Rocky Mountain has been busy overhauling their high-end mountain bikes over the last few years, with the Element, Altitude, and Slayer already getting reworked. Now it's the Instinct and Pipeline's turn.
Both bikes get a completely redesigned frame - that they share - with different geometry and more travel than their predecessors, and they can also be configured with either 29'' or 27.5+ wheels and tires. Out of the box, the 140mm-travel Instinct is the big-wheeler, while the Pipeline also sports 140mm but rolls on 2.8'' wide, 27.5'' rubber. The two new bikes appear to slot nicely into the 'do everything, even if it's a bit scary' trail bike category; they're designed to be the kind of machines that you can ride all day without feeling like you have to back down from a decent sized trail feature, or like you're slogging around more bike than you might need.
Having not yet ridden either new bike, the above is speculation on my part but it certainly looks to be the case. We'll have both in for long-term testing shortly to find out, but for now you can read all about what's new below.
So, what exactly is new?
The short answer is everything, from front to back. Yes, the basic silhouette is the same between the old and new models, but that's where the similarities end. Both the carbon and aluminum frames are all-new, but let's start with the rear suspension.
Last year's Instinct (shown at right) and Pipeline had 130mm out back, whereas they've both been bumped up to 140mm of travel on the new bikes. Rocky also tweaked the kinematics to provide more progression and sag, they say, which should let riders run a bit softer spring rate for more forgiveness at the top of the stroke.
There's also good news for pedal hounds: Rocky says that the anti-squat number has gone up to ''dramatically improve pedaling efficiency,'' which I'm inclined to believe after spending ages on the new Element, Slayer, and Altitude, all of which get a move on when you put the power down.
Last year's Instinct might look similar from afar, but the new model is fresh front to back.
The Ride-9 system (left) has been moved from the forward shock mount to the link, and Rocky has made some big changes to their Smoothlink suspension layout (right).
But wait, there's more. Just like on the Element and Altitude, they've also moved the Ride-9 chip-in-a-chip geometry and suspension adjustment from the forward shock mount to the alloy link, which sure looks cleaner to me, and all models receive a "size specific tune" for the shocks as well. That means Tiny Mcstubby who buys a small-sized bike doesn't have to deal with the same shock tune that the daddy longlegs on the extra-large needs and vice versa.
There are also carbon and aluminum versions of both the Instinct and Pipeline, so you can save some coin but still get the same suspension design and geometry. What Else Is New?
The new Instinct and Pipeline also get treated to a whole bunch of stuff that's carried over from some of Rocky's latest bikes, including the sharp looking single-sided blind pivots, Boost spacing, metric shock readiness, and Rocky's nifty Spirit Guide that bolts onto the top of the drive-side chainstay. There are also two - not three - ISCG 05 tabs in case you want to run a burlier guide, and people like me who would rather not ride than ride with a backpack will be stoked to see that a water bottle fits inside of the front triangle, even with a reservoir shock.
The pint-sized Spirit guide bolts onto the top of the chainstay, just like it does on the longer travel Slayer.
And if batteries are your thing, the frames are ready for all the electronics that you can throw at them. Shimano's Di2 and Fox's Live Valve suspension system (when it eventually does become real) can be run at the same time, along with a dropper post, all without the three interfering with each other. Need More Travel?
Rocky Mountain has historically offered a BC Edition version of some of their bikes that's a bit more representative of how they set their own rigs up. And given that Rocky's HQ is just short pedal down the road from North Vancouver's famously challenging trails, it's no surprise to see that BC Edition is shorthand for more travel, slacker angles
, and a select few burlier components.
The BC Edition sports 155mm out back and a 160mm Fox 36.
Riders who want a little more oomph from their trail bike might like the looks the Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition that sees a bump up from 140mm of rear wheel travel to 155mm thanks to a different link (with one travel and geometry position... Ride-1?) and longer stroke shock. There's more travel up front, too, with a 160mm stroke Fox 36, making the Instinct BC Edition very Altitude-esque in my books but with 29" wheels. Sounds like fun.
Wait, the Instinct and Pipeline Share The Same Frame?
There's Fresh Geometry, Too
Yes, of course there is, and it's pretty much what you'd expect: a longer reach, slacker head tube angle, and the bottom bracket is also closer to the deck. The rear-ends have been shortened up as well, and the steep seat tube angles that Rocky has been employing for years and years is still found on both new bikes.
The new large-sized Instinct has a reach of 455mm to 465mm, depending on what setting you're running the bike in, which is 46mm to 39mm longer than last year's Instinct. The new bike's seat tube angle has also gotten a few degrees steeper, which hides a lot of that increased reach when you're seated. The head tube angle has gone from 66.6 - 68.2 degrees to 66 - 67 degrees, or slacker all around in other words.
The new Pipeline, with its 27.5+ wheels, sports similar-ish (but not exactly the same) geometry because the two bikes actually share the same frame, which is why either bike can fit 29'' or 27.5+ wheels and tires.
You bet they do, despite the Instinct coming with 29'' wheels and the Pipeline sporting some 2.8'' wide, 27.5'' rubber. That's a clever move on Rocky's part that's possible thanks to a different lower headset cup, an approach that we've seen other companies take as well and one that means riders can swap from one wheel size to the other if they feel the need.
What's that, you don't swap between wheel sizes? Me neither, but the option to do exactly that is there, and it no doubt saves Rocky some coin as they don't need to make an entirely different front triangle. Last year's Instinct and Pipeline had different rear triangles, but they're the same front to back this time around.
Tall headset cup for fat 27.5" tires; short headset cup for 29'' wheels and tires - you choose.
Anyone who buys an Instinct will get a second, taller lower headset cup with the bike. Push that baby in and you're ready for the big 27.5+ meat on the front, no fork change required. There's also enough room out back for the same 2.8'' wide rubber or even a low-profile 3" tire.
The Pipeline comes with the tall lower headset cup already installed, of course, but you can swap it out for a standard cup if you want to run normal 29'' wheels.
Yet More Numbers
The new Pipeline has 140mm of rear wheel travel and 2.8'' wide Maxxis rubber. In other words, it'll go anywhere.
Rocky provided some weights for us in their press release: a medium-sized Instinct frame is said to come in at a very reasonable 5.09lb (2,310g), and the protectors, chain guide, and axle add another 0.57lb (260g) to that figure. Total weight for Pipeline Carbon 70 is a claimed 29.1lb (13.2kg) for the medium, a number that's roughly par for the course when it comes to bikes with plus-sized rubber.
The numbers that are more important than weight, at least to a lot of us, is pricing. You can buy-in at $2,599 USD for the Pipeline Alloy 30, or go all the way up to $5,899 USD for the Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition if you're a hell of a lot better at saving money than I am. Pricing for all the models can be found below.
The Instinct RangeThe Pipeline Rangewww.bikes.com
• Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition: $5,899 USD
• Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition Frame: $2,799 USD
• Instinct Carbon 70: $5,299 USD
• Instinct Carbon 50: $4,299 USD
• Instinct Carbon 30: $3,649 USD
• Instinct Alloy 70: $4,199 USD
• Instinct Alloy 50: $3,199 USD
• Pipeline Carbon 70: $5,299 USD
• Pipeline Carbon 50: $4,469 USD
• Pipeline Alloy 50: $3,249 USD
• Pipeline Alloy 30: $2,599 USD