First Impressions: Rocky Mountain ThunderboltOriginally posted on July 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm
The Thunderbolt is an all-new model in Rocky Mountain’s 2014 lineup. With its 120mm of travel, this 27.5 dual-boinger is Rocky’s general-purpose “XC” platform. The Thunderbolt slots in between the company’s Element “XC race” and Instinct “trail” bikes. Mind you, the folks from BC have high expectations of what an XC bike should do. Product manager Ken Perras told me, “The bike is designed to put the fun back into XC riding. That means hitting the lines reserved for something with a bit more travel, linking up those roots into a double, and letting go of the brakes on that crazy chute.” Thunderbolt prices start at $2,100 for the base 710 model, and peak at $4,000 for the 770 that I have in my hot little hands. All models have hydroformed aluminum alloy frames with tapered head tubes, press fit bottom bracket shells, internal cable routing, and internal “stealth” dropper post routing (though they do not come with dropper posts). The size large Thunderbolt 770 weighed in at 27.9 lbs. (w/o pedals). Spec highlights on the 770 include a FOX 32 Float 120 FIT remote CTD fork, FOX Float remote CTD rear shock, Shimano XTR Shadow rear derailleur, XT shifters/brakes/hubs/front derailleur, Race Face Turbine crankset and Cane Creek Ten Series headset. Bright green component accents stand in stark contrast to the black frame’s understated logo treatment. Aesthetic handlebar spaghetti is the price of admission for the front/rear CTD dual-remote control. My initial impression is that the Thunderbolt’s handling feels appropriately XC-nimble. The bike changes direction quickly and naturally. I’m detecting an underlying playfulness, with log hops and wheelie drops coming naturally. My first impression of Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink suspension is that it makes 120mm of rear travel feel deeper and more bottomless than it should. With only a few rides under my belt, I’m still getting to know the Thunderbolt. I certainly look forward to logging many more miles. You can look forward to my full print review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.