2012 Rocky Mountain Vertex Carbon 29er Hardtail Preview

29er Pro Reviews Video

Words and photos by Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

The result should be a light racing-oriented hardtail that can be ridden hard. Pictured here is D’arcy a Rocky engineer showing his confidence in the Vertex RSL on Kill Me Thrill Me, Whistler BC

Introduction

The new 2012 Rocky Mountain Vertex RSL hardtail frame weighs 997g (about 2.1 lbs) and is available 9.82 kg (21.6 lb) build in its top of the line configuration or as frame only. I really should stop right there as the weight is freakishly low for a bike that can be ridden off-road in any meaningful fashion and most people won’t read further. But because I like to talk and because some people will be curious here are more details. Of note, RMB is only offering 29er hardtails as of the 2012 model year; 26″ hardtail users will have to look elsewhere.

Carbon hardtails are nothing completely new but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the fanatical attention to detail Rocky put into designing this 2012 edition of their top of the line racer:

  • The weight is stunningly light but according to Rocky “we could have made it lighter”; incorporating a 142 x 12 rear end and internal cable routing added weight but added to stiffness, strength and aesthetics
  • Speaking of stiffness, the Vertex has massive down tubes, wide & flat top tube and a BB 92 bottom bracket.
  • Ride comfort was not ignored by providing minimalist thin seat stays to provide some rear end compliance
  • Some pretty fancy construction techniques (Smoothwall construction) was used to produce some unbelieveably thin and light carbon tubing.
  • Last but not least RMB’s 29er geometry (they call it RTC 29) was targeted at “race geometry” that emphasized versatility in handling different terrain (although Rocky’s literature seems to accent handling in technical terrain) namely; a short wheelbase and chain-stay length (ie a 29er that doesn’t have the turning radius of a semi; shortened top tubes; 70.25 deg (yes Rocky is that picky – this is slack for a racing hardtail); less BB drop/slightly higher BB than previous Vertexes. Geometry charts are provided further on in the review so read on for more….

Video of the RM Vertex 29er in action

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About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.


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  • jim says:

    Very nice too bad the rear triangle looks anemic compared to the rest of the bike. Hope the 142mm rear will make up for some of that. Obviously they jumped on the bad bandwagon for flex rear triangle, with Scott, Orbea alma 29, Cannondale, etc.
    Too bad. I would have ordered a frame right away if it was a real hardtail.
    Such as the Niner Air9 carbon.

    • Phil says:

      I ordered this bike for my wife and it’s a good one for the price. It’s studry and easy to put together, however the front gear shift broke while I was adjusting it. I’ve ordered a new one and she can ride it in the meantime with just the rear gears, but even those are temperamental until I can adjust the front one. I put on a rear kickstand as the center stand seemed to get in the way a lot. Also, this frame is most suited for a taller female.

  • eric says:

    Good job on the review – especially on providing the boatload of specs. I now feel obliged to order a frameset.

    RM has made the right choice in terms of rear end as well – 142 x 12 really is the way to go, with the Shimano type of axle being (IMHO) the quickest of the systems out there.

  • PAmtbiker says:

    I like that they included the X12 rear on their HT too. Great for those who want to have a FS and a HT in their racing quiver. Now you don’t have to keep a million wheelsets around. Specialized (and everyone else), listen up…

  • Max says:

    I kind of get the impression that they are trying to stuff 29″ wheels into a 26″ish frame. I may be completely wrong about that though.(?)

  • Aaron says:

    Bike is great. I have one and Jim, there is no anemic rr triangle. The axle stiffens it up plenty. It’s lighter (or can be) than the niner and as stiff. My first foray into a 9 er and it is a great bike.

  • Andrew says:

    The guys at RMB headquarters let me in on a few facts about this frame. Two which I find are most interesting. Firstly that there are currently a grand total of ZERO breakages on any carbon Vertex frames. Secondly it is laterally much stiffer than ‘big name’ competitors, and has much better vertical compliance. Anaemic rear triangle? 5 seconds in the parking lot will remove that idea from your mind.
    Try this idea for some hardcore lightness: a Stans Crest 29r can be swapped straight out with the DT XR400 you save nearly half a pound (470g vs 380g) then you run the factory Ikons tubeless with no strips (since you have the Stan’s rim) and save another 340g… tapping under 20lb easy for a couple hundred bucks!

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