Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (32)
MIN MAX | TEARDOWN

Min-Max: Norma’s 2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jun 13, 2022
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Renewed Altitude

Element, Altitude, Instinct, and Thunderbolt. Carbon or aluminum. In my mind Norma's Altitude is a placeholder for an entire generation of Rocky Mountain's bikes that was born in 2011, with the launch of the Element RSL and MSL bikes, and I think it's fair to say, despite the carryover in appearance, that it ended in 2018 with the Reaper Alloy grom. What defines these bikes, beyond the vertically oriented shock captured by the top tube, is the use of Rocky Mountain's ABC and BC2 bushing systems at the majority of the frame pivots instead of cartridge bearings.

I've had a number of folks come forward wanting to submit their Rockys for min-max but without seeing the bikes myself I've been very reluctant to take them on. I agree with owners that the frame geometry stands up thanks to the relatively steep seat tube angle compared to many contemporary frames. I also think it's fair to say that aesthetically they're some of the more current looking frames from a decade ago. My issue is that without taking one of these bikes apart, it's impossible to know how neglected it has been and I've seen more than one rider wear out frame components that are very expensive to replace, if they're even available.

Rocky Mountain calls them their 'Angular Bushing Concept' and 'Bushing Concept Two' pivot systems. But, I've regularly heard them referred to as 'Always Be Cleaning' and 'Be Cleaning Too.' Some owners will point out that the bulk of the bushing maintenance is very easy to do with no special tools required but I'd doubt if even 10% of the owners of these bikes have taken advantage of that fact. It makes these bikes a potential pit of tears for those trying to play the used market and I've also seen folks dump a load of money into upgrades only to find themselves figuring out what replacement frame option has the most potential intercompatibility. There's no real way to know if you need bushings, receivers, or a whole frame without doing some disassembly.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (2)

Personalized.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (41)

Personality-ized.

This 2014 Altitude belongs to my friend Norma and it was supposed to be getting passed on this year in favour of a fresh '22 version. Yeah, you know where that story goes. With the weather taking a turn for the better and Norma having some extensive riding goals, she decided to make this bike the best it could be for the least amount of investment. My friend and collaborator Nice Guy Geoff was doing all the work so no better time to talk about a bike that could be a delicious min-max option or a depressing money pit. I know you're on the edge of your seat with suspense so I'll let you down gently here. The frame was due for a full overhaul, but there was no wear or damage beyond an ABC bushing kit and some main pivot bearings. For the right price I think this could have been a great used bike buy, if Norma had bought a new mountain bicycle, but only if the new owner had taken it in for a pivot service right away.

This makes me happy. I enjoyed the Thunderbolt that I reviewed with Pete in 2016 and I've seen a few for sale used over the years for very reasonable prices. With the fresh enough geometry, reasonable stand over height, and light weight, I think they'd make awesome rides for grom rippers in the smaller sizes. With sizing up and a judicious look at the condition of what you can't see without some disassembly, you could do a lot worse in a min-max project bike in general. The geometry is certainly current enough. This is a min-max piece on a specific 27" wheel-equipped Altitude, but it's also my take on models Rocky has made with 26", 27", and 29" hoops that could be worthy of your investment whether you already own one or are looking for a used project.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (27)

DIY OR DIE. Staying on top of pivot maintenance on an ABC/BC2 Rocky is straight forward and tool-light but it's a bit of a time investment.

Pushing The Bushing

Going back to my introduction, I know a few Rocky nerds in the back are mumbling that bikes.com has used bushings for pivots all the way back to the first generation '3D Link' Elements but these ABC and BC2 rigs are different for a few reasons. For one, by 2011 most companies had come around to the idea that bushings are a bad idea for frame pivots with the exception of very low rotation purposes, like most seat stay/dropout pivots.* For those that have overhauled different suspension systems, these bushings have a unique shape rather than the typical top-hat cylinder-that-meets-a-face-at-90° you'd see for most applications.

*Where flex stays are becoming very common.

Having worked on a number of these Rocky Mountains over the years, and also having worked on the most current dual-bearing chain stay/dropout pivots in the newest RMB frames, I'd argue there's merit in the idea of using cartridge bearings everywhere except the dropout pivots where an updated BC3 system with all the contact surfaces being replaceable would be nifty.

The main pivot features a pair of cartridge bearings but the good news here is that they're housed in the chain stay assembly. Why is this a pleasant tiding? For the DIY mechanic who gets their ABC/BC2 Rocky apart and realizes their main pivot bearings are fully seized like Norma's were, it means there's the easy option of just taking the chain stay down to their preferred local shop to have bearings pulled and pressed. The rest of the pivot service only requires some hex keys and a pry tool like a flat head screwdriver.

Anyone who's shown up at a shop looking for a save with an absolute shit show of parts hanging off a front triangle with properly seized bearings will appreciate this layout, and I know the local shop will as well. With a proper press-and-puller setup ready to go, this is a same day job at most shops and a great example of a hybrid model of bike service that many riders use.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (30)

I use Slickoleum here for the maximum friction reduction. Geoff uses a heavier grease for maximum longevity. We're probably both right but I'll agree he's more right given how little maintenance these bikes see on average.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (32)

That rad 'NORMA' sticker is made up of some different Shimano stickers. I think it's rad too. Remember to keep everything in order as you take it apart for the easiest path to putting the frame back together.

How often a rider should be taking apart their ABC/BC2 bushing system for a clean and lube is going to depend on terrain and weather. Certainly do it every time you're booking your fork and shock in for a routine service. Replace any of the bushing interfaces that look worn because they're certainly less expensive, and less hassle, to acquire than frame components are going to be.

Personally, I like to lubricate the sliding surfaces with Slickoleum for a maximum reduction in friction but it's nowhere near as resilient as a heavier waterproof bearing grease if you know you're unlikely to stay on top of maintenance. I also recommend Loctite rather than grease on all the hardware unless you're someone who's going to be doing regular bolt checks. The latter is true of a lot of bikes and really comes down to knowing what kind of bike owner and maintainer you are.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (21)

The main pivot cartridge bearings were full seized with the axle spinning inside them. That's never a performance win, never mind the added stress on your frame.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (24)

Doing the rest of the service yourself but lack a puller and press tool? The bearings are in the chain stay, so you can just take that to a shop rather than whole frame.

Suspension Service

From my Thunderbolt experience I would have loved to have seen the shock updated with a compatible EVOL air can, but when it comes to keeping an eight-year-old shock rolling sometimes you just have to be happy that it's serviceable. Norma likes the remote lockout so there was no need to have a conversation about the costs of replacing it with a manual lever - which is expensive with this particular shock. In any event, it felt awful with a limited range of usable damping adjustment when it left, and after a few days with SuspensionWerx, and a full refresh of bearings and bushings, the back end of this Altitude moves nicely.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (6)

The older TALAS system on this 2013 Fox fork is nowhere near as smooth as the TALAS-V or new Float air systems that have been available since.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (7)

Likewise the older CTD FIT dampers were well known for their lack of support relative to the RLC options that came before them and the FIT-4 that followed.

Norma's fork was a different story. Even with a full service, the 2013 TALAS CTD fork wasn't great for its time and it didn't age well either given the improvements in every brand's air spring performance after RockShox dropped the 35mm Pike for 2014. At the same time, a new fork would mean a significant investment and either a new front wheel or a Boostinator kit. Used forks can introduce a great value proposition based on a number of 'ifs' like if the crown steerer unit (CSU) doesn't creak, and if the internals are still supported, and if the combination of purchase price and service don't push the owner into the realm of a brand new option.

This RockShox Pike is a non-Boost version that passed its service with flying colours. It has some cosmetic badges of use, but no damage to the stanchions. Even then, it's very impressive how well a pair of SKF seals can keep oil in and crap out even when stanchions are fully trashed. As an added bonus, this 160mm setup is a slight over-forking which tends to always be a win on steep local trails.

Getting the very smooth 'more ramp and less damp' Pike to work nicely with the CTD rear shock is a more involved undertaking than if the shock was equipped with an EVOL air can, or replaced with an equivalent RockShox air shock, but it's certainly doable. The secret, from my experience, is to run a bit more sag in the rear than one might normally choose and then make the remote damper adjustment your friend. This is how I rode the Thunderbolt until we borrowed an EVOL air can from James at SuspensionWerx and after that we didn't even hook up the remote system.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (52)

The rear suspension is vastly improved with a full shock service and frame pivot service.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (57)

There are performance arguments for upgrading the shock, but from a min-max position this is the winning strategy.

Going 1x

Norma's bike was already equipped with a Shimano SLX derailleur capable of managing a decent sized pie plate in the back. It was paired with the stock XT 10-speed shifter for a 3x10 setup and one goal with the update was to improve chain security with a 1x narrow-wide ring setup. The XT crankset is a silly sucker with a smaller 96 BCD instead of the more standard 4-bolts / 104 BCD but Wolf Tooth makes a compatible ring option which saved having to replace the cranks. Aesthetics aren't everything but it's amazing how much more 'current' the Altitude looks with this change.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (4)

The previous 3x10 setup certainly made the bike look dated.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (46)

Now with a 1x10 setup and the added chain security of a narrow-wide ring.

There was a bit of customization required in the spirit of Does The Future Have Fewer Gears. Norma's used-but-still-good replacement cassette is an 11-speed, which would pair just fine with the SLX rear derailleur except that the Altitude is sporting a nice 10-speed shifter. The 10-speed XT may be the nicest example to wear that moniker. Rather than go chasing an extra click, Geoff removed a cog from the stack and added a spacer behind the ten remaining ratios. The shifting feels good and there's better chainline in the lowest couple of gears as well.

For a hot minute I'd planned to dump all the crap we removed onto a scale for a proper comparison. Even with the heavy NX cassette, less one cog, I'm positive the 1x setup with an aluminum Wolf Tooth ring dropped over a pound compared to the three previous rings, bolts, front derailleur, and front shifter. But then, it doesn't really matter does it? And anyway, no scale shot was produced. If Norma didn't have a used cassette to install I think it still would have been a worthwhile investment to make the change, maybe with the addition of a SunRace or MicroShift cassette. Even the most ardent front derailleur hold-out would have to admit that, at the very least, this 1x transition has increased the resale value of the bike if Norma decides to flip it next year. It just looks much more like a current mountain bike - less is more and all that.

Reverb

As an added bonus of switching to a 1x shifting configuration, Nice Guy managed to dig up a used Reverb plunger in order to swap the position from above the bar to below. In addition to being cosmetically more appealing, this position is more ergonomic to use and more durable. I prefer the little plunger over the newer shifter-style 1x remote that SRAM sells for these posts but I don't use my dropper post as much while riding as some other folks do.

I know riders who've thrown down for the new SRAM trigger remote or purchased a kit from BikeYoke or Wolf Tooth that replaces the hydraulic actuator with a cable unit and lets you run your preferred remote. I can both appreciate servicing and updating something you already own and also wonder about the wisdom of investing in updating the Reverb experience. Then again, with the number of AXS Reverbs I see in a week, my concept of value when it comes to money v. dropper posts may be skewed.

Used plungers aside, in Norma's specific case I wouldn't recommend putting any more money into the Reverb post. Not even the cost of a service. Compared to a OneUp V2, this Reverb commands a massive amount of additional real estate for the seal head and the post head that could be extra centimeters of drop instead. I'm guesstimating that Norma could safely run an extra 40mm of drop without any fitment issues. It may be more between the Altitude's long seat tube and the OneUp's patented dropped clamps but in any event I think if any money needs to be invested into the saddle-dropping function of this mountain bicycle, that's the way to go.

Norma Rocky Mountain Altitude 750 MSL NSMB Andrew Major (51)

Never mind the dropped-clamp architecture on the OneUp V2 post, there is a ton of real estate being wasted here on the post head and seal head that could be increased dropper post travel.

Versus New

Fresh bearings to replace the seized suckers in the main pivot, fresh bushings all lubricated at the other linkage locations, and a full rear shock service were always going to be a huge performance improvement. Add that to the longer, smoother, better supported 35mm Pike over the 2013 Fox 34 TALAS that Norma was riding and the suspension experience is going to be night and day. I know a fair few riders who'd take the Shimano M785 XT 2-piston brakes over the more current 2-piston options from the biggest-S and these feel nice after a bleed.

With the exception of some new SQLab lock-on grips, the contact points - Saint flat pedals and a Joystick saddle - are ones Norma knows and likes. Speaking of contact, any form of fresh rubber would have been a big upgrade. The mis-matched tire patches here are an ode to min-maxing as well. And hey, if running different branded tires really bothers you, a Sharpie is a lot cheaper than paying SRP for another Maxxis shoe.

2014 Altitude MSL Geometry

Don't forget to check out Jeff Hunter's explanation of adjusting RIDE-9 as part of understanding Rocky frame geometry. Particularly if you want your rig as slack as possible.

A new rig would have all the standard geometry changes - longer, lower, slacker - but for a bike from 2014 I think the Altitude makes out okay on the geometry front. With the 35mm fork and 1x conversion it certainly looks more fresh than most eight-year-old rigs. I don't think Norma could have acquired anywhere near as nice a machine for the investment she's put into a bike she already owned outright, and as an added bonus, this beauty is already imprinted with lots of positive emotions and personal experiences. As I mentioned, even if she does just ride it one more summer, the updates will make it much more desirable to the next owner.

The elephant in the room with this generation of Rocky Mountain is always going to be the bushing pivots. The bikes look good, ride well, take a water bottle in the main triangle, and fit close enough to current bikes that they have genuine appeal. Riders I've talked to who owned one had no problem flipping it on the used market no matter what condition it was in. I certainly wouldn't recommend buying one without pulling the pivots apart - or having a shop pull the pivots apart - which is a job you're going to want to do anyway if you do buy the thing.

Working on Norma's bike was a nice reminder that, though a bit time consuming and frequent, the fact these bikes don't require special pullers or presses to service the pivots is a real win for folks who are going to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves.

Given that this was a min-max machine that I was actually involved in updating, I'm looking forward to following up with Norma once she has some solid hours on the bike. At the end of the day whether it's on the trail or sitting outside the coffee shop, it's her bike and, therefore, really only her opinion that matters. But, I'm thinking or at least hoping that the improvement in her experience will be many times a return on the investment.

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Comments

bishopsmike
bishopsmike
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+14 Andrew Major MTBrent Alex Hoinville Merwinn Dogl0rd silverbansheebike Gage Wright Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman jgoon bushtrucker IslandLife Lynx . Stripes The Tiger

Gawd I love these articles.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+4 Alex Hoinville Gage Wright Velocipedestrian bushtrucker

Cheers! They’re fun to do and I feel good promoting a more/most affordable path to having a great experience mountain biking.

Really appreciate all the reader submissions and responses/comments that are driving this series!

Reply

MTBrent
MTBrent
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+4 Andrew Major bishopsmike Stripes The Tiger Pete Roggeman

I almost didn't open this article for fear of having to look at those pivots ever again, but alas, another excellent min-maxing.

That generation of Altitude (and other models) was, and as you've shown still is, a great bike.  But those pivots... oh man.

Also, is that chainstay original?  I saw more than a fair share (mine included) of cracked/broken examples pass through my local bike shop via warranty.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 MTBrent

Hadn’t thought to include that, but yes the whole frame is original. In 2014 the 750 MSL used an alloy rear triangle and in my experience they’re way more resilient that the plastic-fantastic ones. Suffice it to say that along with external rear brake routing I think it’s a brilliantly practical layout. 

Aluminum was, and probably still is a more durable and crash resistant material in multi pivot rear ends, it’s plenty stiff, cheaper to replace, and it makes a better wear resistant surface for the bushing interfaces. Based on some Horst Link Specialized frames I’ve played with the aluminum isn’t really heavier either.

I actually should have mentioned there were full aluminum versions of these rigs too. I still see lots of those on the trail. 

———

I don’t think I was unfair in creating a very specific set of circumstances where I’d write about these bikes. I think it’s important to front load conversations with buyer beware warnings just given how many dusted rigs I’ve seen. 

For folks that can find a good one - for the right price - has the potential to be great. But stay on top of the pivots!

Reply

mammal
Mammal
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 MTBrent Andrew Major

Agreed on the aluminum stays being more durable. I had the full aluminum frame of this era, and although it was pretty damn flexy, I put 3 hard seasons on it without breaking anything, and I had received it as a 3 season-old frame. The gravity racers that had altitudes ran the aluminum stays on their carbon fronts for that very reason.

The pivots were an issue for those who aren't OCD maintenance freaks, but when the upper link went to BC2 it made things significantly better (only the stays remained with ABC bushings). I was an intern at Rocky for 4 different work terms throughout this era of production cycle, so I worked on countless roached bushing bikes (nightmares).

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

I didn’t find the frame flex, I think it was well tuned with the front being notably stiffer than the rear.

G*Off and I spent a good portion of the teardown swapping horror stories but there are a few frames that are much larger nightmares when proper-roached. 

I do really think Rocky could have kept using ABC just for the chainstay dropout pivots and had a win over the current design.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Andrew Major

The flex was in the rear end. I had a substantial group of friends with those bikes, all pushing them pretty hard, and that was pretty much everyone's #1 gripe about the bike (aside from bushings). It's possible the carbon stays were slightly less so, I think everyone I knew had aluminum stays for the durability factor.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Mammal

Interesting. I’ve pedaled quite a few but never ridden one of these in anger. It could have then benefited from tying the seat stays together with a brace. 

It wasn’t a complaint we had with the Thunderbolt but that did have carbon stays and less travel and certainly a more XC portfolio.

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I remember the t-bolt being stiff also.

Jotegir
Lu Kz
2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

I'll also provide some insider knowledge regarding Rocky Mountain aluminum vs carbon. When it comes to crash replacement/replacement out of warranty, in my experience Rocky's alloy rear ends and front triangles are INCREDIBLY affordable on crash replacement compared to other brands, and their carbon is still eye-wateringly expensive (but sadly in line with many other brands). 

I'm happy my Instinct is the carbon front alloy rear. Fingers crossed I won't need to use any of the above programs though.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks ago
0

That’s very interesting. On most these rigs the aluminum and carbon components are interchangeable? Or at least back-end / front-end units? 

Could be a used bike min-max opportunity in terms of buying a carbon frame with a beat backend and then buying an aluminum replacement?

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
2 weeks ago
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major

To my knowledge they're all fully compatible front/rear - although I'll admit I've never put a carbon rear end on an alloy front, or mixed stay materials. But otherwise, the SKU for the C50 (carbon front alloy rear in most generations)'s stay is the same as the SKU for the stay on the alloy models, and carbon rear ends are on the C70s and up - with some exceptions like the previous slayer (full carbon), current slayer (always alloy rear end) , and various iterations of the element/thunderbolt, among others. Before relying on this and building up a mishmash of frame parts, it's best to drop Rocky a line on this one - and you'll have to, Rocky won't sell these parts even out of warranty without the warranty paperwork getting done - they want their data!  Many shop folks will not hesitate to tell you how annoying this is, by the way.

In fact, when it comes to anything more modern than a Flatline, Rocky doesn't even paint the part until the order comes in. This helps them massively reduce SKUs, offer way better options for customers (no ugly random colour seat stay on an otherwise nice bike)*, and certainly helps them maintain such an impressive back catalogue, at the expense of a slightly longer lead times. I've even seen a customer with a warrantied bike get to pick *any* colour combo in that generation's model catalogue on for his fresh replacement frame, although I certainly wouldn't count on that for anyone. 

*there are a few 2016 blue maidens floating around from a rental fleet with black rear ends, to my knowledge this was done to keep bikes going out ASAP and the choice of the fleet owner. The other exception is the front triangle from their alloy instinct recall doesn't match all the instict/pipeline rear ends perfectly, but most look pretty darn good.

Reply

MTBrent
MTBrent
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Andrew Major

Nice.  For the Horst layout/design, I agree the carbon over aluminum chainstay ROI is negligible.  Bonus points for external routing.

I had one of those full aluminum versions (Altitude 750)!  Again, a great bike.  According to Strava, I rode it for 2k+ happy miles before selling it.

If someone is willing to put in the time to address those pivots, they're definitely a great used option.

Reply

syncro
Mark
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+3 Andrew Major Lu Kz Pete Roggeman

I picked one of these up (999 MSL with Fox 34) for $1800 just before the rona as an XC bike and it's been surprisingly capable the few times I've thrown it into the shit. The bike looked pretty well maintained and felt tight when I went to check it out.

Of course the danger with a used bike is potential hidden issues. I only had one issue come up,  an annoying grinding noise I could hear coming from the bb one ride. Turns out it was failed bearings on the bb, but worse is that the grinding noise was the cups rotating in the frame shell. The temp fix was pull the cups out, take the bearing seals off, clean and then clean and re-lube. 

The problem was the PF cups didn't need much pressing to get into the frame as their spinning in the shell had worn it a bit. A bit of research found that some locktite bearing retainer would solve that issue. So as part of the temp fix while I waited for a new bb to arrive I wrapped the cups with one pass of electrical tape  to get them to sit tight in the shell. That was two years ago and I still haven't put the new bb in as the bike runs great.

I also did a clean/lube of all the bushings when I took the shock in for service and everything was tickety-boo in that dept. 

Great bike as a Shore XC rig.

Reply

Captain-Snappy
Merwinn
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+3 Andrew Major Lu Kz Reuben.Sandwich

Totoro stuffy, FTW. Aaaaand now I've got that song stuck in my head.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Huh, it does kind of look like Totoro but I think it’s a donkey?

Vs:

Reply

Reuben.Sandwich
Reuben.Sandwich
1 week, 5 days ago
0

Totoro yasss! All this bike needed for an upgrade is to add Catbus! Catbus is the ultimate off roader.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman

> The bikes look good, ride well, take a water bottle in the main triangle, and fit close enough to current bikes that they have genuine appeal. Riders I've talked to who owned one had no problem flipping it on the used market no matter what condition it was in.

For some reason people think used Rocky mountain bikes are like Canada's Yeti. I like Rocky bikes as much as anyone else (I spend most of my time on an 18' instinct still), but I wouldn't put them on the pedestal of "ought to command insane used values like Yeti's and Santa Cruz's" ... although, I don't think Yeti and Santa Cruz deserves to have bikes on that pedestal either.

Edit: No mention of an angleset for this puppy? You cost me a square on min-max bingo, Andrew.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Lu Kz

Just to be clear, you’re not quoting me here: ‘but I wouldn’t put them on the pedestal of “ought to command insane used values…”’

I think when it comes to used rigs it’s a sellers market to a ridiculous level right now. Many used bikes are way over priced assuming folks gets close to where they list them. Especially older bikes where it’s a bit of a gamble how many of their nine lives have been used. 

I do think - like Santa Cruz and Yeti, hahahaha - Rocky Mountain’s long term support for frame components and service parts is better than most. That should create more confidence for the purchaser (and the seller). Mine was more a comment that they’re not hard bikes to sell on the used market.

———

It’s not just assumed?!!! Other than mentioning the dropper post this one was more of a ‘what we did’ than ‘what I would do’ but certainly you couldn’t go wrong slacking it out a bit more.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Andrew Major

Sorry for any confusion, that is in no way your quote - it would be extremely out of character! I guess I should have used the small quotes?

I'm not just talking about the "right now" market, I'm talking about relative to everything else too - I remember a couple years ago my mantra was something along the lines of "you have to have something really special to get over 4k Canadian for a used bike!". Like Trek 9.9/Sworks money.... or anything with the words Santa Cruz, Yeti, and to a lesser extent Rocky Mountain strapped to the downtube. 

Their support for frame components is certainly commendable - My comment moreso is linked to your sentiment that they aren't hard bikes to sell. I agree, they're not. And part of it is whatever keeps them up at the top with the other kings of resale value.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks ago
0

No stress, just lots of tl;dr in the world today and didn’t want something thinking that was a pull quote.

Do high resale values matter to manufacturers? I’ve heard a number of people mention it as part of justifying the price of a current Santa Cruz so I assume so. 

I have friends who’ve scored excellent prices on used current-gen Slayers (it may be controversial to say, but I think this is the best riding, best looking, Rocky Mountain ever) so I’d say they’re not fully subject to the SCB/Yeti/SBC tax yet.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

+1 for the current slayer on all those points. There's one in my riding group that got picked up the year it came out and isn't going anywhere. Like all modernish rockys, access to ride-whatever and easy anglesets mean they can get reeeeallly long in the tooth before moving on, if ever. 

I will say however, Slayers may be exempt or an exception, at least in this province, due to their inclusion in bike park rental fleets. I can't say how much of an impact this has, and I don't know what overlap a clapped rental slayer has with a clapped rental DH bike, but I think it might impact the price somewhat. How many Slayers does Rocky sell in the entire province on an annual basis? Is the number of rental bikes churning through fleets enough to have an impact on the used market? I don't know, but watching prices locally (Sun Peaks and Silver Star dump bikes into a MUCH smaller market than the Lower Mainland!) rentals seem to have some impact. I can't say how much.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

Anglesets, dual crowns, long shock or short shock and short fork, play with RIDE-#… if they just had proper sliding dropouts they’d be radically adaptable sag wagons. 

I love old rental bikes. I mean an aluminum Slayer is going to take a beating and still have years of life left and I also appreciate anything that could drive down the resale value and (more specifically) get folks into the best used rig in their budget. 

I also know a couple folks who ditched their beloved Slayers for the latest Altitudes with Anglesets in order to dump weight and I don’t think you’d have to torture them to get them to admit they liked the Slayer better. Never mind it’s a better looking bike (all their rigs should have that same silhouette- the way you can always tell a Yeti is a Yeti).

tehllama42
Tehllama42
2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I know great minds think alike sometimes... but this is an absolutely master class in what to do with a bike of this vintage.
If I actually kept up with my suspension and bushing maintenance, I'd probably have so many less problems, because this is clearly a bike that is built up to be ridden, and ridden a LOT.

I'm also really happy to see how much more life is really there in those Inferno wheels - they're a bit of a chore to really get right tubeless (really needs the more old school Gorilla Tape or 26" tube to really run well), but they're remarkably solid wheels... I almost feel bad for having taken the route of 'throw money at the problem' and run wider carbon, because that set of wheels is still there, still rocking my winter tires, but ultimately disused.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks ago
0

The rims are a bit narrow and everyone’s mileage will vary but they’re in great shape here. No problem blasting them up tubeless.

I use Gorilla Tape for most tubeless jobs. Exception is some rims + CushCore, where really thin tape is a winning choice for ease of install.

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BenHD
BenHD
1 week, 3 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

bishopmike is right. These articles rule!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 2 days ago
0

Cheers!

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bailey100
william bailey
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm probably out to lunch but aren't those Igus bushings?

If so, they should be put together dry.

The grease may actually damage them and create a wedge causing excessive clearance.

From Igus:

The solid lubricants are embedded as microscopic particles in millions of tiny chambers in the fiber-reinforced material. From these chambers, the plastic bushings release tiny amounts of solid lubricant during movement.

Or, I could also be totally wrong

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mammal
Mammal
1 week, 2 days ago
+2 Andrew Major william bailey

I worked with Igus while I was an R&D intern at Rocky, to develop additional bushing formulas that would reduce wear. While Igus bushings generally include a lubricating ingredient or two, there are hundreds of different formulas out there, and the ones usually used on bikes are definitely compatible with common petroleum based greases. We also tested with many different kinds of grease, accelerated wear with various contaminates, the effect of extreme heat conditions, etc...

For what it's worth, we did end up finding a very good Igus formula (based on product for the pulp and paper industry - high contamination) that seemed to really reduce bushing wear as well as wear on the reducer anodizing, but that happened to be right before they switched their product to run bearings on all the pivots.

Additional: With regards to introducing contaminates by applying grease, that may be a concern if the sealing elements used in the ABC/BC2 pivots worked really well. But with SO MANY bicycle bushing pivot designs, that's just not the case. Greasing them 100% led to longer lasting pivot components. When they went to BC2 design (Thanks Lyle!) in the link pivots, the sealing was slightly better, but far from perfect. The grease ports were mostly just to give the "I hardly ever service my bike" crowd a nudge in the right direction.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Mammal

This is a bit like the guy who’s lock-on grips I can pull straight off his bar who quotes me the torque spec that’s printed on them. I mean, if you torque them to spec and they aren’t tight/safe do you ride them as is or tighten them more?

I’ve serviced a lot of these bikes and Nice Guy Geoff has probably done 100x what I’ve done. At some point Rocky even started including grease fittings at all the pivot points. It doesn’t matter what IGUS says about their product if the reality on the trail is the bikes work way better and the pivots last way longer with some grease?

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bailey100
william bailey
1 week, 2 days ago
0

Wow kind of a rude response imo.
Maybe Rocky realized they spec'd the wrong material and started to add the grease ports when the started seeing failures to tried to solve a problem that never should have existed.

I'm a millwright and mechanic , not a noob.
Bearings and bushings are designed with a purpose and the engineers who design them shudder when people do things like this without understanding the concept or material they are working with. Do you grease the new greaseless bearings from skf as well or would that be ridiculous? 

Grab that impact and ratchet up your grips dude and grease away to your hearts content.  

I was only trying to say that Igus bushings are not designed to be greased ang doing so can actually introduce contaminants be counterproductive.

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tehllama42
Tehllama42
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

I understand that IGUS were specifically designed to operate self-lubriciously, and that just introducing contaminants would be bad... Practically, I've had enough experience shooting stuff that was written with the same intent of being self-lubricating that doesn't work out, so I've just begun slapping extra lubricant (and cleaning surfaces) in everything and so far actually result in better overall results, regardless of what the instructions are meant to be. Even yes, greaseless bearings, they still actually work better fed thin lubricant over time (again, dry environments here change that).
I think Andrew's point is that you end up with more effective life out of the things running them counter to the provided directions, and they are wear items anyway.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Mammal

I think Andrew is also over-sensitive and properly leathery from years and years of engineering types techsplaining how things work on paper with zero regard for his hours logged in the trenches making sh*t work and should probably take a deep breath and pour some more Jamieson in his coffee before typing responses.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 william bailey

No doubt, or any material for that matter and I get how much thought goes into it. I was once on the receiving end of an impressive and very passionate (alcohol-fueled) explanation of the various options for rubber-lined pipe. 

Okay to ask where you’re based? My pops worked as a metallurgist  at the copper mine in Princeton, BC when I was little - it was Newmont owned back then -  and then as a design engineer until he passed.

bailey100
william bailey
1 week, 2 days ago
0

I apologize for my response as well.
I work in mining and when skf developed their new solid oil bearings I was skeptical to say the least. There is no worse environment for a bearing than a gold/copper mine. I spent a lot of time studying and retrofitting these new bearings onto industrial equipment and they have far exceeded expectations except in one instance where someone added a grease point to the pillow block and greased them. This caused overheating and failure.
Different application and environment I realize.
I was only trying to point out the design of the bushing in my comment.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 week, 2 days ago
0

My apologies for coming across as short. It wasn’t my intention but in re-reading my response I agree I sound like an asshole.

I’m aware of IGUS’ stance on greasing their bushings. At least locally, it’s often best to grease them in pedals too, despite manufacturer’s recommendation.

I feel I went to a sufficient extent in the article to highlight the amount of experience that Geoff, and myself, have with this platform over many years. If lubricating the sliding surfaces wasn’t accepted best practice in this case I wouldn’t be showcasing it. There are many reasons - friction being a major one - that Rocky uses cartridge bearings now.

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tehllama42
Tehllama42
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Even out in the desert where I seem to get triple the lifetime out of these, I'm putting silicone-based liquid lubricant in there regularly to extend the life of the things, and keep stiction to a minimum.

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itsJS
Johannes Schmidt
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Your 11-speed derailleur is a 10-speed long cage

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Thank you, I should have caught that. Fixed now.

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kcy4130
kcy4130
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm confused, a 10 speed shifter and derailleur will work on 11 speed cassette spacing? Unless you put thin shims between cogs to convert it to 10 speed spacing, then it'd be fine.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 bishopsmike Pete Roggeman

It works great*. Just one spacer at the back to replace the missing cog.

In the same vein as technically Shimano 10spd and 11spd have different cable pull ratios but they’re functionally inter compatible.

If you really want a taste of drivetrain mismatching, I’ve also used 8-cogs of a 10-speed cassette with a 12-Speed Eagle drivetrain with bang-on shifts in every ratio.

———

*Insert multi point disclaimer:

1) Your experience may vary. Known your limit wrench within it.

2) If you’re not prepared for the error in trial-and-error then always stick with manufacturers’ recommendations.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

There’s that 8-of-10spd v. 12spd Eagle setup. 

I didn’t try 10/10 but based on the 8/10 I’d guess it works great.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 RNAYEL

Yes, on Norma’s bike it’s an HG cassette but the brand/model doesn’t matter in terms of it being an 11spd and pulling a cog. Same result with Shimano or SunRace or etc 11spd.

Why what?

———

*edit: you mean on my bike? That’s not a SRAM cassette. It’s a Shimano 10spd with two cogs pulled (8/10) mated to an otherwise Eagle drivetrain.

Why is 1) because and 2) the chainline is noticeably better/nicer pedaling in the low gears. Wrote more about it here.

rnayel
RNAYEL
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Caveat is that it's an NX Eagle cassette, which fits a shimano carrier. Not an XD setup.

Also, why?

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