Pro bike: Marie-Hélène Prémont’s Rocky Mountain Vertex RSL Team

Rocky Mountain enters the carbon age for its racing hardtail

Rocky Mountain’s classic Vertex hardtail has earned a cult following for its smart low-slung design, keen British Columbia-inspired handling and practically unrivalled racing history. 

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Yet although the existing scandium version is arguably the lightest and fastest iteration yet, Canadian cross-country star Marie-Hélène Prémont and her bike sponsor both knew that the bike could no longer compete on an even scale with its carbon competition.  After a year of development, Rocky Mountain believes it now has the answer with the new Vertex RSL Team.

The RSL Team builds upon the basics learned from the evolution of the Vertex – which has taken Premont to Commonwealth gold, Olympic silver and multiple World Cup wins – but the new bike drops nearly a full pound from the old guise while still encompassing everything Rocky knew about creating a great race machine.  Claimed weight for the bare frame is now just 1150g (2.53lb).  

The new bike retains the trademark deep red and white maple leaf paintjob and compact design but tube sections have grown to massive proportions throughout for more rigidity.   A sculpted down tube and curved rear triangle give this bike a unique look and pronounced lateral ribbing also lends more stiffness, according to Rocky Mountain. In addition, Rocky Mountain says the new direct mount-style Shimano front derailleur allows far more scope for shaping the bottom bracket.

Apart from the frame, Prémont’s build is relatively standard with a full Shimano XTR groupset, wheelset, and pedals, including a pair of Dual Control levers.  Shimano launched Dual Control several years ago with the promise of revolutionized shifting and while most of the public seems to have settled back on triggers since then, the ‘flippers’ still have a faithful following among the racing crowd.

Though the XTR build kit is essentially factory-issue, the hubs are fitted with ceramic bearings and the scandium rims are wrapped with special edition Hutchinson Bulldog soft compound tyres filled with the obligatory Stan’s sealant. Finishing kit is provided exclusively by Easton with a mix of EC70 and EA90 bar, stem and seatpin topped off with a WTB Shadow saddle and Syncros grips.

Up front the 2009 Fox F-RL Remote fork is adjusted to provide just 90mm of travel and the external compression adjustment of other models is swapped in favour of the new remote lockout switch, manufactured by Shimano. The final touch is a custom Sigma computer with Rocky livery to match.

While this pro bike doesn’t feature a wealth of prototype parts, it is still refreshing to know that some of the world’s best are still using stock product and getting on just fine. Unfortunately that leaves little excuse if you roll up to the starting line with this team replica. You certainly can’t blame the bike…

Complete bike specifications                   

  • Frame: Rocky Mountain Vertex RSL Team, size Small               
  • Fork: Fox Racing Shox F-RL Remote, 90mm travel               
  • Headset: integrated               
  • Stem: Easton EA70               
  • Handlebars: Easton EC90 flat
  • Tape/grips: Syncros               
  • Front brake: Shimano XTR BR-M975P, 160mm rotor               
  • Rear brake: Shimano XTR BR-M975, 140mm rotor               
  • Brake levers: Shimano XTR Dual Control ST-M975               
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Deore XT Direct Mount               
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M970-SGS               
  • Shift levers: Shimano XTR Dual Control ST-M975               
  • Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M970               
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801               
  • Crankset: Shimano XTR FC-M970, 22/32/44T, 170mm               
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano XTR FC-M970                 
  • Pedals: Shimano XTR PD-M970               
  • Wheelset: Shimano XTR WH-M975               
  • Front tyre: Hutchinson Bulldog 26×2.1″ soft compound, tubeless-ready with Stan’s The Solution sealant               
  • Rear tyre: Hutchinson Bulldog 26×2.1″ soft compound, tubeless-ready with Stan’s The Solution sealant               
  • Saddle: WTB Shadow V               
  • Seat post: Easton EC70               
  • Bottle cages: alloy               
  • Computer: Sigma Rocky Mountain Team               
  • Other accessories: ceramic bearing hub upgrade               

Critical measurements                   

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  • Rider’s height: 1.6m (5′ 3″)   
  • Rider’s weight: 56kg (123lb)   
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 389mm   
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 419mm 
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): not included                   
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): not included                   
  • C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): not included                   
  • Top tube length: 565mm   
  • Total bicycle weight: 8.9kg (19.6lb)