Most media camps take it pretty easy. We ride fun trails, but it’s typically safe stuff with some extra bonus options for the adventurous few. The Rocky Mountain crew does things differently, and we were warned in the invitation email. While Wade Simmons and Thomas Vanderham insisted our riding was “just the tip of the iceberg” on the shore (and I believe them) it was by far the rowdiest trails I’ve ever been on at a media camp.
Our first warm up lap had us dropping into steep loam with tight, technical terrain and slick roots. One thing the shore is particularly known for is loam holes, where repetitive riding makes deep holes and pockets in the loam. These holes make a rough trail even more rough, and push a bike and suspension. Given that the Slayer was born on these trails, it has zero issues swallowing them up and maintaining forward momentum. While I typically like the agility of 27.5 wheels, for these trails my 29er test rig was quite welcome.
The terrain we tackled got me thinking again about how incredible modern bikes are, since this is stuff that would have demanded a DH rig not that long ago. Despite dropping in on a bike I’d never been on, I was immediately comfortable and confident aboard the new Rocky Mountain Slayer. My personal test rig for the camp was a size large 29er in the 70 build spec with XT brakes, XT drivetrain and Rock Shox suspension spec. While it was no featherweight, I appreciated the tough build and coil shock’s sensitivity as we smashed through the deep loam holes that abound on the shore.
This bike is beyond capable. For riders looking to putt around on local flowy singletrack, the Rocky Mountain Slayer is not your bike. The slack head angle and capable suspension make it ideal for riders in the bike park, or those tackling what should be DH trails that you have to pedal to.
Rocky Mountain threaded a fine line with the Slayer between being too slack and just right. One key to their success is the huge range of adjustment in the RIDE-4 chip. While it does require a tool and a bit of time, the chip has massive influences on the way the bike rides. Because of the demanding nature of the shore, I kept mine in position 2 for fear of BB strikes on the many rock rolls, logs, and incredibly technical climbs. On trails that are a bit more open, the slacker positions make this bike beyond capable in ultra-steep terrain.
To put into perspective what this bike is capable of, the Rocky crew and talked me into riding the infamous and near-vertical Dynamite Roll originally built by Ryan Berrecloth… After psyching myself up I dropped in and rolled out with a smile on my face. I did it in an open face helmet on a bike that I could pedal to the top of the trail. This is certainly something I would have needed a full face and DH rig for not too long ago.
See that little speck on the massive rock face? That’s me aboard the new Rocky Mountain Slayer riding down the biggest near-vertical rock face I’ve ever set tires on. Not your typical media camp photo.
To call the capability of the 2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer impressive would be an understatement. This bike isn’t a toy— it’s a precision weapon made for tackling things trail bikes shouldn’t be on and is part of a new generation of freeride bikes that can do it all.
As our ride went on, I was impressed time and time again with just how poised this Slayer is. Even though I was on the 70 level build with the more budget-friendly suspension and limited tuning capability, the Slayer’s suspension design excelled on the challenging North Shore trails. While a lot of long travel 29er bikes are unruly and long in tight sections, I had no such issues getting the Slayer to thread between steep corners and logs. This is a bike that truly hides its size until it’s needed on a big send or steep rock face. It also has the pop needed to gap sections of trail and float off jumps and over rough stuff.
While we only spent two days aboard the new Rocky Mountain Slayer, it’s a bike with promise for riders looking for a capable bike that isn’t sluggish on the tight stuff. While I’ve enjoyed seeing this new crop of long-travel 29ers storm the scene, many of them are a lot of bike to throw around on the more common, casual trail ride. The type of stuff most riders face on their weekly rides can be torturous when it feels like you’re dragging a bag of rocks behind you. I’m excited to see where the Slayer fits into the long-travel 29er marketplace, but my initial impression is promising.
This isn’t designed for riders who live in flat areas or spend most of their time on mellower trails. Yes, it does have impressive all-around capabilities, but it’s sort of like buying a Ford Raptor when you live in New York City. This bike is purpose-built and it’s been built well. If you’re regularly pedaling or shuttling to the top and then riding down stuff that you have no business doing in an open face helmet, the 2020 Rocky Mountain Slayer has you covered.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Whether this bike is for you or not, it’s an impressive machine. We’re excited to test one long term, and hopefully, we’ll get the opportunity to throw a leg over the 27.5” version as well. Rocky’s intention is to have the 29er function as the race bike, while the 27.5 hits the freeride/bike park rider market. For riders spending significant time in bike parks or on steep, technical trails, it’s a great choice that lets you have a truly capable bike that will do just about anything you need. The Rocky Mountain Slayer is burly, brutal, and ready to take it all.
For more information, visit the Rocky Mountain website.