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REVIEW

2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer C70

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jul 29, 2020
Reading time

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.

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The 2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer C70

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The Slayer is clearly a function of its environment. The trails here can be chunky and unforgiving.

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.

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Jumping into a landing littered with roots never felt like an issue on the Slayer.

Bike Setup

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.

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I was always mucking around aboard the Slayer. It's a bike that begged me to have more fun on the trail.

Ride Impressions

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.

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The forward seating position made the Rocky more capable when pedaling up technical ascents than I expected.

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.

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The Slayer is a bit heavier than most other bikes I've ridden recently, but I could barely tell on the trail. The Slayer was always eager to be airborne.

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.

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You want a bike you're comfortable on for this move.

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.

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The Slayer in its element.

Issues

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.

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As with many Rockys, the Slayer is a beautiful thing to look at.

Component Highlights

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.
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This is gnarlier than it looks, with no margin for error, and the Slayer felt comfy ... even when things got sketchy.

Conclusions

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.

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Comments

Pnwpedal
0
Pnwpedal  - July 29, 2020, 7:53 a.m.

I'm curious what you tried for various suspension settings on the bike. You mentioned that the bike didn't feel very supple, and I'm not sure what you weigh, but it looks like you ended up running quite a bit of fork HSC and decently high pressure/tokens. The rear suspension setup looks a little more mid-range for the average weight male. What sag numbers did you end up running?

Also, I just had similar issues with XT brakes. The OEM pads made SO MUCH NOISE rattling around due to the large cooling fins. I thought it was a loose pivot bearing, or broken derailleur clutch, or just crazy chainslap. I grabbed some finless EBC red DH pads from my LBS to solve that issue, then upgraded to MTX red ceramic pads which transformed the brakes. Well worth the ~$60.

Reply

mammal
0
Mammal  - July 29, 2020, 8:51 a.m.

Same noise issue with my Saint Brakes as with the XT's here. Some people add some soft-side velcro to the caliper, where the fins contact, to quiet them down. I glued a single strip of zip-tie (about 8mm long) to that spot on the caliper, and it spaces the pads perfectly so they have less that a mm of movement in the rattling direction.

Reply

Pnwpedal
0
Pnwpedal  - July 29, 2020, 8:54 a.m.

Interesting, I only ran across people putting a rubber band around the fins or solutions like that. Something on the caliper makes more sense. BUT... I also didn't like Shimano's metal compound, it feels too hard for my braking style, so I wanted something with more bite anyway.

Reply

Spenswick
+3 Mammal grambo goose8
Scott Eakin  - July 29, 2020, 4:47 p.m.

An appropriately sized high-temp silicone o-ring stretched around the bottom of each heat sink of the finned pads quells all rattles. FYI.

Reply

craw
+3 Pete Roggeman Harris AJ Barlas
Cr4w  - July 29, 2020, 9:49 a.m.

Let this article be a point of reference for all shop guys who 'put the tall guy on the XL'.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 AJ Barlas
Pete Roggeman  - July 29, 2020, 11:32 a.m.

So true, although many brands are responding. Maybe most haven't gone as far as someone your height requires, but...getting closer at least.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 John Royal
Lu Kz  - July 29, 2020, 11:42 a.m.

So what should they do instead? Put the tall guy on a medium?

Reply

nouseforaname
+5 Lu Kz Andrew Major AJ Barlas grambo John Royal
Nouseforaname  - July 29, 2020, 12:08 p.m.

Tell the tall guy to go away, and not come back unless he has bought a Geometron?

Reply

Pnwpedal
+2 AJ Barlas Timer
Pnwpedal  - July 29, 2020, 1:31 p.m.

It's interesting that the Large for this bike is 469mm reach with a 40mm stem... That's shorter than most larges these days. Instead of M/L/XL, they need to relabel the existing sizes S/M/L and then add a real XL on top of that with a 520mm reach.

Reply

Harris
+3 Pnwpedal Mammal grambo
Harris  - July 30, 2020, 1:28 a.m.

Tall guy here, I think it's important for bike shops to recognize that once you're over 6' some bikes are just designed to fit better, and it makes a huge difference. See: Norco and their change in cs length and seat tube as the frame gets bigger.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Pnwpedal Agleck7 James Vasilyev
Lu Kz  - July 29, 2020, 3:16 p.m.

When you're on your own, the Slayer climbs amazing.

If you're with your trail bike/all mountain bike homies, it doesn't climb nearly as well.

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - July 31, 2020, 5:36 p.m.

bollocks. i climb better due to the bike, and the Shimano 12sp drivetrain on this bike, with some brutally fast climbers. the only thing holding me back with those dudes is my age and size.  climbing with (against?) guys who are 10yrs younger and 40 pounds lighter blows goats. but i can clean more tech sections than ever before.  it's like the bike is magic or something.

Reply

JBV
+2 4Runner1 Reaper
James Vasilyev  - July 29, 2020, 3:32 p.m.

i've probably been overly vocal everywhere, but i love this bike and echo Tim's review entirely. mine is semi-custom (wheels and cockpit) and is about 4 pounds lighter. it's a friendly beast of a pedaling machine. best climber i've owned and i'm now a quiver of 1 with my Slayer. i'm mostly in position 3 and i probably don't routinely ride terrain like Tim, nor as fast (though i try).  i haven't noticed much in the way of sound and i'm ok with the stock brakes/pads, though i have some Disco kevlar's waiting in the wings as these wear out. at 194cm, i find the xl with 50mm stem to be perfect. i wouldn't want any larger. i'm not sure exactly why, but it's a goldilocks bike for me, and i feel lucky to have found it. we're married now, no more looking to change or upgrade. no seriously. 

oh, and i use a Sprindex 500-550 as a replacement for the stock spring. it's all the adjustment i want and is deserving of a stand alone review. it's the bomb.

Reply

WalrusRider
+3 Pnwpedal Jenkins5 4Runner1
WalrusRider  - July 30, 2020, 7:43 a.m.

Definitely a sweet bike. I'm not typically much of a weight weeny but a 38lb bike is beyond what I'd want to pedal up the mountain on a regular basis.

Reply

Pnwpedal
+1 4Runner1
Pnwpedal  - July 30, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

Don't you dare say something like that in Pinkbike comments these days... You'll get flamed harder than you would believe. 😂

Reply

ehfour
0
ehfour  - July 30, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

Is it just me, or does the look of the bike just not jump out at you. Something like Spesh Enduro or Transition Sentinel V2 scream at me..I put this one looks wise in the Ripmo (ugly) Category

Flame suit on

Reply

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - July 30, 2020, 11:36 a.m.

People like what they like. I'd buy a Ripmo beacuse, for me, frame design aestheics are secondary to a bike that rides and performs well.

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - July 30, 2020, 2:44 p.m.

i think the Sentinel (old and new alike) is 'sexier' but i love the aesthetic of the Slayer. looks good, but it's a sleeper, not an attention getter. until you ride it. then it's game over for any other bike. at least that's how i felt then and now.

Reply

nouseforaname
+1 Timer
Nouseforaname  - July 30, 2020, 2:26 p.m.

Is this going to be ANOTHER Slayer that the RM team don't race on? New RM Enduro team bike being teased on PB. Who is designing the Slayer that none of the team riders feel it's what they need?

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - July 30, 2020, 2:42 p.m.

google Remi and Jesse and see what they are riding. Jesse does a bike check on his as well.  this is what they are using.

Reply

Jotegir
0
Lu Kz  - July 30, 2020, 10:18 p.m.

Thats what they were riding... it's not what they selected for the Silver Star Enduro. Neither of them have actually raced a slayer so far. 

They are on something else which I won't spoil here. The announcement is surely soon now that the bike is being photographed in the wild.

Reply

paul-watt
0
Paul Watt  - July 30, 2020, 11:20 p.m.

I've had the 2020 Slayer since September last year, and have a hundred or so days of riding on it in Squamish. It's been a great bike, but so far the main pivot has had to have the bearings replaced, the XT derailleur filled with corrosion and had to be rebuilt, the XTR rear hub was replaced once after the freewheeling began to go both ways, and now the second XTR hub is beginning to do the same thing. The XT drivetrain is seriously worn and I'll probably have to replace it soon too. Of all of that, only the pivot bearing situation really has anything to do with Rocky at all. 

I started with the Fox X2 in it w lots of tokens, and it felt great but not crazy supple, then switched to a coil w a 450 spring (I'm 180 lbs) and it had way more traction but felt a bit dead and popless, so I put a MRP progressive 400-480 spring in, and it felt great. Then I put a DSD Runt dual positive air chamber in my (Marz Z1) fork and matched the progressive feel of the rear end (best fork mod ever IMO). I ran the rear in position 3 with the 450 and the X2, but have moved to the postion 2 with the progressive spring, so I don't pedal strike quite so often. I've got 29ish percent sag with the new spring. Then I put Cushcore in both wheels and I'm currently running Assegai DH Maxxgrip front and rear. It's slow and heavy going up, but it's now a savage machine going down. I'm casually rolling through the toughest and steepest stuff I've ever dared to ride and dropping stuff I'd never had the guts to do before. 

So, it's still a far from perfect bike, in my opinion, but it's a ton of fun when the going gets rough fast and steep. 

I can see why Enduro racing might not totally match this bike. It doesn't squirt forward when you hammer on the pedals, but when it's steep it pumps well and moves in a happy poppy way through all the chunk.

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - July 31, 2020, 5:47 a.m.

Tim mentioned something about the XT der. as well. mine got real sticky a month ago after a couple months of ownership. the shop said it's been common to all their new Shimano 12sp ders, including the XTR. easy fix with some lube of the clutch but an odd PITA when it first occured. i loosened off the clutch a bit as well.

Reply

skyler
0
Skyler  - Aug. 2, 2020, 8:39 a.m.

I'm amused at how often people switch from a Float X2 full of tokens, to a coil shock.

Reply

Timer
+1 James Vasilyev
Timer  - July 31, 2020, 1:23 a.m.

I would guess that the impression of decent climbing manners is helped tremendously by the tyre choice. A (relatively) fast rolling rear tyre like the Aggressor will make every bike pedal better.

But i'm sorely disappointed that Rocky is speccing cheap entry level DT370 hubs on a bike in this price-class. I would have expected at least DT350s, which would have prevented the hub issue.

Reply

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