2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct

2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct

Wheel Size: 27.5” (XS – Small), 29” (Small – XL)

Travel: 140 mm rear / 150 mm front

Geometry Highlights:

  • Sizes Offered: XS, Small, Medium, Large, XL
  • Headtube Angle: 64° (neutral setting; adjustable between 63.5° and 64.3°)
  • Reach: 455 mm (size Medium, neutral position; adjustable +/- 5 mm via reach adjust headset)
  • Chainstay Length: 437 – 447 mm (adjustable via flip chip)

Frame Material: Aluminum and carbon fiber options available

Price: Complete bikes starting at $2,899 USD / $3,369 CAD; see below for full details

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct
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Intro

We’ve witnessed a broad spectrum in how dramatically various brands have overhauled their Trail bikes this year, from the lightly refreshed (but still excellent) Revel Rascal to the wild new high-pivot Norco Optic and Sight. Rocky Mountain is next up with their 140mm-travel Instinct, so which path have they taken?

Though the frame itself doesn’t look radically different, Rocky Mountain’s updated 2024 Instinct packs a bunch of sensible changes that emphasize geometry refinement, extensive adjustability, and size-specific suspension tunes. Let’s dig into the details to understand what Rocky Mountain was going for, and why this bike seems like an exciting evolution of the longstanding Instinct platform:

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 99

The Frame

From the short-travel Element to the Enduro-ready Altitude, Rocky Mountain’s bikes have had a very similar design language for the past several generations, and the Instinct sits well within that familiar frame silhouette. Familiar doesn’t mean boring, though, and a closer look at the frame shows some intricate shapes and angles in the frame’s tube shapes — the Instinct is undeniably a sharp-looking bike and an improvement over the outgoing version in my humble opinion. Materials-wise, Rocky Mountain still offers the Instinct in both aluminum and carbon fiber versions, with the carbon version being Rocky’s “Smoothwall” carbon and the aluminum versions getting the brand’s custom “Form” tubing.

The prior version of the Instinct shared its frame with the Altitude, the only difference being the aluminum shock mount at the top tube, but this new Instinct gets a dedicated frame without that replaceable shock mount.

Several brands have begun to dabble with high-pivot designs in shorter-travel bikes, but the Instinct sticks with Rocky’s tried-and-true interpretation of a four-bar Horst link layout. The suspension travel hasn’t changed either, with 150 mm up front and 140 mm in back, except for the top-end Instinct Carbon 99 model, which gets a 10 mm bump to 160 mm front / 150 mm rear. Rocky Mountain also says they’ve tweaked the suspension kinematics on the new bike, but the details of what has changed aren’t stated.

A lot of brands are offering size-specific chainstay lengths on a lot of bikes these days. However, and as with the prior version of the Instinct, Rocky Mountain has gone beyond many other brands by offering size-specific suspension tunes. This includes both different leverage curves and different shock tunes for each size, which will likely be particularly appealing to riders at the extreme upper and lower ends of the size range. The shock sizes stay the same as the prior Instinct, with a higher-leverage arrangement for the XS and Small sizes via a 190 x 45 mm shock;  the Medium, Large, and XL sizes get a longer 210 x 52.5 mm shock.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct

Rocky Mountain also keeps the same varied wheel sizes, with the XS frame rolling on dual 27.5” wheels, the Small being offered with either 27.5’’ or 29’’ ones (via different frame versions), and the Medium, Large, and XL sizes being dedicated 29ers. Interestingly, Rocky has opted not to follow the trend of offering mullet configurations, which is something of a surprise, especially in the smaller sizes where full 27.5” configurations are becoming an increasingly rare option.

Other details include an updated PenaltyBox 2.0 downtube storage system (on carbon models only), fully guided internal cable routing (hooray for no headset routing!), and shorter seat tube lengths across the board to allow for longer droppers. The PenaltyBox 2.0 comes with a custom tool wrap and includes a concealed compartment for AirTag or Tile trackers as an anti-theft (maybe more “pro-recovery after theft”) measure. The bottom bracket remains press fit, which is a bit of an inconvenience for home mechanics. But Rocky Mountain also still uses generous amounts of rubber frame protection on the Instinct, with a lengthy downtube protector and additional protection on the drive-side chainstay and seatstay.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct

Fit & Geometry

Adjustability is still a clear priority for Rocky Mountain, but the 2024 Instinct sees some changes in that regard. The new Instinct keeps the familiar geometry adjustment at the lower shock mount, but moves from the prior iteration’s more complex RIDE-9 configuration (i.e., nine adjustment positions) to a simpler RIDE-4 implementation (four adjustment positions), while also adding +/- 5 mm of reach adjustment via a reach-adjust headset. The headset cups drop in (no tools needed to press them in or out), and the Instinct comes with a neutral set installed and separate +/- 5 mm cups in the box.

That’s still a lot to play with, but the new Instinct reduces the number of parts associated with the more on-the-fly RIDE adjustment at the shock link. That’s probably a good thing, given that the four RIDE-4 positions still offer much more adjustment than most other systems out there.

Adding to customization options, the frame also keeps the two-position axle adjustment, which offers 10 mm of chainstay adjustment, from 437 to 447 mm. While that measurement varies by ~1 mm depending on the RIDE-4 position, those lengths and adjustment ranges remain essentially the same as the prior version of the Instinct.

The wide range of adjustments means that it’s easiest to talk about geometry changes in one specific position, and we’ll use the neutral position on the RIDE-4 chips as a reference. Using a size Medium as the baseline, the new Instinct sees some nuanced changes in its geometry that can’t just be generalized as the common “longer and slacker” treatment. The headtube angle does get quite a bit slacker, going from 65.7° to 64°, while the reach shortens up a bit from 462 mm to 455 mm on the new one. That slacker head angle produces a longer bike, and the wheelbase grows by a full 18 mm over the prior version, to 1,227 mm. The effective top tube also shrinks by 10 mm, to 599 mm.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct Geometry (click to expand)

Otherwise, the changes are fairly slight. The bottom bracket drop stays the same (36 mm in the neutral position for the 29” version), and the stack is a bit higher than before, at 622 mm on the Medium. The seat tube angle gets just a bit steeper, gaining 0.3°, to 77° in the neutral position.

Overall, the Instinct keeps fairly sensible geometry figures that fit where many brands seem to be coalescing at each size. E.g., at 6’0’’ / 183 cm, the size Large Instinct’s 480 mm reach and 636 mm stack in the neutral setting are right around my normal happy place. The RIDE-4 system, reach-adjust headset, and two-position chainstays give the bike an extensive range of adjustment, but the overall story appears to be fairly minor updates, outside of that significantly slacker head angle — a change that should grant some additional poise and stability when the trail gets rough and/or steep.

The Builds

Rocky Mountain offers an impressive range of build options for the Instinct, from the Carbon 99 model that’s dripping in electronics to the budget-friendly Instinct Alloy 10. Rocky Mountain does note some regional variation in availability, so it will be interesting to see which versions are available between the US and Canada once the bikes hit shops.

Color-wise, the alloy and carbon models share the same paint job options at each level, and all colors see some very creative naming conventions. All models except the Carbon 99 are available in a muted, grey-toned “Bad to the Bone / Smokin’ In The Boys Room” colorway, whereas the Carbon 70, Carbon 50, and Alloy 50 models also get a bronze and yellow colorway dubbed “We Are the Champions / Platinum Blonde / Black Dog.” The Carbon 70 and Carbon 90 models are available only in “Bad to the Bone / Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” and the highest-end Carbon 99 model gets a very sharp red, black, and chrome paint job called “Highway to Hell / Still of the Night / Foil.”

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Instinct for Blister
2024 Rocky Mountain Instinct (“We Are the Champions / Platinum Blonde / Black Dog" colorway)

We’ve listed below some of the highlights of the builds. Note that Rocky Mountain does not differentiate between the SRAM and Shimano builds from a price perspective at the time of publishing, but we will update this article if those prices end up being different down the line. In addition to the complete builds, Rocky Mountain will also offer a carbon frameset with a Fox Float X Factory shock for $3,899 USD / $4,699 CAD, which is only available in the “Bad to the Bone / Smokin’ In The Boys Room” paint.

  • Drivetrain: Shimano CUES 11spd
  • Brakes: Tektro HD-M275 (w/ 180 mm rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL 150 mm
  • Shock: Rockshox Deluxe Select
  • Wheels: Rocky Mountain TR30 rims w/ Shimano TC500 hubs
  • Dropper Post: X Fusion Manic Composite (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 12spd
  • Brakes: Shimano MT4120 (w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox 35 Gold RL 150 mm
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select RT
  • Wheels: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ Shimano TC500 hubs
  • Dropper Post: (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano MT6120 (w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance (150 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS 2.0 w/ Shimano XT rear hub and Rocky Mountain SL front hub
  • Dropper Post: X Fusion Manic Alloy (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 12spd
  • Brakes: Shimano MT4120 (w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: Marzocchi Z2 (150 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ Shimano TC500 hubs
  • Dropper Post: X Fusion Manic Composite (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano MT6120(w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Select RC (150 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ DT Swiss 370 Star-Ratchet rear hub and Rocky Mountain SL front hub
  • Dropper Post: X Fusion Manic Alloy (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail, metal pads (w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite Grip2 (150 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance Elite
  • Wheels: Race Face AR 30 rims w/ DT Swiss 370 Star-Ratchet rear hub and Rocky Mountain SL front hub
  • Dropper Post: Race Face Turbine R (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Transmission
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC (w/ 200 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Select+ 150 mm
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
  • Wheels: Rocky Mountain 30AM Carbon rims w/ DT Swiss 370 Star-Ratchet rear hub and Rocky Mountain SL front hub
  • Dropper Post: OneUp (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 180 mm; LG – XL: 210 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail (w/ 203 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 36 Float Factory Grip2 (150 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Factory
  • Wheels: Race Face ARC Carbon 31 rims w/ DT Swiss 350 hubs
  • Dropper Post: Fox Transfer Factory (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG – XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X0 Transmission
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC (w/ 200 mm front / 180 mm rear rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate Flight Attendant (160 mm)
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Flight Attendant
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XMC 1501 Carbon
  • Dropper Post: RockShox Reverb AXS (XS: 125 mm; SM: 150 mm; MD – XL: 170 mm)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The Instinct has historically been a fairly lightweight and versatile Trail bike, but how does its new, much slacker head angle influence the handling, and how do the many geometry adjustments allow you to tweak around the edges?

(2) Rocky Mountain hints at some changes to the suspension kinematics, but where will the Instinct fall on the spectrum of poppy and efficient to stable and planted?

Bottom Line (For Now)

On paper, the new Rocky Mountain Instinct seems like it’s largely a case of fairly minor refinements to a proven platform — that is until you see the 1.5° slacker headtube angle. Rocky Mountain calls the Instinct a “quiver-killer,” and with a huge range of adjustment options and sensible frame details, the Instinct may very well be able to meet many different needs for many different riders. We’ve got one in for review, so we’ll be finding out a lot more soon.

Flash Review: Our Initial On-Trail Impressions

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