There's been a lot of talk about how cross-country courses are getting rougher and more technical, basically a lot more trail oriented. To suit those increased demands, XC bikes are shying away from their super steep, borderline delicate ways and dabbling in what was the trail/all-mountain category just a couple years ago.
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For 2017, Rocky Mountain has distilled over 20 years of knowledge into its Element 999 RSL T.O. to make it more capable than ever.
Rocky Mountain offers five complete Elements and one frame, and all models feature the same full carbon frame and updated geometry — only the specs differ. As with other bike lines from Rocky Mountain, a rowdy BC Edition is offered with super wide 800mm bars and full-on enduro-ready 2.3in Maxxis Minion tires.
Rocky Mountain Element 999 RSL T. O. highlights
- Travel: 120mm (F) / 100mm (R)
- Intended use: XC, XC-Race
- Sizing: S/M/L/XL
- Frame: Smoothwall carbon C13
- Fork: Fox 34 Float Factory
- Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory
- Rims: Stan's Valor carbon
- Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
- Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate disc
- Dropper post: RockShox Reverb Stealth
- Tires: Maxxis Ikon 3C MaxxSpeed 29x2.2in
XC and marathon machine
"This new Element is a full-on XC marathon weapon, but with the confidence of a trail bike," says product director Alex Cogger. To that end, the new Element features an updated geometry with an adjustable head angle of 69 to 70 degrees. The seat angle is very pedal friendly at 74.5 to 75.5 degrees. Rocky Mountain's Ride-9 geometry and suspension adjustment is located at the bottom shock eyelet. It offers nine positions to fine tune both the geometry and the suspension curve, so most riders — whether wispy light and smooth or smashing clydesdales — can find a setting to suit.
The suspension follows the new ethos of leaning towards trail ripping with Rocky Mountain choosing to spec a bigger stanchion Fox 34 fork, rather than a 32, to handle the 120mm of travel.
Out back the Element 999 RSL has 100mm with Rocky's four-bar Smoothlink suspension system. The Fox Float DPS shock has a new tune, more focused on mid-stroke support and lowering the shock leverage ratio, which should keep more travel available and lend more efficient suspension performance with good ramp up. In layman terms, it means the rear suspension shouldn't blow through the travel as quickly and should hover in the middle of the stroke where the shock works best.
The team's specifications
Being that this 999 RSL T.O. model is the top of the line (T.O. stands for Team Only), the specs leave little room for want. Carbon is everywhere, the full carbon frame partners with Stan's carbon wheels, a carbon XX1 Eagle crank and a Race Face Next carbon bar with a giant 35mm diameter.
Fox's blingy, gold Kashima covers the fork and shock sliders, more of the rich hue is on the massive SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed cassette, and subtlety contrasting is RockShox's all black Reverb Stealth dropper post. (Yes, a full 125mm dropper post on an elite-level XC race bike!) Braking duties are handled by arguably some of the finest binders on the market, SRAM's Level Ultimate.
Finally, the stunning white and red paint features Rocky Mountain's signature Canadian maple leaves, creating the transition between the colors. To me, it looks like they're being blown towards the back of the bike, which is appropriate for a bike that should be very, very fast.
Rocky Mountain Element 999 RSL T.O. pricing and availability
The best never comes cheap and this upper echelon race rig is no exception at $9,399 (UK and Australian pricing TBD).
There are five Elements in the 2017 line up, with the 930 MSL coming in at $3,499.
The 999 RSL T.O. is available now and is out-of-the-box ready to take to any World Cup XC or endurance event, or just humiliate to your riding buddies.