If you have been paying attention to the mountain-bike market, you have seen first the Slayer, then the Altitude, followed by the Instinct and Pipeline all get updates. So you probably could have guessed the Thunderbolt was going to receive a similar treatment. None-the-less, guessing and seeing are two different things. And seeing what the new Thunderbolt has in store does not disappoint. We assume that actually riding it won’t disappoint either, but when we assigned Bike Mag’s Vermont-based tester, Jon Weber, to do the riding, we didn’t know the Northeast would be this deep in snow this deep into March. Once the cyclones stop bombing, we will get you an in-depth ride report.
The Thunderbolt has always been a slightly XC, slightly trail mountain bike. The new version leans a littler further toward trail. The frame has been redesigned to increase rear travel from 120 millimeters to 130 millimeters (front travel is still 130 millimeters), it is stiffer, the rate curve has been lowered slightly and it still features Ride-9 technology, allowing for nine different geometry settings. As for geometry changes, you have heard it all before—the reach is longer, the bottom bracket is lower, the head angle is slacker and the seat tube is steeper. Rocky also made the chainstays slightly longer to improve stability, though at just 425 millimeters, it definitely won’t be too stable.
If you like the direction the Thunderbolt is going, but don’t think it went quite far enough, there is also a BC edition which adds an extra 10 millimeters of travel to the front and back. The 140 millimeters of travel is matched by slightly slacker geometry, but still maintains the Ride-9 adjustment system.
Both models of the bike fit a 27.5-by-2.5-inch tire, but if you really want to switch things up, it can also fit up to a 26-by-2.8-inch wheel and tire combo. All pivots are outfitted with bearings, the frames are made with Rocky Mountain’s Smoothwall Carbon and each size has a specific shock-tune to ensure best performance.
As with other Rocky Mountain BC Editions, the Thunderbolt BC is only available with the nicest build, or as a frameset. The Carbon 90 BC retails for $6,000 and weighs 28 pounds in a size large while the frameset is $2,600 and just under six pounds for a size medium. If you don’t want the BC edition there is the Carbon 70 for $5,400, the Carbon 50 for $4,500 or the Carbon 30 for $3,500. All models are available now from your local Rocky Mountain dealer.