Rocky Mountain Vertex 990 RSL
The not-so-minor details
Changes we made
Shorter stem (70mm), Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25" tyres.
Great XC race bike in every regard.
Light, but not at all skittish.
Very reliable component spec.
Stock tyres are very fragile.
Rocky Mountain are best known in Australia for their gravity-oriented bikes – it’s pretty hard to shake the awesome legacy of their pioneering role in the freeride world – but Flow thinks this Canadian brand makes a mighty fine cross country race weapon too. We tested the Rocky Mountain Vertex 990 RSL carbon 29er hardtail at the Cape-to-Cape MTB four-day stage race in Western Australia and came away stoked. As an off-the-shelf race machine, this sleek number leaves you wanting for nothing. [private]
Our medium test bike felt super compact – the low top tube height and short rear end gives it dimensions that you rarely see on a 29er.
With a short head tube, it’s easy to get an aggressive climbing position on the Vertex. Internal routing of the gear cables keeps it all neat and means there is no cable run around the frame.
The surprising comfort of the Rocky is in part due to the use of a slender 27.2mm seat post, which adds compliance to the ride when seated. The carbon Race Face post is a beauty too, and very easy to adjust. We didn’t mesh with the Fizik Tundra, but many butts will.
The Race Face cockpit is very comfy with a 70mm-wide bar. We experimented with rolling the bars forward and back to get different sweep and ran a shorter 70mm stem, rather than the 90mm stock stem. An 80mm stem would’ve been better ultimately, as the 70mm tended to make the front wheel a little light on steep climbs.
The Rockshox SID RL is supple and easy to set up. We were surprised by how much we used the remote lock out too, and the 15mm axle makes for a precise steering front end.
SRAM provides the drivetrain and brakes, both of which worked flawlessly, though the brakes do get pretty noisy in dusty, hot conditions. Note the 142x12mm rear axle – stiff, baby yeah.
The brake, shifter and remote fork lock out are all integrated into one neat Match Maker clamp.