Full-suspension bikes are lighter, faster and more efficient than ever. And there are seemingly endless choices. Is there still room for hardtails in the market? If you are a racer, then the answer is probably yes. If you are trying to save money, then the answer is definitely yes. If you are Rocky Mountain Bicycles, then the answer is GIVE ‘ER! The company has given its long-running XC hardtail an update, and it is more ‘racey’ than ever.
The wheels on the new Vertex are 29 inches, the front travel is 100 millimeters, the frame is carbon and the geometry is ‘aggressive,’ or at least as aggressive as you would expect a race-bred XC hardtail to be. The head angle is 69.5 degrees, the seat angle is 73.5 degrees and the reach is 435 millimeters on a large. Longer, lower, slacker? Never heard of it. Actually, that isn’t true. Compared to the previous vertex, the reach and wheelbase are longer, the bottom bracket is lower, and the head angle is slacker.
I mentioned the 29-inch wheels already, but the Vertex can also take a 27.5-by-2.8-inch tire if speed and weight isn’t your only concern. If you do stick with 29-inch wheels, you will be limited to a maximum tire width of 2.3 inches—plenty wide for any XC tire.
The Vertex has new cable routing with larger access ports and internally routed shift and brake housing. It is compatible with Di2 and still has a spot for a front derailleur. It’s also got routing for an internal dropper post, as long as it’s of the 27.2 variety. The bike also has boost spacing and post-mount 180-millimeter brakes. And, drumroll please, the bottom bracket is press-fit 92. Add all this up, and Rocky Mountain has created an impressively light bike.
There are three different builds for the Vertex. The Vertex Carbon 50 weighs 24.5 pounds, the 70 is 22 pounds and the 90 tips the scales at 21.4 pounds. Think you can do better? Build your own with the frame-only option, which weighs 2.68 pounds. All options feature Rocky’s Smoothwall carbon, claimed to optimize weight, stiffness and strength. But the Carbon 90 and frameset received a premium version, coined Smoothwall HBO. No, it is not related to Home Box Office and I don’t expect to see Jon Snow trading in his horse for a Vertex anytime soon. The HBO option is a new process where Rocky was able to eliminate more resin than what is usually leftover from the Smoothwall construction.Full build kits. Click on the image to see it full size.
The Vertex Carbon 90 is $5,170, the Carbon 70 is $3,400, the Carbon 50 is $2,900 and the frameset is $1,600. All bikes are available now.