Rocky Mountain’s Slayer was one of the original long-travel trail-tamers. Now it’s grown up and is back to conquer the bikes it spawned. First impressions are of a refined big-hit adventurer with good attention to detail, although the lower models represent better value than the high-end build seen here.
The redesigned Slayer is made from Rocky Mountain’s own FORM tubing, which provides strength in high load areas and helps keep weight down. The custom-valved Fox RP23 air shock gives 165mm (6.5in) of travel. There’s also a tapered head tube and a granny ring guard to stop you dropping your chain.
The kink in the down tube makes it possible to run a bottle cage and a shock with a reservoir – rare on such a long-limbed machine. If enduro downhill racing is your thing, there are ISCG tabs to accommodate a chain device. Our 70 comes with a matt-black ﬁnish and sublimated graphics.
The Slayer platform is available in two lesser guises, but the 70 is the bells-and-whistles all-mountain buffet of parts. You get a Fox 36 TALAS R fork attached to an Easton Haven 55mm stem and carbon ﬁbre bar. The wheels comprise DT Swiss EX 500 rims and Rocky Mountain’s own hubs, rolling on chunky yet quick-rolling Maxxis Ardent tyres.
The real jewel of the spec sheet is the carbon ﬁbre RaceFace SIXC crankset, which is just about as bling as you can get. SRAM X9 shifting on a bike of this price may seem stingy, but shifting is crisp and those cranks more than make up for it.
Our 19in test model has a 46in wheelbase that, combined with the 66.5-degree head angle, orientates the Slayer towards descending. It always feels planted, and there’s a nice progression to the suspension – you know exactly where you are in the stroke at all times.
Thanks to the Slayer’s rich heritage we always sort of knew this bike would do well on the downhills. The big question was, would it climb? The 13.6kg (30lb) weight is a big advantage – although the short stem and long-travel fork aren’t overly geared to cross-country, you never feel as though you’re lugging that much uphill.
Rocky’s geometry employs a 76-degree seat tube to improve your climbing position once the bike is into its sag. As a result you get a slightly more upright feel than you do with other all-mountain rigs. It’s comfortable though, and shifting your weight forward is immediate. The rear end behaves too – it doesn’t wallow or bob, and grips well over more technical inclines.
Our only gripe is that we managed to bend the lever of the powerful yet ﬂimsy Formula The One brakes during a crash. Downhill is still the Slayer’s core strength though. It’s insane that a bike of this weight can descend as well as it does, and the adrenaline makes the climb back up even easier.