Staff Rides - Mike Levy's Rocky Mountain Element

Jun 15, 2017
by Mike Levy  



Scrolling through the comment section of one of my reviews or tech articles often reveals a "show us your own bike" type of remark. It's something that I've been hesitant to do up until now, though, partly because my personal rigs are often a strange combination of parts being put through testing and stuff I just like to use, and also on account of not wanting to endorse any specific product. Oh, and because my bikes are often kooky things that you guys will make fun of. But my current companion, which started off as a stock Rocky Mountain Element 990 RSL BC Edition, but is now, ahem, more eclectic, is interesting enough that I thought it'd be worth sharing.

So, why a 100mm-travel Element instead of something with longer legs and more relaxed geometry? First, because I'm the resident cross-country dork, and because I needed something to serve as a 'control bike' of sorts, a bike to hang test parts off of that I actually wanted to put approximately seven million miles on. I most definitely don't want to ride something squishier for seven million miles, no matter how well it pedals. I also love a sharp handling, responsive bike, and the guys at Rocky Mountain, who are just down the road from me, trusted me enough to hand over one of their creations. They might ask for it back sooner than I want after seeing what I've done to the Element's component spec, however...

Levy's Element

• Intended use: cross-country / product testing
• Rear wheel travel: 100mm
• Wheel size: 29''
• Fork: MRP Ribbon, 120mm
• Wheelset: DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline
• Shimano derailleur/shifter, SRAM X01 cassette
• RockShox Reverb dropper
• Weight: 27lb 8oz (as pictured)

Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The 100mm-travel Element weighs 27lb 8oz as pictured, and it serves as a rolling test bed for many of the products you see reviewed on Pinkbike.



Frame

My rolling test rig is a large-sized, 100mm-travel Rocky Mountain Element 990 RSL BC Edition that, as you can tell, is about as personal as a fleshlight. I have a lot more fun pushing a short-travel bike closer to its limits than I do when not using an enduro race rig to its full potential, and I get a kick out of rallying my little Element with guys on much longer-travel bikes, even when I can't hold it together and crash hard enough that my shoes come off. Yes, it happens.

The Element's Ride-9 geometry adjustment chip-in-a-chip system lets me tune the handling and suspension ramp-up, although it's really only the latter that I notice. The bike's head angle can sit between 69 and 70-degrees (with the stock fork), and after much tinkering about, I've found that I far prefer the steeper setting. I know, blasphemy! String me up from the rafters! But it's a damn cross-country bike; it's supposed to turn quicker than a unicycle.

When I want to ride something more relaxed, I'm very lucky to be able to grab one of the lazier all-mountain machines from my rotating fleet of test bikes.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Rocky's Ride-9 chip-in-a-chip geometry adjustment system lets riders tube head angle, bottom bracket height, and suspension feel. I prefer the steepest, more progressive settings.

This is the second Element that I've spent countless hours suffering up climbs and skidding through every corner aboard, with the previous model being the older BC Edition as well. How do the two compare? The new Element is — and also feels like — an out-and-out race bike when on the gas, but it's far more stable and forgiving than its predecessor, a bike that I spent over a full year on. This new model is less punishing all around, more anchored (especially when there's not much traction), and it can carry two water bottles inside the front triangle. Any engineer who designs a mountain bike meant to pedal around for hours on end but doesn't include a place to mount a bottle deserves to be dropped off in the middle of the Sahara without any fluids — drinking your piss is one way to learn that water is really important.

bigquotesI have a lot more fun pushing a short-travel bike closer to its limits than I do when not using an enduro race rig to its full potential


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Cables are routed internally through large ports.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
There's room for two bottles inside the front triangle, with a small-sized bottle just squeezing in under the rocker link.



Suspension

I've always believed that the less suspension you have to work with, the better it has to be. The rub is that downhill and enduro race bikes get most of the cool, high-end boingers and bump sticks, with a lot of the stuff that makes us tech nerds quiver not being available in short eye-to-eye lengths or travel variations. At least my Element doesn't come with one of those silly remotes to lock out the rear-end, right? When you have a pint-sized 6.5'' x 1.5'' shock delivering just 100mm of travel, what the hell do you need to lock it out for? I blame both Europe and questionable cross-country racers with a lever fetish as to why all of Rocky's other Elements sport remote lockouts — the 990 RSL BC Edition and its Monarch RT3 shock being the only one that doesn't have an extra cable attached to it.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The pint-sized Monarch RT3 shock delivers 100mm of travel, and I have it set to bang-on 25-percent sag.


I set my Element's rear-end up to to be ridden fully open at all times, with 25% sag from 195 PSI, and the rebound dial five clicks out from fully closed. The little bike pedals so well (as it should) that I'm about as likely to quit donuts as I am to reach for the low-speed compression assist lever.

Up front, the stock fork is a 120mm-travel RockShox Pike RCT3 that, after installing a few Bottomless Tokens, performed flawlessly given the bike's intentions as a rowdy-ready cross-country steed. That fork would still be on the Element if I didn't need to test other options, including a 100mm-travel RockShox SID World Cup (old timers will note the limited edition blue that harkens back to the original SID) that weighs less than a fart.

With 20mm less stroke from the SID, and therefore a shorter axle-to-crown length, some geometry fixing was in order; I brought the head angle back to "OMG this is fun but also twitchy" via the frame's Ride-9 geometry adjustment chips, but need to get my hands on one of the 10mm tall lower headset cups that Rocky Mountain uses for exactly this purpose. Without it, the bike's bottom bracket is just low enough to scare me sometimes. That, along with some mega-light wheels from Knight Composites, will likely be my BC Bike Race setup for this year.

Pictured on the bike now is MRP's rather interesting new Ribbon fork that's set to 120mm of travel. I'm a sucker for something different, so a new fork from a brand widely known as a chain guide company is right up my alley. But the Ribbon sounds pretty legit, too: a twin-tube damper, MRP's Ramp Control air system, and a different look thanks to that funky arch. My settings right now are as follows: 85 PSI in the positive chamber, 90 PSI in the negative chamber, nine clicks out for the rebound dial, and the Ramp Control dial is turned halfway in.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
MRP's new Ribbon fork, set to 120mm, is on the front of the Element right now, and it's feeling very promising.

I've only got a handful of rides on the Ribbon so far, but I have to admit that I'm impressed with its action, although it does sound like its gargling Jello when it's working hard. At 1,870-grams, it's also a fair bit lighter than the Pike it's replaced, which doesn't hurt. I'll have a review of the Ribbon for you guys in a few month's time.

bigquotesI've always believed that the less suspension you have to work with, the better it has to be.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The stock fork is the 120mm-travel RockShox Pike RCT3, but I've also been tinkering around with a 100mm-travel SID World Cup because, well, carbon and lightness.



Drivetrain

And now for the stuff that makes it go. The Element has seen a handful of different drivetrain configurations, including Shimano's battery-powered XT Di2 group that, while performing damn well, is a bit too heavy and offers no real advantage. So off it went, replaced by a more traditional setup, although even that's not exactly normal. The shifter is just an 11-speed XT trigger that's moving a Shimano XTR derailleur, but I've ditched the stock XT cassette because my legs can't live with that ridiculous nine-tooth jump from the 36 to the 46-tooth large cog. Instead, I'm using a SRAM X01 cassette that weighs just 268-grams (the XT block weighs 428-grams) but, more importantly, has more usable gear range. It's also black, which add roughly five watts to my power output.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
My Shimano/SRAM/Race Face/KMC hybrid setup isn't your average drivetrain, but it's been flawless so far.


Yes, I could live happily with complete drivetrains from SRAM or Shimano, and I'm sure reps from both companies are rolling their eyes at my most certainly not recommended setup, but it works well for me. Plus, it's fun to break the "rules" and mix and match to see the outcome. In that same vein, my chain is an 11-speed rust-resistant job from KMC that's been impressive (minimal love, zero rust), and the alloy cranks and 32-tooth chain ring are the stock bits from Race Face — I'd like to drop a good chunk of weight by getting their new Next SL G4 arms down the road.

Anyway, that makes a drivetrain put together from four different companies, just in case you weren't keeping track, and it performs just as well, if not better, for my needs as a single-brand setup. Then again, they'll very likely be something completely different on the bike within a few months.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Sure, SRAM's X01 cassette is way lighter than the stock XT unit, but I'm using it because the gearing range is spot-on for my needs.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
HT's Leopard M1 pedals are the most secure feeling clipless pedals on the market.


One thing that probably won't change anytime soon are my pedals. I used Shimano's XT and XTR pedals for many years but, even when the tension was maxed, I found myself accidentally unclipping far too often. If you've never had this happen to you, just know that it can be a really, really bad surprise. I put the blame down to the fifteen years of using platform pedals that have left me with 'wandering feet' — I'm always subconsciously moving my kicks around too much through corners or when mucking around on a trail. I'm running HT's Leopard M1 pedals that are relatively light for having steel spindles (299-grams), relatively inexpensive-ish ($129.99 USD) and, most importantly, hold my feet in place regardless of what I'm doing wrong. The release tension on my HT's is set to about the halfway mark, which is still much firmer than an SPD mechanism set to full tension.




Wheels and Tires

The 2017 Element 990 RSL BC Edition comes with a set of aluminum Stan's ZTR Arch MK3 rims (laced to a DT Swiss 350 rear hub and house-branded front hub) that have held up pretty well. However, I find them about as interesting as a young kid feels about memorizing his multiplication tables. I still use the stock wheelset as needed, but there's a set of DT Swiss' aluminum XM 1501 Spline wheels (30mm internal width) on the bike for testing right now, which have been flawless despite me running into all sorts of immovable objects far too often. One bummer: they make use of the silly Centerlock rotor mount that, while looking like a good idea, allows the rotor (or adapter in my case) to shift on the mounting splines ever so slightly when the brakes are tapped. It's a minuscule amount of play, but I can't stand it — give me six rotor bolts everyday, please.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
DT's aluminum Spline wheelset isn't sexy or that exciting, but they're getting the job done without a hint of trouble.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Why is everyone okay with the loose Centerlock interface that allows the rotor to rock back and forth slightly? Sorry, not acceptable.


In the name of Breath-Rite strips and white bib shorts, I also have a set of Knight Composites' 29 Race wheels that I'll be installing shortly. These will be around for long-term testing, including the upcoming BC Bike Race, and I have to admit that I'm a bit giddy about their 1,400-gram weight. Choosing rubber to go with such a nice wheelset is always a bit of conundrum - I need something relatively feathery, but I also know full-well that a sub-600-gram 29er tire is going to last me about 100ft. I'll likely be running a set of 2.25'' Nobby Nics when the BCBR rolls around, or possibly Vittoria's ridiculously impressive Gato that I reviewed awhile back.

What I won't be using come race day is the set of Vittoria Mota tires that you see pictured here, but not because they don't work well. Yes, they stick like glue to everything other than wet roots, but they're a bit heavy and slow rolling for a week-long cross-country race that they were most definitely not designed for. They look like they weigh about 1,200-grams each, but they come in it a very respectable 813-grams. Even so, these are for riding rather than racing.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The Mota looks like it weighs a ton but, at 813-grams, they're actually lighter than many other less burly options out there.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Big meat with proper sidewalls; I've been running the Motas between 17 and 21 PSI.


No matter what wheelset or tires are on the bike, they're always setup tubeless, of course. If they weren't, I'd flat even more than I already do, which would be a bit of a bummer. I run Stan's normal sealant, but usually a bit more than recommended, and I've been loving e*thirteen's aluminum valve stems (not pictured) that can be configured to work with most rim shapes. They seem like a nicer solution than steel valves and threaded lock nuts.



The Small Stuff

The Element's odd drivetrain and MRP Ribbon fork garner the most stares and questions, but there's also a bunch of smaller things that make my bike, er, my bike. One of the small things that I often move between test bikes are the Easton lock-on grips. They're slim at just 30mm across (there's also a 33mm version), which is awesome because I have the hands of five-year-old, but they don't feel like I'm holding onto a cactus wrapped in barbwire as some thinner grips do. The dual clamps also keep them from slipping on shiny carbon bars, and as the outer metal ring on each side of the grip is tightened down, the inner plastic sleeve is pushed against the bar, holding the grip securely in place without any metal actually touching the handlebar.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
I like my grips thin and well worn; these have been swapped between roughly fifteen bikes over the last year or two.

My carbon Race Face handlebar measures 780 wide and is combo'd with a 50mm Turbine stem because I like things to match, and there are nifty stepped, adjustable headset spacers that sit on top of it. These plastic spacers are neat because you rotate them to adjust their height, something that comes in handy as I'm often swapping forks back and forth - rather than mucking around with a bunch of separate spacers, these two stepped ones do it all. I like my cross-country bikes to have a fairly low front-end, especially with 29'' wheels, so the Turbine stem is both upside-down and sits directly on the headset's upper cap. As it is right now, the top of my grips measures 140cm from the ground.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The Turbine stem is 50mm long, and the SIXC handlebar measures 780mm wide.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
These stepped, adjustable headset spacers make swapping a fork during testing an easy task.


At the other end of my cockpit is one of my all-time favorite seats — Tioga's Spyder Outland. Yeah, it looks odd. No, it doesn't split me in half. What determines if a seat is comfortable or not for your ass is its shape, not how much padding has been glued on top of it, and the Outland's shape simply works for me. It does sport some thin removable silicone padding that adds a touch of forgiveness, but I think that's more for mental relief than for your behind. I also like to tell people that the webbed shell is for drainage so I can take a leak without stopping. This is a lie, I swear.

The Outland is bolted to a 150mm-travel RockShox Reverb that's back on the bike while I service the e*thirteen TRS Plus dropper that's here to be reviewed — it needed a stronger return spring installed as it wasn't coming back up to full height during testing.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
  Tioga's Spyder Outland seat looks odd but feels great, as is often the case in life.


I have legs that just don't quit, so even on a large-sized Element there's a fair bit of seat post exposed — bottom bracket up to the top of the seat is 77.5cm — and I run the Outland's nose angled down ever so slightly to keep it from having marital relations with me while climbing. Just imagine if there was some way to carry your tools on your bike, like a bag or something that straps to your seat... Man, that'd be clever. Wait, you're telling me that seat bags have been around for decades? And that I don't have to strap tools to my frame or slide them down into my steerer tube or bottom bracket spindle? There are all these (sometimes) clever "solutions" for carrying essentials on rides, and it's almost like some riders think they're too cool to use a seat bag. If you've met me, you know that I'm definitely not too cool.

In my seat bag is a tube, patch kit and tire boot, Dynaplug, two Clever Standard tire levers that have a built in quick-link tool (designed by bike genius and inventor Tomo Ichikawa, the same guy who came up with the stepped headset spacers), an 11-speed link, and a bag of gummy worms.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Apparently a "seat bag" is something you can use to carry a spare tube and all the tools you might need - neat! I've trimmed the width of the lower strap so it doesn't interfere with the Reverb's travel.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Gummy worms not shown... because I ate them.


One of the more interesting components being tested on the Element right now are the TRP G-Spec Quadiem brakes. Monster-sized finned calipers with four hybrid composite/stainless steel pistons, a lever blade worthy of a dirt bike, and all powered by mineral oil. Each end retails for a reasonable $149 USD (sans rotor), and the front brake weighs 317-grams on my scale, also without the rotor. I've been using them for a few weeks with the stock organic pads and I'm impressed with the SRAM-esque feel and control at the initial bite point, although power is decent but not off the charts like a four-piston system should deliver, so I'll pop the metallic pads in later this week to see how they perform. Stay tuned for a review of these chrome stoppers in a few months' time.


Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
The G-Spec Quadiem features a master cylinder and lever blade that look as if it's lifted from a motorbike.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
Ditto for the calipers.



Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
  The Element needs a clever nickname, so let's hear your suggestions.


So there it is, at least as it sits right now — remember that it'll likely see a vastly different spec in a few months time. Sure, at 27lb 8oz, it's not as light as you might suspect, but I've had the bike down in the mid-24lb pound range with other parts hanging off it. And no matter what the Element's build looks like, it's happy to be bombing down some raw and rowdy shuttle lap or out for a five-hour, six-thousand-foot adventure day; more importantly, I'm happy to be on it during either type of ride.

Now she just needs a name... any ideas?


294 Comments

  • + 176
 I loved this article. That bike looks way more fun and exciting than most of the non-eclectically built bikes I see reviewed. Now show us the rest of the PB staffers bikes!! (I wouldn't mind seeing the photographers gear as well).
  • + 63
 @mikelevy I'd be up for this request and could include my camera gear as well
  • + 19
 Totally agree. Seeing peoples' idiosyncracies revealed by weird component selection, or unique solutions to a particular fit or geographical requirement. Let's see more stuff like this.
  • + 6
 Nickname you ask? How about Blood/sweat/tears and smiles?
Awesome write up Mike, thanks for enlightening us.
  • + 7
 I'd like that as well tools of the trade that'd be some good stuff Bikes & Camera's@calledtocreation:
  • + 3
 i bet you any money that this bike (and its rider) can tackle way gnarlier stuff than the average enduro rider !!!
  • + 6
 It was really refreshing to see a bike that someone actually rides.
  • + 125
 This is outstanding Pinkbike action. It's one thing to see box fresh rigs as per retail spec but another to see a proper war horse that set up all dork specific. I support similar spreads for all PB writers.
  • + 104
 They'll be more from Kazimer, Vernon, and others.
  • + 16
 @mikelevy: That's great! I'm feeling like most bike/gear reviews are telling me that everything new is awesome no matter the tech or the head badge (I get it that most new bikes are spaceships). Seeing what guys with unique access to most things mtb actually spec on their rigs is really helpful. Unlike a standard review, talking about your personal spec also has the element of WHY you chose it and how it fits your personal quirks. Carry on.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: the BC cross-country bike would be a very capable all-mountain sled most everywhere else. Very good breakdown and something I think many readers can empathize with.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Hey Mike.. I just purchased the wolf tooth 46t cog to replace my 42..I ride a lot but living in the Alberta Rockies I find the 42 still hurts on super long climbs on a 29er with 30t front ring... Is the jump in gears that u speak of really that bad?? Was hoping to avoid splashing out for eagle...
  • + 2
 @bohns1: Mike doens't like it. But it doesn't bother me, infact I like it. Before buying the eagle, I would try it. It can save you a lot of money.
  • + 2
 @bohns1: Check out the SunRace / Box Components cassette too as another option. The largest cogs go from 40 to 46, so not quite as drastic as the Shimano.
  • + 3
 @bohns1: I think that a lot of riders don't notice/don't care about the jump, which is just fine. In the end, you need to figure out the gearing that works for you. With so many gearing options, there's probably no *need* to jump to Eagle unless you simply want it. Eagle does work very, very well.
  • + 1
 @bohns1: I have the 46 and I barely notice the jump. You can tell it's more of a jump but not bad at all. I was skeptical before installation but it works much better than it looks like it would.
  • + 1
 @bohns1: I bought the Shimano XT 11-42 cassette and added the OneUp Component 47T Sprocket + 18T. Gives one extra tooth on the large end and provides consistent gear spacing throughout the range. Works perfectly for me.
can.oneupcomponents.com/collections/expander-sprockets/products/47t-sprocket-18t-xt-xtr-shimano-1x11
  • + 1
 @JWP: Thanks bud.. Got it now and going to Install... Cheers!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Thanks dude! Going to try it this eve!
  • + 1
 @h-beck83: Awesome! Can't wait to try... My 42 was good for most but some of the super steep switch backs with 10 - 15km of straight climbing add up on the knees, and I'm a guy that squats 2x a week.. Cheers!
  • + 1
 @ARonBurgundy: Not xd hub compatible.. I have existing 1x11.. Just wanted closure to Eagle gearing..
  • + 1
 @drumzrool: Won't work I have xd driver hub.. I have to remove the 42 t and add the 46 to the cassette... The jump now is from 36 to 46 as my next gear. This is where Eagle is nice.
  • + 56
 Hellement?
  • + 18
 Might have a winner here.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: Elementally challenged !
  • + 5
 You called?
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: How 'bout "Little Dink", just cause of the way that rear shock looks?
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: how about Levitator?
  • + 12
 @mikelevy: The Settlement. From all the law suits you'll get from mixing component brands.
  • + 12
 @bishopsmike: Works for the bike and the rider.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: Wolpertinger. Google it and you'll know why Smile
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: The Sturdy Coq, because it looks like it would fang around like a chicken with it's head cut off....

Plus, because Sturdy Coq
  • + 1
 What do you think about "Thread ripper"?
  • + 1
 @Tamasz: I like it. It's a winged jackalope!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Haha! Didn't know the jackalope, looks quite similar indeed, just a little bit more over the top.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: aNglEbeRt humperDink
  • + 3
 The Mix-a-Lot. Seems obvious
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I will accept a size Large PB shirt on your behalf as the winning prize! Thank you and pm me for the shipping adress, haha
  • + 31
 Self deprecation is all very well Mike but I've seen you hunt down and chase enduro-sleds on that bike. Add your OG slow and high speed handling skills and seems like a good bike for your needs. Good luck in BCBR and clean race
  • + 28
 As personal as a fleshlight? C'mon man, sharing's caring.
  • + 28
 My buddies Flesh lights all look and feel the same as mine ... not really sure what Levy is going on about.
  • + 7
 I think we've found the real reason he's complaining about lack of space for bottle holders. #Fleshlightholder #FleshlightEnduro
  • + 3
 @Mojo348: We all have our vices...
  • + 22
 "I have a lot more fun pushing a short-travel bike closer to its limits than I do when not using an enduro race rig to its full potential."

100% agree with this!

At the end of the day, I think every one should ride whatever kind of bike makes them happy. But I've seen tons of videos and had plenty of first hand encounters of guys riding bikes that are WAY too big for the trails they are on. Tons of guys riding full DH and enduro sleds down dusty sidewalks.
  • + 13
 "dusty sidewalks"
  • + 8
 It's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow.
  • + 1
 "dusty sidewalks"..."WC dhownhill course"... one in the same in Leogang
  • + 19
 [Quote="mikelevy"]My Shimano/SRAM/Race Face/KMC hybrid setup isn't your average drivetrain...[/Quote] It's exactly the kind of average drivetrain i see around here. Just some parts that were on sale slapped together.
  • + 2
 I run shimano shifter/rd with a sram cassette. Works mint and the gear range is spot on.
  • + 16
 Hey Mike , good article . I appreciate your honesty . I shuttled you up at Vedder during the enduro weekend . You made everybody look bad shredding on that poor Rocky amongst longer travel bikes . Enjoy the rest of your summer , hope to shred with you soon . Cheers
  • + 9
 Thanks for the shuttle! That was a good day of skidding.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: How's "Poor Rocky" work for a nickname?
  • + 2
 @UncleAnti: I often feel bad about it, so that could work.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I call my XL Transition Patrol, with all those modern long and low geometries, that I run with soft suspension because I'm lightweight The Flying Sofa. Maybe since yours is somewhat smaller and skinnier but still enables you to plow through stuff confortably you could stick to "Stool" ("I'm gonna shred my Stool today" and so on)..otherwise I could try to figure out spme random epic names ahaha
  • + 12
 Mike Levy is arguably the most influential journalist in bikes. He's like the Koch Brothers of dirt: secretly behind the rise of fanny packs, 29ers, and now seat bags.
  • + 1
 Depends on the audience. I only started to frequent Pinkbike when Dirt magazine UK went out of print. And on PB I read stuff like "five years ago everyone was running long stems and high seatposts" so they must have had a different influence back then. Well over a decade ago pretty much every Dirt magazine bike review started with "first we swap out that silly long stem and put on some proper wide handlebars, cut the seatpost" and only then the actual testing began. So yeah, maybe in North America it must have been Pinkbike (and Mike Levy), in Europe I'd say it was Steve Jones.
  • + 9
 Enjoyable read, but does it actually meet the brief?

I would have thought a staff ride was a bike that a PB staffer paid for with his/her own money, after having researched the myriad options on the marketplace. How does 'a bike that I have been supplied, but have not paid for, given the manufacturer can "ask for it back" at any time' qualify as personal property instead of just a long-term review bike?

Before I join others in asking for more articles like this, can 'staff ride' be more clearly defined? I would be more interested to read about a bike that a PB reviewer actually paid for.
  • + 9
 I think that getting bikes provided is the nature of being an industry insider.
  • + 5
 @mgltraveler: perhaps, however that's not my point. A 'personal' ride shouldn't be one that can be taken back at any time by the brand, as the writer implies - that's called a review bike. The distinction between the two here is not clear.
  • + 2
 @WAXAM: Considering how much stuff they're testing, I wonder whether they actually have time to ride a bike that's their own entirely. And what you're going to buy depends on your funds and how much you need it. If SLX does it for you, is it worth to spend a bit extra to go for XT. Maybe for us it is. But then if your next day in the office you're scheduled to ride a fresh XT equipped bike anyway, why would you? Maybe a retired racer or reviewer, it would be interesting to see what they choose to ride.
  • + 1
 I just think it would be kind of silly financially to put time and money into a bike when you know for a fact that you have a fleet of test bikes available at all times. That is unless the one you prefer is one that you genuinely regard as the best of the best for your needs.
  • + 8
 Good read.

Every bike I've owned the last 5 years have had the same brakes and grips - Zee's and Sensus Swayze's (or similar ODI lock on grips). So sick bruh...

Good thoughts there re pushing the limits of a trail bike too. I had a GT Distortion as a trail bike a few summers back. It was a bit of a "between bikes" bike as I was looking for a super awesome quiver killer. 114mm of rear travel and I think 140mm up front. It was awesome. I punished that little bike and it was really fun at bike parks. I would've kept it if it weren't for the pivots coming loose now and then...

And at the risk of being banned from Pinkbike for 2313879 hours, I'm going to admit that I run a 2x drivetrain on my enduro bike.
  • + 12
 Sorry, I have to ban hammer you for the 2x
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Fair play. Totally understand and respect your decision here. I've had a good run... haha
  • + 13
 #seatbagsain'tdead
  • + 14
 Unfortunately, it seems common sense might be.
  • + 1
 I gave up on seat bags after having several rip off or fall apart during hard riding
  • + 5
 @chize: From hitting the tire? That's going to be an issue on some bikes with more travel, big wheels, and long-travel dropper posts. Plenty of room on my bike, though.
  • + 5
 Happy to see i'm not the only one rocking the "old school" solution for carrying a tube some c02 and some tools.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: When I first got my dropper, I was also worried about the seatpost strap getting caught or wearing out the anodization on the post. Found a great saddle bag from Inside Line Equipment that does not need a post strap. You should consider it.
  • + 1
 @djpamg: I did look at some but they all clamped onto the seat rails. I wanted one that I could move to another bike easily, so straps it was.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: what you might like is a rubber ski strap. They never move and you can really tighten them up so that the post strap is unnecessary.
  • + 1
 Just buy a Guerrilla Gravity with the NUTS, problem solved.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: nope this was on a hardtail in the pre dropper post days. I think just the weight of a multi tool and tube banging around caused them to come apart. Probably my always buying cheap ones didn't help the situation either
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Do you just stick a windproof / waterproof in your bibs if you need an extra layer?
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: could adding weight with a seat bag contribute to the dropper issues?
  • + 3
 @aldo56: Yeah, I have a thin shell that I roll up and put in my bib pocket if I really need it. Sometimes I just have to dress a bit warm and suffer.
  • + 1
 @ReformedRoadie: Nope, zero chance. They're made to work for an 80lb rider and a 300lb rider, so the seatbag shouldn't matter.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Best solution I've found. Doesn't need a seatpost strap, quickly moves between bikes, carries more than you might think, and has zero bulk. Your stuff can get a bit grubby, but hasn't affected anything I've carried. I have a tube (or two), CO2, levers, and tyre plugs in here. The same guy's little murse holds CO2 head, quicklink, patches, tyre boot, and zip ties which goes in my bib pocket. On the frame I have a Blackburn minipump and Spesh SWAT cage + tool, and combined have everything I need.

backcountryresearch.com/race-strap-mtb-saddle-mount.html
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: they are not designed to return/extend with much more weight than the average saddle...
Rider weight does not factor into it.
While it doesn't seem like you are carrying that much, I have seen enormous bags attached to droppers and wondered if that was a good idea for a component of generally questionable reliability.
  • + 2
 @ReformedRoadie: Of course they're not designed to return with the rider's weight on the post. A 300-gram seatbag presents zero issues, though.
  • + 2
 @Hwulex: you beat me to it! Best storage I've used hands down.
  • + 1
 Speedsleev Ranger is the best seatbag I have ever used. Keeps everything covered/clean, only one strap so super-easy to switch bikes, dropper compatible, and doesn't rattle around. I only have around 20 hrs of hard riding on it, but the design is sound since it doesn't rely on the stitching to hold it on.
www.speedsleev.com/product/speedsleev-ranger
  • + 2
 @FatSanch: "speed sleeve" sounds like a condom
  • + 1
 I wonder if I'd like one if I went back. Have a hate for seat mounted bags. They get filthy, drop their contents on the trails sometimes and look awful. Maybe time to try one of the newer versions.
  • + 2
 @headshot: the backcountry research has 0 play. Really solid and dropper friendly.
  • + 1
 @sevensixtwo: Does BR make a covered version? I have used their straps for about 6 years and love them, but I like the Speedsleev as a saddle strap since it keeps everything relatively clean. The Speedsleev is almost just a strap with a built-in cover. It is missing the plastic D-ring to really cinch it down, but once I am riding I don't notice any noise from it.
  • + 2
 @FatSanch: You can always just shove your stuff in a ziplock before you put it in the strap, or BR actually sell a tube-tarp you could use too.
  • + 8
 I think a lot of us who build up our own bikes and replace the broken parts end up with these setups that don't look like they just came off the showroom floor, but still work great. Maybe even better than great since we chose the parts ourselves. If I was going to name a bike, I would call it "My Bike", but since it's not "my bike" I will call it "Mike's Bike" - which I think probably makes sense and rhymes too.

Or "Claudia" for short. Just because...
  • + 1
 Really, I thought a complete drivetrain by either SRAM or Shimano would be pretty rare unless maybe that's the way it was sold. After all, most people have a rear mech from either SRAM or Shimano but there are so many more companies making chains, cassettes (or expanders thereof), chainrings and cranksets that it would be odd to not have a mixed and matched set. And as only the chain travels past all these components and isn't necessarily brand specific, it doesn't matter whether these are from the same brand or not. In my case, my rear mech is SRAM X9 with one pulley from Tacx, the other from BBB, a KMC chain, Blackspire oval chainring, Shimano LX right crank, Shimano non-series left crank, Deore octalink bottom bracket, SLX cassette, DMR bashring, SRAM X7 shifter, Clarks cable. And that's only the drivetrain. I expect most people here have a mixed and matched set. After all, why else would people go ape shit over changing or proprietary standards?
  • + 6
 This is great. Also, HAS to be the only time a set of G-Spec Quadiems have been on the same bike as a Tioga saddle. In a sport full of bro-bruh machismo, it takes a real man to say "I like steep head angles." Well played, Levy.
  • + 5
 I'm a lot of things, but I'm not bro-bruh Smile
  • + 9
 It's funny how you read an article like this and then you get very stoked about riding an XC 29er. Great article.
  • + 6
 Maybe its the adapter that is causing your shifting brake rotor, and not a fundamental weakness of the Centerlock system?

A native centerlock rotor properly mounted on a centerlock hub has absolutely no play whatsoever. Love the bike write-up, but don't throw centerlock under the bus when you're forcing 6-bolt rotors onto it with adapters.
  • + 15
 I've used a bunch of proper Centerlock setups and they all have the same slight amount of free play.
  • + 12
 @mikelevy: @Inertiaman Thank you for mentioning this, Mike. I had felt I was the only one who noticed this (several centerlocking hubs in here) and can't stand them. Cool read!
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: Got the EX1501 wheelset (same hubs). Been running 200mm front and 180mm rear 6 bolt SRAM centerline rotors on them using the DT Swiss supplied adapters for past couple months and didn't notice any play what so ever. I will be swapping to XTR CL rotors this weekend so will check those as well now that I read about it.

I wonder, do you put light amount of grease on the splines before installing the rotor/adapter?
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: That's very strange! Been using CL for 10+ years and never once experienced this. I just checked every rotor in my stable, and not one of them moves even the slightest bit. Its hard for me to imagine how they even can: the rotor is compressed between the lockring and the "flange" at the lower edge of the hub splines.
That's 12 rotors I checked: 3 different Shimano rotor models on 3 different hub brands (DT, Shimano, Shutter Precision) and no movement whatsoever.
Maybe more torque on the lockring?? They are spec'd for 40Nm, about the same as most external BB cups (a lot).
@Ferisko: no grease on splines of centerlock. Dry.
  • + 1
 Mine are rock solid too. DT hubs, Shimano rotors and Formula/Shimano lock rings.

I'd actually be worried about riding a bike with play in the brake rotors. It's definitely not normal and there's potential for something to go wrong. I'd especially be worried about where the 40Nm of torque is going; if it's just bottoming out the threads you could already have damaged the hub/lock ring before you even start riding.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: You are so right, I always hate that play in centerlock systems, drives me crazy, i´ve also tried a bunch, and six bolt anytime for sure! Awesome write up and beautiful bike. Completely agree with the smaller bike bigger trails, I ride a cannondale habit and all my freinds ride enduros, then I can also go for longer rides. Awesome article once more! More of this. Also , your bike looks dialled.
  • + 2
 Agreed! My hope floating rotors have a ton of play back and forth, from the rivets at the spider/rotor interface. Not a problem because who brakes backwards on a bike anyway!
  • + 7
 If I can pay more than $100 for this S.E.A.T. Bag and the letters stand for something rad, I'm in. Soft-sided, Element-Attached Tool Bag? I'll pay $150 if you make it wider with a shorter stem.
  • + 2
 #marketing
  • + 7
 Shimano cassettes are too heavy, SRAM derailleurs are too weak, so that combo makes a lot of sense to me. I just wish you could lock the Shimano cage instead of just turn off the clutch.
  • + 4
 I've always felt like the shimano clutch isn't as good as the sram clutch. Mine might just be gunked up but the shimano one seems to just add friction instead of spring force
  • + 1
 @j12j: Isn't that exactly what it's supposed to do? If the idea was to add more spring force I think the solution would be a stronger spring...
  • + 1
 @Tim2: the sram clutch, is just a stronger spring, (always pulls in one direction) while my shimano derailleur resists movement in both direction
  • + 2
 @j12j:
Shimano clutches are adjustable.

I had to toss an x1 RD because the clutch wore out and and it started dropping chains.

My 11s XT RD required me turning down the tension out of the box.
  • + 5
 Any particular reason for matching the XT shifter with XTR derailleur?
I find the opposite combination shifts the same or better, and doesn't make the wallet cry when it meets a rock.

I know product managers spec bikes like this to shift units, but as a choice it bothers me.
  • + 5
 No reason. It's the stock shifter and derailleur.
  • + 6
 Nice setup, guessing you go packless with this setup and the two bottle cages? Small downtube bags also work well for a few tools, tubes, plugs, etc and keep the weight low and centered by your bottom bracket.
  • + 18
 Yeah, I can't remember that last time I wore a backpack. I wear bib shorts with pockets on the back to carry a bar or sandwich when I think I might starve to death during a big ride, and that's all I usually need.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: Just curious how far you can go (in hours) with just two bottles. Some of the big high alpine rides here in CO, even the ones that are just above the resorts, I utilize all 3L in my pack.
  • + 4
 @briceps: Hhhmm, depends on how warm it is. An average long-ish ride for me would be 4 - 5 hours and two bottles (one is a massive Podium bottle) is plenty for that. There's a handful of times during the year when I'd do something much, much longer, and then I'll put another bottle in my bib pocket. We do a monster at the end of every summer that's around 100km and 10,000ft of climbing... I obviously can't bring enough fluids for that, but we pass the trail head two or three times so it's easy to refill. I generally never have a problem with fluids.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: For long rides when I can't fit enough water, I use the Salomon soft bottles that ultratrail runners use. An extra 500ml in your jersey pocket that is used first and you never notice it. Looks stupid, works great.
  • + 3
 @iamamodel: I've seen a few guys using those. I'll have to try one - they look a lot more comfortable than a bottle in a bib pocket.
  • + 6
 @mikelevy: how many miles long and meters high is that? Tomo is the man.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Much better than a bottle - I had a 50km race on the weekend (vast majority singletrack) and I didn't notice it. It's a little slower to put back than a bottle, so I use the bottle for quick hits, and the Salomon bottle for fireroads. In Australia they are $25 bucks.
  • + 1
 Any suggestions on on bike storage?
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: What bibshorts do you prefer? Im looking into getting a pair for just that so i don't need to bring a pack in order to carry a protein bar or two
  • + 3
 @S-nicholas: I've been using Race Face's Stash bibs for a few seasons now and like them. They have deep pockets so nothing falls out, and I can put a large bottle in the center pocket if I really need to. Bibs are pretty personal, though.
  • + 1
 Race Face Stash bibs are where it's at if you carry little equipment. I am quite disappointed with Spec SWAT vest. I loose bottles from it and they jump on my back as hell. It is fine if I put a rather tight jersey or jacket on top. For long rides on hot days I always take back pack with smelly yucky piss bladder, there's no way for me to store 1,5L-2L of water in water bottles. But I just bought Evoc 3L Hip Pack and it is fantastic. Stays put as hell, even with tube and water bottle inside and works well on naked belly so you can hide it from the sight of MTB purists. It is way better than 4L Camelbak fanny which is big and heats the back much more. The evoc feels like second skin.
  • + 1
 @S-nicholas: custom bikepacking frame bags, I store 3l water, food, phone, keys, tools, etc, in my bike. Rouge panda oracle works well for just a few tools on your downtube.
  • + 5
 Great post Mike. This is what real bikes look like. But do me a favor and stop being so apologetic about liking XC bikes. There is really no need for that, the world of mountain biking is much larger than just Enduro and Downhill.
  • + 9
 Kind of surprised it is not an Ebike.
  • + 36
 Never.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: can't you employ some Simpleton from the village to test E-bikes? You could outsource it to Germany, a man called Guido or Hans (Oberlander) could test E-bikes for you, you'd send him to Lake Garda for testing where he'd be shoving tons of gelato into his belly and chase middle aged men in lycra up fireroads...

...or you are scared he'd be fastest of your bunch?
  • + 4
 Rainbow Fish. After the popular children's book. Also I thought it was funny when you said you liked things to match when talking handlebars and stem, after reading about your drivetrain.
  • + 6
 I'm a fan of any bike that can make you Levy-tate in the woods. Nice bike!
  • + 2
 Very cool idea guys - interesting seeing what you guys pick that is on offer.

Out of curiosity, how many of the Pinkbike staff actually own and frequently ride a bike they have spent their own money on? that could be a fun article to read what you guys would spend your own funds on at msrp.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy thanks for the super cool write up. I'm definitely an XC bike guy first and foremost and can relate to your desire to push the short suspension to its limits. I'm leaning towards an element for my next bike, so just a few questions for you:

1) do you remember stock weight?
2) what were you running when the bike was at its lightest?
3) as a bike shop guy, I know that people come in all shapes and sizes. How tall are you? I'm 5'8" and am sort of thinking about trying a large with this long front center thing happening, but it's already a little longer than my 2012 epic medium. Thoughts?

Thanks man!
  • + 3
 1) I think it was around 27lbs when stock but I can't recall.
2) SID WC, carbon Cole wheels, some skinny Rocket Rons and a few other things.
3) I'm 5'10'' and run a 50mm stem. I'd guess that you'd like the medium but it depends on proportions and preferences.
  • + 2
 Mike, thanks very much for such a fascinating article. Clearly a lot of thought goes into these sorts of stories!

I guess I'm interested in understanding just how rough/far you actually take this bike. You mention a few shuttle runs, but does that equate to 6' drops? Can you reference any of the gnarlier trails you've ridden with this bike, so that I can go and youtube-hunt to see?

In addition, particularly in the slack mode, the BB gets pretty low. Any issues with pedal strikes across the different Ride9 settings you have used?
  • + 2
 I've done some things around 6' and a bit larger, but the bike isn't really for that. If the landing is there, however, it can be as smooth as not even leaving the ground. The most hectic trails I've ridden on an Element (the previous version) would be Gargamel in Whistler, but that was dumb. And all the stuff in Squamish and Britania Beach. Not going to lie, I kinda enjoy being under gunned for some reason.

I was getting too many pedal strikes with the 100mm SID on the front of the bike, but that was my fault - it wasn't meant for that fork to be used without the 10mm tall lower headset cup that I'll grab next week. Other than that, no issues with pedal strikes.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Brilliant - thanks for taking the time

Time to go find my local dealer! Toying with the idea of a 130mm up front.. will crunch some numbers!
  • + 2
 Love the KMC Rustbusters; I've got one on my hardtail. I commute on that bike, and it's weathered our insane California deluge unmaintained without a hint of corrosion. I can't think of a reason to buy anything else. It works so well that I forget to lube the chain as often as I should - a little periodic rust is a good way to remind yourself to do that, it turns out.

For those interested in seat bags but less inclined to modification than Levy, Ortlieb makes a tidy little waterproof bag that clamps to the rails only. Quick-release for easy access. A little smaller than this Blackburn, but it gets the job done.
  • + 2
 If the KMC Rustbuster works for you, you don't have real rust. I tried two, the zinc plating lasts about two weeks in the winter until road salt as an electrolyte uses it up. That's only cosmetic, but I also don't get as much mileage out of them.
  • + 5
 "It's also black, which add roughly five watts to my power output"

Amen to this.
  • + 2
 Mike, you said the Ribbon is lighter than your personal Pike, but it looks like it might be very similar in weight to the update Pike2...without the "jello gargling". Also interesting is the big jump between product weights. The new SID weights 13XX grams, but if you want just a few more milimeter of travel, you've gotta jump up to the 18XX gram Pike.
  • + 2
 i upforked my Sid WC to 110mm with an airshaft change with no increase in weight. You can go as long as 120mm on a Sid, using factory parts for about $20 US
  • + 1
 @john65: 29" model? 2017?
  • + 2
 @PHeller: 2014 element 999 29er. sid wc carbon fork ,originally 100mm travel.The Solo Air system is the same as the current models. Google or youtube Rockshox solo airshaft change. Really easy and inexpensive upgrade
  • + 1
 @john65: I'm pretty sure you can't do it anymore on the 2017 Models... at least thats what they said in the new SID unveiling over at Bikerumor
  • + 1
 @twiggy: The new SID has changes to the Charger damper. The Solo airspring appears to be the same. Its the air spring / airshaft that is changed on the upgrade.
  • + 1
 @john65: But I think the problem in 2017 is with the platform itself. RS Said that they shortened the physical length of the stanchons to limit travel to 100mm only.
  • + 1
 @twiggy: Pretty chessy move if they did. I probably wouldn't buy anything as short as 100mm again, living in Vancouver, but it sucks for people who could see this as an option
  • + 1
 @john65: I agree - I'd love to buy a new RM Element and throw a Sid on there to bring the weight down; but not really interested if its topped out at 100mm..... Same with the Norco Revolver...I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I could slacken it out with a 120mm fork easily.
  • + 1
 @twiggy: I have an Element BC on the radar. Gonna wait and see what the new Instinct brings before I commit. Same thoughts about lightening it up with a fork change. Might have to keep the sid WC.
  • + 2
 With the continued parts swapping and terrain changes this Element undergoes I dub it the Multiple Personality Disorder Machine or Rocky Mountain Element MPD edition. With apologies to anyone who actually suffers this. Shred on.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy Regarding the 25% sag, do you find the Horst design works best (mandatory?) with the shock lever in mid position? The new Element is on my short list of XC/marathon frames, and my past umpteenth 100mm frames have been DW Link and Maestro which work great at even 30% sag with shock in open position. Does the Element bob and wallow without a good dose of platform and/or more than 25% sag? Thank you.
  • + 3
 I leave it fully open 95% of the time and it feels super efficient to me. Then again, it better with just 100mm of travel. I ran it with 30% sag for awhile, too, but I prefer less. Not because it's not efficient at 30%, but just because I like how it handles with less sag. I'm also sometimes chasing guys on longer travel bikes, so it needs to be a bit stiffer.
  • + 1
 Hi Mike, thx for sharing your personal ride! I have a question regarding the Dyna plug kit which I think I will purchase. Does it go better with a hand pump or CO2? Have you used it trail side? Does it pay to bring it along vs a tube? I can't live without going tubeless! I would go mad using a tube in a perforated tire longterm!
  • + 1
 I have used it trailside a few times. I'd always bring a tube along as well.
  • + 1
 "Just imagine if there was some way to carry your tools on your bike, like a bag or something that straps to your seat... Man, that'd be clever. Wait, you're telling me that seat bags have been around for decades? And that I don't have to strap tools to my frame or slide them down into my steerer tube or bottom bracket spindle? There are all these (sometimes) clever "solutions" for carrying essentials on rides, and it's almost like some riders think they're too cool to use a seat bag. If you've met me, you know that I'm definitely not too cool."

OMG... my kindred spirit...
  • + 3
 yeah man. That's a bike. We must be from the same generation of riders: All mountain/XC set-up. And with the pump attached and two bottle cages of course.
  • + 4
 Thank you for the share Mike! Great to learn about your trusted steed with all the little personal touches!
  • + 1
 "The Mule"

It is a workhorse, but not thoroughbred since you are constantly changing parts, it endures all the perversions that you are putting it through, and it goes the extra mile well beyond its natural terrain (XC) to the next level (trail) with consistency and without complain...

So "The Mule" it is. Smile
  • + 2
 ^ I like

or just "Donkey" cause its less Bro Dude/Jackass and more cutesy and gender neutral



I think of Leroy in the Muppet Musicians of Bremen not the one in Shrek
  • + 3
 @mikelevy The bike name should be the BC Slut. Because she has so many different parts from so many different companies & geographical locations.
  • + 6
 That name makes a ton of sense.
  • + 2
 No matter what, my bikes morph into Sramano albeit for me it is always an X chain. Siltec cables all around. My first woods bike had Suntour, Sachs, Sedis and TA. At the time I thought it worked great.
  • + 2
 I need a good bench. Where can I get a bench like the one in the article with the two forks and the black peg boards behind them (I want some peg boards too)? A good bench will sort my life out. Thanks.
  • + 2
 It's just a work bench and storage unit combo from Canadian Tire, our version of Wal-Mart for tools and things. It has a thick wood top that I bolted a vice to, and it'll last forever. I think it was around $500 CAD or something.

www.pinkbike.com/news/workshop-dreams-opinion-2015.html
  • + 5
 the rocky mountain element schweinhundt edition
  • + 1
 I have decided to make up for my lack of handling skills with a bit more travel, so will be seeing you at the start line (but likely not for too long afterward) on Day 1 in Cumberland on my Following (with 130mm Pike up front). I agonised about bringing less travel but decided to play it safe/make it more of a party. Will say hi.
  • + 2
 It's funny cuz this is pretty much exactly what I'd build given the money. Seems perfect for flag, other than the gnarly trails! Call this bitch herpes! Cuz to me it seems like the gift that keeps on givin
  • + 1
 @mikelevy might be too late to get a response, but here goes: what is the oldest (not vintage, so let's say post-2003 or something) frame a pinkbike staffer regularly runs? I would really dig seeing a "Staff Rides" of that. Maybe I should specify full suspension, I'm sure there are plenty of old Moots chugging along.
  • + 1
 Hhhmm, I think everyone is on bikes that have been made within the last few years. Sorry, nothing too old.
  • + 4
 This is some quality content right here. Really enjoyed that.
  • + 4
 Super interesting read, cheers!
  • + 1
 @mikelevy isn't a 120mm fork that weighs 1800+ grams a bit rediculous. Wouldn't a pike be well worth the snall weight addition if you are already at 1800g? A sid can weigh around 1500g....
  • + 4
 Maybe the Ribbon works better than the Pike? I'm not sure yet, but it's working VERY well so far. Also, I need to test the MRP regardless of how much it weighs Smile
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: fair enough Mike, I guess it is a test bike.
  • + 2
 @warmerdamj: The Ribbon is also available at the same weight in 160mm travel for 29er
  • + 2
 Excellent article -fine points mix and matching all the gear to suit Needs - weight or waiting to shed the weight or take it back on-for ride it sake! -i like it!
  • + 2
 Ditch the Monarch RT3 and replace with Manitou Mcleod. Sooooo much better performing shock especially on shorter travel bikes.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy : Swiss Army Pony?
  • + 4
 Call it American Pie (the Chevy to the Levy).
  • + 1
 @mikelevy Surely you meant to say 104cm off the ground rather than 140cm. My DH bike's handlebars are 105.5cm off the ground so sure your bike has to be lower!!!
Great article by the way!
  • + 1
 The Elemental chart lists carbon a "C" and oxygen as"'O" so its the Element CO simple.

Or with all the different parts you could always go with "Yobob"

Ride on what ever turns your crank.
  • + 1
 Great to see a personal set up for a bike.
You run more air in the negatve chamber than the positive?
The fork has a bottom out adjustment.
As in ramp up control?
And you run very high pressure in the negative chamber?
  • + 4
 That was a great little feature, really enjoyed it.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy - Dreaded Miracle
  • + 3
 I was thinking big lebowski, Walter
  • + 2
 Vittoria Mota 29x2.35? I only see these in DH for 26 and 27.5, New tire they will be offering here soon?
  • + 2
 It's a new size option.
  • + 4
 Great article!
  • + 1
 Good article. I have the attention spam of a gnat, but I read the whole thing. That doesn't happen with every link I click.
  • + 2
 give me 12 rotor bolts and I'm one happy camper.....toss in a threaded bb as well
  • + 1
 @mikelevy thanks very much for sharing this, getting ready for bcbr with my fuel ex and wasn't sure what to run for tires. Will give the nobby nic a try.
  • + 2
 Yeah, do full knobby for sure. Nobby Nics or something similar in a 2.25'' or a bit larger. Tubeless, of course. You might get away with something faster rolling if it stays dry, but I don't think you'd want anything lighter duty.
  • + 2
 Solid article Mike! Your analogies are hilarious and it's awesome to see a cool franken-bike.
  • + 2
 Hi, curious what kind of ratchet is @mikelevy using in his DTSwiss hubs? 18, 36 or 54 tooth version? Thx
  • + 2
 I forget what was stock in the hub, but I know I put the 36 tooth Star Ratchet wheels in when I swapped to the XD driver. I like the way they sound.
  • + 4
 Revel-stoker? (BC joke)
  • + 1
 Levy's eLament eLamental eLevmental LevMental LevShredMental Levitating Levy's eLemental Rocky Mountain Shred Machine!
  • + 2
 Vittoria Mota, Mo BETTA!
  • + 1
 Im envious of your short travel rig. My Carbine 29 is WAY over kill for my trails.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy
"Mikey two bottles"
  • + 2
 Fitting nickname for sure
  • + 1
 Gotta call it "Leeloo", as in main character from 5th Element the movie! Smile
  • + 0
 "It's also black, which add roughly five watts to my power output."

Everybody who played Orcs before knows that only RED is making you faster.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy did you consider the Thunderbolt before getting your sweet Element? Thanks!
  • + 1
 Nope, I didn't. Given a choice, I'd grab 29" wheels everytime.
  • + 1
 "Lamentiss Perfunctorious"
Its a combo of lament, perfunctory and victorious.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy You already named this bike: fleshlight.
  • + 1
 Your bike sounds like the jack of all trades.......your bikes name should be, Jack
  • + 1
 Are they F1 cars in the photos mounted above the tool wall in your garage @mikelevy ?
  • + 4
 Yup, every shop needs things on the wall to ogle.
  • + 1
 you'd laugh your asses off if I review my own bike like that hahaa, not much money on it, but full purpose
  • + 1
 This is kind of like driving a Civic at the limit vs. driving a Corvette at the limit, which one is more fun?
  • + 8
 I think it's more like driving rally car at the limit vs. a Raptor at half throttle
  • + 1
 Let's call her the 6th eLevyment cause she's adapts to whatever u seem to want to get out of her!
  • + 1
 With that seat and 100mm travel nutcracker would be the right name for me
  • + 1
 27lbs for a carbon XC bike is a bit pig-ish,ain't it?
  • + 12
 The parts on the bike are far from XC parts, ain't they? There's a lot of heavy-ish things on there, but if you read the article you'll find that it's been down in the 24lb range with other parts on it. It's often in the high-25s for day to day riding. Also, I don't care how heavy it is just so long as it's a blast to ride Smile
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: My weightweenism spoke before I read all the article, sorry. Anyway if one day you get it below 23lb,especially with some really light wheels,I would love to read about your thoughts on the change.
  • + 1
 *I meant tires,not wheels.
  • + 1
 @nozes: Under 23lbs with a dropper post might be pushing it. I doubt that I'd like the wheel/tire setup that'd require. Might be a fun project, though: lightest usable BCXC bike.
  • + 1
 How about Mary Poppins, because it helps the medicine go down.
  • + 1
 Name's gotta be Bitza, surely!!
  • + 1
 Nice bike. How bout shitmobile?
  • + 2
 spud
  • + 1
 Frankenbikes are the best. That thing looks awesome.
  • + 1
 I am the walrus. Donny shut the fk up you are out of your element
  • + 1
 Rad StickStand!! I want!
  • + 1
 Call it Elemental. Sick bike.
  • + 1
 How about the 'Levement' ?
  • + 1
 Nice Rocky !!! All components
  • + 1
 @mikelevy An interesting but also enjoyable read. Thank you!!
  • + 1
 Cool article. What's your height and weight if you don't mind @mikelevy
  • + 2
 I'm 5'10'' and a bit under 160lb right now.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Nice ride. I like your mention of BB to saddle and other measurements, if only for it showing the differences in body proportions. I'm on a 2014 Element in size large and stand 5'10.5". My BB/saddle measurement is 760mm (15mm less than yours), 70mm stem, 760mm bars, 120mm fork. I tried a 90mm stem in a flashback moment to my 2004 Element but soon went back to the 70mm.

I'll look for your Element at BCBR, that'll keep my mind off the pain/joy/pain.
  • + 1
 @dlford: Here's the version I had in 2014:

www.pinkbike.com/photo/11379751
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Yeah, I saw that pic in the original, and entertaining, write-up you did about BCBR. The RS-1 looks fast standing still. I picked up mine off the PB classifieds two months ago, lady-driven by a featherweight (whom you might even know). It came with 2x10, I've since personalized it with 1x11 (OneUp 45T) and carbon hoops. I'm a straight post holdout (read as: old man, curmudgeon) but have a 9point8 to I'm tempted to install this weekend. It has internal routing so it'll be time to bust out the dremel tool and a few beers to offset the frustration.
  • + 1
 @dlford: Get that FallLine on there and you won't ever go back. Enjoy.
  • + 2
 Frankenlevy
  • + 1
 I cant add this article to my favorites. Where the button gone?
  • + 1
 @mikelevy : can I try Rocky Mountain eLEVYment?
  • + 1
 With that seat and the short travel, you can call it the AssHatchet
  • + 1
 great read, thanks Mike as for a name, I'll suggest Caligula
  • + 1
 How wide is that handlebar mike?
  • + 2
 "My carbon Race Face handlebar measures 780 wide and is combo'd with a 50mm Turbine stem"

cheers
  • + 1
 780mm
  • + 1
 Those headset spacers. Shivers.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy I was wondering what shoes you use on those ht pedals?
  • + 1
 I have some very well used Giro Code VR70 shoes and a set of Fi’zi:k M3B Uomo shoes.
  • + 1
 Nice real bike. But damn 20 PSI?
  • + 6
 Sure, depending on the tires and the trails I'm riding. If I'm running something meaty and wide on some wide rims, and I'm on a slower and more technical trail, I'm sometimes going as low as 17/19 PSI. With the 2.25'' Nics on a set of skinny XC racing rims I'll be more like 23/25 PSI or something. I'm a dork and live by my digital pressure gauge - literally the one piece of gear that I'd feel naked without.
  • + 1
 This is my little mule "Pepe"
  • + 2
 Nice bike man!
  • + 1
 Yo, @mikelevy. What saddlebag is that?
  • + 2
 It's just a Blackburn saddlebag. Nothing special, same as most other bags.
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: cool. I dig the simplicity. Gonna have to pick one up.
  • + 1
 Since you said she's a she ~ How about "Ellie"?
  • + 1
 "She who won't be named" ?
  • + 1
 Smellement... She's dank.
  • + 1
 Serious, fuck CenterLock.
  • + 4
 I've never had a center lock rotor I liked. I avoid it like an e-bike now.
  • + 2
 those XTR rotors are dope af tho...proceed with normally scheduled hating
  • + 1
 @greasecheese7: I agree, I wouldn't ditch mine.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy, May one inquire to the brand of your pump?
  • + 2
 It's a tiny SKS pump but it seems to move a decent amount of air.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Thanks!
  • + 1
 Mike ride this bike only because he can put two water bottles in it.
  • + 2
 Not going to lie, it's a factor.
  • + 2
 Levy's Little Leviathan?
  • + 1
 nice bike looks light and efficient
  • - 1
 How about "Element BC Edition"? Or we could continue down a road of giving inanimate objects female names.
  • + 6
 Who says it needs a female name? Of course it doesn't.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I'm lazy and only possessively refer to my bikes by their model name or category of bike. Depends on the target audience I'm conversing with: My V10, my road bike, my Chromag...
  • + 3
 I shall call it Pat.
  • + 3
 @acali: That SNL skit was so good.
  • - 1
 "SRAM-esque feel and control" so you mean brakes that are unreliable and don't work?
  • + 4
 Nope, not at all. SRAM brakes have such a nice feel at the bite point that's not too grabby or harsh. I like that because it's often wet here, so I've found there's a bit more control in the early stages of braking with a SRAM stopper compared to Shimano. Both can work well and both can have issues, of course.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Those are 180mm rotors right? Anyone would think those brakes are overkill for that bike. I guess not if they feel that nice.

I'm wondering how the Slate G Specs compare...
  • + 3
 Yeah... not sure how this SRAM joke stays in play? The Guides are more or less universally loved.

My Guide RSC's have transformed my riding. If I hadn't already found my favorite brakes, I'd totally give the TRP's a try.
  • + 2
 @Deartist7: 180mm up front and 160mm on the back. I wouldn't say that any specific brake is overkill for a specific bike; I think it's more terrain and style dependent than that.
  • + 0
 @MasterSlater: mine were terrible, same as the levels. I seem to always get a poor set on my bikes
  • + 2
 @Deartist7: I just put an order in from the factory for a set of these, so I'll have some first hand experience in about a week Smile
  • + 1
 @D4ng3r: You ordered directly from the TRP page? Slates or Quadiems?
I guess I'll be waiting for your opinion by then haha.
I really like the idea of a reliable brake with good power and great feel. I'm light though at 140 pounds geared, hence why I ask about being overbraked.
If the Slate G Specs feel any as good as the Quadiems I think I'll have made my choice.
  • + 1
 @Deartist7: Hey dude, sorry for the long delay.

I actually ordered through my old job- we put in purchase orders with the factory. There was a delay, I'm getting them this weekend. I got Slates- I don't think you'll need Quadiems unless you're doing serious downhill. I'm so curious as to how they feel too! Big Grin Excited.
  • + 1
 Call it Tea bagger!
  • + 1
 Levytate
  • + 1
 Johnson
  • + 1
 Chuckles
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