We got to know the previous-generation Thunderbolt very well during the One Bike Challange in 2015. That little bike won hearts and minds with its ability to take on any task set in its way.
But even great bikes have room for improvement and Rocky Mountain is dropping a promising new version of the Thunderbolt.
The previous bike was a 120 mm-travel 27.5 “cross-country trail bike.” The new bike bumps up travel to 130 at both ends, 140 mm for the top-of-the-line BC Edition.
Geometry was already pretty up-to-date, but chainstays get a little longer, reach grows a bit, head angle gets a degree slacker, the seat angle a degree steeper, and the bottom bracket drops a few millimeters. The Ride-9 geometry/leverage ratio adjustment system remains, so there is a lot adjustment to play with here.
The BC Edtion gets both a longer stroke shock and fork, beefier tires, wider bars, a Fox 36 rather than a 34, and geometry gets slacker by about half a degree across the board.
There are lots of little improvements as well, including a custom chain guide, better cable management, shorter seat tubes for longer droppers, more tire clearance (27.5×2.5 or 26×2.8) and increased anti-squat for better pedaling.
We’ve been lucky enough to be on one of these for a few weeks, and unlucky enough to have absolutely shit weather for actually riding it. PA wet is a different animal than BC wet, unfortunately. We’ll have something to talk about soon though, I promise.
There are only carbon versions available now, the aluminum frames will carry over from last year, at least for now. Even with full carbon frames, the pricing isn’t outrageous, although a close look at the specs reveals a lot of GX Eagle drivetrains and no carbon handlebars or rims.
This trail-bike-light category is mostly dominated by 29-inch wheels, it is good to see the Thunderbolt return, and return with purpose.
Thunderbolt Carbon 90 BC Edition: $7,499 CAD / $5,999 USD
Thunderbolt Carbon BC Edition Frameset: $3,999 CAD / $2,599
Thunderbolt Carbon 70: $6,799 CAD / $5,399 USD
Thunderbolt Carbon 50: $5,449 CAD / $4,499
Thunderbolt Carbon 30: $4,649 CAD / $3,499