Had the opportunity to ride this bike for a few hundred miles and was pretty impressed. The components were:
Frame: Rocky Mountain FORM™ 7005 Taperwall Aluminum + Carbon seatstay
Frame Weight: n/a
Fork: FOX 32 100 RL
Front Travel: 100 MM
Rear Shock: FOX FLOAT RP23 CUSTOM VALVED
Rear Travel: 100 MM
Head Set: FSA ORBIT
Stem: EASTON EA50
Handlebar: EASTON EA50
Brakes: SHIMANO LX- Hydro
Brake Levers: SHIMANO LX
Shifters: SHIMANO LX RAPID FIRE
Gearing (RR/FR): SHIMANO LX RAPID FIRE
Cranks & Chainrings: RACE FACE EVOLVE XC
Bottom Bracket: X-TYPE
Pedals: I used my Speedplay Frogs
Hubs (RR/FR): SHIMANO LX
Cog-Set: SHIMANO LX
Chain: SHIMANO HG53-9
Rims: MAVIC XM 317 DISK
Tires (RR/FR): IRC MIBRO MARATHON 2.25/ KENDA NEVEGAL 2.3
Seat Post: EASTON EA50
Saddle: WTB SHADOW TEAM
The ride: This bike can climb! It truly felt like a hardtail when ascending. I stood up, I sat down and was just plain impressed. You just seem to want to accelerate while climbing. The lock out on the front fork(Fox 32 RL)and the propedal on the RP23 came in handy on the longer climbs. This bike feels really, really stiff with the front locked out and the propedal set on max. The combination of the Fox 32 RL(front fork)and the RP23(rear shock)seemed to fit this bike perfectly.
There is a section of trail on one of my local rides that is steep and technical. One small area on this trail is particularly difficult to ride as there are off camber slippery roots and slippery sandstone. Usually I do not make this section on my regular bike but the first time on this section while riding the Element 50 I cleaned it!
Tight and twisty singletrack was easily negotiated with confidence while riding the Element 50. This bike handles very well. It just grips the trail. I had a lot of fun on this bike while riding various trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
This isn’t the best bike for descending but does an adequate job. The geometry is really set for XC. With a change in the stem and a quick release on the seatpost collar, the bike performs better on the descents.
Overall, this is a nice XC bike that is ready to race. Climbing is definitely its strong point. All day epic rides might be a little uncomfortable but again, if you change some of the components it could be used this way. The components used for the build were efficient. Sure one could upgrade in a few areas to save weight but if you are on a budget this is a good build. The LX Hydraulic brakes worked great but my only complaint would be the loud squeak they would make when they got wet. Maybe different brake pads would solve the loud squeak issue when they get wet.