bump eating monsters like the high pivot bikes. The upside is that pedaling always feel efficient, and every root in the trail is a potential spring board, allowing you to get airborne and play on the trail. Despite this responsiveness, the Slayer devours fast and rough trail with an insatiable appetite. Days aboard the Slayer in the bike park were fun with the neutral, easy to ride nature making short work of both the high speed jump trails and steep technical lines. The Slayer felt supportive at sag with a nice progression in the linkage that elegantly adsorbed big impacts. When the trail got steep and gnarly the Slayer felt right at home. The geometry, sticky front tire, fork, and good brakes all made for a confident front end that I was happy to point down just about anything. The suspension provided a great platform for pedaling, and pushing into and through corners. Some 29ers feel slow getting in and out of corners, but the Slayer seemed to have an energy about it that loved to dive into corners, and spring out. Braking-wise, the bike always seemed neutral and composed when pulling hard on the levers.
In terms of stiffness I think the Slayer is well-judged; not too stiff, and not too supple. The front triangle felt relatively stiff and precise while the rear end developed good traction, the rear tire didn't rub the stays, and the frame didn't feel overly harsh. Torsionally the frame felt rigid and efficient, transmitting all the power I made through the cranks to the rear tire.
The Slayer proved to be a bit more vocal on rough trails than some other bikes. I couldn't quite figure out exactly where the noise was being produced either. I didn't see evidence of chain slap on any hard surfaces. The brake pads in the XT calipers were loud, and each brake application was apparent as the pads slammed into the bearing surface of the caliper. Off the brakes I could hear the pads rattling about in the calipers. The noises aren't a major issue for me, but were something I noticed.
Unfortunately there were a couple of issues. The DT Swiss 370 rear hub failed during the testing period, with what feels like the drive ring no longer transmitting torque to the hub shell. The XT Derailleur clutch seemed to tighten up over time to the point where it was hard to move by hand. I'd heard this could lead to failure in the clutch, and should be adjusted. It was easy to remove the rubber cap, dial out some clutch tension, and keep riding. I've re-adjusted the derailleur once or twice over the review period which took all of a couple minutes. Beyond that I thought the Shimano XT drivetrain was excellent. Frame-wise, the main pivot bearings have developed a growing amount of play. We had an unusually wet Spring here, but the play in the main pivot came earlier than I'd expect for an aggressive bike, especially from this part of the world.
I thought the entire build kit on the C70 Slayer was well thought out, but have some thoughts as follows:
- The Rock Shox Lyrik and Super Deluxe were excellent. Ideally I'd like a bit more adjustability out of the rear shock, but there is little to gripe about here.
- The Shimano XT brakes were good. I liked the power, found them easy to use, and had minimal wandering bite point found in previous Shimano brakes. The pads fit loose in the calipers which made them rattle about, and made a "Clack!" when putting the brakes on, but functionally they proved to be excellent. The big 203mm rotors all round were well appreciated on a bike like this.
- The Race Face and Shimano XT 12-speed drive train was excellent, too. Cranks and bottom bracket were durable and efficient. I did have to adjust the derailleur clutch (only took a few minutes), but otherwise shifting was great, and I really liked the tactile feeling of the XT shifter.
- Besides the rear hub failure, the wheels were pretty good. I was worried about the AR 30 rims, but they proved to be adequate workhorse rims for the Slayer.
- Some might not love the Maxxis Aggressor in the rear. It was exciting when things were damp, but for summer / dry use its been great. The MaxxGrip DHF up front was excellent. Kudos to Rocky for spec'ing proper casing and compound tires on the Slayer.
- All the touch points were fantastic. Seat, seat post, handlebars and grips were all comfortable and durable.
I have really enjoyed my time aboard the Slayer. I was expecting a bike that was going to be a complete chore going uphill, and a bore going downhill unless it was rough as guts and balls out fast. Those expectations were flat wrong. Although the Slayer weighs in at a porky 38 lbs, the weight seemed to melt away when on the trail. I've done a ton of big pedally rides on the Slayer, and even when grinding up an hour long climb, I haven't felt like it was any less efficient or substantially slower than other trail bikes. Bikes like the Forbidden Druid impressed me with how capable they were descending for a short travel bike, and the Slayer is the counter point, impressing with how pedal-able it is for an aggressive long travel trail bike. The Slayer makes a strong case as a do-all bike for someone that spends a bunch of time in the bike park / shuttling, but also likes to earn their vert on the regular. Further to that point the Slayer was fun to ride on even the mellowest of trails, yet ate the gnarliest of trails with ease.
I like the geometry that Rocky laid out for the Slayer, and I like the options with the Ride-4 settings. The Slayer proved an excellent climber, with good seated position, and when the grade dipped seriously negative, it felt great there too. I like that the Slayer had a sporty, keen nature, with loads of travel to buff things out when my enthusiasm exceeded my skill (this happens often). Aesthetically I like the industrial design, and paint; I think its a beautiful bike. Build-wise, Rocky has done an excellent job spec'ing the C70 as an excellent workhorse build (with the exception of the rear hub). It's not flashy, it's not light, but it is a collection of sturdy components that offer great performance at a reasonable price point.
So all told, the new Rocky Mountain Slayer is a good bike I thoroughly enjoyed riding, and worth checking out. Take one for a test ride, I think it'll surprise you with how capable it is as an all-round, mountain shredding, fun machine.