Instinct Powerplay Carbon 70
By Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Charged by RISE BREWING
One of the most unique and fun bikes of our 2020 eMTB Roundup was the Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay. Sadly, inventory and then customs issues at the border prevented the bike from showing up early enough to put the bike in contention for an overall award, but we brought the bike home and have been riding it ever since. Rocky Mountain has long been making aggressive mountain bikes inspired by their local British Columbia terrain, so it only makes sense that their new ebikes would ride the same way.
The most unique thing about the Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay, and all of their ebikes for that matter, is the use of their Dyname 3.0 drive system. Designed in Canada, the Dyname system offers a ride unlike any other eMTB motor we’ve ridden. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like there is a strain gauge and the harder you push on the pedals, the more assistance the system delivers. Rocky Mountain claims the Dyname 3.0 delivers 108Nm of peak torque, which seems right since the bike definitely won our drag race. It has just a little bit more juice and the way power curve tapers off is really cool. We also really like how smoothly the power comes on too. It doesn’t just spin tire on super steep climbs when you try to start after a bobble.
The Dyname system relies on its electro-mechanical torque sensor to measure chain tension though movement of a magnetic field. As soon as the chain straightens under load the system reacts and calculates inputs, as fast as 1,000 times per second. It does feel faster, and not in a bad way. Some systems feel like they’ll push you off the back of the seat with their unnatural boost, the Dyname is definitely quick in engagement but rolls on the power smoothly. When our cadence gets to about 65RPMs, our riders really noticed a kick. Riders on Shimano Steps bikes would regularly get dusted once we hit that 70-85RPM spot on the Rocky Mountain. It was literally like a shot of Nitrous hit our legs and we just pulled away.
Admittedly, we haven’t been formally indoctrinated by Rocky Mountain at any media camps, so our education around the system is purely from experience and reading Rocky’s materials. The system has impressive peak power and torque, but we also noticed that it takes a bit more effort to get assistance. Depending on what you’re looking for that could be good or not. Our testers all thought that if you wanted to get the best leg workout, the Rocky Mountain Instinct would be the bike to ride. It requires a bit more of the rider. For example, you can turn a Shimano Steps bike on Boost mode and soft pedal up a fire road and it will spin away. All your legs have to do is keep up. The Rocky Mountain requires torque to operate. So, if you’re super tired, or want a casual recovery ride in Boost mid-week, you will have to work a bit harder. The flip side is, you’ll probably get in better shape and get stronger legs on the Rocky compared to some others.
Geometry on the Instinct Powerplay is sporty and snappy. It makes for a quick-handling and fun bike that suits our riding style and playful vibes. If you’re a long sled kinda rider, this may not be the ride for you. Reach on the size large is 455mm with a 66-degree head tube angle and 74.6-degree seat tube angle with a 621mm stack height. The Instinct has a 443mm rear center length and 1,213mm wheelbase. Of course, as with all Rocky Mountain bikes, the Instinct ebike features Ride-9 geometry adjustment. With just a couple of Allen keys, riders can tune not only their geometry a full-degree (head tube angle), the position of the Ride-9 chip also has changes the bike’s suspension characteristics.
The Instinct Powerplay is available at six different price points from $4,699 to $8,599. We tested the $7,999 Carbon 70 model and felt it was a pretty solid spec and offered everything we’d need out of an eMTB. The Smoothwall carbon fiber front triangle and aluminum rear end neatly house the Dyname drive system and 672Wh battery. A Fox 36 Float eMTB fork with 140mm of travel sits up front and a Fox Float DPS Evol shock handles the Smoothlink suspension. Race Face 170mm Aeffect cranks spin a Shimano drivetrain. We had no problems with the Shimano XT components and enjoyed the stopping performance of the XT Trail 4-piston brakes. Race Face AR35 rims are laced to a DT Swiss rear hub and Rocky Mountain front hub and get wrapped in Maxxis Minion tires. As with all the ebikes in our shootout, we replaced the rubber with Schwalbe’s eMTB specific Eddy Current tires.
Cockpit spec on the Instinct features a Rocky Mountain stem, handlebar, grips and Turbine R dropper post. A WTB Volt Race 142 saddle held our cheeks in place while we put in lots of miles and earned tons of smiles on this trail ebike.