2022 Rocky Mountain Element

2022 Rocky Mountain Element

Wheel Size:

  • XS: 27.5’’
  • S–XL: 29’’

Travel: 120 mm rear / 130 mm front

Material: Aluminum and Carbon versions available

Price:

  • Carbon frame w/ Fox DPS Factory shock: $3,199
  • Complete bikes $2,559 to $9,589; see below for details
David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
2022 Rocky Mountain Element
Share this post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email

Intro

The prior-generation Rocky Mountain Element was an XC race bike through and through, but Rocky has given the new bike a dramatic overhaul. Rear suspension travel has been increased by 20 mm, to 120, and the Element now comes with a 130 mm fork. But the geometry has changed even more radically, with the headtube angle getting slacker by a whopping four and a half degrees. This clearly isn’t your standard minor redesign, so let’s get right into it.

The Frame

The Element is still available in both aluminum and carbon frames, and Rocky Mountain’s typical “Smoothlink” suspension layout carries over, too. It’s a Horst-link layout with the shock mounted horizontally underneath the top tube, leaving tons of room for two water bottles inside the front triangle on all sizes apart from the XS, which still gets one.

Speaking of that XS frame, it’s the only size of the Element to get 27.5’’ wheels; the bigger sizes are all 29ers. Rocky Mountain (and some other brands) have been taking the approach of putting smaller wheel sizes on smaller frames for a while now, and it makes a lot of sense. Shorter riders have less room to get behind a big 29’’ rear wheel on steeper terrain, and the taller 29’’ front wheel and fork can also be limiting when it comes to getting bars low enough to effectively weight the front wheel.

David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
2022 Rocky Mountain Element — Suspension Layout

Rocky Mountain’s full-suspension bikes have typically had a huge amount of geometry adjustment available via their “Ride9” flip chips, and while the Element doesn’t do away with that system entirely, it has been pared down to four settings.

Cable routing is internal, and the Element features rubber guards on the downtube, seatstay, and chainstay. Rocky Mountain’s preferred BB92 press-fit bottom bracket is also here, as well as a SRAM UDH derailleur hanger.

David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
2022 Rocky Mountain Element
David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
2022 Rocky Mountain Element

Fit & Geometry

The Element is still available in five frame sizes, though the nominal sizes have been shuffled around a bit. There’s now an XS on offer, and the XXL from the prior bike is no more. If you ignore the size names and compare the equivalent spots in the range (e.g. the new XS to the old Small, or new Medium to the old Large, etc.) the reach hasn’t actually changed a whole lot, apart from growing by 15 mm in the largest size. What has changed, dramatically, is the headtube angle — it now sits at 65.5° in the neutral position, almost 4.5° slacker than the old bike (69.8°). That’s a massive difference, and one that should go a long way in transforming the Element from a classic XC race bike to something much more capable in more technical terrain. The “slack” position on the new Element shaves 0.5° off those angles, and the “steep” one adds 0.3°.

The seat tube angle has been steepened a touch, to 76.5° for the 29er sizes and 76.1° for the XS. The XS bike gets 425 mm chainstays, which grow to 435 mm on the other sizes. All of that adds up to wheelbases that range from 1127 mm on the XS through 1265 mm on the XL. The Element’s sizes also cover a huge range; Rocky Mountain recommends the XS frame for riders as short as 4’8’’ (143 cm) and the XL for folks up to 6’6’’ (198 cm). For reference, the full geometry chart is below.

David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
Rocky Mountain Element Geometry (click to expand)

Between adding a bit of suspension travel and that dramatically slacker headtube angle, the new Element should be a whole lot more capable and forgiving on descents than the outgoing model. Where it previously was a true XC race bike, the new model at least looks to be much more of a short-travel Trail bike, along the lines of the Transition Spur, Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol, Pivot Trail 429, and so on.

The Builds

Rocky Mountain offers the Element in seven different complete builds, at a very wide range of prices. The base Element Alloy 10 starts at just under $2,600, and the top-spec Element Carbon 90 will run $9,589. The highlights of all the build levels are below.

  • Fork: RockShox Judy Silver 130 mm
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore w/ SunRace Cassette
  • Crankset: Rocky Mountain Microdrive
  • Brakes: Tektro HD-M275
  • Wheels: Rocky Mountain TR25 rims, Shimano MT400 hubs
  • Dropper Post: Rocky Mountain Toonie
  • Fork: RockShox Recon Gold 130 mm
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore
  • Crankset: Shimano Deore
  • Brakes: Shimano MT4100
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 rims, Shimano MT410 hubs
  • Dropper Post: Rocky Mountain Toonie
  • Fork: Fox 34 Performance, 130 mm
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX w/ XT rear derailleur
  • Crankset: Race Face Aeffect
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 rims, Shimano SLX rear hub
  • Dropper Post: Rocky Mountain Toonie
  • Fork: Marzocchi Z2, 130 mm
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX w / Deore cassette
  • Crankset: Shimano Deore
  • Brakes: Shimano MT4100
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 rims, Shimano MT410 hubs
  • Dropper Post: Rocky Mountain Toonie
  • Fork: Fox 34 Performance, 130 mm
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT w/ SLX cassette
  • Crankset: Race Face Aeffect
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 rims, DT Swiss 370 rear hub
  • Dropper Post: Rocky Mountain Toonie
  • Fork: Fox 34 Performance Elite, 130 mm
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance Elite
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Crankset: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i27 rims, DT Swiss 370 rear hub
  • Dropper Post: Race Face Turbine R
  • Fork: Fox 34 Factory, 130 mm
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
  • Crankset: Race Face Next SL
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Wheels: Rocky Mountain 26XC Carbon, DT Swiss 350 rear hub
  • Dropper Post: Fox Transfer Factory

Those are enough options that there should be something for everyone here, though it is a little disappointing to see details like a house-brand front hub on even the top-tier Carbon 90. But a number of the more affordable builds are fairly solid value for money, and it’s great to see such a wide range of builds on offer.

David Golay reviews the Rocky Mountain Element for Blister
2022 Rocky Mountain Element

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The new Element is slotted squarely against the class of aggressive short-travel bikes like the Transition Spur, Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol, and Pivot Trail 429, but how does it actually stack up on the trail?

(2) That said, is the Element still a viable option for the occasional — or frequent — XC race, too? Or is it more of an everyday Trail ride for an XC-minded rider, and an option for longer, more technical sorts of endurance races?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The Rocky Mountain Element has undergone a dramatic transformation for 2022, and the new bike looks like a really excellent option for logging huge miles while still maintaining a whole bunch of capability in more technical terrain, too. We’re hoping to be able to line up the Element for a full review in the future to see how it really compares to the alternatives on the trail.

Share this post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email

Leave a Comment