Blister Brand Guide: Rocky Mountain’s Mountain Bike Lineup, 2022

Intro

When considering a new mountain bike, there are so many similar-looking bikes on the market being made by so many different companies, it is virtually impossible to (1) know where to begin; (2) quickly figure out which one or two products from a given brand might work well for you; and (3) determine what products from other brands might be the most similar and also worth considering.

In our “Blister Brand Guide” series, we provide an overview of the entire product lineup of a brand and highlight how each product stands out from the rest to help you find the best women’s mountain bike or men’s best mountain bike for you.

In our individual product reviews, we go very deep into the details of particular products. With these Brand Guides, the goal is not Depth, but Breadth. Our Brand Guides and full reviews are designed to complement each other — provide a broad overview of entire company lineups, and then also very detailed reviews of individual products. 

And if you’re looking for a great place to start when considering a new bike — and all the factors that go into it — check out our Mountain Bike Buyer’s Guide.

Our mountain bike Brand Guides are presented by CBGTrails. Learn more and start planning your trip today at cbgtrails.com, then download the CBG Trails app for info on the 750+ miles of singletrack and 150+ trails in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley, Colorado.

See our other MTB Brand Guides

About Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain has been making mountain bikes since 1981. They also started Race Face Bicycle Components in 1993. Both brands have had great success in the mountain bike industry since. Today, Rocky Mountain only makes mountain bikes, from cross-country to freeride options, and they offer certain models in both alloy and carbon frames.

Rocky Mountain uses “Ride-9” geometry adjustment system on many of their bikes, which consists of two flip chips that allow for nine different geometry positions on their full-suspension bikes. Changing the Ride-9 position also slightly tweaks the suspension kinematics. They also use “Ride-4,” a similar system with only 4 positions.  All full-suspension Rocky Mountain bikes also feature a size-specific shock tune, meaning that smaller size bikes get lighter-weight-oriented tunes, and vice versa. 

Rocky Mountain has discontinued their 27.5” trail bike, Thunderbolt, for model year 2022. This model can be found in our 2021 Rocky Mountain Bike Brand Guide.

They are currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Current Warranty (for the original owner)

  • Five year warranty for all carbon fiber and aluminum mountain bike frames
  • One year for paint, decals, pivots, bushings, and frame hardware
  • For more information, visit Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain’s suspension design: Smoothlink

Before we get into their specific models and build options, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on which build level to go with, and why. You can find more detailed thoughts about this (and many other things to consider when buying a bike) in our Mountain Bike Buyer’s Guide.

First, when looking at complete bikes, suspension and wheels are going to make the biggest difference in how a bike really rides. Spend money on those before other things like higher-end drivetrain parts, cockpit parts (e.g., stem, handlebars, etc.), cranks, etc.

Tires make an enormous difference in performance, but are cheaper and easier to upgrade, especially since they tend to wear down quicker than other components. Upgrading a lower-end front tire to something better — and saving the original for rear-tire use — can be a good way to improve a bike while still making use of the originals, since front tires are generally a lot more important than rear tires when it comes to traction.

Drivetrain parts can be upgraded piecemeal as they wear out, or if you just want to upgrade down the line. Higher-end cassettes are mostly just lighter, while higher-end shifters and derailleurs get lighter, smoother, and sometimes last a bit longer as you go up in price.

We’ll outline here the different models in Rocky Mountain’s MTB lineup, organized from most cross-country-oriented (XC) to downhill-oriented (DH). In other words, the bikes at the top of the list are optimized to pedal and climb uphill very well, while the bikes at the bottom are optimized to handle very rough, steep, and challenging descents very well.

We’ve included some notable information for each model:

Available build kits & their MSRP

  • Best Budget Build: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people trying to spend the least amount without ending up with a build that’s going to immediately break or need to be upgraded.
  • Most Performance for the Price: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people seeking the best balance of performance and cost. I.e., if you don’t need to get the cheapest bike, but you also don’t need the absolute lightest bike or all the newest bling, this is the build we think makes sense for you.
  • Suspension travel (e.g., 100 mm of travel, 130 mm of travel, etc.)
  • Wheel size (e.g., 27.5”, 27.5+, 29”)
  • Frame material options (e.g., alloy vs. carbon)
  • Sizes available and height range accommodated for by those sizes
  • A brief description of what the bike was designed for and any notable design details.
  • Some of the bike’s most direct competitors from other brands
  • Which Rocky Mountain bike it’s most similar to
  • Reasons why you should buy it
  • Reasons why you should not buy it

Rocky Mountain's Mountain Bikes

(Most Cross-Country-Oriented to Most Downhill-Oriented)

Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

Rocky Mountain’s entry-level sport XC bike (i.e., not racing oriented), ideal for beginners or those who prioritize low price over top-of-the-line components, low weight, and performance.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • 10: $909
  • 30: $1,069
  • 40: $1,439 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • Specialized Chisel & Rockhopper
  • Scott Aspect
  • Kona Kahuna
  • Trek X-Caliber
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

This entry-level Trail hardtail is a solid option for beginners on a tight budget looking for 27.5” wheels.

More like the Fusion than the Element.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • 10: $909
  • 20: $1,019 – Best Budget Build
  • Specialized Fuse 27.5” & Rockhopper 27.5”
  • Kona Fire Mountain
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

A full-suspension XC bike that features Ride-9 geometry adjustment system. The XCO edition features a 100 mm fork along with a more XC-oriented build kit. Other kits feature a 120 mm fork.

More like the Growler than the Soul.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • 50: $4,799 – Best Budget Build
  • 70: $6,059 – Most Performance for the Price
  • 70 XCO: $6,479
  • 90: $9,939
  • Specialized Epic & Epic EVO
  • Santa Cruz Blur
  • Trek Top Fuel
  • Pivot Mach 4 SL
  • Giant Anthem 29 & Trance Advanced Pro 29
  • Kona Hei Hei
  • Scott Spark & Spark RC
  • Intense Sniper XC & Sniper Trail
  • Norco Revolver FS 100 & Revolver FS 120
  • Cannondale Scalpel & Scalpel SE
  • Mondraker F-Podium & F-Podium DC
  • Canyon Lux
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

The Growler can inspire confidence on loose trails thanks to its wide 2.6” x 29″ tires. It comes with a 130 mm fork on the “20” build, a 140 mm fork on the “40” build, and a 150 mm fork on the “50” build. This bike is a great choice for beginners and those on a tight budget who want something with higher-end components and more downhill-capable geometry than the Fusion and Soul.

More like the Thunderbolt than the Element.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • 20: $1,399
  • 40: $1,799
  • 50: $2,199 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • Santa Cruz Chameleon 29”
  • Kona Big Honzo
  • Devinci Kobain HT
  • Trek Roscoe
  • Nukeproof Scout 290
  • Giant Fathom 29
  • Canyon Stoic
  • Marin El Roy
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

Updated March 2021, the new Instinct is Rocky Mountain’s best Quiver Killer. The updated Instinct has longer and slacker geometry, features an adjustable chainstay length, and has updated suspension kinematics. This bike shares the same frame as the Altitude with a different front shock mount. Features Ride-9 geometry adjustment system.

More like the Altitude than the Growler.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • Alloy 10: $2,899
  • Alloy 30: $3,359 – Best Budget Build
  • Alloy 50: $4,579
  • Carbon 30: $4,579
  • Carbon 50: $5,809
  • Carbon 70: $7,249 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Carbon 90: $9,799
  • Carbon Frameset: $3,729
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

Rocky Mountain’s Enduro race bike. Updated last year for the 2021 lineup, the Altitude got more travel, now rolls on 27.5” or 29” wheels, got more progressive geometry, and received updated suspension kinematics. Features Ride-9 geometry adjustment system and 10 mm of chainstay adjustment. The “Rally Edition” build kit gets burlier, more downhill oriented components. Check out our Full Review of the Altitude.

More like the Instinct than the Slayer.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • Alloy 30: $3,839 – Best Budget Build
  • Alloy 50: $4,739
  • Alloy 70 Coil: $5,749 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Carbon 50: $6,069
  • Carbon 70: $7,669 
  • Carbon 70 Coil Edition: $7,779
  • Carbon 90 Rally Edition: $10,229
  • Carbon frameset: $4,049
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Rocky Mountain's 2022 Mountain Bike Lineup

Rocky Mountain’s most downhill capable bike. This bike is designed to handle lots of bike park riding and fast, steep, chunky freeride trails and large jumps. The “Park Edition” build is a dedicated DH bike, with a dual-crown fork and DH components. Features Ride-4 adjustment system.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • Alloy 30: $3,759 – Best Budget Build
  • Alloy 30 Park Edition: $4,279
  • Alloy 50: $4,599
  • Carbon 50: $5,539
  • Carbon 70: $6,789 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Carbon 90: $8,359
  • Carbon frameset: $3,239

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