The pale blue Vertex is one of Canadian Rocky Mountain's triplet of ladies specific MTBs. Like the original Vertex, it's a hardtail made for hardhitting XC trails.
The frame features squared off tubing and beefy welds to fortify the lightweight Easton 7005 alu pipes. Teamed up with reliable Marzocchi MX Pro Lock-out 100mm forks, this little bike is a lot more robust than the pastel finish might have you believe. Our 13.5-inch test bike, which looks especially tiny, is well laid out for smaller riders with heaps of standover height, thanks to the ultra sloping top tube. The higher seat stay join than the top tube is a signature feature on all RM's hardtails, but we're not mad keen on it as a look.
On the trails, the Vertex sheds that little girl image, whipping and flicking easily around tight singletrack. Climbing is also lively, both seated and standing, power is transferred directly through the tight back end. It doesn't shy away on the descents either. A comfortable 70.5-degree head angle and plenty of empty space over the frame to move inspires confidence on the steep stuff.
But the forks were less inspiring: we ran them at the lowest air setting and still found compression lacked sensitivity, tending to spring and kick back rather than absorbing the hits. While they should bed in over time, petite women may never get the plushness they're after. Reliable Shimano LX components take care of shifting and braking, while a smattering of RaceFace and an XT rear mech gives this bike street cred.
Wheels feature discspecific Alex DP17 rims with Deore hubs and DT Champ spokes. The IRC MiBro Marathon 2.1in tyres gripped well on dry rocky trails, but quickly lost the battle with mud. Overall the ladies Vertex is a good start, but a fork swap would improve performance and trim a little weight.