For some riders the name Pipeline will bring up old memories of adjustable travel URT suspension and Giro Switchblade helmets. But put those thoughts out of your head. This new bike might as well be an alien species for how little DNA is shares with that early freeride bike.
Much like the Sherpa, Rocky’s first plus bike, the Pipeline shares a main frame with another model, in this case the 29″ Instinct trail bike. This idea of sharing frames among a few models or wheels sizes while adjusting geometry with fork travel and a different swingarm seems to be a trend that is catching on in the industry, and one that makes a lot of sense considering the cost of developing carbon fiber molds for each size.
I rode the fancier of the two models, the $4,800 Pipeline 770 MSL. Shimano provides XT for the 1×11 drivetrain and brakes, RaceFace kicks in the bar, stem and crank. The RockShox Reverb does dropper duties and the wheels are a a mixes of brands, most notably 35mm (internal width) Alex tubeless rims and Maxxis Rekon EXO tires front and rear.
Dre Hestler and Wade Simmons acted as tour guides, and we ended up on a fun combination of trails, dead-ends, and dirt roads. While none of the terrain was particularly challenging, there were some fun bits and sandy corners to give me a feel for the bike.
I’m just finishing up a review of the Santa Cruz Hightower, which has very similar travel numbers to this bike, and has (optional) 27plus wheels. Since the Pipeline is based on a platform that is a few years old, we’ve seen geometry change pretty dramatically since then, and the size large, with its 23.5 top tube felt small while climbing and cranking along on the flats.
Fortunately the rest of the geometry is quite modern. Rocky’s Ride 9 chip system can adjust geometry (and shock progression). I rode it in the middle, which gives it a 68 degree head angle and about a 74.5 seat tube. Combined with pretty “normal” 17.4 inch chainstays, the Pipeline felt peppy and fun on the trails at the less-than-warp speeds that we traveled. Once the seat was down, any sense of “small” disappeared, and the bike was more than ready to take the roughest lines I could find.
With only a single ride on this bike, versus a few months on the Hightower, it is hard to really compare the two. I’d be will to bet, if compared head-to-head on each company’s’ local trails, I’d like the Santa Cruz better in Santa Cruz and the Rocky better on the Shore.
I would have preferred a first ride on some of the trails in this video, but alas, the biggest U.S. bike event is held at a venue with mediocre trails.
I came away wanting more time on this bike, and wondering how it would feel with some the even more aggressive tires will be seeing soon from Maxxis.
The less expensive $4,000 Pipeline 750 MSL shares the same carbon main frame, aluminum rear end, 1×11 XT drivetrain, but swaps out the Fox suspension for less expensive RockShox options and the RaceFace components for house brand bits. Wheels and dropper remain the same. The 750 is orange. I like orange.
More info at Rocky Mountain’s website, bikes.com.