First Ride Review: Rocky Mountain Instinct 990 MSL BC Edition

General trail riding, long adventures, backcountry stage races: Bring it on!

29er All Mountain Trail
This bike will do most things well, from general trail riding to long adventure rides or backcountry stage races to steep and blown out shuttle descents.

This bike will do most things well, from general trail riding to long adventure rides or backcountry stage races to steep and blown out shuttle descents (click to enlarge).

During our time at Interbike’s Outdoor Demo we got the chance to ride the top of the line Rocky Mountain Instinct 990MSL BC edition, which features a longer travel 140mm Pike fork, stiffer wheels, bigger tires, and wider bars than the standard edition Instincts. At the same time, my test partner Nate and I grabbed an Intense Spider 29 Carbon (Read the First Ride Review here.)

Excited to compare two pretty evenly matched steeds side by side we headed out of the demo area for the Lake Loops. We kept staying left at all the junctions insuring the longest loop with the best variety of terrain. While not equal to the more rugged offerings up the canyon, these trails did provide a nice test ground for these two trail 29ers and their intended purposes.

Here’s a good view of the new wrap-around, one piece swing link that helps stiffen up the rear end which has been one of Rocky Mountain’s weaknesses in previous years. The Ride 9 chip on the front shock mount can be moved in any one of 9 different positions to change geometry. This one is set in a medium to moderately slack position.

Here’s a good view of the new wrap-around, one piece swing link that helps stiffen up the rear end which has been one of Rocky Mountain’s weaknesses in previous years. The Ride 9 chip on the front shock mount can be moved in any one of 9 different positions to change geometry. This one is set in a medium to moderately slack position (click to enlarge).

I stepped directly off the Intense after one lap of the outer loop right onto the Instinct so should have been able to feel any differences immediately. What struck me most is how similar they felt despite some differences in their key numbers. For instance the top tube on the Instinct is a short’ish 23.6″ for a size large but with the reach only a quarter inch shorter than the Spider at 16.77″. The Instinct did feel a little taller in the front due to the longer fork and did have a slightly more upright sitting position, but the fit between the two was remarkably similar.

I could not appreciate any huge advantage from one to the other with regards to pedaling efficiency. They both have this part mastered pretty well but I’d say the Spider was probably a bit more sprightly. The beefier BC spec on the Rocky Mountain added some weight compared to the Intense which was noticeable out on the trail (or was I just getting tired).

These aggressively knobbed, 2.3″ Minion DHRII tires hooked up really well in the loose dry conditions but were a bit slow rolling compared to the Ardents on the Intense Spider 29 Carbon on the faster, buffer sections. This 140mm Pike fork didn’t have quite the small bump lushness of the Fox 34 Factory, but it was stiff, controlled, plush, and didn’t bottom out easily.

These aggressively knobbed, 2.3″ Minion DHRII tires hooked up really well in the loose dry conditions but were a bit slow rolling compared to the Ardents on the Intense Spider 29 Carbon on the faster, buffer sections. This 140mm Pike fork didn’t have quite the small bump lushness of the Fox 34 Factory, but it was stiff, controlled, plush, and didn’t bottom out easily (click to enlarge).

But I appreciated the extra confidence afforded by those upgrades on the Rocky Mountain. The wider, more aggressive 2.3 Minion DHRII tires and wider bars really allowed me to attack some of the loose, blown out corners with a little more aggression, though I can’t say the Spider lagged behind it much in this regard.

Continue to page 2 for more of our First Ride Review of the Rocky Mountain Instinct 990 MSL BC Edition »

About the author: Kent Robertson

Kent Robertson (better known to Mtbr forum users as KRob) is just a guy who likes to ride. A lot. Kent’s 52 and has been riding mountain bikes for almost two decades, though he says his love of two-wheeled conveyances began when he was 5. His favorite trail type is any, be it fast and flowy, steep and chunky, or jumpy and droppy. Even a mellow bike path cruise with his wife makes him happy. “If I’m on two wheels it’s a good day.” Kent calls Ely, Nevada, home, but he’s ridden all over the western U.S. from Moab and Fruita, to Tahoe and Oregon, to a bunch of places in between. And while Kent focuses on the ride more than the bike, he’s ridden and tested a ton of bikes and knows what makes for a good ride — and a good bike. You can read more from Kent on his personal website, www.stuckinthespokes.com


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