Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 - First Ride

Oct 17, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  













First Ride:
Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770

Rocky Mountain's new Thunderbolt is the Canadian company's take on a 27.5” wheeled XC / trail bike. Designed with cross-country riding in mind, the bike has an aluminum frame and 120mm of travel, but lacks the steep head angle (and twitchy handling) commonly associated with a purebred XC race bike. Rocky's designers wanted the bike to be more of an all-rounder, so they gave it a 68.5 degree head angle and 427mm chainstays, numbers intended to make for a lively ride that's still competent on the descents.

Thunderbolt 770 Details
• Intended use: XC / trail
• Hydroformed aluminum frame
• Rear wheel travel: 120mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Head angle: 68.5 degrees
• Smoothlink Suspension
• MSRP: $3999.99 USD
Frame and Component Details
The Thunderbolt uses Rocky Mountain's Smoothlink Suspension for its 120mm of travel. It would be easy to mistake this suspension layout for a Horst link design, but take a closer look - the chainstay pivot is actually located above the rear axle, a design derived from Rocky's ETS suspension patent. According to Rocky, this pivot position gives them a wider range of gears where the suspension remains unaffected by pedalling, and also lets them manipulate the rear shock's end-stroke behavior to prevent harsh bottom outs.

The inclusion of a CTD remote is the reason for this much housing at the front of the bike, but internal cable routing helps tuck some of it out of sight. The Thunderbolt's parts kit includes a healthy dose of Race Face and Shimano components.

The bike's hydroformed aluminum frame has a tapered head tube, internal cable routing (including the option for stealth dropper post routing), and a 12x142mm rear thru axle. There are four models in the Thunderbolt lineup, with prices starting at $2099 USD for the Thunderbolt 710. The top tier 770 model (3999.99 USD) we checked out comes smartly specc'd with a mix of Shimano and Race Face components, including Shimano's XT brakes, an XTR rear derailleur, and Race Face's Turbine cranks. The bike rolls on Shimano XT hubs laced to pair of Stan's ZTR Crest rims and shod with Continental's X King 2.2” tires. Fox takes care of the Thunderbolt's suspension, with a Fox 32 120 Float CTD front fork and a Float CTD rear shock. A handlebar mounted remote ties the suspension together and lets riders switch between Climb, Trail, and Descend modes on both the front and rear shock by pushing the thumb activated lever.

Fox's CTD remote has been refined for 2014. The grey lever pulls cable to move to Trail or Climb mode, and the black lever releases cable and returns the fork and shock to Descend mode.

Initial Impressions
The Thunderbolt is a nimble climber, with a fairly upright climbing position that made it easy to balance our weight over the front or rear of the bike as needed. With the rear shock all the way open there was some suspension movement during hard pedaling, but it was nothing that couldn't be fixed with a quick push of the CTD remote lever. Although we're not typically fans of extra handlebar mounted accessories, we ended up using the CTD remote more than expected. Want a firmer platform for a smooth section of trail or an out of the saddle sprint? Push the lever into Trail or Climb mode and pedal away to your heart's content. When things start to get rugged, give it another push and Descend mode puts the suspension into its plushest setting. Having the remote made us more likely to utilize the full range of shock settings since it wasn't necessary to take a hand off the handlebar to switch modes.

On the descents the Thunderbolt had a puppy-like eagerness, darting down the trail and sniffing out every little feature to pop off of. It's easy to get it airborne, and just as easy to get set up for landing. The Thunderbolt's stock spec is perfect for its XC / trail intentions, but our preferred riding style and terrain had us scheming how to eke even more performance out of it. A wider handlebar, meaty tires, and a stouter front fork with slightly more travel could make this into an absolute shredder, a playful, short travel trail bike with enough guts to confidently pick its way through the tricky, technical stuff. Still, the current spec is well thought out (although lacking a dropper post), with a solid parts package well suited to a bike that's meant for long trail rides, but could still roll up to an XC race and hold its own.


www.bikes.com


99 Comments

  • + 53
 Looks clean, but I feel like it's so similar to all the other bikes on the home page these days. I know so many people want AM/Enduro bikes, but there's still lots of us out here who want gravity bikes, DH and DJ and 4x so you guys should review some o those too. Nice bike though.
  • + 2
 companies make more money with the am/enduro craze I guess! It's all about money, not the ride. (lots of enduro/am bikes cost more than double what my DH bike costs!)
  • + 30
 since when is a 120mm trail bike an AM/Enduro bike? they reviewed a DH bike yesterday, but I agree that I haven't seen any DJ or 4X bikes recently
  • + 0
 This isn't an AM/Enduro bike, but it's so similar to everything on the home page that I'm noticing, I'd just like to see a bit of change with some DJ/4x and DH bikes.
  • - 20
flag Lilshredman (Oct 17, 2013 at 8:55) (Below Threshold)
 I want some bikes that are 180mm + travel...I am tired of xc bikes!
  • + 4
 some mini DH and full sus 4x bikes would be awesome
  • + 10
 @Lilshredman I don't remember the last time they reviewed an xc bike on here
  • + 8
 Intended use: XC / trail
  • + 30
 If you want to stare at DH bikes, how about revisiting the bikes from the Red Bull Rampage? 36 bikes for your viewing pleasure: www.pinkbike.com/news/2013-Red-Bull-Rampage-BIKES.html. That should keep you entertained for a few minutes.
  • - 4
flag makripper (Oct 17, 2013 at 9:20) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer. I think people want to see more reviews and contetn on these type of bikes. I cant remember the last time I saw a full fledged bike review and long term test. Maybe the small blurb on the new GT in the summer?
  • + 36
 You mean the full test of the GT Fury (www.pinkbike.com/news/GT-Fury-Tested.html)? There was also a Banshee Legend review (www.pinkbike.com/news/Banshee-Legend-MKII-Tested-2013.html), a Pivot M4X review (www.pinkbike.com/news/Pivot-M4X-Tested-2013.html), and a Specialized Enduro Evo review (www.pinkbike.com/news/Specialized-Enduro-Expert-EVO-Tested.html). We try to mix things up, bringing you a wide variety of bike reviews. DH bikes are great, but the fact is that more and more riders are on all-mountain/enduro bikes, which is why you see more reviews on bikes in this category.
  • - 8
flag Lilshredman (Oct 17, 2013 at 9:28) (Below Threshold)
 Wow, you know your sh*t!
  • + 9
 Personally I love this kind of bike! short travel but stiff enough to ride it like you stole it, for most riders this is all you need to have more fun than you could ever have on a DH bike! more reviews of this type of stuff! Commencal Hip hop next please....
  • + 30
 I may be voicing a minority opinion here, but I enjoy seeing reviews of xc/trail bikes on Pinkbike. I love riding DH, but the bike I spend ~80% of my time on is an xc bike.
  • - 15
flag Lilshredman (Oct 17, 2013 at 12:14) (Below Threshold)
 Well, I think they need to have a couple reviews a week:
xc/trail-Day 1 (monday)
AM/enduro-Day 3 (wednesday)
DH-Day 5 (Friday)
dj/4x/slope-Day 7 (Sunday)
  • + 10
 Lilshredman, that doesn't even sound remotely practical.
  • + 7
 Welcome to pinkbike markde where the users know more about how to run a wildly successful cycling website than all the staff. Oh, and they also all know exactly what's best for the industry and almost everything companies are doing now is wrong and is going to kill the sport.
  • + 17
 DJ bikes? Really?

"This single speed hardtail with shitty tires was so much nicer to ride than that single speed hardtail with shitty tires. Man where do I start?"
  • - 6
flag YoungPedalwon (Oct 17, 2013 at 15:00) (Below Threshold)
 Wow DrSanchez, who put a stick up your ass
  • + 6
 It was a joke man, jeeze!
  • - 1
 I haven't tried it, but it looks just like my 2011 Fuji outland 1.0 26er, and that bike is hella fun, they should of put a dropper with this combo, since it's so expensive...
  • + 4
 $4000 is expensive for the top model? I think it is very fairly priced, and it starts at 2 grand
  • + 2
 Unless it's under 2K for a top of the line full carbon everything bike, it's expensive here.
  • + 4
 Great to see more trail bikes being reviewed, would of thought 5 and 5 bikes are the majority of the mountain bike market these days, looks good rocky
  • + 1
 @lilshredman start up your own website and show PB how it's done. Didn't think so.
  • + 1
 I agree with lilshredman. Don't know whats up with all you whingers neg proping him into obscurity just cos he says he wants to see more dh stuff and more bike reviews in general. I agree 100%. Yes 4 full reviews a week is a bit impractical, but i like his thinking. at least he's saying "this is what i would like to see, can you do anything about that please?" and he gets -15props for saying it. You guys are mad. Then Dr sanches gets +15 for saying every dj bike is just a shitty hardtail with shitty tyres. I would put forward the suggestion that perhaps dr sanches' wheels don't stray to far from the ground? I mean, thats totally up to him, but don't rip on someone just cos they can do something you are scared of. Im sorry to say it but yes most bikes sold brand new are trail bikes. I sell them, they are bought by 40somethings with money to burn. Most dh and dj builds are exactly that. bikes built up, by the owner, using second hand bits they can afford. That doesn't mean we don't still want to drool over the sexiest dh bikes. it gives people something to aspire too. So yeh, dont stop reviewing the trail bikes, but a 50/50 split between xc and dh would be nice, not like the 80/20 in favour of xc we get these days just cos trail bikes are the new big money spinner.
  • + 1
 Thanks bro!
  • + 2
 >Don't know whats up with all you whingers neg proping him into obscurity just cos he says he wants to see more dh stuff and more bike reviews in general. I agree 100%.

Couple things. He expressed his opinion and that's fine. He's entitled to it despite the fact we actually get a good mix of bikes reviewed... But anyways... Those downvotes are other peoples way of expressing their opinion that they disagree with him. They don't have to explain themselves. And truthfully, complaining about props is really silly. Do they invalidate what he says? No. Basically what you're doing is complaining that people don't agree with what you or he thinks. So in essence you think everyone should agree with you, which is... I'll be nice and call it "silly".

>You guys are mad.

I think you're mad.

>Then Dr sanches gets +15 for saying every dj bike is just a shitty hardtail with shitty tyres. I would put forward the suggestion that perhaps dr sanches' wheels don't stray to far from the ground?

I think you missed where he said he wasn't being serious about that post, but okay... Make personal attacks towards him if it makes you happy.

> but don't rip on someone just cos they can do something you are scared of.

Kind of hypocritical that you say this after ripping on someone, but again, okay...
  • + 0
 if anyone is getting upset about some fake internet personal evaluation system (props) then I think you need to sort out your lot in life and maybe think about the big picture. Its really kind of sad, isn't it? Not in the figurative way but literally sad. I know I'm being hypocritical here but if this irritates you then maybe you should get off the internets and go outside?



And what the hell is a whinger?
  • + 1
 i complain about the neg props because it means that his comment gets hidden. surely the idea is to remove comments that are offensive or whatever, not just to hide real points of view that you dont agree with or like hearing. i like reading peoples points of view, whether i agree or not. sometimes ones i disagree with are the most interesting cos they make me look at something in a different light. i get bored of wading through hundreds of comments saying "this thing is made by my favorite company and therefore i like it" "or "this is sweeeet. but it'd be sweeter in red" looking for one that says "i was looking at this and this part here looks a bit wrong to me for whatever reason, what do you guys think?" or even "this is sweet, but it would be sweeter in red cos its an intense and they always look sweet in red for some reason". just anything that is actually an interesting point, that i might actually make me think about something i havent thought about before. whatever, sorry if i offended anyone.
  • + 1
 You've been Thunderstruck!
  • + 1
 Cyrix you negative nancy
  • + 0
 Being horribly depressed for 2 years will do that to a person dbaser. So trust me, I'm aware of it.
  • + 1
 this comments section is priceless
  • + 1
 cyrix - it happens to nearly everyone at some point in their life. seriously, try entering some little local race or something. its amazing what a little competition will do for your mindstate. Bear in mind you are most likely not going to win, or even place much better than the slowest 30% on your first race, but the drive it will give you to train, to eat well and improve for next time does wonders for people. this might be the biggest load of rubbish you have ever read, but i think there's something in it. everything is made so easy in life nowadays that ppl get bored. racing is hard cos you are pitted against other real human beings. its amazing how invigorating this can be.
  • + 39
 Dear pinkbike - please fix your mobile formatting.
  • + 4
 And please fix your full website too. From, people who can't get forum updates
  • + 3
 In my mobile I have problems with names and numbers in results and bike details that are unreadeble in my S3 Samsung. Also the bigger photo is always in half.
  • + 18
 "prices starting at $2099 USD for the Thunderbolt 710. The top tier 770 model (3999.99 USD)"

So you're saying there's a chance!
  • + 3
 Ikr $4k for a top tier build kit, i'm sure there are some bottom tier kits around that price range. If the bike maintains similar performance at the lower price point i'd look into it for something a bit lighter...
  • + 1
 @moefosho, good call, nice price range
  • + 4
 I got a chance to demo this bike a few weeks back. Totally agree with this review. It's a super playful bike. I got use to the narrow bar by the end of the ride but for how much this bike liked to sniff out lips and air on the trail, the wheels and tires were less than confidence inspiring. It was only limited by it's lack of meat on the tires and flexy wheels. I'd love to get this bike and slap some 2.4s tire wise with a wider stiffer rim....and of course a reasonably wide handle bar.
  • + 7
 I logged on to pinkbike today to look at the POD and to Piss and Moan, and I already looked at the POD...
  • + 6
 This is the perfect bike for going fishing. All those cables will be a perfect net for all kinds of fish
  • + 1
 Seriously it is insane. I don't even like having 2 cables I can't fathom having 14 switches and knobs to fiddle with in my cockpit. And the amount of cable slap on that thing must be wild.
  • + 2
 You could take all the cables off and be happy. Smile You won't be able to control any of the features of the bike, but you won't have the cable problem anymore!
  • + 3
 It looks similar to a Transition Bandit, Blur TRc and Yeti asr-5. There aren't enough short travel tail bikes with aggressive geo. I have a Blur TRc and it's hilariously good fun.
  • + 2
 Agreed. Light aggressive bikes put a big stupid smile on my face every time I ride one. My local single-track trails are very up&down, lots of little drops, tight hair-pin corners, roots and boulders, my Yeti is fantastic on those types of trails.

I think if you could convince most "freeriders" to try a bike like this rocky, they'd buy one.
  • + 4
 The bike that you want to make it with a longer fork and bigger tires Rocky already makes. The altitude. And its awesome
  • + 1
 I also got to ride this bike (probably the same exact one if that's a large) at Outerbike. I loved it. It's like a DH rider's XC/trail bike. Nice angles, fairly spry, fun to pop off stuff, light. It's a great complement bike to your 6" AM bike or DH rig. Like someone else said, it's the perfect bike for most trails. Throw on a little wider bar, a little stiffer,longer fork, some fatter tires and a dropper post and I suspect it would handle some fairly rowdy stuff as well.
  • + 1
 I rode one in Europe last summer, loved it. The original Thurnderbolt (circa 1992) was pretty decent too
  • + 3
 It looks like the (time tested) RM Element. I used to race on an Element, loved that thing. My girlfriend rides an element on for all disciplines, DH, trail, AM, etc.
  • + 2
 just a little more travel than the element, and slacker geo, also a smaller/bigger wheelsize than the new/old element.
  • + 4
 My ex girlfriend used to ride my element
  • + 1
 Although I love carbon fibre, I do prefer aluminium frames. Not because they're less expensive, they're just overall stronger and the strength of the frames structure isn't compromised if it gets smacked hard against some jagged rocks. Good to see this bike in aluminium.
  • + 3
 if i smack a carbon bike as hard as i smack you, u would break before carbon.
  • + 3
 2007 called. They want their opinion on carbon back.
  • + 0
 Well your mom sure likes it when I smack her hard lol
  • + 1
 full of dumb comments on PB today. Not really surprised. www.pinkbike.com/video/243228
  • + 4
 look, a rare shimano spec bike.
  • + 1
 Mike Kazimer - sweet bike choice with the equipment for my liking. Just the kind of bike I'm looking into. Not an 160 mm travel AM bike, but just right for my forest trails. Thanks.
  • + 3
 perfect bike for most riders, just people think they need 160mm etc, great product
  • + 1
 " A wider handlebar, meaty tires, and a stouter front fork with slightly more travel could make this into an absolute shredder,"

So basically, if this were an entirely different bike, we could go downhilling with it.
  • + 0
 I'm getting pretty sick of this frame/rear sus layout, mainly because I think it's ugly. Shallow yes. But it's my money and i wanna spend it on something that can put a smile on my face even if I'm not riding it
  • + 1
 then do it haha
  • + 1
 Silly posers.
  • + 1
 I ride konas, about as uncool/poser as it gets. There's just summat about this swing link layout I hate. Probably cuz everybody rides specialized round were I live. And since the patent opened everyone is knocking these out. Im buying a 153 process by the way it's pretty and fast as f#&k so il be happy which is all that matters.
  • + 4
 Holy cables batman!
  • + 2
 all those cables make it look sloppy as a soup sandwich but I wouldn't mind taking it for a nice long ride.
  • + 1
 The birds nest up front was also something I could nit pick, but could be remedied by a lack of front shifter and getting rid of the fork remote
  • + 0
 If I look at the frame instead of the phenomenal spec I am simply not impressed. Not trying to be a snob but that is a respectable amount of money to drop on a frame that appears pretty basic, just my perspective.
  • + 1
 Are they supposed to make it more complicated just for the sake of doing so?
  • + 1
 I am simply stating that for four thousand dollars I am unimpressed at first glance by this bicycle. I have never had the chance to ride it so perhaps it is fantastic, however the competition has options around this price point that appear more aesthetically and technically appealing. Whether an Epic or Stumpjumper from Specialized, Fuel Ex from Trek, Santa Cruz Blur. Some of these options are not correlate precisely with the Rocky Mountain, however my point remains the same.
  • + 3
 Like the bike, but don't like pf bb.
  • + 1
 Rocky's bike lineup has something for everyone. Its cool that they answer to demands that riders want. Way to go RM!!
  • + 1
 Seems like a good bike with a good price point. I do like the ano ' green bits.
  • + 1
 Yet another reviea sans frame + shock weight and an "as tested" weight :-(
  • + 1
 Best Quebekers bike. Just the right amount of wheels diameter and travel.
  • + 1
 I hope I can test ride one....just the ticket...
  • + 1
 looks booshey
  • + 0
 looks like the boardman full sus bike
  • + 1
 26 inch version?
  • + 2
 Nope. Except for the flatline, flow, and slayer (which is due for redesign for next year anyway), Rocky has no 26er models left except for a very low end hardtail. There's simply insufficient actual PAYING customers for them to waste the effort on them anymore. A few hundred folks complaining on a web forum doesn't amount to anything to a company that sells a half million bikes a year worldwide.
  • + 2
 deeeight, why do you ALWAYS have to write your comments in such a way that they make you look like an arrogant douchebag, even when they are actually relevant to the topic? You would have answered allsk8sno's question completely sufficiently if you had put a full stop after "very low and hardtail". That's where the helpful, relevant information he asked for ends. Mind you, I'm not arguing with the opinion you expressed here (a pointless waste of time, whether I agree or not), it's just the way you address people. You just can't simply answer a question to your best knowledge and call it a day, can you? I guess you would suffer physical pain if you just once didn't talk anyone down...
  • + 1
 Not my fight, but deeeight is much more civil that the posts that prompted his standard replies to this dead question.
  • + 0
 Looks fun. Rather have a DMR bolt tho
  • - 1
 Review 2014 glory pink bike Big Grin
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