Rocky Mountain Element 970 RSL BC Edition Review

Rocky Mountain Element 970 RSL BC Edition Review

Rocky Mountain is synonymous with descending prowess. Every Rocky I’ve ridden has been lights-out on the downhill with a penchant for devouring singletrack and plowing through rock gardens. It was with that history that I set out to put the new Element 970 RSL BC Edition through its paces. Well, it delivered.

Rocky Mountain Element 970 RSL BC Edition Features:

  • FORM™ C13 hi-mod carbon Smoothwall monocoque with 7005 series custom hydroformed rear triangle
  • Fox 32 TALAS 29 120 FIT CTD fork
  • 95mm SmoothLink rear suspension via Fox Float CTD custom trail valved rear shock
  • RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost
  • SRAM 3×10 drivetrain (Mixture of X0, X9 with SLX front derailleur)
  • RaceFace Turbine flat bars and crankset
  • DT Swiss wheelset
  • Continental X-King 2.2 tires
  • Weight: 27.5 lbs (Medium – as tested)
  • MSRP: $5199

Rocky Mountain Element 970 RSL BC Edition Review

Take the XC pedigreed Element RSL frame, tack on a bomber aluminum rear triangle with a 120mm trail-worthy Fox TALAS 32 and a 3×10 drivetrain and you end up with a 29er that gobbles North Shore-style terrain. That capability should not come as much of a surprise from Rocky Mountain. Their bikes are always game for rock gardens, technical drops and tight, twisty singletrack and the BC Edition doesn’t disappoint.

When the BC Edition arrived, I was so anxious to get it out for a ride that I took it out on a cold, wet, snowy day. The trails were wet and loose and the snow was coming down like dinner plates — rhe perfect weather for this bike, right? I mean, it wouldn’t have been a full test without at least one ride under those conditions. So, off I went to get the BC Edition dirty. From that first ride to the last, I was very impressed with the natural-feeling handling of the BC Edition and its ability to make everything feel effortless.

Due to the aluminum rear triangle, dropper post and workman-like cockpit, the BC Edition tips the scales at 27.5 lbs (medium, no pedals). While that’s not the lightest in its class, it’s definitely respectable and the stiff carbon front triangle ensures that all power goes to the rear wheels. This trail-tuned XC machine will have you carving through technical singletrack in a jiffy with a “wipe-that-smile-off-your-face” kind of grin.

The BC Edition is built to tame technical ascents and descents. The ultra-low 3×10 drivetrain allowed me to sit on a lower gear than I was accustomed to and grind out steep climbs. The SmoothLink suspension does an excellent job of keeping its composure under pressure and the Fox CTD platform allowed me to tune the shock for climbing, riding and descending. On long climbs, I played around with the CTD settings and typically settled on the middle or “Trail” setting. On fire roads or pavement, the Climb mode was nice to have as well, but really not necessary.

The Fox TALAS up front is a nice, but I’d prefer a 120mm Fox Float CTD instead. I never met a single climb that made me wish for a shorter travel fork, so I only used it briefly as a test and left it alone the rest of the time. In my opinion, CTD makes travel adjustments unnecessary on a 120mm fork.  All told, I felt like I could climb up anything, but it’s not the most energetic climbing bike in its class. Don’t get me wrong, it can scramble up anything, but it wasn’t quite as fast as other 100mm travel bikes I’ve ridden lately.

Once you are atop your climb, that’s when the BC Edition turns into a classic Rocky Mountain bike. Flip the CTD into Descend mode and proceed to carve up the singletrack like a rock star. This bike really tracks well and maintains its composure through any terrain. It remains nimble, playful and fun all over the mountain. Descend mode is noticeably smoother and more compliant through rough terrain, so it’s well worth making the switch.

I pushed this bike very hard into corners and rock gardens, then attacked drops and jumps in a way I’ve never done on a short-travel 29er. Every obstacle was absorbed and momentum was always maintained, which allows the big wheels to roll through rough terrain.

Another great feature of the BC Edition is the RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost. I loved being able to adjust the saddle height on-the-fly. I think I prefer the set height adjustments found on the Specialized Command Post, but the Reverb is a fantastic dropper post that works reliably and smoothly.

Good BC Edition

  • Calm and collected on the downhill for point-and-shoot performance
  • Devours technical terrain and winding singletrack alike
  • Unique build kit that makes this model extremely versatile
  • Reliable parts spec that helps keep costs down without compromise
  • Beautiful carbon front triangle with internally-routed cables
  • Rockshox Reverb dropper post has been fantastic
  • Unique sag setting that’s easy to see atop the uppermost pivot

Bad BC Edition

  • TALAS travel adjust is unnecessary and adds to the cost
  • Needs a meatier front tire
  • 3×10 took a bit of getting used to
  • Wheelset is a little flexy

Bottom Line: Rocky Mountain Element 970 RSL BC Edition

Over the years, I’ve ridden a number of Rocky Mountain bikes. Every single one has the same thing in common: command for the downhill. The Element 970 BC Edition is a trail riders 29er that feels comfortable in all terrain and simply rocks the downhill in a way only a Rocky can.

Buy Now: Find a local dealer at Bikes.com

Written By

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded FeedTheHabit.com in 1999--sharing his love of mountain biking, trail running and backcountry skiing with the world. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.