I swung up to Deer Valley for a few hours to attend Bike Dealer Camp. My goal was to ride a couple of the new crop of 29ers that will be arriving soon. Tops on that list was the all-new Rocky Mountain Element 950. This new 29er from the boys up North had been sufficiently hyped so I just had to find out for myself if it was a worthy entry in the increasingly-crowded full-suspension 29er market.
2012 Rocky Mountain Element 950 Features:
- Smoothlink suspension design with carbon fiber linkage
- RTC™ 29 Geometry with shorter chainstays, top tube, etc. to better mimic the best 26ers
- Slightly-raised bottom bracket to make the bike more maneuverable
- Rockshox Monarch rear shock (notice the ultra-short stroke)
- Rockshox Revelation 120mm with travel adjust (drops to 95mm)
- Easton EA70 cockpit
- SRAM 2×10 drivetrain (mostly X9)
- Internally-routed derailleur cables through downtube (really cool design)
- MSRP: $3200 USD
2012 Rocky Mountain Element 950 Quick Review
After a thorough run-down on the new features of this bike, I got dialed in and headed out to the trails. Immediately, the Element 950 felt comfortable and natural without some of the flopping you get with poorly-executed 29ers. Peadling up the singletrack, I truly felt like this bike could climb anything without so much as flinching.
While climbing, I played around with the travel adjustment in the proprietary Rockshox Revelation just because I could, not because it needed it. I climbed smoothly and efficiently in both minimum and maximum travel and honestly couldn’t tell much difference, so I just left it at 120. I did move the Monarch’s pedaling platform switch in about 4 clicks for extra efficiency, but easily blew through that when needed.
Descending flowy singletrack on the Element 950 was tons of fun. This bike has a playful character and honestly feels as nimble and jumpy as a 26er. I found myself laying into the corners and hopping over drops without some of the negative characteristics found on some 29ers. This bike has the heart and soul of a Rocky and that pedigree shines through. You could race this bike, but I’d be downright content riding this as my daily driver.
To add an extra dose of comfort and control, I’d prefer a bit wider set of low riser bars. And, I’d also reverse the stem and headset spacers to drop the front-end as much as possible. As it was, the bike handled great, but I think a bit of tinkering would yield even more awesomeness from this bike.
Since this is a fairly quick review of this bike after only 45 minutes of riding, I chose to focus on how the bike felt and not necessarily dive into fine details of the build — since all that stuff would need more time in the oven. But, I will say this… the Element 29ers are a great addition to the market and have a lot to offer those who are looking for an XC-capable 29er full-suspension bike that can also dance with some of the best trailbikes on the market.
Good Element 950
- Rocky nailed the geometry
- Has a playful and fun feel while being efficient to hang at your local XC race loops
- Smooth climber with traction aplenty
- Front end stays put with no noticeable wander
- Unique Rockshox Revelation fork with travel adjustment
- 142mm rear axle certainly stiffens things up
- Unique internally-routed cables
Bad Element 950
- Wheels felt a tad noodly
- A little heavier than I’d like, but that’s what upgrades are for, right?
Bottom Line: 2012 Rocky Mountain Element 950 29er
Rocky Mountain has certainly done their homework with the new Element 950 and it shows. They dissected the best of the competition and now have a truly remarkable XC-capable and trail-friendly full-suspension 29er.
More Info: Visit Bikes.com (2012 info coming soon)