Rocky Mountain released the latest rendition of the Slayer today, and we had a chance to take one out for a ride with Rocky Mountain’s PR frontman and former Olympian, Andreas Hestler, on some of the techiest trails in the Whistler valley.
Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 70 29 Highlights
- 170mm of front and rear travel
- 29-inch wheels
- Adjustable geometry
- Compatible with coil shocks
- Size tested: Large
- Price: $5,999
Setup on a size large Carbon 70 29er was quick, only requiring a few preload turns to the Super Deluxe’s coil, and a few extra psi in the Lyrik Ultimate RC2 – along with the usual seatpost height and bar adjustments. All said, even though the large has a rather roomy 475mm reach in its RIDE-4 “neutral” position, an XL would be a better fit for more than one day of riding under my build. Unfortunately, for tall, short, and riders on a budget, the XL’s, smalls, and aluminum versions won’t be available until this November.
First Ride Impressions
An easy flip of the rear shock’s damping lever noticeably improved the Slayer’s pedal performance while spinning out of town on a mix of roads and bike paths. At 170mm of coil-sprung travel, and a 64.5-degree headtube angle, there’s a relatively low bar set for pavement performance with a bike like this, and the Slayer hovered just above such expectations. It definitely didn’t pedal like a shorter-travel trail bike with an air shock, but it offered a tolerable momentum for something so gravity-specific. In all fairness, in a less rushed setup process, a stiffer coil, a little more rebound damping, or possibly a little bit of custom tuning could very well reap a more efficient pedal platform on the smooth stuff.
Once we hit the trail, the Slayer was surprisingly mild-mannered on tight, steep, rooty and generally technical singletrack climbs. For such a long-travel 29er chassis, there were no issues getting up tight switchbacks, or picking through awkward—if not janky—power moves up a handful of climbs.
Weight-wise, the claimed weight on the Carbon 70 is 34-pounds with heavy-duty tubes, so with this demo bike setup tubeless, best guess would be about that weight with pedals. The Slayer didn’t feel overly heavy or sluggish while climbing, which was a pleasant and appreciated trait of what Rocky Mountain says was a bike designed for improved durability and not lighter weight.
For reference, Hestler claims his Large Carbon 90 weighs in at about 31-pounds with the addition of tubeless EXO tires and carbon bars, which is almost a pound less than what my current carbon 150mm trail bike weighs.
Descending on the Slayer was a breeze, as it gobbled up just about anything it was pointed at. Its front end was very light and maneuverable, taking minimal effort to skip across roots and rocks, verses dropping the front wheel into the abysses in between them. Wheelie-dropping off a rock with a funky entry reiterated the ease of front-end friendliness, and attempting a few manuals on the bike path back to the house solidified how willing the 29er Slayer is to act more like a little dirt jumper than a big, cumbersome DH-lite type chassis.
At the same time, the couple of times speeds crept up on properly rough trails, the Slayer didn’t feel any different than a full-blown downhill rig. Its coiled rear-end tracked anything the front wheel was pointed at fantastically well, offering a nicely balanced bike in some of the jankiest and most awkward trails I’ve ridden in a while.
The few little sections of flowy, blue-rated trail we did ride only added to being impressed with how comfortable and predictable the Slayer was. Having a long-travel 29er like the Slayer roll over rough stuff wasn’t surprising, nor was the stability it provided while rolling down double-black-rated chutes. What was unexpected was the Slayer’s fun and friendly demeanor in situations outside of pointing it straight down the fall line. Yes, I just called a bike named Slayer fun and friendly.
Overall, Rocky Mountain seems to have made noticeable improvements over the previous Slayer. One day of riding didn’t exactly lend itself to how much of an upgrade things like bigger and better pivot bearings or thicker carbon walls will be to its durability, but the steps taken at least sound impressive.
Before riding the Slayer, I envisioned it to be a one-trick pony; a big-hit bike that wouldn’t want to do much more than get shuttled to the tops of steep trails riddled with huck lines. After riding it, however, it seems a much more versatile option than that. As an enduro bike, a daily driver for those who regularly ride gnarly trails, or a bike parks, the new Slayer’s combination of 170mm travel in an easily manageable bike left me wanting to spend more time on it. From the crazy trail sections, it coaxed me into and let me get away with, it simply left me wanting more.