Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team rider Geoff Kabush raced a brand-new full-suspension machine at this year's Sea Otter Classic and while Rocky Mountain sports and product marketing manager Peter Vallance was still mum on key technical details prior to the bike's official launch in two weeks, it's clearly a big step forward from the current Element Team.
Kabush will now have not one but two carbon bikes at his disposal at he heads into the meat of the racing season as this new Element Team RSL looks to be a nearly 100 percent composite structure – even at the hard points where no aluminum or other metal is visible and including the molded-in housing guides, disc brake tabs, and dropouts.
The swoopy front triangle boasts giant cross-sections throughout, what looks to be a tapered head tube (though a straight 1 1/8" steerer was installed when these images were shot), and a shapely seat tube that all anchors to an 86mm-wide bottom bracket with press-fit cups. In addition, the front derailleur mounts directly to the swingarm and the housing stop is molded right into the chain stay yoke.
The Element Team RSL's new tapered head tube. Also notice the carbon fibre cable bosses.
Out back is Rocky Mountain's SmoothLink four-bar suspension system driving a Fox Racing Shox RP23 shock via a top tube-mounted link. Two positions at the top of the seat stays suggest adjustable travel, too – we're guessing between 100mm and a longer-travel setting.
Travel on Kabush's new bike looks to be adjustable but via a separate link given that the multiple mounting positions and the fact that the link shown won't fit as is in the rearmost position.
"He likes this one way, way, way more," said team mechanic Gary Wolff. "It's a lot lighter and stiffer and the suspension is more the way he wants it. The old one was good on small stuff but apparently had a rising then falling rate whereas this one has a straight rising rate. He'll probably use the dually in nearly every race except maybe Houffalize."
Sea Otter's highly non-technical course allowed for a particularly lightweight build. While we don't have an official frame weight to report, it's likely right around the 1.8kg (4.0lb) range as the complete bike weighs in at just 9.50kg (20.94lb) – especially impressive given Kabush's 1.9m (6' 2") height and preference for function over gram-shaving.
Wheels are built using Stan's NoTubes ZTR 355 rims laced with DT Swiss Revolution spokes to Shimano XTR hubs, and wrapped around it all are a pair of barely-there Maxxis Maxxlite 285 tires. Shimano's XTR badge is found on the shifters, rear derailleur, crankarms and brakes while the cockpit is filled out with a range of components from Race Face, fi'zi:k and ODI. Fitted to the ends of the crankarms are crankbrothers' latest eggbeater 11 pedals.
crankbrothers eggbeater 11 model pedals will replace the 2010 eggbeater 4ti next year. The flagship eggbeater has a claimed weight of just 174g and will cost (£379.99) US$425.
Bolted to the front end of the bike is what looks to be a base-level Fox Racing 32 F100 R fork but in reality, it's a camouflaged 32 F100 FIT Terralogic model with the company's recently reintroduced terrain-sensitive auto-lockout feature. Like an increasing number of riders on the pro circuit, Kabush has opted for the stiffer 15mm dropouts for better steering precision but with a custom hex-head thru-axle.
According to Kabush, he and Wolff are taking full advantage of the new technical assistance zones with "NASCAR-style" wheel changes to reduce down time.
Kabush says he and team mechanic Gary Wolff are experimenting with 'NASCAR-style' wheel changes using a custom 15mm thru-axle. The custom axle is lighter than the QR version and is operated via an 8mm Allen key. For fast pit changes, Wolff has an 8mm key mounted to a Bosch battery operated drill.
Kabush didn't have a chance to try out the wheel change procedure at Sea Otter but the bike enjoyed a successful debut nonetheless, finishing second at this year's cross-country event.
Complete bike specifications
- Frame: Rocky Mountain Element Team RSL, size 20.5"
- Rear shock: Fox Racing Shox RP23
- Fork: Fox Racing Shox 32 F100 FIT Terralogic
- Headset: FSA Orbit Z Ceramic
- Stem: Race Face Deus 11cm x -6°
- Handlebars: Race Face Next 3/4 Riser, 685mm
- Tape/grips: ODI Ruffian Lock-On with custom-etched collars
- Front brake: Shimano XTR BR-M975, 160mm rotor
- Rear brake: Shimano XTR BR-M975, 160mm rotor
- Brake levers: Shimano XTR BL-975
- Front derailleur: MRP 1.X chainguide
- Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M972-GS
- Shift levers: Shimano XTR SL-M970
- Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M970, 11-34T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7701
- Crankset: Shimano XTR FC-M970 with 36T MRP Podium chainring
- Bottom bracket: Shimano XTR press-fit SM-FCM970
- Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beater 11
- Rims: NoTubes ZTR 355, 32h
- Front hub: Shimano XTR HB-M978
- Rear hub: Shimano XTR FH-M975
- Spokes: DT Swiss Revolution, 3x, with alloy nipples
- Front tire: Maxxis Maxxlite 285
- Rear tire: Maxxis Maxxlite 285
- Saddle: fi'zi:k Antares k:ium
- Seat post: Race Face Next SL
- Bottle cages: Lezyne Alloy Cage
- Computer: Cateye Strada Wireless
- Other accessories: Wheels Manufacturing titanium bolts
- Rider's height: 1.90m (6' 2")
- Rider's weight: 74.8 (165lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 770mm
- Saddle setback: 50mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 525mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: n/a
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 612mm
- Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 70mm
- Head tube length: 160mm
- Top tube length: 630mm
- Total bicycle weight: 9.50kg (20.94lb)