By Eric McKeegan
We first brought you some details a few weeks ago, but between runs in the bike park and XC loops at Lost Lake at Crankworx, I had time to see the 2012 bikes from Rocky Mountian in person, namely their 2012 Element line up in both 26" and 29".
The big news is the redesign of the aluminum models. Based on the carbon Element MSL, the less expensive alloy Elements are bumped up to 120mm of travel, and geometry is tweaked with slightly longer top tubes and a more relaxed head angle. I didn’t get to see any of the new alloy 26ers in person (a lot of the new bikes were en route to Rocky’s dealer camp), but I’m looking forward to riding one, I’ve got a soft spot for the Element, since one was my first test bike at Dirt Rag.
The carbon models, pictured above, get internal cable routing this year, making for a super sano looking bike. Finishes are pretty stealth for 2012, the signature white and red maple leaf motif was not as prominant as years past. I dug the matte finish.
This spring at Sea Otter I took a spin on a prototype Element 29 and was quite impressed. It was definitely more racy than the Altitude 29 I tested in Dirt Rag 147, both in handling and acceleration, but never got the nervous feeling that is common on steep-angled race bikes.
Fast forward to Crankworx and the details have all been ironed out. Three aluminum models: the 970, 950 and 930 all sharing the same frame. Geometry is called RTC (Race Tuned Compact), which means short chainstays (445mm) and slightly shorter top tubes to help keep wheelbase length down, but still allowing for a slack for a race bike head angle (70.5º) for confidence going down.
Pictured here is the 970. The most racy of the three models. Most interesting to me was the 950 which is spec’d with an adjustable travel Rockshox Revelation fork, 120mm for bombing descents and general trail ripping, 95mm for race day or stints on the road between trail heads.
On the left is a picture of the sag gauge on the swing link visble while sitting on the bike. Very handy.
Perhaps we’ll mange a ride on one of more of these at the Interbike Dirt Demo in September, which seems to be much closer than it should be. Check out Rocky Mountain’s video for more info: