Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 First Test – Full Suspension – Mountain Bikes

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Aggro cross-country bikes are all the rage these days, and Rocky Mountain has filled that gap in their lineup with the new Element.

With trail bike geometry but less weight, shorter travel and smoother tires, is it the best of both worlds?

Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 Frame Details

There are three aluminum framed models and four carbon fiber bikes in the Element lineup, all available with 29er or 650b wheels.

The C70’s full carbon chassis is built using Rocky’s Smoothwall process, where fibers and resin are wrapped around a solid mold, instead of the usual air bladder.

This is said to reduce excess material and give a better strength to weight ratio. Different layers are used on the frame to give the necessary strength, stiffness or impact protection in specific areas.

The Element offers 120mm of rear wheel travel via a Horst-link four-bar suspension design.

Rocky’s RIDE-4 adjustment system lets you choose between four shock positions on the toggle link, each altering the bike’s geometry and suspension rate.

In the slacker setting, this offers a 65-degree head angle, an effective seat tube angle of 76 degrees, and a bottom bracket drop of 47mm.

A RIDE-4 flip chip in the toggle link allows you to switch between four frame configurations.
Andy Lloyd / Our media

That increases to a 65.8-degree head angle, 76.8-degree seat tube angle and 36mm bottom bracket drop in the steepest setting.

Four sizes are available (small to extra-large), with reach figures ranging from 425mm to 505mm in the ‘slack’ setting, and increasing by 8mm in the ‘stiff’ setting.

All share 435mm live chainstays (436mm loose). Each frame has a size-specific shock setting, which is a nice feature.

The front triangle has plenty of room for two bottle cages or a cage and tool rack, and there is decent chainstay protection as well as the expected internally routed cables.

Geometry Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 (POS 3)

Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 Kit and Specs

Rocky’s Smoothwall carbon lives up to its name.
Andy Lloyd / Our media

There’s no shortage of solid parts on the C70, which is a level below the top-end C90 model.

While the geometry is aggro, the Fox 34 fork nods to the fact that this is a ‘rad XC’ platform rather than a trail bike, with 130mm of travel and the brand’s lighter but less adjustable FIT4 shock, rather than the GRIP2 cartridge.

It’s a similar story with the Shimano XT brakes – Rocky opted for the lower weight of the two-piston version over the full horsepower of the four-piston variant. The rear shock is a Fox Float DPS with a three-position lockout lever.

Shimano’s reliable XT drivetrain takes care of the gears. The bike rolls on relatively narrow WTB ST Light i27 TCS 2.0 wheels shod in fast-rolling Maxxis Rekon EXO 3C MaxxTerra tires—another sign that the Element C70 is built for quick ground cover.

Rounding out the spec is a Race Face Turbine R dropper and own-brand cockpit kit.

Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 driving impressions

Maxxis Rekon tires maintain low rolling resistance.
Andy Lloyd / Our media

A bike designed to take on the ups, downs and everything in between with enthusiasm has a tough job to do, and some compromises are inevitable.

The Rekon tires are an element that has an obvious effect on the performance of the C70.

With their low-profile tread, relatively light EXO carcass and firm 3C MaxxTerra compound, they keep rolling resistance low, improving the bike’s climbing prowess and ensuring you don’t feel like you’re dragging a trail. mule on the trails.

Their 2.4-inch width adds a little extra comfort over the thinner XC rubber, as well as a slightly more mechanical grip, thanks to a larger contact patch.

Geometry-wise, I started in position three (the second stiffest – how the bike was set up) and then moved to the slacker setting.

It didn’t significantly compromise the climbing position, with the 76-degree seat tube angle still putting me in a comfortable mid-position on the bike and the moderate 450mm (average) reach allowing me easily load the front wheel on steep climbs while maintaining traction at the rear.

The Element never felt like it was stealing my power thanks to the suspension bob, so I left the lockout off and the shock free to soak up trail imperfections, without sinking too deep in its stroke.

Point the Element down and its 65 degree head angle gives you the confidence of a trail bike.

This is aided by the rear suspension, which, while offering plenty of support, lets you use its travel to eliminate a surprising amount of the bite from square-edged bumps.

Over rougher terrain, the Rekon tires hold the bike back—here, a more aggressive tread and softer rubber would provide more grip, at the loss of some rolling speed on more docile trails.

The FIT4 fork also struggled to deliver the same compliance as the rear suspension, and the Rocky Mountain handlebars were a bit harsh.

Rocky Mountain Element C70 29 bottom line

Aggro XC bikes are all the rage these days, and Rocky Mountain has filled that gap in their lineup with the new Element.
Andy Lloyd / Our media

Ultimately, it’s a capable bike that can be whatever you want it to be. If maximum average speed is your thing, leave the spec as is.

On the other hand, if you’d rather sacrifice climbing pace for singletrack flow, stick some sturdier rubber and unleash the frame’s full potential.

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