By Lee Lau August 11, 2009
As previously mentioned the components are decidedly workmanlike and unexciting. Having said that, the Slayer does its job. Truly this is an example of the bike being more the sum of its parts. Front suspension is provided by the Marzocchi 55R – primitive but reliable (much to the relief of this writer who has experienced the joys of exploding Marzocchi sophisticated forks over the past few years) and with two settings – preload and rebound. Rear suspension duties are assumed by the wonderfully predictable, eminently tuneable Fox Float RP2 – custom valved for the SXC. Shifting is mid-level SRAM. Cranks are lower-end Race Face. A bunch of house-brand Rocky components adorn stem, handlebar, grips and seatpost. You get a standard no-fuss WTB seat. For more details on the componentry see the RMB site.
Here’s some random comments on the spec:
For the love of god Rocky, please please please spec a 70mm stem. This is unabashedly a bike that most people will take downhill. Spec it accordingly. If we wanted to be all stretched out to “expand our breathing” we’d have bib shorts, heart-rate monitors, Tune hubs and be on Vertex’s with carbon fibre bar ends. Fortunately this is an easy swap that most people will make at the bike shop point of purchase.
- Despite my critique, the Rocky house-brand components are quite light. I found this out when comparing the stock Rocky 90mm stem to the pig-iron Kore stem I put on the SXC.
- The WTB Prowler tires are unadulterated utter garbage useful only for chopping up into small bits perhaps to place traction on poorly built ghetto skinnies on trails where you wouldn’t lead your worse enemy. To be clear, get rid of them right away. Replace them with anything that will produce predictable traction. These tires do poorly in dry dusty conditions, on rocks, and in mud. I have a hard time conceiving of a situation where they do well. Note this is MY OPINION and you are of course free to disagree. Want any free tires?
- Avid brakes almost always need a bleed even when new and the Rocky’s brakes were no exception. Why is this so hard to do? Why even pretend to bleed them? This has been an ongoing issue for some years now and its a wonder in this litigation happy environment that such abysmal quality “assurance” (and you can be assured I use that word loosely) can be tolerated.
- Wheelbuild of the WTB wheels was excellent. I landed this bike to transistion, to flat, cockeyed. I rode it into rock gardens. I ran it over talus, over small trees and stumps. I rode it down 4,000 foot downhills. I’ve never had to touch the wheels with a spoke wrench. It’s one thing to give these wheels to a finesse rider and quite another to give it to a hack like myself and have them come back rolling round and true. Two thumbs up for that.
More closeups of the L2CR linkage
ROCKY SLAYER SXC PERFORMANCE – DOWNHILL
This bike’s strength is downhilling. It has that ephemeral quality that is so hard to achieve in a good downhill bike and that all bike designers strive to achieve; that feeling it gives to a rider of sheer confidence when descending. It goes where you want it to go. If you make a mistake, you know that the SXC will pull your fat out of the fire. If I said more, it would approach babbling. With some tire swaps, despite the Slayer SXC being billed as an all-mountain ride, this is a far better freeride/downhill bike then many other freeride/downhill bikes that I’ve ridden.
The L2CR geometry is meant to result in a lower-centre of gravity and is designed so the centre of gravity keeps getting lower and lower as you go through travel. It’s meant to do a lot of other things but I’ll focus on this aspect since, for me, it’s this design characteristic which most translated into real-world performance. The Slayer SXC felt “low” even though I had a pretty high-rise stem and bar and ample BB clearance. I always felt like the bike would be squatting close to the ground and that I was riding like a DH racer in constant attack position. This is not something I can quantify or measure other then in “feel” and subjective bike-handling characteristic. The best way to describe it was a feeling that that the Slayer always wanted to charge downhills.
Here are some miscellanous comments on the Slayer SXC’s downhill performance:
The sweet spot to tune the rear shock is small and +/- 5 PSI in the RP2 makes a huge difference. Instead of RMB’s recommendation of body weight +10%, I ran the rear shock at body weight less 5 % and achieved that “infinite” feeling of plushness of rear travel but without bottom-out for big hits downhilling.
A coil shock might be more suited to the Slayer SXC if you want to make it more free-ridish. Having said that, I never felt that the RP2 was bad when downhilling. Admittedly without testing same for myself, I am speculating that a coil shock might have made the rear travel feel even more “infinite”.
The bike rolled out of steeps fine despite its relatively steep head angle and relatively unsophisticated front suspension. I was pretty dubious about the Marzocchi 55R up front given how bad Marzocchi has been lately. But the 55R is simple, didn’t blow up and/or puke oil and was reasonably stiff. The fork sucked in high speed multiple hit situations (it would pack up) but was plenty of fork for one-off steep rolls.
The Slayer SXC 30 is amazing in the air. I flat-landed it on Nelson minimal transistions going 6 feet to flat/splat. I took the Slayer to the Whistler bike park and stress-tested it on more hard-pack and rocks on Dirt Merchant and A-line (multiple table tops). Frankly I couldn’t believe how well it handled actually – the bike was very easy to move around. The suspension was so plush yet so bottomless (that “infinite” feeling to which I was referring again) that you can recover from lackadaisical landings.
- The bike was fine in higher speed terrain (think 4,000 ft downhill Lillooet laps). It’s a steep’ish head angle so you can’t possibly match a pure DH bike’s stability at speed but it didn’t terrify.
As far as durability in the short term, the pivots, rear triangle seem to be fine. I pulled the bike apart and re-greased everything after 6 days of hard shuttling in Nelson and the frame looks fine without noticeable slop.
ROCKY SLAYER SXC PERFORMANCE – UPHILL AND XC
There’s not much to say about the uphill and/or XC (flat/rolling terrain) on the Slayer SXC. Not only is the SXC 30 a heavy bike, it pedals like a heavy bike. As stated earlier it’s exceedingly difficult to set the rear suspension up for firmness for pedalling without killing small bump compliance -> that also hurts the bike’s pedalling performance. If you’re going up a long steady climb, engage ProPedal, lament the lack of a travel-adjust fork and plug away. You will get to the top in unexciting fashion but you will get there. If you’re pedalling in flattish rolling terrain put a bit more pressure in the rear shock and that will help performance (again, at the expense of plushness).
It’s not that the bike is a terrible climber or horrible on rolling terrain. It’s more the point that the RMB Altitude platform is so much better if you want a bike that’s more biased to the XC end of the all-mountain spectrum.
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