The UK Special Project is Rocky Mountain’s take on a simple but effective UK trail bike. The trail scene is growing by the minute and the network expanding rapidly, so it’s good to see companies branch out and cater for people on tighter budgets. The big question is though, can this limited edition rig cut it out in the hills?
Based around Rocky’s North Shore hardtail frame, the Reaper, the UK Special Project uses Rocky Mountain’s custom 6061 double-butted aluminium tubing. The hydroformed top tube and down tube are joined with one sleek weld before being attached to the head tube, creating loads of strength in one of the most stress-prone zones.
The rear triangle uses ultra-stiff box-section tubing to ensure as little ﬂex as possible, and the compact frame design gives plenty of standover height and manoeuvrability.
With a mix of Shimano Deore and SLX taking care of transmission and braking duties, it’s fair to say you’re in safe, reliable hands. The Rock Shox Recon XC delivers 120mm (4.7in) of travel, with rebound and preload adjustment on tap. The bar and stem combo from RaceFace are well built, and offer their usual high standards, with stem length options ranging from 60 to 90mm.
The SDG Bel Air I-Beam saddle is super comfy and many bums will sing its praises after hours sat on it, churning out the miles.
The 22.5in top tube matched with the 70mm stem produced a comfortable cockpit, enabling good weight distribution to combat the ever-changing trail. It’s roomy enough to be climbed up some of the ugliest slopes, but compact enough that it can get up to speed and hammer the descents without a problem.
The Recon fork’s 120mm (4.7in) of trail-friendly travel is supple enough to keep the wheel gripping on the loose, ﬂat turns commonly found at many trail centres, and handled the bigger hits well. We would prefer to see a through-axle fork on such a capable frame to give that extra bit of steering precision on choppier terrain, though.
Our pre-production model’s head angle measured in at 69°, but Silverﬁsh have conﬁrmed the production version will be 68°. This means improved stability on the descents, yet still snappy and sprightly on ﬂatter, more technical singletrack.
The Maxxis High Roller tyres may not be the fastest-rolling, but they cope with a multitude of conditions extremely well, and proved their worth on the rougher terrain we tested the bike on. When the speed picks up, the 660mm RaceFace bars can get a little twitchy, but that’s easily solved with wider bars.
At 13.15kg (29lb), it’s no featherweight race machine, but that’s not the point here. This bike is all about grin factor and versatility – and it delivers the goods in both areas.