When it came to choosing my dream build, I approached the privilege as literally as I could: I picked the bike that had pervaded my dreams the most over the past year.
I tend to have some pretty intense dreams, and most of them involve mountain biking at some point or another. And while a small handful of bikes have crept into my dream space in recent months, none of them have left such an indelible impression as the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 790 MSL BC Edition.
I first rode the Thunderbolt BC Edition during last year's Bible of Bike Tests in Central Oregon, and I instantly fell in love with it. Once the other testers had taken their turns, I commandeered the bike, taking it for big rides on the McKenzie River trail and the sublime singletrack around Oakridge, Oregon.
On those all-day rides, which included extensive climbs as well as technical descents, the Thunderbolt struck a sensible balance between climbing and descending efficiency. I kept its RIDE-9 geometry adjustment in the furthest-forward position, giving the cross-country-esque bike a 67.2-degree head angle—and the decidedly all-mountain disposition needed for demanding descents.
For this dream build, I stuck with the BC Edition's stock 130-millimeter RockShox Pike RCT3 fork and 120-mil RockShox Monarch RT3 shock–an ideal pairing for the Southern California trails I usually ride. In the drivetrain department, I opted for a SRAM XX1 11-speed setup with a 30-tooth chainring, which has never left me wanting on my local rides.
For brakes, I chose the trusty SRAM Guide Ultimate stoppers, whose remarkable combination of power and modulation continue to make them my hands-down favorite.
After weighing the pros and cons of various wheelsets, I went all-out on the Industry Nine Pillar Carbon Enduro hoops, whose stiff rims paired to 32 oversized, aluminum spokes and a 120-point freehub promise strength, durability and astonishing engagement. Wheels of this caliber deserve to be dressed up in the finest rubber, so I wrapped them in Maxxis Minion DHF tires front and back.
For my cockpit, I chose Chromag BZA bars in a width of 800 millimeters, with a 25-mil rise and a 35-mil clamp diameter, cinching them in with the 35-mil Chromag BZA Clamp stem. The comfortable Chromag Trailmaster DT saddle sits atop the stock RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, which continues to set the paradigm for dropper performance and reliability.
I've always run clipless pedals, but several months ago I rediscovered the joy of riding flats and have been trying different models. One of my favorites is the Chromag Scarab, which I prefer to run without pins in the middle.
Now that my dream build has become reality, it's time to chase down some trail dreams.