Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt – first look

New 650b model blurs the lines between XC and trail bikes

Rocky Mountain has just introduced the Thunderbolt, a 120mm, 650b full-suspension model with geometry that blurs the lines between cross-country racer and trail bike. Pricing starts at US$2,099 and tops out at US$3,999. (UK pricing is yet to be announced.)


When it comes to 2014 mountain bikes that have been introduced this year, mid-travel (140-160mm) 650b (27.5in) all-mountain and enduro models have garnered the lion’s share of the spotlight. While extremely capable, these bikes can be overkill for lots of situations. Shorter travel, 650b full-sussers with geometry that leans more towards fun than XC racing make sense for a lot of riders.

Click through the image gallery at right for more details.

Not your typical XC race bike

The Thunderbolt is designed as a Jack-of-all trades model for riders who might race from time to time but spend most of their saddle time having fun on technical terrain.

Compared to Rocky Mountain’s purebred cross-country racer, the Element, the Thunderbolt has longer top tube lengths across its five-size range. The idea is that the cockpit will be set up with a short stem and wide handlebar.

On paper the 2014 rocky mountain thunderbolt looks to be a playful short-travel trail bike :

Geometry and 650b wheels should make for a bike that’s more playful than a 29er race bike

All four bikes in the line (the 710, 730, 750 and 770) share the same 7005 aluminum frame. The Thunderbolt is built around Rocky Mountain’s SmoothLink suspension platform and uses angular contact bushings at the main pivot points. Frame features include 142x12mm rear thru-axles on all but the entry level 710, plus internal cable routing and a BB92 bottom bracket.


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