Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt: First Impressions

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Apr 24, 2016

It’s not often we build up a frame with a handpicked build. Usually, a component arrives and gets bolted to a tester or someone’s personal bike. Or a bike arrives complete, and we test it more or less as it comes. In this case, we had a Shimano XTR Di2 group that needed to be tested and wanted to find a worthy home for it. As of the fall, the list of frames designed to integrate the Di2 battery was short – frames on that list deemed shore-worthy was shorter still. Enter the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt: 120mm of travel on a carbon chassis with a rather aggressive perspective when it comes to XC riding.

So, take a Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt frame and bolt a fresh Shimano XTR Di2 group on there, and you have yourself a Thundervolt.

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Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt + Shimano XTR Di2 = ThunderVolt. It’s a thing of beauty.

Like all of our first impressions articles, this is not a review. It is instead a chance to detail the spec and geometry, and tease out the finer details of the build. This allows the review to focus on ride impressions.

Shimano XTR Di2

We might as well start with this test bike’s raison d’être. Since its release almost two years ago, XTR Di2 has represented one of the two bleeding edges of MTB drivetrain performance. The other, of course, is SRAM’s XX1 group. They adhere to very different philosophies and for most, that of Di2 is a little harder to discern, because its introduction brought with it as many questions as it purports to answer: Why do I need robots to shift for me? Do I really want to risk having my battery die in the middle of a ride? Who would pay that much for a drivetrain? Aren’t front derailleurs dead?

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Despite recent claims to the contrary, the front derailleur is NOT dead. At the heart of Shimano’s Di2 system is an incredible front derailleur design (electronic or mechanical). How Di2 interfaces with the FD is one of its most interesting features.

We’ll dig into those questions in good time. For now, let’s get this out of the way: the significance of Di2 for mountain bikes was never going to be tied to the top shelf version’s position in the performance/value matrix. Just as Di2 for road bikes only gained real traction with Dura-Ace’s predictable trickle down to Ultegra, on the dirty side it was the recent introduction of XT Di2 that confirmed that electronic shifting is about to arrive on shop floors in earnest starting in 2017. Testing this group is more about getting acquainted with how well electronic shifting works than it is about evaluating XTR Di2 in its own right. As technology marches forward, eliminating cables and providing different ways of controlling how your bike works – and how different parts of your bike work together – is how Shimano is focusing a lot of effort. Understanding the scope of Di2’s potential requires a big picture perspective that spans multiple iterations of the technology, rather than getting mired in the replacement cost of that derailleur you just smashed on a rock.

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The whole Di2 shebang.

 

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt

Rocky calls the Thunderbolt an XC Trail bike. We don’t need more categories around here, but it’s apt: a 120mm chassis with 27.5″ wheels pits the bike’s fast-pedaling intentions with an extra teaspoon of travel and a more playful wheel size than today’s average XC bike. In 2016, Rocky added its unique Ride-9 system to the Thunderbolt, adding adjustable geometry and suspension progressivity to the mix. The BC Edition Thunderbolt ups the stroke at the front end to 130mm, and we went one further by bolting on a 140mm fork. On the BC edition, the head angle varies between 68.2 and 66.5 degrees, and ours is close to 66. By the numbers, this is a quintessential ‘BC’ XC bike.

Thunderbolt_geo

Here’s the geo chart for sizes M and L of the BC Edition Thunderbolt (equipped with 130mm fork instead of 120) but there’s also size S and XL.

The frame itself is beautifully sculpted carbon fiber, front and back. For a company that made a name for itself in the late 80s and 90s for its progressive tubesets and metal craftsmanship, Rocky has transitioned very nicely into the carbon age.

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The Thunderbolt’s carbon frame has beautiful lines.

Keeping that 120mm of travel in check is Rocky’s Smoothlink suspension platform, which is found throughout their lineup. In brief, it positions the rear pivot above the rear axle. The idea is to keep the average chain torque line parallel to the lower link (the line between the main and rear pivots), with the goal of reducing pedal bob. Notable design features include the use of bushings instead of bearings at the pivot placements, which reduces weight and increases stiffness, and grease ports throughout for easier serviceability. A large collet keeps things stiff and light at the main pivot. Internal routing abounds, with the exception of the rear brake line, which is neatly tucked but 100% external.

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A good look at the size of the main pivot and its locking collet. That metal pimple is the female head of the grease port.

Rounding out the build

We decided to match the Thunderbolt’s Fox Float DPS Kashima rear shock with something a little beefier than the stock Fox 32, so we opted for a 34 Float 140mm fork up front. The new Fit4 damper has had its share of coverage already – suffice to say for now that it’s an improvement over its predecessor.

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We created a bit of a monster and bolted a 140mm Fox 34 Float to the front of the Thundervolt.

Given that this is an XTR group test bike, we didn’t stop at the Di2 drivetrain. Our Thundervolt also features XTR trail brakes and wheels, and the smaller, Race pedals, which work every bit as well as the Trail version, of course, but often leave me wishing for a little more substance in those moments when a foot comes out (intentional or not) and I’m trying to get it back in again before dealing with the next set of glistening roots and mud. Speaking of roots and mud, I originally set this bike up with WTB Vigilante front and Riddler rear tires, but the rear tire especially quickly showed its lack of wet weather capability, so I swapped in a Specialized Butcher up front and a Ground Control on the rear. Nice combination of knob and lowish weight, and I don’t feel like Bambi on ice anymore.

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With all respect to WTB and our friend Nathan Riddle, whom the Riddler tire was named after, it just wasn’t up to our wet shore conditions. Middle of summer would be a much better bet (in lieu of Riddle’s skills).

Dropper posts belong on XC bikes, too, and we got our hands on a Fall Line from the Canadian lads at 9point8. So far it’s doing a kickass job getting the saddle into the right position quickly and smoothly.

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The Fall Line dropper post from 9point8 has been flawless so far. Good looking, too.

For the cockpit, we kept it in the BC family and went with Chromag, but got a little aggressive and opted for an 800mm wide carbon BZA bar, accompanying 50mm stem, and some Squarewave grips. Beefier than needed for this bike but because their weight was still low, I felt that BZA was a good choice, and burly enough to last even after this test bike is torn down and the parts are used elsewhere. Given the size Large’s slightly short TT, a longer stem would allow a bit more room to stretch out, but the steering precision of the shorter stem is worth it. The saddle in the photos is a WTB Silverado but I have subbed in a Chromag Lynx DT.

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Chromag BZA carbon bar and 50mm stem – possibly on the burly end for the intended use of this bike, but still light. I have swapped in Chromag grips for the Renthals seen here to round out the cockpit’s BC roots. Note: the Di2 computer seen there can be mounted on a 35mm bar closer to the stem (as it is now) with an included collar.

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The Rocky logo looks good anywhere, but it’s especially sweet when it’s on your headtube.

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Kaz applied every drop in this photo by hand.

Thoughts

I’ll get into Di2 more deeply in a subsequent article, because it’s really its own story, but a few things bear mention here. First, since this is an XC bike with a dropper post, even 800mm bars start getting crowded. Frankly, I want to ditch the rear shock’s remote lever but have so far left it on because of the novelty of the thing. Truth: short of racing, I find it unnecessary (in part because the bike pedals well even with the shock open), and would rather eliminate a complication from the bar and ditch a bit more weight.

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Too many cables (and there isn’t even a front shifter on this thing). Ditching the shock’s remote lever is tempting…

One unique aspect of Di2 is the ability to run a front and rear derailleur using only one shifter. By tapping into the unit’s programming, you can tell it when you want it to shift from the big ring to the small one based on the gear you have selected in the back. An audible beep lets you know when the next shift will involve the front derailleur. A different beep lets you know when you’re out of gears – in other words, it’s the HTFU beep. It sounds friendly, but it means “no more complaining, buddy, it’s all on you now – I did my part”.

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One of the compelling technological advancements that Di2 has ushered in is user customization and shift mapping. Program your front derailleur to shift based on your riding style, terrain, and preferences. It might sound space-agey, maybe unnecessary, but we also used to laugh at phones with cameras built into them…

This is an XC bike, no matter what I want it to be. I’ll dig into this in more detail in the review, but while the slack head angle and 140mm fork make you want to party, you have to keep in mind that this thing won’t gobble up rough stuff like an AM superbike. It also goes uphill way more efficiently – these are the tradeoffs we sign up for. This may not be everyone’s north shore do-it-all, but it is a superb bike for aggressive cross country riding.

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140mm of Kashima gold up front and a 66 degree head angle will lull you into thinking it’s party time, all the time.

The new XTR Trail wheels are sweet, but the rims already look anemic despite their 24mm internal width. Carbon-laminated alloy? Awesome. 28 spokes front and rear keep the weight down but they aren’t stupid light by any means – approx. 1650g for the set. I do, however, expect them to hold up to a bit of a beating.

I’m so used to wide bars now that even on an XC bike, 800mm feels appropriate. It also stretches out the cockpit a bit, making a Large frame (which fits me a bit on the small side at 6′ 1″) fit better. For strict XC riding or racing, I could imagine going narrower, but for coaxing a small bike down technical terrain, I’ll stick with the confidence and control of a wide bar.

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Will Di2’s electronics short circuit in the wet conditions of the Shore, or the UK? Nope – everything is carefully sealed. Cables pop in place firmly with a well-defined click. You shouldn’t encounter any problems with water creeping in.

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Same awesome XTR precision, but faster and more precise. You can press and hold a thumbshifter and grab 5 gears in less time that it takes to say “shit, I didn’t see that riser coming”.

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The design chops of the team at 9point8 is evident. Cool blend of utilitarian and modern.

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Shimano XTR Trail wheels are things of beauty, starting with the 28H hubs.

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Not surprisingly, the XTR Trail brakes have performed as you would expect: precise, powerful, and consistent.

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There haven’t been many times that I’ve felt the extra cable attached to the shock was necessary, but every now and then I slam that lever at just the right time and go rocketing over a riser and it makes me think I’ll keep it a little longer. Oh, that’s another grease port (silver) staring at you like a third nipple at the base of the shock mount.

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The 9point8 remote dropper lever works great. Those are Renthal grips (which I also like) but Chromags got subbed in. It’s a little crowded on the bar – Di2 shifters don’t mate with Shimano brake levers just yet.

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The Di2 display unit is a slick piece.

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Fox got their Fit damper sorted out for 2016.

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One more time, all together now.


Does electronic shifting get your inner geek fired up, or are you content with cables?

 

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Comments

louis-barnes
0
Louis Barnes  - May 1, 2016, 4:13 a.m.

Can we get more details on uograding to 140mm? Im thinking of doing the same on my 750 (without ride-9) to make it more trail friendly.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - April 25, 2016, 11:50 a.m.

hey pete, i notice you're running a wtb trailboss - any early returns on it as a front tire?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 25, 2016, 1:11 p.m.

I yanked it off because it and the Riddler were overwhelmed in the wet. I'll be giving it another chance on something else (and with a more suitable rear tire) in the near future. Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, but I'll save it for the review.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - April 25, 2016, 1:27 p.m.

i'm assuming it was the never 2.4″ version, which looked like it could be a good fast front tire in dry/hard-packed conditions, but i was surprised to see it on there given the conditions in which the bike was photographed…

looking forward to the full review. i thought the carbon (ride9) thunderbolt seemed like a pretty fun bike, and aesthetically i think this one looks pretty good (with the exception of the white grips)

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 25, 2016, 1:37 p.m.

Yep, the new 2.4 version indeed and yes, they look good for dry/hard. Original intentions for those tires were in dry conditions, but we had a few delays before the bike was assembled and rideable. It was shot before the tires (and a few other parts) were swapped.

New grips are grey with red lock-ons, the white ones were placeholders.

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 25, 2016, 11:01 a.m.

Its a pretty rad sled, but…. man its hideous.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 25, 2016, 11:12 a.m.

I don't like the red, but otherwise I think it's a stunner. Is it the graphics you don't dig or…?

This brings up something I was thinking about the other day which was whether a reviewer's aesthetic taste is something that should be included in a review. There are obvious cases - super ugly or super beautiful - where a mention seems worthy, but in general I've been straying away from it. Does anyone really care if the reviewer likes the look of something or not?

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 25, 2016, 11:36 a.m.

Really its the aesthetics as a whole? If I'm being honest-bordering-on-brutal, if you took off the shiny parts, hung a bunch of Alivio off it, and changed the Rocky to CCM… I'd completely believe it.

I'm not in love with the "utilitarian" look of the current crop of Rockies. You can do all these fantastic things with carbon, and they've made… a bicycle. And while I can see and appreciate the appeal of function>form, I just can't help but think they're really comfortable inside the box, so to speak. And they topped it off what I'd say is a 'kinda mailed this one in' frame, they've painted it with 'meh'.

As a reviewer, its not really your job to speak to the aesthetics; we the commenteriat are perfectly capable of making up our own minds on what we think is good looking (and being the internet, will speak up!). And everyone will never agree on what's good looking, and what's not. Someone else in here will skewer me for thinking this is ugly. That's just like, your opinion, man.

BUT (and its sort of a big one), it probably IS your job to speak to how you think it looks. As the saying goes, you eat with your eyes first; the biases formed at this point will, like it or not, follow you through the review. On extreme end, it'll be hard to fall in love with a bike you find hideous no matter how good it is, and vice versa. So it is possibly worth a mention as it gives those of us on the other ends of The Tubes an idea of where your cognitive biases are with a bike, brand, etc.

Before I ramble on for too long and this ends up longer than the article I'll leave it with a quote from Bill Lear, of Learjet, that I tend to agree with as it applies to most design.

"If it looks good, it will fly good."

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 25, 2016, 1:18 p.m.

Oh good, I tricked you (someone) into engaging. Good points raised and bonus points for the historical quote that, frankly, scares me a little bit. I thought about it some more and of course a reviewer should cover it - at least when it's relevant. Maybe I started to dig into that before by mentioning obvious cases. Such as being a car reviewer and giving a Pontiac Aztec a once- over: you're gonna mention it. Or the new 911. If you don't say something, you might as well claim blindness, or total disinterest.

Bringing it back to bikes, and this bike, and some of my thoughts, because this is about me and not you: I won't try to convince you why you should like the look of the T-bolt, but I can stand up for it a little bit, even if it's going to be backhanded.

On the one hand, I think Rocky has done a commendable job of forging a Design ID and sticking to it. All of their dualies, save the Maiden, look similar. From a brand/marketing perspective, that's good: "oh look, a Rocky". Customers like that, shop owners like it, too.

On the other hand, part of what I like about them - the clean lines, the simplicity - also is making them start to look a bit plain: "I can't tell an Altitude apart from a Thunderbolt from a certain distance". But I still like that simplicity - no excess. And no seat brace, which is a subtle way of saying "our carbon tech rules". Now, that's a personal thing, but I think it's worth mentioning because there's another brand that is in exactly the same situation and it rhymes with Fanta Booze. Where Rockies look simple and utilitarian, SC's are a sultrier - some like that, some don't. Treks and Giants look similar across different models, too, but I don't have as much trouble picking one out from its brothers and sisters. If you spot a proto Rocky on the shore under a rider or PM, good luck figuring out what model it is - that's an unintended benefit.

But calling the Thunderbolt's design 'phoned in' is not being fair. There's a lot going on, and they've kept most of the cool details on the DL unless you look closely. That, to me, is one way of accomplishing good design, whether or not it works for you aesthetically or not.

Oh, hey, my bias: once upon a time I worked for Rocky, for two years. But that was four or five years ago now, and I can assure anyone who is wondering that I can be measured about them. I love the brand, and I (sometimes) loved my time working there, and the bikes, and many of the people I worked with, but it's pretty easy for me to disassociate myself from that now. Which reminds me that I just saw a review in another online mag written by the guy that designed the fucking bike himself and has since moved on to the media side. How that is allowed to fly, I do not know. Where is the Charlie Sponsel anonymous tip line when I need it?

Reply

cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 25, 2016, 2:48 p.m.

Oh dear. Look what you've started.

I agree it should be covered, but I'm not sure about the 'when its relevant' bit. It influences your overall opinion of the bike; therefore its always relevant? The Aztec/911 comparison is apt, and interesting for a myriad of reasons.

The Aztec was many things, and hideous was certainly one of them. It was also way, way ahead of its time as a relatively small, car-platform based, AWD, "SUV" - what we would come to know 10 years later as a crossover. I mention this, because… well, I don't think reviewers necessarily saw an entirely new segment coming that would come to dominate the landscape, but I'm sure it skewed their reviews of what was objectively a pretty interesting (and different) car. Perhaps it if had been easier on the eyes, it would have taken off and Pontiac would still exist today.

The 911 is also many things, pretty is sometimes one of them. Its a GREAT example in this case. The Porsche design department has the easiest job in the world; the silhouette of the 911 is trademarked. (Here's where some designer chimes in and says that makes the job harder, no easier. Bear with me. That's not my point, its a joke.).

The diamond bicycle frame has been around since, what? the 1880's? This bike is more or less just a diamond frame with a section that rotates. With apologies to any Rocky suspension engineers out there reading this - its not exactly revolutionary design. You could have the same suspension kinematics attached to a much more 'sultry' (good word, Pete) package I'm sure. And so much like a 911, you can spot a Rocky from 500 yards, but you'll never know which one it is until it gets closer. I'm not sure how much of this is brand identity, and how much of it is just unremarkable design. 15 years on and this Thunderbolt still looks a whole heck of a lot like a 2001 Slayer (like, really. A lot. Although yes, the suspension is different, just look at both and squint). Its objectively a better bike in every single way, but its evolution not revolution.

As almost an aside, I think the current Altitude is way better looking, part of my beef with this bike is just the paint. But I think this discussion has accidentally gone deeper than that.

Here's the TL;DR -
To steal your words, if I'm going to drop many thousands on a piece of plastic to roll around in the woods on I want some of those dollars to buy adjectives like 'sexy' and 'weapon', not 'utilitarian' or 'plain'. We can, however, completely disagree on what defines 'sexy' or 'sultry'. The Thunderbolt - and by extension most of the Rocky lineup - don't do it for me.

Your biases - noted, and relatively unremarkable TBH. As for the other reviewer, shockingly, this industry is as incestuous as most. But hey I'll bet he gave himself a pretty good review, no? Perhaps Charlie will be up next month for the #enduro.

Are my points (and bonus points!) redeemable for anything?

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sospeedy
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sospeedy  - April 26, 2016, 5:02 a.m.

Great perspectives and discussion on this. Appearance is such a personal thing, but there can be some nice benefits that come with a simple aesthetic design. And lots of people appreciate the work that goes into a design that melds the best functionality into an unfussy aesthetic (which is what i think the likes of Fanta Booze and Rocky achieve). Plenty of brands have adopted that to great effect…and popularity. They may not attract those looking for "bling", but other brands have that part of the market covered. New standards aside, on-trend design is a great way to obselesence at an even faster rate….and to devalue the bikes in our shed at an even faster rate…

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 26, 2016, 4:32 p.m.

The Aztec could have been capable of flying to the moon and plumbing the depths of the Pacific, but that wouldn't change the fact that it looked like the entire staff of the GM headquarters tried to use its face to put out a fire. Function is irrelevant to this discussion because, in your opener, you stated that "Its a pretty rad sled, but…. man its hideous." We're talking form here, function be damned.

Too often, suspension engineers are left in charge of the ID, and it's just not what they're trained to do. Some are skilled at it, but in what other business are the people that figure out HOW to make something work the same ones that decide WHAT it looks like? Not many - at least not many where shit's as complicated as it is with bike suspension kinematics. Anyway, they actually are pretty good at it at Rocky, but one of the designers there used to be a guy who was actually trained in industrial design. He works in the middle of a garlic patch now, for the big red S.

Little history lesson: the Thunderbolt is essentially an evolved Element MSL (Marathon Super Light) with 27.5″ wheels, which was the longer-legged brother of the re-released Element RSL (Race Super Light), released in 2010. The design brief for that Element made very clear that the visual identity of the bike needed to be consistent with the one that won Mountain Bike's Bike of the Year award all the way back in 2000. And the biggest visual indicator is the horizontally-oriented shock mount, below the top tube - which is exactly why it looks like a 2001 Slayer.

But not a 2008 Slayer. Just look at that thing.

So, yeah, it may not look revolutionary, but that wasn't the intention. Fair play if you don't like the look, but there are a lot of people that do think it is a sexy looking weapon. I'm still one of them, but what breaks it down for me a bit is that all Rockys look too similar…Thunderbolt is a fine looking bike, but if it has four siblings with the same hairstyle, is it considered a good looking family, or one that is using hand-me-downs overly judiciously?

Unfortunately, the Robot's days of unleashing tirades in the way we love seem to be over - he lost the ability to do that once he became a sponsored racer. Too bad because his legacy as an online satirist could have been way more legendary than his racing career likely will be. And that's not a hack on his ability to go down - he's pretty quick but his writing is even better.

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cooper
0
Cooper Quinn  - April 27, 2016, 1:32 p.m.

I follow what you're saying for sure. I'm not advocating for 'on-trend' design (I'm not actually sure what that would be in this context, contemporary geometry aside.), but more… "Ok, so we built diamond frame bicycles because it was (is) one of the strongest, lightest best ways given the materials at hand (steel +/- alloy pipes). NOW we have new materials to work with. Can we do it better? Why does it have to look like a diamond?"

If that makes sense…

Reply

cooper
0
Cooper Quinn  - April 27, 2016, 2:03 p.m.

We can definitely all agree the Aztec was born at the top of the ugly tree, fell out, and hit every branch on the way down during its tortured conception. (also, before I make the internet angry, I really don't think this thing is Aztec levels of ugly, I just think its a boring uninspired design, with an ugly paintjob doing it no favors)

I disagree with your interpretation of my initial statement about form vs. function, however. It is relevant, as to me this bike is a bit of an 'Aztec', and I'll stand by that statement. Let me explain.

The Aztec was (kind of) a rad car: smaller car based SUV with AWD features, targeted at an audience that wants to do some of the stuff a 'real' body-on- frame SUV could do, but w/o some of the drawbacks of a full size. Fuel efficiency, PITA size, 'truck like' ride, etc.

Much in the same way, the Thunderbolt is a 'rad sled', in that its a bit smaller than its #endurobro bigger siblings in a more fuel efficient package, but the geometry and build kit make it a pretty capable bike in the right hands. It might not win the race down, but I'll bet some people would be pretty shocked where a short travel bike will get you. Much like the Aztec.

The 'its a pretty rad sled' is a direct reference to its function, not form. In my eyes both are ugly, and that ruins the experience (for me), and will color any further reading and review of the object in question - which brings it back to you, the reviewer and why your opinion of its form matters.

You've hit the nail on the head with the problem; the same people who design how something works should very rarely be the ones deciding what it looks like. Well executed integration of design and engineering is nothing short of high art and starts at day one of a project. In a truly great project, form isn't greater than function, nor the other way around. Each begets the other.

As for the history lesson A) thanks (honestly, not sarcastically), interesting info on the design brief for the Element, and B) god, how glad am I we don't have to look at things like the 2008 Slayer anymore? And lets just not talk about the RM7 (although maybe we should. It was some interesting, more 'out of the box' ideas).

Your issue with Rocky is similar to my issue with Audi; they make some REALLY good looking cars, but then just run them through a photocopier at different sizes to make an A4 in to an A5, then A6, and then A7 and A8.

Reply

tehllama42
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Tehllama42  - April 27, 2016, 8:36 p.m.

I do actually like to have that included in reviews, not so much because I expect the author's subjective reaction to the most subjective part about liking a mechanical device to be hard sold to the reader, but to get a good idea of what the overall immediate knee jerk emotional reaction is to the bicycle as an object. It not only helps color and contextualize the review, but adds a lot of frame of reference indirectly as far as what the reviewer is expecting the bike to do, and ultimately be.
So, please do include that stuff.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - April 27, 2016, 8:49 p.m.

There has to be some added value to the analogous Audi plan: none of them are hideous, all of them work pretty well, and provided nobody spills unfortunate amounts of ink or white-out onto the parts spec sheet, it's going to be a stout performer. Considering that Rocky succeeds on brand identity because the test their stuff with the rigors of the north shore, what more are we asking them for?
If the lemon rate on the Aztek was better, we probably would spend less time giggling our way through similes about how unfortunate looking the vehicle was, and think of it as ahead of its time.
Similarly, the non-stop evolutionary design on the Rocky line makes a ton of sense, as nothing they've made has been a critical or sales disaster. I do wish they'd just BC edition everything and call it a day, but that's the sum total of complaints I have.

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elw
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elw  - April 28, 2016, 7:42 a.m.

Hmm, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. The reviewer in question also works for Scott (I assume we're talking about the same guy), FWIW.

Looking forward to a follow-up on the Thundervolt, especially how the longer fork handles, as I'm still debating the switch to 140 mm on mine.

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 28, 2016, 1:39 p.m.

Ha, if Audi made nothing but RS models, I too would be happy. Except for the pricetags.

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gg
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gg  - April 25, 2016, 10:07 a.m.

I like the paint job Rocky has borrowed from the Blizzard of years past …
Although they seem to have run out of a few maple leaves….

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 25, 2016, 1:20 p.m.

Those maple leaves sold thousands of bikes in Germany alone. But I'm glad to see them moving on from them - IMO they were a way too linear representation of Rocky's Canadian-ness. No different from draping a frame in stars and stripes, and no more imaginative, either.

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 25, 2016, 2:06 p.m.

But seriously, I'd ride this bike all day.

(Kidding. I'm not fast enough.)

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extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - April 25, 2016, 4:18 p.m.

^^That looks almost as awful as a Porsche 911 (but not quite).

I'm in the camp of liking classic looking frame triangles over an abundance of swoopy curves. But then again, I do own 3 different steel frames… So it could just be me.

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - April 25, 2016, 4:31 p.m.

Hey, no hate here for the diamond bicycle. I've got a steel hardtail I LOVE. If it came off that way, I've screwed up. I think the diamond hardtail frame is kinda like a shark. Evolution got there and was like… "Yup. Nailed it."

My point is more… maybe for suspension bicycles with exotic materials, is there a better mousetrap (er…. shark?)?

I'm not advocating complexity for the sake of it, certainly. (I love what Burnsey does at Oddity, but will be the first to say I don't think there's much point to some of what he does beyond 'neat!'.)

And it doesn't need to be 'swoopy', but there's no longer a reason it has to be straight lines, either.

And I agree the above YT is hideous. Posted strictly as a #murica joke.

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extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - April 25, 2016, 5:05 p.m.

I get it. I was just trying to throw my voice for the clean lines of the Rocky. Since I'm a fan of it.

I found it most amusing that you threw in the CCM reference, probably knowing quite well that they're owned by the same company (thumbs up - I laughed).

The only relation I can combat with this has to do with plastic road bikes. Especially during Cervelo's early days I hated the look of their aero frames and much preferred the look of the R series since it had more classic shapes and lines to it. Although road frames are far more steeped in history, but there are still people who really dig the aero shape (like the P series)… and there are the people who absolutely hate it (like me). But back to mountain bikes. I'm a fan of the smooth lines at key tube junctions, but without ruining the classic shape of a bicycle. I do think it is more evolution, but I don't see the need for a shape revolution due to carbon.
A lot of keeping the classic shape may have to do with function. Since Rocky still produces aluminum frames, it makes it easier to keep the linkages the same without having to provide for larger / smaller tubes and the possibility of requiring a different linkage for carbon framed bikes if they were to depart too far from the aluminum frames. Although many brands have abandoned aluminum all together, which then gives them freedom to design purely for carbon.

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sospeedy
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sospeedy  - April 26, 2016, 5:06 a.m.

I think it is great that those Maple leaves still turn up….but in a much more subtle way.

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sospeedy
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sospeedy  - April 26, 2016, 5:20 a.m.

Same company (Procycle) owns CCM and Rocky? Is that still true?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 26, 2016, 4:34 p.m.

It is no longer true.

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extraspecialandbitter
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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - April 27, 2016, 1:42 p.m.

It sounds like they still own the copyright for CCM (cycle). Reebok owns CCM (hockey), but the 2 divisions were split. It wouldn't be unheard of for the CCM bike brand to be revived in 5, 10, 20 years. Maybe as the boring triangular Carbon frames from the 2010 decade.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - April 27, 2016, 3:48 p.m.

Yeah I answered lazily. I meant to say they no longer make CCM bikes. That's different than owning the bike brand. The story behind how the owner of Procycle came to own the CCM brand (both the bike and hockey side, briefly) is really cool. He's a clever one.

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