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First Look: Rocky Mountain Instinct MSL

Jul 1, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
Home on the Shore:

Rocky Mountain's

New Headquarters
This rack held various artifacts from Rocky Mountain Bicycle's history, everything from steel cross-country hardtails to early freeride bikes like the Pipeline and the RM9.

Raymond Dutil during the BC style
ribbon cutting ceremony.
After moving to a new office and research lab location at the base of Mt. Seymour in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Rocky Mountain Bicycles now has one of the best locations imaginable for product testing and development. The trails of the North Shore have played a key part in Rocky's history, which began in a Vancouver bike shop in 1981, but their previous office location wasn't as conveniently located, and involved dealing with miles of busy traffic before reaching the trailhead. This is no longer the case, and the technical, rooty trails that made this region famous are now only a short pedal away. We stopped by to check out the new location, as well as learn more about the 2014 Instinct MSL, the new carbon fiber version of the company's 130mm 29er.

The day began with a British Columbia style ribbon cutting, where instead of a ribbon, Raymond Dutil, the company's president, sawed through a log to mark the official opening of the new location. The front of the building houses the desks of Rocky Mountain's engineers, sales and support staff, while a full featured testing and design center occupies the other half of the building. A CNC machine, welding station, and numerous devices to test frame strength lets designs to go from concept to reality in the same location. Rocky has always been a firm believer in real world testing, and with riders like Wade Simmons, Thomas Vanderham, and Geoff Gulevich on their team, there's no doubt the test sleds see a proper thrashing.

After touring the facilities, we went with Wade Simmons, Andreas Hestler and a few other Rocky Mountain employees to see how the Instinct MSL handled its home terrain. There are two versions of the new bike, the Instinct and the Instinct MSL BC Edition. The BC Edition has a carbon front triangle and aluminum rear triangle, along with a longer travel front fork that slightly alters the geometry compared to the standard version. Plus, it comes spec'd with a burlier build kit for riders that find themselves seeking technical, demanding trails. That description fits our riding preferences, so we snagged a BC Edition and headed out for a slightly slippery Shore ride.

  The machine on the left tests seat tube strength - the chain pulls vertically for a set number of cycles to ensure the frame meets Rocky's tolerances. The green beast in the top right is a seat tube reamer, and below that are various bits for the CNC machine.


Rocky Mountain

Instinct MSL

BC Edition

Instinct MSL BC Edition Details

• 130mm travel
• 29" wheels
• Smoothwall carbon monocoque front triangle, 7005 series aluminum rear triangle
• Weight: 30lbs (claimed)
• Price: $5399 USD

• ISCG-05 tabs
• 142x12mm thru-axle
• Ride 9 Adjustable geometry and suspension rate
• Internal cable routing
• Availability: Late October

Frame Construction
The Instinct uses Rocky Mountain's Smoothwall construction for the carbon portions of the frame. Smoothwall construction involves using a rigid inner mold during the carbon layup instead of relying solely on an air bladder, a process that helps prevent imperfections in the frame, creating an inner shape that exactly mirrors the frame's outer shape. There is also a high fiber to resin ratio, which helps to create a frame that is as strong as possible and relies on the strength of the fibers rather than the resin.

Suspension Design
Like the aluminum version, the Instinct MSL uses Rocky's Smoothlink suspension design, a true four bar design where the pivot is positioned above the rear axle by 10mm. The design is intended to remain neutral when riders are climbing, allowing the suspension to absorb bumps without interfering with pedalling. The Ride 9 system, a chip system that is also found on the Instinct MSL, allows riders to alter both the geometry and the suspension rate of the bike. To simplify figuring out the correct configuration, riders can visit ride9.bikes.com and use the interactive chart to figure out their settings.

  Like its aluminum brother, the Instinct MSL uses Rocky's Smoothlink suspension design in the rear to give riders the ability to choose the setting that best fits their riding style. A tapered headtube with internal cable routing keeps the front end looking clean and clutter-free.

Component Check
The Instinct BC Edition comes decked out with a properly wide (785mm) handlebar, a short stem, and 29” x 2.4” wide tires, which falls in line with what many riders are doing to their bikes as aftermarket upgrades. A 140mm FOX 34 slackens the head angle slightly compared to the standard Instinct. Depending on the orientation of the Ride 9 chip, it's possible to set the bike up with a head angle of 66.6°, making this one of the slackest 29ers currently on the market. In addition to the longer travel front fork, the FOX CTD rear shock has a firmer tune than what is found on the standard Instinct, making it less likely to blow through its travel when ridden by a more aggressive rider on rowdier terrain. A Rock Shox Reverb dropper post and a 2x10 setup with a chainguide are the finishing touches on the bike, making it extremely well equipped for long days of bombing down the nastiest trails around.


Photo Margus Riga
  We were able to take the Instinct MSL BC Edition out for a spin on the trails where it was conceived.

First Impressions:
bigquotes What better place to get acquainted with a bike than on the trails it was designed and tested on? Our test lap on the Instinct MSL BC Edition involved a little bit of everything - dirt road climbing, slippery, rooty singletrack, and even a swoopy, berm filled trail that had just opened, thanks to the hard work of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA). The Instinct ate it all up, but it seemed to have the biggest appetite for charging downhill and encountering obstacles head on. This makes sense, given the Instinct's longish wheel base and chainstay length, geometry numbers that tend to work better at higher speeds. While our time on the Instinct was quite enjoyable (it's hard not to have a good time if Wade Simmons is the ride leader), we'll need more time on the bike to come any firm conclusions. For now, Rocky Mountain seems to have created a bike that should be well suited to their backyard, a backyard that's even closer than before. - Mike Kazimer

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  • 129 0
 I don't even refer to the Slayer I ride as "my Slayer" , it is "the Slayer", out of reverence. Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and say "the Slayer is hungry" and go for a quick ride around the barn in my underwear with a headlamp on. Sorta like "Stormbringer", the blood-lusting sword Elric of Melnibone wields in Michael Moorcock's fantasy novels which, while conferring ruthless power to it's user, also demands constant, soul crushing sacrifice.
The Slayer is pretty much the standard by which I judge other bikes, even road bikes, for their fun factor.
  • 18 2
 This post made me laugh so hard I have to sand my discs all over again.
  • 8 0
 "malathion", you sir are a poet. BTW, nice rig!
  • 3 0
 Elric reference tips the hat. Dungeons and Dragons sir?
  • 2 0
 doh... my instinct thought this was going to be the intro to the new slayer, the 170mm f/b version of the altitude.... I just feel funny all inside when I"m riding 29ers... nothing to do with instinct. But she looks marvellous :-)
  • 2 0
 @leelau haha yeah complete nerd
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 That was fantastic lol
  • 1 0
 my instinct is no for sale people
  • 2 0
 Just added a new series to my amazon wish list.
  • 6 0
 This looks nice. I like how the first two posts on today's newsfeed have two completely different bikes from two completely different companies with near identical colour schemes.
  • 2 0
 I am looking at getting a 2013 slayer but i really shouldn't buy until all the new rocky's are announced. Anyone have thoughts on the slayer?
  • 1 0
 Ridden/owned both, Slayer is a confident descender but not as xcish on the uphills compared to the altitude. I prefer the altitude slightly, it sends it with some High Rollers and a dropper, Slayer was really fun as well. Both great bikes, slayer is a bit stiffer as well. Be ready for the carbon slayer next year as well.
  • 1 0
 Word is the slayer is going to be re done in carbon with slightly less travel. I want a slayer because i already have an xc dualie and i want to add a bike with more DH capabilities after all i will still have the XC. Hopefully new bikes will be announced this week!
  • 5 1
 slayer in carbon? and less travel? sighh.. carbon ruins the purpose of the slayer as my bashing the crap out of bike and less travel would take the fun out of a great pedalling bike IMO, but yeah I'd recommend the slayer, I've had mine since 2012 (not long but whatever) and it's a great bike, very light, very poppy/playful/active, great at plowing, not super stiff though (compared to a commencal v3 anyway) so I'd strongly recommend grabbing it as it's a great descender with very good uphill capabilities, try the altitude if you want but not sure if 650b is your thing
  • 3 0
 I have a 2011 Slayer and it is a beast, but you do have to understand it is not a XC bike at all, it climbs well enough for a 165mm travel bike but the only reason i make it climb is to get it to the top so i can unleash it downwards. It handles anything you put in front of it, I just finished a week in Whistler and it did everything from the valley trails, lost lake XC trails, and full days in the bike park, I could never be happier with it. Would love to see if they did a carbon version of it, but as my build stands its pretty indestructible, But i do agree with finnrambo in that they shouldn't decrease its travel if they went carbon, would ruin its personality as a bomber -Full XT build -Stan Flows on Hope Pro II evo -Rockshox Lyrik and Monarch Plus -Renthal Cockpit -Reverb Get one you wont regret it
  • 4 0
 RM 29ers Rock____0^0_____
  • 2 0
 I ride a 2013 Instinct. The bike is legit. Demo one if you can...i can't wait to get my gruby paws on the new carbon version!
  • 1 0
 I would give my right nut to be Mike Kazimer. Riding new, beautiful unreleased bikes your whole life and GETTING PAID TO DO IT? Damn...
  • 2 0
 I want to try one looks sick.
  • 2 1
 The Instinct is addictive as (y) and has perked my interest. I want to poke and prod one. Yummy
  • 2 0
 Hmmm yes, want. They even go up to XXL!
  • 1 0
 Second that, good sir. That's what I need to try! Seems all of the bikes I've been riding lately have felt too small.
  • 3 1
 nice video, but where's Gulevich's backflip on this bike?
  • 2 0
 That is looking HOT, could be what converts me to the 2niner.
  • 1 0
 Interesting that they spec'd it stock with a chainguide but they didn't for the Altitude.
  • 1 0
 ...I'll have one...It's one of those 29ers that doesn't look like a 29er...Schwing!...
  • 1 0
 sign me up, looks amazing
  • 2 1
 I really miss the "canuck" paint on rocky's frame
  • 2 1
 30lbs? Neeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
  • 5 1
 The beefed up "BC Edition" comes in at 30.2 lbs, but the Instinct 999 MSL is 25 lbs (size medium, with tubes), and the frame-only is 2350g (size medium, including shock & hardware).
  • 2 5
 I will never trust RM carbon frames or their warranty. My Altitude cracked before its first b-day at the bottom bracket just doing XC riding and they said it was my fault it cracked and refused to warranty it. This bike never went off a drop higher then 2ft. Obviously I'm still bitter about it. Never again Rocky Mountain, never again.
  • 1 0
 Well that is just beautiful.
  • 1 0
 who wants to ride my 29" slayer?!
  • 1 0
 Check please!
  • 1 2
 I will keep my Pivot 5.7c size large with d.o.s.s. post. 27.01 lbs
  • 1 2
 yes please!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 3
 Funny how you show wood. For stunts? hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha
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