By Ryan LaBar
In the late '90s the Rocky Mountain Blizzard was somewhere on my top-five-bikes-that-I-want list along with the Fat Chance Yo Eddy, GT Xizang, Yeti ARC and Klein Mantra (everyone wanted one, despite how they presumably preformed). And while the Blizzard is a far cry from its original form and function, I was stoked to throw a leg over the fattened up version of the bike, even if my nostalgic side is upset that Rocky did away with the steel frame.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLIZZARD | $2700 | BIKES.COM
The parts kit that Rocky Mountain chose is rather interesting. I'm very happy that the company went with a trail-oriented short stem–60 to 70 millimeters, depending on frame size–but am unsure of its choice to pair it with a narrower 720-millimeter- wide handlebar. I'm also confused by Rocky's choice to run a tiny 24-tooth front chainring on the 1×10 drivetrain. The small chainring affords more ground clearance, which makes sense for off-trail expedition riding in the summer months, when the only thing preventing you from cruising over random logs is the bike's bottom bracket height. Judging by this bike's North Vancouver roots, this could very well be the reasoning.
The Blizzard rides exactly how I'd expect a Rocky Mountain fatbike to ride: It's stable, and doesn't hold back on fast or steep sections of trail. While snow generally doesn't offer the same technical challenges or, often, speeds that dry trails do, the lack of good traction makes anything around or above 20 miles per hour feel downright exhilarating. This is where the Blizzard sets itself apart from a lot of the other fatbikes on the market: Instead of feeling twitchy and out of control, the Rocky is comfortable at speed, begging to be drifted through corners and lofted off even the smallest trail features. This confidence-inspiring ride can largely be attributed to the bike's relatively slack (for a fatbike) 68.5-degree headtube angle, and near 18-inch chainstays. The stock short stem also helps in this department. The Blizzard’s stability also holds true on slippery or slower technical sections of trail, which is a key trait for fatbikes. Unfortunately, I did find the 24-tooth chainring to be a bit inhibitive of reaching higher speeds on some descents.
The 4.7-inch Vee Rubber Bulldozer tires float well, and the cornering knobs are tall enough to hook up in snowy corners without the tire washing out. The suggested rolling direction for these tires makes sense out back, but I'd probably run the front tire in the other direction to improve rolling resistance as well braking traction. Otherwise, the ramped knobs are pointing the wrong direction for a front tire.
While these traits generally make a bike a bit sluggish in tight singletrack, this wasn't overly evident with the Rocky. It might not be the snappiest in tight trees compared to other fatbikes on the market, but it's no dog either.
In a world where many fatbikes lean toward the cross-country end of the spectrum, the Blizzard plants itself closer to the trail, or even all-mountain category. If you are looking for a capable, adverse-condition winter ride that can handle double duty as an off-trail explorer in the summer, the Blizzard should be on your short list.