Rocky Mountain announces Thunderbolt MSL

New carbon version of the XC race-meets-trail bike

Rocky Mountain has just announced a carbon MSL edition of its 650b Thunderbolt model, an XC racer with added trail spirit that was first introduced for its 2014 line.

The revamped Thunderbolt MLS is made with Rocky Mountain’s new Smoothwall carbon, molded using rigid internal bladders, rather than traditional air bladders. The manufacturer claims this helps reduce excess resin and carbon threads, in turn lessening weight and the risk of stress risers (uneven points around which the material is more likely to fail).

The geometry receives a little refinement, with shorter 422mm chainstays, significantly lower standover height, slightly more bottom bracket drop and an increased top tube length matched with a shortened stem length – all in an effort to add to the bike's playful nature.

Borrowing some further technology from Rocky Mountain’s Instinct MSL range, the Thunderbolt MSL benefits from the ‘Ride-9' concept. This features two interlocking chip inserts at the shock mount to adjust geometry and suspension characteristics, enabling riders to tune their bikes to specific riding styles, terrain and even weight.

Rocky Mountain’s SmoothLink rear suspension linkage receives some tweaks too. The bushing pivots (barring the rear chainstay pivot) seen in previous editions of the SmoothLink suspension system have been upgraded to what Rocky Mountain calls BC2 (swing link) and Pipelock (bottom bracket area) pivots – effectively oversized bushing pivots that aim to increase lateral stiffness and durability without a cost in weight. These pivots now also feature grease ports.

The Thunderbolt MLS also features a PF92 bottom bracket, full internal cable routing and shock and dropper post routing, as well as Di2 compatibility with an integrated battery port in the down tube.

The base-model Thunderbolt 750 MSL

Available at three price points (799, 770 and 750) all three models feature 120mm travel Fox Float front and rear suspension and 142x12mm rear thru-axles. Prices start from US$4,299, going all the way up to US$10,999.

There is also a special Thunderbolt MSL BC edition, built around how the local BC riders set up their bikes for the burly terrain. Features include a 130mm RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, Race Face Turbine 35mm stem, big Maxxis Ardent EXO 27.5" x 2.4" rubber, 760mm wide bars and Stan's ZTR Flow Tubeless Ready wheels. The BC edition is priced at US$6,699.

UK and Australian pricing and availability is still TBC.

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