A company that has been around for 33 years, no matter what industry you are in, must be doing it right. Rocky Mountain Bikes is doing just that in the cycling industry. Building bikes across the board – XC to fat, enduro to downhill, BMX and even kids bikes…Rocky Mountain truly does design bikes “for people that ride.” We got sucked into their tent at the Outdoor Demo for a number of reasons, after testing a few bikes in their lineup, we left being big fans of a progressive brand that loves the adventure. Rocky Mountain designs their bikes around the British Columbia landscape, roots, rocks, and overall rough conditions. The Element was no exception to their design approach, making a race ready bike that can handle the rough. Rocky Mountain Element Specs I tested out a medium Element 970 RSL, a step down from their top of the line Element. The bike came with Shimano XTR rear derailleur and XT shifters and brakes. Race Face Turbine 2x cranks rounded out the drive side. XT Shimano lock hubs were laced to the race ready Stan’s Crest rims with the fast rolling Maxxis Ikon tires.  A Fox suspension rounded out the bike with a 100mm Float 32 CTD up front and a Fox Float rear shock with 95mm of travel – with convenient CTD remote function on the bars. Rocky Mountain Element IMG_5642 Geometry I ended up riding a medium, being 5’10 the cockpit was a bit tight, but it allowed me to turn over the bike and corner a bit better than I had anticipated.  The chainstays are 443mm long with a 70.6 degree head tube angle, still an XC bike, but capable of much more. The bike comes with Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink technology that really stiffens up the rear end when activating the climb feature on the Fox rear shock. The bike is also made with Rocky Mountain’s Smoothwall carbon keeping the weight down and the bike stiff. IMG_5641 Rocky Mountain Element The Ride The bike instantly felt like a very capable machine. What blew me away about the Rocky Mountain Element was its climbing capability. Turning on climb mode, the CTD Fox Float created nearly a rigid feel. A feature that I would later learn is called Smoothlink technology which makes for an incredibly stiff rear end while in climbing gears. On descents, I pushed the remote on the bars and my rear shock was back to work, surprising me by its handling capabilities and snappy acceleration. The overall ride was fast, smooth, responsive – which was quick to put a smile on my face. Rocky Mountain Element   Bikepackers Friendly? Like I said earlier, a brand that appreciates adventure is the first step in making a ride bikepacker friendly. The ability to stiffen up the rear end so well is a huge bonus especially when you add the extra weight of a saddle bag. The rear shock placement still allows plenty of open frame space for a custom frame bag. The remote CTD is really nice, allowing you to avoid reaching between your frame bag and the shock to trigger the CTD. Extra long bars help keep your cockpit clutter free. The bike is light, but it is also carbon, a turn off for some. If you are looking for a fast bikepacking rig to take you across rough terrain, the Rocky Mountain Element has plenty of upside. The Rocky Mountain Element is available at 3 different models for 2015. 999 RSL – $10,499 97o RSL – $5,099 (tested) 950 RSL – $3,899 999 RSL frame – $2,799    

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