Bike Check: Thomas Vanderham's Rocky Mountain Instinct BC Edition

Sep 24, 2019
by Ross Bell  

Think of Thomas Vanderham and you'll more than likely conjure up a freezeframe from the likes of Roam and Seasons, or an image of him soaring through the Utah skyline or deep in the dark and misty woods of British Columbia. While we might not see Thomas at the likes of Rampage anymore, his time is spent involved in a range of media projects throughout the year and a little closer to home he works alongside the engineers and designers at Rocky Mountain to help develop their lineup, ensuring the Rocky athletes are getting what they need from the bikes.

Thomas has been part of the Rocky Mountain family for over 15 years now and has been able to experience their bike development first hand, pushing each iteration of bike to its limit and sometimes over it, especially in the early days when the bikes weren't holding up to the abuse they were being dished out. Thomas describes his style of riding these days as "aggressive trail riding" spending more time behind the bars of long-travel trail bikes rather than burly downhill rigs. Anyone who has seen him ride knows how effortlessly he pops and plays with terrain, and as we found out his bikes are set up with this in mind.

After a day deep in Ecuador's backcountry earlier this year with H+I Adventures we decided to see what Thomas looks for in his bike setup, specifically the Rocky Mountain Altitude BC Edition he'd opted for from this quiver:

Height 5’11”
Weight 185 lbs
Hometown North Vancouver, BC
Model Instinct BC Edition
Frame Size Large
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension Fox 36 and Fox X2 Shock
Drivetrain & Brakes Shimano XTR
Cockpit OneUp Components
Wheels & Rubber Shimano & Stans / Maxxis High Roller II

So you've been with Rocky for a good 15 years or so now, having spent that much time on one brand it must be cool to follow the bike development and advancements within one single brand instead of jumping between companies like most other riders?

Oh certainly. It's been awesome to maintain the relationship for that long and, in terms of the bikes, I've definitely been through a lot with them. I was even keen on giving feedback back on my first Rocky, which was an RM6, as a 15 or 16 year old kid because really at that time the bikes were not holding up to the abuse that we were putting them through. It's been a really cool process to work with Rocky on helping them to improve their bikes.

Are you more involved in the development side of the bikes than a lot of their other athletes?

I've become more involved on the R&D side of things with Rocky over the last 3-4 years. That just means a lot of testing prototypes and a lot of communication with the R&D department and other athletes on the team.

Have you been able to notice a big difference over the years in the bikes standing up to the abuse you've been dishing them out?

For sure. It's been massive. I think the first real big step forward was the RMX, I remember at the very first Rampage I was riding an RM7 and I broke my frame in one of my runs and really came back to the drawing board with them. That was a long time ago, 2003 or 2004 I think, the RMX was the very first major steps forward, I never broke one of those. Now technology has come so far, the bikes we are riding these days are so amazing, what they're capable of, how light they are, the places you can go with them... They are so versatile, it's incredible.

In terms of your riding style now would you say it's gone more towards the more adventure / all-mountain / enduro sort of stuff, or do you still find yourself on the big bike hucking off stuff?

Yeah, there's a little less hucking going on these days! I still spend a lot of time filming and working with photographers. The main difference is that I do the majority of it on my trail bike instead of DH bike. These new long-travel trail bikes are what I’m having the most fun riding these days. I love trying to play around on the trail and look for creative lines. That said, it’s great to get out on the DH bike, I try to attend the odd FEST event to make sure the big bike gets some love.

Thomas' weapon of a choice; a Rocky Mountain Instinct BC Edition in size large. He's experimented with bigger sized frames but felt the L frame was better suited to his riding style than the XL.

Does your bike setup follow that same trait in being set up to be playful?

I would say so, I grew up racing and I don’t think my setup would differ much if I were racing still. I try to set my bikes up to be very balanced in a variety of terrain. I’m always trying to accomplish stability at speed while maintaining the ability to get off the ground and change directions quickly.

And you're on a size large? Does that hold true through the whole Rocky Mountain range?

I am on a size large yeah. Currently, all of our bikes except the Maiden I run a large, with the Maiden I run an XL. Obviously bikes are getting longer and the bikes we have in development are following that trend but so far I’m still running a large.

Have you tried the Instinct in an XL frame size?

Yes, I've experimented with some of our other bikes in bigger sizes and I guess I kind of found my limit from a size perspective. I rode an XL Altitude for quite awhile and I liked aspects of it but ultimately I found it a bit slow to react in certain trail situations, specifically when I needed to get it off the ground quickly. I'm a little more comfortable on the large at the moment.

You're running the Ride9 flip-chip in the linkage, what setup have you gone for in that respect?

Yes, that's one of the features we’re really proud of at Rocky Mountain. The Ride-9 chip has opened up a lot of possibilities for me to experiment with different shock setups.

The Instinct BC comes stock with a fixed link for clearance reasons, but I’ve swapped that out for the Ride-9 link that comes on the traditional Instinct. When combined with an offset bushing in the forward shock mount, I can access a few more of the Ride-9 positions. With this set up I’ve found my perfect balance of geometry and shock performance in position #3.

It also allows me to run the shorter, 210x55mm shock, if I’m looking for a little less travel (140mm) and more pedal efficiency for a particular trip or project. Most recently it made doing some mix wheeled testing really easy with the ability to bump the bottom bracket back up after putting a smaller rear wheel on.

I love to tinker with different setups and I’ve found Ride-9 to be a very useful feature, it’s really cool to have the ability to customize my bike to fit my personal preferences.

Tucked away in the linkage is Rocky's Ride9 chip which Thomas plays around with a lot, allowing him to change not only the geometry and suspension curves, but the travel too when paired with a different sized shock. The Instinct BC doesn't normally feature the Ride9 linkage although Thomas has decided to run it in his. The fork has 80 PSI and a single volume reducer in it.

Are you pretty set on air, you'd never go to a coil shock on that bike?

Yes, I’m absolutely loving the performance of the Float X2. Air shocks have come a very long way in the last 5 years and are so tunable and reliable now. I might experiment with a coil on this bike or my Slayer but I’m really happy with the performance of the air shock.

In terms of suspension setup would you be able to run us through some of the figures?

With the Float X2 I'm running 200 PSI, so that's body weight plus 15, which is a good ballpark. Then I'll micro tune from there with compression and spacers if you need them. Currently I'm not running any spacers, I find the bike and the shock combination has enough progression as it is, and I can sort of tune the bottom out pretty well with the compression adjustments. Overall I run my bikes a little slower I think than typical, just a bit. I believe the highspeed rebound is 8 clicks out from closed, and low speed is 10. In terms of compression, I'm about 12 clicks out from closed on low speed, and about 14 out on high speed. I’m running 80 PSI in my Float 36 with the Grip 2 damper and 1 bottom out spacer.

Is the suspension setup pretty neutral front to rear?

I feel like it's pretty balanced front to rear. I'm running about 30% sag on the rear.

And do you pay much attention to sag, maybe more so initially?

Initially, yeah. More so when I'm setting it up for the first time, I’ll measure sag to get a sense of where I’m at. I wouldn't say it's my end all be all though, I’m happy to run a little more or less sag to achieve the exact ride characteristics I’m looking for.

The OneUp carbons bars are cut to 790mm. Thomas mentioned he is pretty particular about his cockpit set up and tries to achieve a similar feel throughout all his bikes.

A 50mm OneUp stem with the EDC tool stashed away inside. Thomas had been testing the stem for a while prior to its release with OneUp Components located fairly close to where Thomas lives.

Moving onto the cockpit, could you just run us through widths, heights, etc...?

On the Instinct BC I run a 50mm stem, the new stem from OneUp which is really cool. It's a headset tightening stem so it allows you to run their tool without threading the steerer tube at all. Basically you put the stem on straight and you clamp it down in a fixed position, then you turn the third screw, it's a conical mechanism which extends and tightens your headset for you, then there's a locking ring on the other side. I've been running it for a couple of months now and it's been awesome. It hasn't come loose on me. The bars are an interesting take on the 35mm bars with basically a bit of vibration dampening built into the shape of it, with some people complain that 35mm bars can get a little bit too stiff. Mine are cut to 790mm.

Do your contact points stay the same throughout your bikes?

As I look at my different bikes and start to compare them it is actually really, really similar. In terms of stack height, bar height might change bike to bike depending on what fork and how much height I have in the front, also 27.5 wheels versus 29 wheels. Basically I try to set my bikes up so that they are as versatile as possible. I really want to be able to get my bike off of the ground quickly so I try to set it up to feel as balanced as possible for those situations, I don't want it to be really sluggish when it comes to getting it off the ground.

You’ve been riding for Shimano for a very long time, what do you think about the new XTR group compared to previous versions?

I do have the new XTR on my bike for this trip. Shimano has taken a lot of measures to make the new group as quiet as possible and it’s definitely noticeable. The shifting is so quiet and effortless, even under load or dropping gears quickly feels smooth. For a trip like this where we're pedalling a lot larger gear range is really nice, having the 51 tooth has also allowed me to go up to a 34T chainring up front where previously I was running a 32T which is great to have a little more gear range at the bottom too. I was actually able to do a little testing with Shimano down in California on the new brakes while they were still in the prototype phase so that was particularly interesting. I got to ride them back to back against the old XTR trails and the Saint brakes and really hone in on what they were trying to achieve on the brakes.

A Fox Transfer dropper post is paired with a Shimano lever, mounting directly onto the XTR brake lever.

There's nothing weird and whacky going on in terms of brake bite point and lever angle.

Did you feel major differences between them?

Absolutely. They managed to make the new XTR brakes extremely powerful and engineer in a bit of a softer initial bite. The Saints, by comparison, have a harder initial bite and the same power on the back end. They really wanted to incorporate a little more modulation with the XTR trail brakes as well as continue to manage heat better. Every generation of the brakes that they put out has a little more resistance to fading under heat. It was a cool experience to be a part of their development process.

From those early brakes you tested in California to the production brakes, were there any significant changes?

What we tested down there was a couple of different pot sizes for the pistons. They were looking at what combination created the best modulation and power. I believe the one that was the consensus pick amongst the testers was what the production brake turned out to be.

Thomas was involved in the development of the new Shimano XTR brakes and tested various pot sizes of the 4 piston callipers to find the best modulation.

With the new 12 speed XTR drivetrain Thomas has moved up to a 34T chainring which he says he likes as it's given him more range at the bottom of the cassette too. Things are kept safe and secure with a OneUp bashguide.

Have you had much experience with carbon rims?

I've had a bit of experience with carbon rims, I used a number of different models last season. Ultimately I’ve decided to stick with aluminum for now. I'm not ruling out running carbon rims in the future by any means, I will continue to grow my knowledge and experience with them but right now I'm really happy with the wheels I've got on my bike.

I'm running the Flows on this bike but most of my other bikes will have the Sentry rim on them this year. They’ve got a 32mm inner diameter, I just love the profile with the Maxxis wide trail tires and I’ve found them less prone to burping. I get a little bit of extra stiffness out of that slightly wider rim too, the weight penalty is pretty minor in my opinion and well worth it. That's been my choice for rims this year.

Do you pay much attention to bike weight?

I'm not super fussy about weight. I think bikes these days are pretty light overall. We are doing a fair amount of climbing on a trip like this but I'm not racing up the hills. I'm always pretty willing to sacrifice a bit of weight for additional stiffness, or control, or confidence on the way down. I prioritize the down over the up, I guess you could say.

No carbon to be seen here. Thomas has tried carbon wheels but is yet to be convinced by the models he's experienced.
For this trip he opted for the Maxxis High Roller II's in the "versatile" Maxxterra compound, at home he prefers the softer Maxxgrip compound due to the wet conditions.

Shimano opted not to bring the Shimano XTR Sylence hubs to market but Thomas managed to get his hands on a set.

In terms of tire choice, what's your go-to setup?

I'm running the High Rollers IIs here which is actually somewhat new for me, I haven't ridden them a lot. The tire availability continues to grow in the 29” tire and I got these tires just before this trip. I thought they would offer a good combination of traction, rolling speed and puncture resistance. These have the Double Down casings, so I get a good bit of support and stability from the sidewall. The tread pattern is quite versatile- sheds mud well, good in the dust, I thought we might be riding on a lot of different soil and terrain here which turned out to be the case. At home on the Shore, I usually opt for the Maxx Grip compound because it's often wet but I think the Maxx Terra was the right choice for this trip.

Finally, are there any customizations or things you're super particular about?

I’m quite particular about a lot of things. Especially my cockpit setup, things like the angle of my bars and brakes, and my overall bar height. I’m also pretty picky about my suspension and tires. The main customization on this bike is the offset bushing in the shock with opened up some options for me with the Ride9 chip, other than that it’s pretty much stock.

MENTIONS: @rossbellphoto / @RockyMountainBicycles / @HI-Adventures / @foxfactory / @OneUpComponents / @shimano


  • 68 0
 Everything he said... made sense. Great bike, thoughtful dude. Thanks Thomas and PB!
  • 5 3
 sag ain't nuttin but a sag-hag!
  • 10 6
 Interesting to see another pro explaining why they went down a frame size- in this case an XL down to an L. I wonder if manufacturers are going to take note and cool it with making everything longer? Doesn’t seem to be the case quite yet.
  • 6 2
 @ninjatarian: I'm 6'4 and have always preferred a smaller frame..usually a size L in most brands. I have a first gen Transition Scout in size L...I do have an offset seatpost and 70 stem but that means I have less metal below me for throwing around( I don't ride near Vanderham level, but I like to have fun). Then, I got an '18 Scout in size L and the thing is a tank in comparison...longer, taller...just feels big. (I have a shorter stem and normal seatpost) It's sturdy and feels solid on the trail but it's lost that poppy feel in their pursuit of the trends.
  • 18 2
 @ninjatarian: if he's 5'11" and went from a XL to a L, then maybe bikes were too small and short before?
  • 60 1
 @ninjatarian: maybe its because at 5'11" he shouldn't be on an XL in the first place?
  • 13 1
 @ninjatarian: I don't think he really sized down. I'm 5'11 and ride a large in every frame. It says in the article that he's 5'11 and puts him right in the middle of the large by Rocky Mountain's own size chart. I read it as he tried the XL to see what it was like, but went back to a large because the XL didn't feel right for him. I don't know why he felt the need to try the XL in the first place. There's not really a need to go for a longer bike just to be longer if it doesn't fit you.

And you're on a size large? Does that hold true through the whole Rocky Mountain range?

I am on a size large yeah. Currently, all of our bikes except the Maiden I run a large, with the Maiden I run an XL. Obviously bikes are getting longer and the bikes we have in development are following that trend but so far I’m still running a large.

Have you tried the Instinct in an XL frame size?

Yes, I've experimented with some of our other bikes in bigger sizes and I guess I kind of found my limit from a size perspective. I rode an XL Altitude for quite awhile and I liked aspects of it but ultimately I found it a bit slow to react in certain trail situations, specifically when I needed to get it off the ground quickly. I'm a little more comfortable on the large at the moment.
  • 6 0
 @ninjatarian: He's not sizing down. I'm the same size he is, 5-11, 185 pounds, and in no world do I ride an XL frame. I couldn't figure out why they kept asking him about XL, or why he rides an XL Maiden.
  • 2 0
 @imho4ep: yeah this isnt an overly long bike but not really short like an SB5.5. I think the sizing is spot on for his size. He isn't sizing down here. It's cool to see him mention trying the longer bike and not liking the less nimble ride tho.
  • 2 0
 @arrowheadrush: RM bikes haven't really followed the "long" trend yet. But they haven't updated the IBC in a couple years. The size L only has a reach of 454... while the XL has a reach of 481 (which is too long for someone 5'11" in my opinion). The new Slayer has a reach of 469 in L and 492 in XL... so their new bikes seem to be getting longer.

I'm the same height and weight as TV and my bike (not a RM) is a size large and currently has a reach of 472 (similar to the Slayer large sizing), which I really like, but don't think I'd want it too much longer. My bike in an XL has a 500 reach... but I also don't think XL bikes are made for people 5'11". Typically at that height, we're usually right in between medium and large. It actually shows how short the RMI is that he's on a large and not the medium (where a lot of 5'11" people end up with the new long, low and slack trend).
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: short and long is relative. To whatever the marketing is this year. It sounds like it's not short for TV (who is just an insane rider). Hard to say (I'm far from an amazing rider FWIW). It does seem like, while bikes are getting longer, as you point out...people are sizing down to a medium. Instinct BC edition is a bit short in XL for me btw. The normal version is a great fit. Rocky's BC stuff is a little funny at times. I kind of wish they'd just make the BC edition outright and get it dialed. The reach shrank and the BB gets to high which is one of the reasons TV is using the offset bushing along to get ride9 in pos 3 (like 30mm bb height) while still using the 155mm shock. I'm sure this would void any warranty quick btw. FWIW his reach is prob closer to straight up 450mm. In the XL I'd be around 475mm with this (close yours). Its not that he didn't like that reach, its that the bike become less agile for him (I'm paraphrasing). There are always pros and cons.

The best rider I know (backflips everything and ex semi pro DH racer) likes small tight bikes. I think the longer bikes are somewhat of a crutch for guys like me but come with a price of less agility. Good or bad...not sure but it's interesting to see some bigger guys (I'm 6-4) sizing down like Rude (6ft) to a medium and still smoking everyone. TV skipping a 475mm reach bike for smaller is interesting too. Maybe there is something to it...tho it wont sell a new bike. Rocky's next instinct will need to be different in geo for marketing reasons. Longer it will be.
  • 4 0
 @islandforlife: people get far too hung up on reach as a sole defining number. Longer reach doesn't always mean a longer bike, or certain ride characteristics, and it's only one part of the equation of how the bike will ride based on its holistic geometry. For example, my large 2019 Trek Slash is a 453 mm reach in the low config, and my large 2017 Transition Smuggler is 457 mm. However, that 2017 Smuggler has a head angle of 67.5, where the Slash has a 65.1. The Smuggler's steeper head angle means that is has longer reach, but shorter wheelbase. The Smuggler's wheelbase is 1189 mm and the Slash is 1219. Chainstays are about even between the bikes at 436 for the Smuggler and 435 for the Slash. So even though the Slash has a shorter reach, it feels even more stable at speed than the Smuggler due to the longer wheelbase (and slacker head angle), yet my climbing position is slightly better and more forward over the BB with the shorter reach (seat angles are almost the same between the bikes).
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: Ya, I think a big part of it comes down to skill. I (maybe we) will never ride a bike close to the same level as TV or Rude. I think you're right in that a longer bike is like a crutch for many people... forces me into a better attack position, helps distribute my weight properly and provides a longer more stable wheelbase for going fast.

On the flipside.... I could see some pros maybe not liking being "forced" into such a position... they are good enough to handle the bike and get their weight where it needs to be when it needs to be there... but then probably like the ability to move that weight around the bike a lot more... and I could see longer reaches allowing less of that to happen. Again it's all degrees of magnitude... at my height with a 472, I don't feel like I can't move around on the bike when I want to, but probably not as much as if I was running a shorter reach bike... which might be worse for me... and I've ridden some of my buddies older (couple years) bikes with much shorter reaches and now it almost feels dangerous to me, haha.
  • 2 0
 @BaeckerX1: Oh for sure... but I think it far too much to dive into in a pinkbike comments section. It is just interesting to see what some pros who have similar heights prefer to ride.

There is definitely much more to a bike than just comparing reach. For instance, comparing to Thomas, we're the same height, my reach is 18mm longer but my wheelbase is only 9mm longer, but my BB is lower. Also my HA is at 64.8 while his is hard to tell because he's installed the ride9 and uses a different length shock, but stock, that bike has a HA of 65.9... I'd guess his is probably around 65?

Interestingly... my good buddy rides a rocky instinct BC and we've swapped bikes a couple of times for a trail or two. I get off liking my bike even more and he gets off mine liking his even more, haha. It is definitely different strokes for different folks...
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: yeah, I got back on my 27.5 bike the other day and wrecked almost immediately because I was riding it like my long, slack 29er. Ha. It's crazy how different bikes can "feel" once you get used to another.

It's just really hard to judge how a bike will ride by just one geo number, or even its entire geometry. Plus, with bike companies playing with different offset forks, it's become even more confusing trying to tell how a bike will ride by geometry numbers alone.
  • 3 0
 Ive felt bikes are getting too long imo. Im 511 and my large giant reign is 475mm reach. I personally think it is too long, and feels cumersome in certain situations. My next bike will be 450 to 465 reach. Think that isthe sweet spot for me
  • 3 0
 @aceface17: yeah, I've been feeling the same. Some bikes you just are really stretched out on, and they can cause back pain on really long rides, plus put additional pressure on your wrists. We're gonna look like road riders pretty soon with how long bikes are getting. My new bike barely fits on my bike carrier tray because of how long it is! Razz
  • 2 0
 @aceface17: Trying to find a Large Reign with 475mm of reach on their website can't seem to find it... wow they make a lot of different Reigns! Either way, looking at most of them, they also seem to have a pretty long wheelbase to along with that reach, then you have to look at the fork offset... those things combined will change a bikes handling quite a bit. I've found pairing a longer reach with a less crazy wheelbase, fairly short chainstays and a shorter offset fork, makes for a fun attacking bike that will still handle well in slower speed, tighter situations. I didn't realize it back when I was demoing bikes... but looking later and comparing numbers, it seems to be why I felt so good on my current bike.

So just be careful comparing only reach, there's a lot more at play that changes the way a bike handles than just a long reach. Some companies are just throwing a long reach on a bike and not doing enough development to get the bike into that sweet spot where it's pretty long and slow yet can still handle well when a rider needs it to.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: its the 2018 reign. For the new ones they extended the fork travel 10mm which reduced the reach to 469, which I feel is still too long. Chainstay is 432, offset is 44 or 46 i think. Other numbers are pretty neutral. Just feel like my hands are too far forward. Will be going down on reach for the next one. I do appreciate theres a lot that goes into it tho. Think Im more in line with medium sizes now a days
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: im 511 and i would love a 480 or more. My 2019 sensor has a reach of 470 and it feels a tad cramped but overall comfortable. But i would like a longer reach
  • 2 0
 @ninjatarian: Please no! Loving the longer trend! I am tall and finally XLs are appropriate sizes!
  • 2 0
 I'm about 6'1...186cm and I ride large altitude, I don't really find it short, plus I was always adviced that I need to ride xl frames cuz of 89cm inseam(long legs as fck)... I don't really get it how can long reach help my long legz and short torso
  • 11 0
 Note the lack of a 30mm stem kids. 50mm is still the sweet spot imo. With handlebars so wide now the back sweep almost puts your hand behind the steertube with a 30mm stem. Keeps the front weighted better
  • 1 0
 I went with a 60mm stem to get the weight more over the front.
  • 3 0
 Totally depends on a combo of ride preference and fit of the rest of the bike. 50 was too long on mine, 40 was too short. My Goldilocks length was 45, and I love it now.
  • 2 0
 I read somewhere that often a stem somewhat close to the fork offset is a good match usually. There might be something to that.
  • 3 0
 It's good that you figured out what works for you on your bike, and on my bike 50mm is what I like, but it's not a one-size-fits-all deal. Some guys might have longer frames and T-Rex arms and need 30mm. Or gorilla arms and a shorter frame and need 75mm. And there's any number of scenarios in-between.
  • 3 3
 I found that on longer frames for a smaller person, you need a longer stem to get the weight balanced.
  • 2 0
 @jaydawg69: please expalin as this makes no sense. Why would it be beneficial?
  • 1 1
 @mate1998: with longer reach frames your body is positioned more to the rear. You need to get your weight more forward. I'm just over 5'8 and on a Specialized EVO S3 (L/XL) and found with the stock 45mm stem, I was having trouble getting weight on the front. With a 60mm stem, it feels much better. A shorter stem would make it feel worse.
  • 1 0
 @jaydawg69: I think you have that mixed up. Longer reach increases the Front center and as such places a bit more weight over the front wheel as it "pulls" the user forward thus making the standing position a bit more forward bias.
  • 2 0
 @jaydawg69: FWIW some guys say you have to lean over the bars a bit more than normal for it to work right when cornering and stuff. Perhaps that's why the longer stem helped as it really forced you into that attack position?
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: you got it. Better body position with a longer stem.
  • 6 3
 Love this bike. Its interesting to see what these guys ride and why. It does seem that these bigger guys dont want to give up the ability for the longer bike. (At least a few of the bigger guys we've seen lately).

Thomas is 5-11 and on approx 455mm reach
Florian is 6-2 racing on 464mm
Rude is a hair under 6ft and racing 460mm

I'm far from an expert on any of this but I kind of think Thomas is on to something and these midsized bikes are a good fit for most types of riding (travel aside) rather than longer, less nimble sleds. If I need more "stability" in the straight downs...its coaching I need, not a longer wheelbase.
  • 2 1
 Isn't rude 5'10"? I think he's ridden both medium and large SB150's at different races.
  • 4 2
 @jwrendenver: nope. He is 71.66 in (182cm) and rides a medium sb150.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: He rode a medium at that race. He's definitely ridden a large at other races.
  • 1 0
 @jwrendenver: didn't know that. Link? Iirc didn't he ride a medium sb6 too? (Short bike).
  • 2 0
 that would be a nice pinkbike article...analyzing bike sizing vs rider sizing
  • 2 3
 I'm 5-11 just like Thomas... my 472mm of reach IS my coach. I'm never going to be on the level of those guys, no matter how much coaching I get. I've found, on a shorter reach bike, at high speeds, I'm not good or strong enough (and never will be) to distribute my weight and man-handle the bike as well as I can on something with a longer reach.

But I could definitely see how riders with their level of skill and strength would find longer reach bikes to be somewhat limiting for them.
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: I'm happy with extra reach (I think?)...its all of the dang extra wheelbase that comes with it that I don't like. Its like driving my Supercab Truck vs my 4runner. Sure its nice when its going straight and steep...but making the corner at the bottom/line change at speed is a different thing. That's why guys are sizing down at times.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: Yes! I just replied to someone else about the same thing. I've found pairing a longer reach with a less crazy wheelbase, fairly short chainstays and a shorter offset fork, makes for a fun attacking bike that will still handle well in slower speed, tighter situations. I didn't realize it back when I was demoing bikes... but looking later and comparing numbers, it seems to be why I felt so good on my current bike.

So (as has been said a lot), people need to be careful comparing only reach, there's a lot more at play that changes the way a bike handles than just a long reach. Some companies are just throwing a long reach on a bike and not doing enough development to get the bike into that sweet spot where it's pretty long, low and attacking, yet can still handle well when a rider needs it to.
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: I think it really depends on the skillset and fitness of the rider and I think bike companies should encourage a sizing similar that of skis.

For example, a beginner that is unfit will absolutely not benefit from chosing a bike of "his size" while a fit beginner or an okayish rider might.
Similarly to ski sizing, a beginner should go for a shorter bike, and set the suspension soft ( = something easy, adapted to low speed and forgiving). On the other hand, pro riders go for something longer with stiff setup (=adapted to fast speed, oriented towards efficiency and control).

I'm sure everyone has noticed how beginners look akwardly uncomfortable at crawling speed on all these recent/long bikes while joeys on their 2010 bikes look "fine" at a similar speed.
It's because they require a more forward/confident position and they require to be more active which is exactly what an unfit beginner can not do.
  • 9 1
 That's my dream bike
  • 1 0
 Ditto- this is pretty much what I want for next season
  • 4 0
 @jhilly: This is a hell of a nice bike. If you can custom build, it's worth it. I built a mini-BC version of this similar to Ryan Palmers dream build (can find on google). 140mm link/ride9 with Dpx2 and Fox 36grip2. It's pretty damn awesome and pedals REALLY well still. The 140mm setup is pretty great. Actual STA is nice too and not slacked out, I'm 6-4 and it works great. XL with heavy suspension and 2.5 minions, Codes RSC and Chinese carbon hoops comes in at 29.2lbs. I've seen guys build it as a long legged XC bike down to like 26lbs as well. It's an awesome mullet ride due to ride9 adjustments of that's your thing too.

You'll note that Thomas removed the shock volume spacer. I did that as well and added extra psi. It made the bike plusher (riding higher in travel and using more travel). I had previously dropped lower in sag as I wasn't getting close to full travel but that had made it harsher (I was over 30%). The bike in slacker ride9 settings is pretty progressive.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: awesome thanks for the info... really gonna have to dig into it a bit more for sure!
  • 3 0
 Certainly took some getting used to the big wheels for myself. But now that I have my BC edition dialed in, I absolutely love this bike. I am a much bigger fan of RM now than years prior. Great work on all the development.
  • 4 0
 Is there a link to buy an offset bushing for the shock if I wanted to run a Ride 9 on my BC?
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 It's amazing how one manufacturer can make a great performing bike with elegant, simple linkage, and then we have everyone else trying to re-invent the wheel with all these overly complicated designs. Having just spent the last hour taking apart the "improved" complicated linkage on my new Hightower just to properly clean it, I feel like the simplicity of the old layout was for more beneficial than any marginal performance increases derived by all but completely hiding the shock stanchion. I'd trade it for an Instinct just to be able to easily set the sag again.
  • 1 0
 This was a super informative and potentially helpful article for me, because I have a 2018 BC edition instinct myself! I'm 5'9, 187 lbs with an average to long torso and short arms. I bought a medium frame. With a 30mm stem it felt WAY short, so I'm on a 60mm stem and feel much more at home. Race face turbine 2 bar cut to around 770mm. After much initial fiddling, I also ride the DPX2 shock at weight + 15 lbs. However, I kept the stock spacer. Might have to try it without to see how that feels. I also ride compression a bit slower than usual I'd say. Id love a fox factory 36 with grip2 up front, but I have the performance elite with the FIT 4 damper instead (no high speed adjustment). I ride it at about 70 psi. I'd be lying if I said I'm in love with the fork, but I'm happy enough. Running XT 4 piston brakes (love em!), and SRAM GX Eagle with 50T cassette and 32T chainring. Would have bought XT drivetrain had it been available at the time. Fox transfer post has been great. Running Roval Traverse carbon rims with DT Swiss 350 hubs and Specialized Butchers. Interesting that he prefers Alu. I'll be going back to Maxxis tires when the Butchers are done I think. A part of me wonders if the Rovals are a bit stiff, but I ain't changing that now! Was also very interested to hear he went with Ride9 chip and offset. Things that make you go "hmmmm". Would love to try that too. I don't mind a slightly higher bb height of the Instinct at all though, as I hate bangin' pedals! I ride in a pretty rocky zone, so clearance is good!
  • 1 0
 I completely trust Thomas’ opinions as well as his bike setup. Which brings up the question, why doesn’t Rocky just add the Ride9 chip to this frame. If Thomas finds merit in it, why not just make it part of the frame as stock?
  • 1 0
 Clearance issues. In order to run the slightly longer rear travel for the shock the only position it works is in the slackest position, hence it being the only option on the BC instinct linkage. He had to get the offset bushing to give the little bit of additional clearance needed to use the Ride 9 linkage. That being said I have the BC Instinct and run plus tires and wish I had the ability to adjust the BB up a bit with the Ride 9.
  • 5 1
 Thanks for the great Instinct write up. Great bike.
  • 4 1
 Get your shock pump bois.
  • 2 0
 I love my RM Instinct but that new colorway is sexy AF; especially when it's all "dirty" after a long session.
  • 2 0
 Bikes are too low and too long. It’s all about high BBs and reasonable reach/CS lengths.
  • 3 0
 Perfect Bike!
  • 1 0
 Those pics are taken in el Tambo around Cotopaxi volcano. Great location for big epic riding
  • 4 2
 Fox Dropper, more expensive than my whole bike ;-)
  • 2 0
 Yeah, honestly I would just buy my kids 600$ BMX until they're like 15 years old, or whatever. Just makes it easy, cheap, and safe. Then they can pay for something better whenever they accrue the funds. Broke too many shitty, cheap bike parts in my day.
  • 1 1
 @Kramz: But, what if kids want to ride proper mountain bike trails and singletrack? That doesn't seem very safe to me to be on a BMX. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point.
  • 3 1
 @gdharries: I had mountain bikes ranging from 500$ to 1000$ until I was 15, and all of them were catastrophic failures. Just buy a burly BMX, and be done with it, until they want to pay for their own.
  • 1 0
 @gdharries: I'm a huge believer on paying your dues on a bmx. Learn how to bunny hop, jump, corner and use your body language in the air and on landings. Then when you get a MTB you've honed your riding skills so that the new tool you have isn't used to cover up your riding deficiencies.
For the record, I have a DBR Mission, so it's not really that the dropper is more $$, just more $$ than someone ought to pay for a dropper.
  • 1 0
 I love my RM Instinct but that new colorway is sexy AF; especially when it's all "dirty" after a long, hard session.
  • 1 0
 still pressfit? always liked rocky back in the days and always lusted after that red and yellow vertex to from 95 or 96
  • 1 0
 Does he still ride his Giant red and yellow DH bike from ride to the hills?
  • 2 0
 No further mention of the Scylence hubs?!
  • 1 0
 I have had the not BC edition Instinct for a year. It knows the way home. No surprises and no disappointments.
  • 2 0
 My favorite grips!
  • 1 0
 Killer Machine!!!! Does it all!!! Best purchase I've made this year!!!
  • 1 0
 Where did he get the maxx grip high rollers? Can’t find them anywhere.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I haven't seen them in 29". Perks of an industry insider?

I ran a high roller ii as a rear on my hardtail (normal 3c). Wasn't super happy with it on wet rocks and roots. DHR II seems better in those conditions.thougj I haven't tried MG (not sure I'd like the tread life though).
  • 1 0
 He doesn't mention High Rollers in maxx grip specifically, the ones shown here are maxx terra. He says that back at home he runs maxx grip tires and the HR's are new to him, which tells me that he usually runs another type of tire in that compound.
  • 1 0
 Where´s R CUNNINGHAM to explain all this geo stuff when you need him?
  • 1 0
 Vanderham on 29? Say it ain’t so!!
  • 1 0
 Nice he got the Sylence hubs, lucky. Was bummed when Shimano binned them.
  • 2 0
 yeah, can we talk about that... i must have missed that memo. its news to me
  • 1 0
 this is my dream bike.
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