First Look: 2022 Rocky Mountain Element – When XC Becomes Aggro

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Rocky Mountain today launched a much more aggressive new version of its Element range. The Element, known for being a cross-country racing bike, now has top-down credentials that, on paper at least, could challenge the XC label.

This bike is a complete overhaul and features radically more aggressive geometry. Indeed, not only does it see the range increase between 30 and 40 mm depending on the size, but it also reduces the head angle by about four degrees in its neutral mode.

Rocky mountain element

Frame material: Carbon or alloy
Intentions: Trail / Downcountry?
To travel: 120 mm (fork 130 mm)
Wheel size: XS 27.5 “- S / M / L / XL 29”
Head tube angle: 65.0 – 65.8 °
To reach: 480 (large)
Price: $ 2,559 – US $ 9,589
More info: bikes.com

Speaking to some of the staff at Rocky, they make it clear that while this bike aims to be very fit for climbing and comfortable enough to ride all day, it kind of moves away from the idea of a complete XC racing platform. . The way they say it is that it is tailor-made for stage races such as the BC Bike Race. In events like this there’s a huge amount of vertical rise to be conquered, but people don’t traditionally tackle it on 100mm all-terrain RIBs that prioritize weight over everything. the rest. Instead, people ride bikes that can do everything the racing bike can do, but also a lot more.

In fact, it is this style of XC bike, your the low-country build, which is probably best suited for your average Joe, including me. Personally, I would have little interest in having an XC racing rig in my garage. A bike like the Element, however, is an entirely different proposition. I could enjoy it on a daily basis and, if I had to let myself fall into the climbs on a group ride, I can assure you it wouldn’t be the bike’s fault.

Frame details

The new item has a host of frame features. Some you might expect like Rocky’s fidelity to multi-position geometric bullets, although this has now been reduced to just four positions instead of 9. The Ride-4 setting uses a single Allen key to give four different positions. . riding positions that will affect the head and the effective angle of the seat tube by almost a degree.

The Element uses a slim-looking four-bar system to deliver 120mm of travel on the rear wheel, paired with a 130mm fork up front.

There is also smart sizing in terms of wheel size. Instead of trying to cut out a 29-inch wheel in all sizes, or even use a mixed-wheel setup, Rocky decided to offer the very small one in 27.5 inches. A consequence of the smaller wheels, along with the Element’s increased travel and more aggressive geometry, means the Thunderbolt is being removed from the Rocky lineup entirely. The new extra-small element features significantly more clearance (33mm) than Thunderbolt in the same size.

All 29 inch frames can be fitted with two water bottles. The smaller one has to settle for one, but this is somewhat rectified by comfortably accepting a 750ml bottle.

The sleek tube continues to the rear of the bike to present a rear axle sheltered within the contours of carbon.

Carbon and alloy models offer more frame protection, chain guide, internal bike-compatible brake and gear routing, SRAM universal mount as well as shielded bearings. The main pivot nut on all bikes is interchangeable with the one on Instincts and Altitudes to accept Rocky’s Canadarm chain guide.

Bikes will gladly take anything from a 30 to 36 tooth chainring and have clearance for a 2.6 inch tire. They also feature size specific shock tunes.

Geometry

The Element, from the start, is considerably more progressive than its predecessor. Not only does it decrease by about 4 degrees in the head angle, but the range also increases substantially. In fact, the bigger the size, the bigger it gets and the extra-large, comparing both the new bike and the outgoing bike in their neutral settings, increases its reach by 38mm. It’s a huge change.

Unsurprisingly, the angle of the seat tube has also been accentuated to keep an eye on the front during the climb. The seat tube angle is now around 76.5 degrees, depending on the size and position of the chip. The seat tube itself is short enough to put many modern enduro bikes to shame and will allow long drop seatposts as standard. The big one that was sent to us has a very healthy drop of 175mm.

Suspension

Rocky revised the kinematics of the new Element to increase the anti-squat, which is about 103% on sag. The increased anti-squat should ensure a good platform as the rider accelerates.

Rocky believes riders will now be able to not only benefit from a lower spring rate with less damping, and reap the grip benefits associated with that, but also access the full range of travel when needed as there is has less progress at the end of the shock stroke.
Models

The bike is available in alloy and carbon, with higher end versions being predictable on non-metallic bikes. The Alloy 10, the base model, comes with a Deore level specification and which is improved by the Alloy 30 to finally achieve a solid SLX and Fox Performance build kit on the Alloy 50 which sells for US $ 4,049.

Carbon models start with $ 4,259 Carbon 30 which also features an SLX construction, but differentiates itself from the Alloy 50 with a Marzocchi Z2 fork and lower specification components including custom Shimano brakes. They then progress through the 50’s and 70’s to the loaded high-end XTR Carbon 90 which sells for US $ 9,589.


Initial impressions

The Rocky is an interesting bike to ride. I was fortunate enough to drive it to Squamish, just up the road from the Rocky Mountain offices in Vancouver and to a town where the aforementioned BC Bike Race takes place. If this bike is to shine anywhere, this is the place.

After a few months of riding on longer touring bikes, namely the ones shown in our field test, the Element looks like a lot of things I’ve grown used to, but in a much lighter and livelier package, and he keeps his promise to be XC for BC en masse. In the few days that I have had it, it has been shown to be fun, alive, and actually a very comfortable bike to ride. Sometimes when a bike’s geometry outperforms the rides offered, it means your body ends up paying the price, but that isn’t the case with the Element. It’s not only a fun bike to ride, but it’s a fun bike to ride all day.

One thing that quickly becomes apparent is that the stack height is pretty low, around 30mm less than something like the Transition Spur or the Specialized Epic Evo. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s probably a good way to offer the Element to a wider variety of riders, but it made me wonder if I should own the bike if I did. would get used to it or if I was looking for a higher bar. Probably a combination of the two. After all, this bike is supposed to be fast on cross country trails and not crash into steep terrain where an enduro brute would be a better choice.

My first impressions were generally very positive and I hope we can present this bike in our next field test.


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