Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 70 first ride review

Longer travel and improved suspension

Mid-travel 29-inch bikes are the newest holy grails ripping around the trails. They aim to meet the challenge of being light enough to pedal yet burly enough to be thrown into some majorly hacked up terrain. To those ends, Rocky Mountain claims its Instinct model is its most versatile trail bike. The latest incarnation bumps travel up to 140mm front and rear and adds a bit of the low, long and slack flavoring.

Two colors of the Instinct Carbon 70 are on offer. This is Tank Girl/Fox Racing Orange/Back in Black
Two colors of the Instinct Carbon 70 are on offer. This is Tank Girl/Fox Racing Orange/Back in Black

Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 70 specs

  • Smoothwall carbon w/Ride-9 adjustable geometry
  • Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork
  • Fox Float DPS Evol Performance Elite shock
  • Travel: 140/140mm
  • SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Stans Arch MK3 wheels w/Maxxis Minion DHR II and Forekaster
  • SRAM Guide R disc brakes
  • Small – X-Large sizing
  • Frame and shock weight (medium): 2,310 grams / 5.09lbs (claimed)

Loaded with features

To keep the Instinct current, the frame is replete with metric rear shock sizing, a spot for a Shimano Di2 battery, and cable routing for Fox's upcoming Live Valve. 

Of course, the axles are Boost width and there's enough clearance to handle a 2.6in wide 29ertire.  

Rocky Mountain pro Geoff Gulevich presses hard through a high-desert berm
Rocky Mountain pro Geoff Gulevich presses hard through a high-desert berm

A thoughtful touch was the included Spirit Guide. Nope, it's not a guru for when you accidentally eat moldy food, rather it's a simple top guide for the chainring. I wish any bike with more than 100mm rear travel came stock with a top guide. The insurance it delivers is worth any added weight or visual clutter. 

The standard Rocky Mountain Ride-9 adjustable geometry and suspension rate flip chips are present as well and I'm happy to report all frame sizes can fit a water bottle inside the main frame.

Ride impressions

Right away it was apparent that the updated Instinct had an improved ride over the older version. Most noticeable was the immediacy of the acceleration, whereas the old bike sagged a bit when stomped upon, this new rig displayed no hesitation, it simply got up and went. 

Rocky Mountain updated the suspension curves on the new bike and claim both an increase in efficiency and more support around the sag point. I'd say they nailed that objective. 

Getting on the gas out of corners was met with loads more urgency than the old Instinct
Getting on the gas out of corners was met with loads more urgency than the old Instinct

Both ends featured Fox's 2018 Float dampers. I've been hugely impressed with the suppleness off the top as well as the support through the most-often used mid-stroke of the new Fox units. 

The 29in wheeled Instinct and 27.5+ Pipeline share the same frame with the caveat that the 27.5+ bike adds a lower headset spacer to preserve the geometry. However, due to a manufacturing SNAFU, the Instinct 29er I rode had the extra lower headset cup installed. 

Did it upset the bike's handling and geometry? Not at all. In fact, being a tall guy (1.9m) I prefer a bit taller front end. Additionally, the extra head tube length slackened the head angle a bit and raised the bottom bracket a smidgen. Both entirely acceptable things for the rocky, jagged, high-speed terrain of the Colorado desert.  

Handling was on point both up and down no matter how rocky and jagged the terrain
Handling was on point both up and down no matter how rocky and jagged the terrain

Chasing some of Rocky Mountain's pro riders around revealed how neutral handling the new Instinct was. The learning curve was about as flat as Florida. Spinning up ledgy climbs was easy, tossing the bike into corners felt natural and pushing the front end off drops and into transitions came instinctively. 

Guess, that's why this bike has the name it does. 

Rocky Mountain Instinct pricing and availability

Rocky Mountain offers the Instinct in carbon and aluminum. There's also a longer travel BC edition. Rocky Mountain says it'll have the full range ready to go at its dealers in mid to late October. 

  • Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition: $5,899 USD, $7,499 CAD
  • Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition Frameset: $2,799 USD, $3,699 CAD
  • Instinct Carbon 70: $5,299 USD, $6,699 CAD
  • Instinct Carbon 50: $4,299 USD, $5,449 CAD
  • Instinct Carbon 30: $3,649 USD, $4,649 CAD
  • Instinct Alloy 70: $4,199 USD, $5,399 CAD
  • Instinct Alloy 50: $3,199 USD, $3,999 CAD

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