Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 eMountain Bike Review | 2024 eMTB Shootout




Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic

Rocky Mountain’s Dyname 4.0 drive unit offers more power than any of the commonly available eMTB offerings. It’s something that we greatly appreciate and enjoy when it comes to attacking the steepest climbs out there, so we were excited to welcome their shorter travel Instinct Powerplay eBike into the fold for our 2024 eMTB Shootout to see how it stacked up.

2024 EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – The Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 was one of 14 eBikes that our staff thoroughly tested with absolute objectivity in mind. From different types of riders to terrain, our goal is to present the best and most honest information possible to help you make your best decision. Of course, we’d love to thank Fox Racing and Schwalbe Tires for being invaluable partners to this series and making it happen and to Howler Bike Park for hosting us for our testing.


• 140mm Smoothlink Suspension
• Dyname 4.0 Motor
• 720Wh Integrated Battery
• RIDE-4 and Chainstay Geometry Adjust

Price: $5,499 – $12,999

Frame: Smoothwall Carbon | 140mm
Fork: Fox 38 Performance eMTB | 150mm
Shock: Fox Float X Performance

Motor: Dyname 4.0 | 108Nm | 700W Peak
Battery: Integrated | 720Wh
Display: Jumbotron Display

Brakes: Shimano XT 4-Piston | 200mm Rotors
Handlebar: Rocky Mountain AM Carbon | 20mm Rise
Stem: Rocky Mountain 35 AM | 40mm Length
Seatpost: Race Face Turbine R | S:125mm; M:150mm; L:175mm; XL: 200mm
Saddle: WTB Volt Race

Rims: Race Face AR 30
Hubs: F: Rocky Mountain Sealed | R: DT Swiss Hybrid 370
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.5” WT | MaxxTerra | EXO+
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4” WT | MaxxTerra | EXO+

Cassette: Shimano XT | 10-51t | 12spd
Cranks: Race Face Aeffect Cinch | 170mm
Shifter: Shimano XT | 12spd
Derailleur: Shimano XT | 12spd


  • Powerful and Well-Controlled Motor

  • Capable Suspension

  • Fun All-Rounder


  • Motor Issues

  • 170mm Crank Spec


FRAME AND FEATURES | The Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay in “CXX” spec is built with a Smoothwall Carbon fiber front triangle and rear end. Rocky Mountain also offers a FORM alloy frame on their “AXX” builds. The mid-high pivot Smoothlink suspension delivers 140mm to the rear wheel, which is paired with a 150mm fork and two 29” wheels. Sharing the same main frame as the longer-travel Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay, the Instinct can be converted to a long-travel format by ways of a new shock link, shock and fork.

The Instinct Powerplay is backed by a 5-year transferable warranty. Rocky made provisions for a large water bottle inside the front triangle; added a full-length downtube guard for protection against rocks and when shutting; and added fork bumpers to prevent the fork crown damaging the downtube or the cables from being pulled out in a crash. Rocky Mountain goes the extra step and creates a unique shock tune for each size to maximize suspension performance.

Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 eMountain Bike Review | 2024 eMTB Shootout

DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS | Rocky Mountain’s eBikes use their own Dyname 4.0 drive unit, which is a unique design featuring a standard drivetrain with a mid-high pivot that drives the chain. Dyname 4.0 produces a whopping 108Nm Torque with up to 700W Peak Power, making it the most powerful system in this eMTB Shootout once again. With this system, the torque is measured accurately and so the extra-powerful motor provides its power with reasonable control.

There’s a torque-sensing cog under the drive unit cover above the front chainring, and a lower idler wheel, which adds undeniable complexity. An internal 720Wh battery powers the system, offering reasonable range. This can be boosted by their 314Wh Overtime Pack to provide an incredible 1034Wh total capacity. The Jumbotron display is nestled in the top tube neatly, and shows the vital stats like battery percentage and the mode selected. Rocky Mountain currently doesn’t offer an app for this system, so all adjustments must be made using the display. Up on the left side of the handlebar is a 3-button controller, letting you toggle between the four modes on offer and use the Walk assist function.

GEOMETRY | Rocky Mountain’s Instinct Powerplay sports geometry that wouldn’t look out of place on an enduro bike. As such, it’s an aggressive bike for its travel category, but the performance of a bike is dictated by more than just these figures. Rocky Mountain’s Ride-4 chip on the lower shock mount allows the geometry to be tweaked between four positions. Further adjustment is offered by the chainstay flip chip at the rear axle, offering 10mm of length adjustment. We settled on the slackest Pos-1 and shorter chainstay setting during our testing.

2024 eMTB Shootout Bike Geometry

BUILD SPECS | Rocky Mountain offers a wide range of Instinct Powerplay builds, from their entry-level alloy frame A10 retailing at $5,499 to their top-spec C90 at $12,999. We tested the second-from-top C70, retailing for $9,499 and offering a mixed bag of components. As with many of the bikes in this year’s shootout, there are currently significant reductions available on these prices.

The C70 relies on Fox suspension, with a 36 Performance 150mm eMTB fork up front and a Float X Performance rear shock. The drivetrain is Shimano XT with a Race Face Aeffect Cinch crankset in 170mm length – one of our key complaints with this bike. Also Shimano XT are the brakes, with 203mm rotors on both ends.

Rocky Mountain provides a quality alloy stem and carbon fiber handlebar. A Race Face Turbine R dropper post is topped by a WTB Volt Race saddle. And finally the Race Face AR 30 rims are laced to a Rocky Mountain front and DT Swiss Hybrid rear hub. These were supplied wrapped in a Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR2 EXO+ combo. For this year’s eMTB Shootout we swapped the stock tire spec on all bikes to the Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Gravity Addix Soft 2.4” tires. This provided a consistent and dependable tire combination on which to better analyze the differences between each eMTB platform.

With these Schwalbe Magic Mary control tires fitted, the size Large Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 tipped the scales at 51.3lbs (23.3kg).

Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 eMountain Bike Review | 2024 eMTB Shootout


SETUP | Getting the Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay set up to a comfortable spot was a fairly easy task. With 30% sag measured at the shock shaft and the fork inflated to slightly over the pressure recommended by Fox, we were left in a happy place.

We opted to test the Instinct Powerplay in the short chainstay position, which offered plentiful weight on the front wheel to keep our test crew happy. We experimented with the Ride-4 chip a little to feel the influence on the handling, and were satisfied that all of the positions offered their unique characters. We settled on the Slack Pos-1 setting near the end of testing to unlock the most stability and confidence on the way down the hill, albeit at the expense of the already minimal pedal clearance.

ELECTRONICS AND INTEGRATION | The Rocky Mountain Dyname 4.0 system was a mixed bag in terms of integration. The Jumbotron display in the top tube was one of our favorites, and the handlebar-mounted remote performed well, though we’d love to see a wireless version. The drive unit itself is nicely integrated into the front triangle, albeit with large plastic covers that aren’t paint matched. Using the remote, we were able to quickly dial the assistance of the Ludicrous mode up to the maximum – an exercise we performed with all bikes in this years Shootout.

The power of the Rocky Mountain system was quite incredible, across the cadence range. Not only this, but the sensors offered great sensitivity to deliver this power in a usable and controllable manner. If we were in a racing scenario and guaranteed fault-free performance, we’d choose this Dyname 4.0 system, hands down. Battery life was satisfactory given the impressive power on tap, and the option to boost it to over 1000Wh with the Overtime Pack is awesome.

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However, we experienced a number of issues that we’ll discuss, that ultimately leave us concerned about recommending the system to everyone. The most minor of issues sustained was the loss of calibration from time-to-time, leading the motor to continuously power the rear wheel without any input. This is quickly and easily solved by the calibration function on the Jumbotron display.

The next issues are related to the enclosed idler wheel setup of the Dyname 4.0 system. During our testing in the incredibly muddy conditions at Howler Bike Park following excessive rain, we found that mud would makes its way behind the cover and start to pack up in the system. Similarly, with the extra pulley wheels the chain has to pass through, noise would quickly start as soon as the chain became either gritty or dry. If you’re a rider unlikely to ride in the gloopiest mud, and you’re happy to stay on top of your maintenance, then these issues are unlikely to be too concerning.

Our final issue, and the most concerning of the list, was the occasional “slipping” of the system when pedaling hard. Rocky Mountain responded to our description of the fault with the suggestion that is was a faulty clutch bearing. They conceded that they had experienced some failures of these after thousands of miles, but noted that this was the first issue they’d seen with a relatively fresh unit. It’s not an expensive or particularly tricky part to replace, but a small concern all the same.

None of these issues would stop us from riding the system, and we still thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the Dyname 4.0 when it was running as intended. We’d recommend any riders considering the Rocky Mountain bikes to ensure they have a trustworthy local dealer, and be prepared to be slightly more attentive with chain maintenance than other systems.

Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 eMountain Bike Review | 2024 eMTB Shootout

CLIMBING | Harnessing the power of the Dyname 4.0 system is no mean feat, but the Rocky Mountain Instinct did an amicable job. The geometry offered plenty of weight to the front wheel naturally, especially in the long chainstay setting. The suspension platform combined acceptable efficiency with great comfort for its 140mm travel. This let us focus on spinning circles and keeping the pedals clear of obstacles.

This focus was required though, more than any other bike on test. A combination of the low BB and the longest cranks on test led to limited pedal-to-ground clearance. Even in the highest Ride-4 setting, the clearance was poor, so we opted to choose the low setting to obtain our preferred descending characteristics. If Race Face could offer a 160mm crank option, this issue would be much less prevalent.

Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay C70 eMountain Bike Review | 2024 eMTB Shootout

DESCENDING | When it came to descending the Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay, its 140mm travel quickly disappeared into the back of our minds. In all elements of its character on trail, the Instinct was a bike that out-rode the travel numbers considerably. That’s to say it was far from the liveliest 140mm travel bike, so if you’re looking for an eBike to pop and play on mellow terrain then we’d look elsewhere.

However, as a light (ish) duty Enduro eBike, or a true do-it-all machine, the Instinct ranked very highly. The geometry offers plentiful stability to charge hard at speed; the suspension smoothed out all but the chunkiest of rock and root gardens well, and it begged to be pushed harder than any 140mm travel bike has the right to. The Instinct frame is rated to be built up as an enduro bike and featured an enduro-appropriate build kit. So, this hard-charging confidence may not be a surprise. The result was also a weight figure that was similar to the typical hard-charging enduro bikes in our group though, of course.

FINISH AND VALUE | Aside from the battery developing a rattle towards the end of testing, which we believe to have been caused by the upper battery mount coming loose, the Rocky Mountain survived a pummeling without batting an eyelid. We also experienced some chipping and bubbling of the paint on the rear of the seat tube for reasons we’re unsure of. Otherwise, the finish quality on the Rocky Mountain was excellent, and we’d expect it to stand up to plenty more abuse without concern.

In terms of value, at RRP the parts spec didn’t offer incredible value. However, we appreciated the unique and impressive drive unit, and the frame did feel to be suitably high quality. We’d love to see at least a Performance Elite level suspension package at this price point. That said, the Performance level kit performed well. With the significant discounts on them at the time of writing, we’d feel much better about the bang for the buck.

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay equipped with the Dyname 4.0 drive unit continues to be an impressive performer thanks to its standout power and effective mid-high pivot suspension. However, due to some issues with the drive unit, we’d be hesitant to recommend the Rocky Mountain unless you’ve got solid dealer support nearby.


Riders looking to climb the steepest, nastiest terrain as fast as possible. The Dyname 4.0 has its issues, but when it’s working the power that’s delivered is exceptional, and the Instinct lets you unleash this power and enjoy the way down. That said, we’d likely opt to up-travel to the Altitude Powerplay to rally even harder on the way down the hill. 

Price: $9,499 (C70)
Weight: 51.3lbs (23.3kg)


Without their support, we would not be able to make this series possible.


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