2012 Rocky Mountain Element and Vertex - First look

New 26in and 29in cross-country bikes from Canada

Following the unveiling of their new Element 29er cross-country bike at this year's Sea Otter Classic, Rocky Mountain have now released details of next year's 26in Element and its hardtail equivalent, the Vertex.

Element

Rocky Mountain's top-end race bikes, the carbon fibre Element RSL and MSL, remain in the line-up for 2012 but they're joined by new aluminium versions – the Element 26in (120mm travel, two-digit model names) and Element 29in (95mm, three-digit model names) – which share many of the features of the flagship machines.

The 26in bike has the same geometry as the 'marathon race' MSL, with a long top tube (585mm on the 18in size) and a relaxed 69.5° head angle. The 29er has a new RTC-29 (Race Tuned Compact) design, with a short wheelbase and top tube (1,120mm and 605mm, respectively, on the 18.5in size) and a 70.6° head angle. The bottom bracket is higher than on previous Rocky Mountain 29ers, at 39.5mm, and the frames have a wider fit range (5ft 3in - 6ft 6in).

Both bikes use Rocky Mountain's four-bar SmoothLink suspension design and 7005 aluminium FORM tubesets. Frame features include BB92 bottom bracket shells, tapered head tubes, internal cable routing, cable guides for dropper seatposts, and direct-mount front derailleurs with custom anti-chain-drop plates. There are some neat touches, such as rubber seat collar sleeves to keep out the crud and sag indicators on the rocker link. The 29er takes a 142x12mm rear axle.

The Element 970 Rocky Mountain's top-end alloy cross-country 29er

Vertex

Rocky Mountain are so convinced that 29ers are the future for cross-country racing that their new flagship hardtail, the Vertex RSL, is only available with 29in wheels. It uses similar RTC-29 geometry to the Element 29er and has been built with an emphasis on ride quality and strength ahead of shaving grams.

For stiffness, there's an oversize down tube and BB92 bottom bracket shell, a wide top tube that tapers and flattens towards the seat tube, and a 142x12mm rear axle. Skinny, flat seatstays and a 27.2mm seatpost add comfort, and the seat tube is curved to allow for a shorter wheelbase.

The frame is made from the company's FORM C13 High Modulus SmoothWall carbon fibre, as used on the Element RSL. The medium size has 437mm chainstays, a 1,087mm wheelbase, 592mm top tube, 56mm bottom bracket height and 70.25° head angle.

The Vertex RSL is available with two spec levels. This is the top-end 990

You can view the specs for the eight different alloy Element models and the two Vertex RSL full builds in our image gallery. Pricing is still to be confirmed. Rocky Mountain bikes are distributed by Silverfish in the UK.

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