Review of the 2009 Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC 30

Pro Reviews

SUMMARY

In short I found that the Slayer SXC 30 lived up to billing and was biased towards downhill despite its all-mountain monicker. However, I did think that it was a such a mediocre climber that sometimes I would even describe it as a portly little waddler despite my Canadian propensity to try to be nice. On the other hand, Rocky sells the Slayer’s downhill capability short. It is a terrific little “pocket-rocket” downhill machine; and if outfitted with some burly tires can be used in some very demanding terrain.

Making this thing climb well would be tough. You’d need to drop some serious coin to get weight down to the point where it would do much more then waddle a bit less which would defeat the economic rationale inherent to buying a less-expensive bike. More crucially the suspension is difficult to tune for efficient bob-free climbing (more on the Slayer SXC’s small sweet-spot for suspension tuning later). Expanding the SXC’s downhill envelope would however, be very easy. Simply swapping for better tires (it’s not hard to find something better then the lamentable throwaway WTB tread) would go a long way to doing the job.

Consider this bike if you want value for money, don’t mind working a bit more on the uphill yet want a bike that will annihilate downhills.


Side profile shot of the Slayer SXC 30 and a bit of a closer look at the L2CR suspension

Lee Lau’s biases

I am 155 lbs and 5′ 11″ and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I’ve also made many bike trips to Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and Ontario (for example) so I’ve had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

I rode the Slayer over a 2 month time period in my home trails in North Vancouver but also took it for long walks in the sunlight on alpine and sub-alpine trails in Chilliwack, Merritt, Whistler and Lillooet


Whistler

FRAME

The Slayer’s frame is aluminium. Rocky’s marketing speak refers to the aluminium as FORM – a custom 7005 alloy. I wasn’t sufficiently curious to find out of if this was an exotic alloy blend but will if anyone is curious (leave a comment). Suffice it to say that, except for the carbon seat stays in the Slayer 50, 70 and SE, the Slayer SXC framesets are the same, the distinction being in the components. Headtube and seat-tube angles are 68 and 73.5 degrees. Wheelbase is on the short-ish end at 1134mm (44.6 inches).

Standover is generous. I note that even when I cut the stock seatpost down a bit I could still run a long enough seatpost for pedalling with legs at full extension (my inseam is 32″ and I run seatpost’s longer then most). With the seatpost cut down I could jam the seatpost almost all the way to the frame (1/2″ of post would be showing) yet not touch the rear shock. As it happens, jamming the seat post this low wasn’t necessary and I would ride even the steepest trails with about 2″ of seatpost showing. I suspect that the seatpost might contact a shock with a piggyback reservoir so, as always please be aware to measure before cutting.

There is more then enough clearance for a 2.4″ Michelin DH tire in the rear-end. A 2.5″ tire would have fit with room to spare. I daresay a 2.7″ tire would even have fit but I never tried one.

Head tube is a standard 1 1/8″. There are water bottle braze-ons but you’d be hard-pressed to fit anything bigger then a small water bottle in there.

The complete stock Slayer SXC 30 weighs 33lbs.


Whistler Alpine

SUSPENSION

I will reproduce some comments from RMB about the Slayer SXC’s suspension and technical graphs for the sake of being complete. Please see the remarks in my review of the bike’s performance for more details on how this translates into reality per my personal impressions.

The 2007 Slayer SXC suspension has a falling rate for the first half of suspension travel, followed by a rising rate for the final half. This initial high suspension rate allows for a stiffer pedaling portion of travel and lower shock spring rates. The second half of suspension travel ramps up, allowing for good shock absorption. Bottom out capabilities of the many reservoir shocks allows the rider to further tune in additional bottom out resistance by boosting the bottom out air volume and pressure.

(from internal RMB document – “2007 ROCKY MOUNTAIN BICYCLES SUSPENSION RATE CURVES” – June 13, 2006

The Low Centre Counter Rotating – LC2R – patented suspension is a laterally stiff design that offers a highly predictable ride in all conditions. Its low sprung weight and concentrated suspension mass allow the LC2R suspension to respond faster to ground forces, such as stutter bumps, and keep the rear wheel glued to the ground during acceleration. LC2R suspension is a single pivot design, with the main pivot located just above and behind the bottom bracket. Both chain and brake forces are concentric to this pivot through-out the suspension travel, which eliminates pedal “bob” and brake jack. A thrust/ tug link engages the top link to create a rising rate suspension and the much-sought-after “infinite travel” feel. We tune LC2R to create an optimal suspension rate for different types of riding – from super cross country to Freeride and to downhill.”

(from the RMB website)


Suspension rate graphs – source RMB


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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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  • David Villalobis says:

    Nice review what kind of camera setup are you using?

  • leel says:

    Thanks. Some shots were taken with a Canon G10. The trickier shots with splotchy light patterns were taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XT with Sigma 17 – 70 lens

  • Tim says:

    do you need special tools to take the rear triangle off the bike? or can it be done with simple allan keys?

  • Lee Lau says:

    Tim,

    Standard set of allen keys should do it

  • Anonymous says:

    Great review Lee. I have a 08 SXC50.
    You are right about the tires.
    I changed them after one ride for my old (half worn) Nevegals, and they still perform better than the brand new Prowlers.

  • LeeL says:

    yeah. Initially I felt bad about being so opinionated against the Prowlers. I got over that when I realized this review was really all about my opinion (wrapped around objective details like the components and specifications). I’ve talked to more then one person who’ve not been big fans.

  • Mr Gnar says:

    Great review. Many thanks. I ordered an SXC 70 frame. Arrived today. Yuuumm. The Mrs is out so I’ve got all afternoon to make sweet sweet lurve to it. With all this quality time together, it should be built & tuned up nice in a couple of days. Then….SHHHHHHHRED! Sadly, I’m risking an ’09 Marzocchi 55ATA. Probably asking for trouble. I note they dropped the ATA for 2010. Too many issues?
    Great vid too BTW. Best soundtrack to image I’ve seen in an MTB video, never mind a review. Well done.

  • Byron says:

    you’re totally right about the tyres, i have the sxc50 and it’s an awesome bike, but i’ve had the front end unexpectedly lose grip while cornering a few times making for some heart stopping moments. i’ve been waiting for the tyres to wear out before replacing them, but think i’ll be doing so fairly soon rather than waiting as it looks like most people confirm that they let the bike down massively.

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