By Seb Kemp
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELEMENT 970 RSL BC EDITION
Weight: 27.6 pounds
This could be the weirdest cross-country bike ever. Boasting a 120-millimeter fork, wider bars and a dropper post, it's not like most race whips. But it doesn't give up on its XC heritage and adds a more all-around capability,
particularly on more technical sections of trail.
The Rocky's front end is more confidence inspiring than any other bike in this category. It made testers want to tackle harder terrain than cross-country courses usually serve up and made for a much more enjoyable experience, without sacrificing any race potential. Is this where cross-country races are won and lost? Not necessarily, but who cares. This bike is for riders with a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out): Those who want the speed and efficiency of a cross-country bike but don't want to make the ride any less fun—or, perhaps, want to make it more fun.
Our testers were left with different impressions of the suspension. Some felt that the rear shock was a little wallowy and had moderately more bob under pedaling when ridden wide open. Other testers felt the rear was a little too progressive, which made for snappy acceleration, but was less forgiving than some bikes. Go figure.
We wish more bikes came equipped like the Rocky because it would massively increase their versatility. This is a bike you could reach for in an endurance race, where its neutral front end will save your ass when you're knackered. But it's also a bike to ride every day. This is something that can't be said for most XC bikes, which are often unrelenting flogging machines.
If you want to ride for extended distances on technical terrain or you are a more gravity-tuned rider looking for a speedy XC race rig that won't steal all your smiles, then the BC Edition is worth a long, hard look.