Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 50 – First Impressions

The not-so-minor details


Rocky Mountain Instinct 50




Looks great.
Mostly great spec for the cash.
Lively and fast through the singletrack.


Under-gunned SRAM Level brakes.
Horrendous saddle.

Rocky has a big range, where does the Instinct fit in?

The Instinct has been in the Rocky Mountain 29er lineup for a few years now but has had a total refresh for 2018. It’s a 140mm travel 29er with a carbon front end and uses Rocky’s clever and original geometry and suspension rate adjustment system. As we’d expect from the Canadian designed bike brand steeped in mountain biking heritage, it looks like it can push the boundaries of what an aggressive trail bike should be able to handle.

Neutral, all-rounder trail geometry with the option to tweak it a little, the Instinct is at home on our fast singletrack.

Aimed at the all-mountain/trail rider, the Instinct sits in between the XC/trail oriented Thunderbolt and more aggressive and longer travel Altitude.

Slick looks.

When we first saw the Instinct we loved the (not Yeti) teal, red and black frame with red (not Deity) Rocky Mountain decals on the handlebar and stem. Someone has thought a lot about the colourway, and it is quite striking.

The back end is very tidy, the higher-end carbon models are even tidier.

Mixed thoughts on the parts.

The build looks overall really safe and ready for action, the Fox 34 fork and a Minion DHR tyre up front are a recipe for fast descending and SRAM GX Eagle to help the legs with the all-day rides in the saddle. The bike feels light to throw around, and initial impressions are that they have played the balance of light and sturdy well.

FOX 34 with the Grip Damper leads the way with confidence.
SRAM Level brakes are for cross-country race bikes, not something like the Instinct!
Yay, Minion!

We are little concerned about how the lightweight SRAM Level TL brakes will perform under hard braking on longer runs; we’d expect to see the single piston SRAM Level brakes on cross-country race bikes, with the SRAM Guide typically more common on a longer travel bike like the Instinct. And while 27mm wide (internal width) rims are wider than what was standard a few years back, closer to 30mm wide is something that gives tyres a better profile and grip. Rocky probably chose these products to keep the overall weight and price down.

The other item that could be wider is the WTB saddle; it is coming straight off before we ride it any further, our ass doesn’t need to look like the end of a “Saw” horror film, with blood everywhere and lots of screaming.

Let’s go!

The Rocky doesn’t come supplied with necessary parts for a tubeless setup, a shame, so we’ve done that ourselves, and we’re already mucking around with the Ride-9 system to tweak the feel of the rear suspension and ride geometry. Lucky the Rocky website has a simple setup guide; there are myriad options.

Ride-9. The lower linkage has nine variations of adjustment, changing suspension tune and frame geometry.

Stay tuned for our full review soon!

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