Announcing the 2013 Rocky Mountain Element 29 RSL

29er Cross Country

Following the success for our 2011 and 2012 carbon Element RSL and MSL models and our 2012 Element 29, it was only natural to follow up with the Element 29 RSL. The reception in 2012 of our new 29er geometry called RTC-29™, has finally and firmly established 29ers simply the faster and better option for XC racing and that’s why you will notice that for XC race specific bikes (100mm and below), we will only be making 29ers.

When discussing Element 29 RSL, there are several key technologies like SmoothLink™ Suspension, SmoothWall™ Carbon construction, ABC™ Pivots, and RTC-29™ Geometry.  We feel the big story behind this bike is that it shines in the tightest and roughest terrain like our home trails in Vancouver, but has a stunning real world frame weight of 1993 grams (including shock and hardware) and is among the stiffest in the industry. As far as we’re concerned, making a super light and super stiff bike is only part of the battle – it has to ride well and be durable.

What a Difference the Ride Makes

Rocky Mountain’s momentum is in full force and we aren’t just talking about rolling resistance. After the 2011 Element RSL and MSL established Rocky Mountain as a leader in carbon fiber construction and suspension technologies, followed by 2012’s critically acclaimed RTC-29™ Geometry found on Vertex RSL and Element 29 RSL, we’re excited to introduce you to the 2013 Element 29 RSL. We believe the fastest cross country race bikes are 29ers and the 2013 Element 29 RSL leads the pack, not only in technology, but more importantly, in the ride. It’s important because the only thing that matters when you hit the trails is that you Love the Ride.

What does that mean ?

It means that hitting a gram target or stiffness value doesn’t paint the whole picture. Or that an exotic rear derailleur shouldn’t mean much to the customer. And great geometry isn’t enough on its own. Ride quality is Rocky Mountain’s number one goal when we set out to design any new bike and it’s clearly evident in the 2013 Element 29 RSL. From initial concept, to developing proprietary technologies like SmoothWall™ carbon construction and ABC™ Pivots, to working with our suppliers for carefully thought out parts spec, achieving the best ride is an exhaustive process.

As a Vancouver company, we feel the best riding bike is one that is playful and agile. If there is anywhere that’s the best test of a bike’s handling, it’s our rugged backyard trails. RTC-29™ Geometry has proven that 29ers can out-perform 26ers in any kind of terrain and combining this with industry leading stiffness-to-weight ratio, the Element 29 RSL truly needs to be ridden to be appreciated.

Our frames are what make the Rocky Mountain ride experience. Parts are important, but the frame comes first. That is why we use the same technologies and carbon layup in our top of the line Element 999 RSL in all of our Element RSL bikes. We refuse to compromise frame quality to knock a few bucks of the price, because we think all of our Element RSL riders are entitled the best ride possible.

The 2013 Rocky Mountain Element RSL. Our challenge to mountain bikers everywhere to put ride quality first.

Research and Development Process

The term ‘Research & Development’ tends to be used loosely in the bike industry. We don’t want to speak for what others do, but for Rocky Mountain R&D is a cornerstone in our business. Arguably, we pool more resources in R&D per bike than any other brand. It’s this commitment to constant innovation that has elevated our brand to where we are now–making some of the most innovative products in the industry.

Our team of engineers in Vancouver has the luxury of a full prototype and testing facility just steps away from their desks. An idea can be born in a meeting room, drawn on the computer and turned into a prototype in a matter of days. This close connection to the prototype and testing process allows us to be as creative and move as quickly as we want. It’s not unusual to see one of our engineers holding a welding torch or operating the CNC machine. We feel that it’s critical to always know how your bikes go together.

Then the really fun part of the R&D process happens: riding. Our staff is made up of avid mountain bikers and we often head out with our team athletes to put concepts to the test on some of the most demanding terrain in the world. Sometimes an idea is approved or killed in one short ride and sometimes it takes months.

We pride ourselves on our R&D process. It helps us make the innovative products we do, always with the ultimate goal of creating the best riding bikes possible so you can Love the Ride for years to come.

Rocky Mountain Proprietary Technologies: RTC-29 Geometry

Before we began the 2012 Vertex RSL and Element 29 RSL projects, cross country 29er geometry was all over the map. No one had yet taken a firm stance on what the best race geometry was and we knew we could improve on the status quo. We needed to kill the myth that 29ers weren’t good for tight and technical terrain and that 29ers could be just as playful and fun to ride as 26ers. We tested countless geometry configurations with our team racers and we quickly zeroed in on what we believe is the perfect race geometry for a variety of terrain.

RTC-29 Geometry is characterized by:

1. Super Short Wheelbase and Chain Stay Length
The myth that a 29er can’t handle technical terrain ends here. With an actual chain stay length of 445mm and a 1097mm wheelbase (medium size), Element 29 RSL will shred the tightest and most technical race courses.

2. Shortened Top Tubes
We reigned in the TT lengths from our previous 29ers to give the rider a more natural, 26” bike feel with more maneuverability.

3. 70.6 degree Head Tube Angle
Head tube angles on 29ers vary widely, so we experimented extensively with different angles in the prototype process. Our riders unanimously concluded that 70.6 degrees delivered the perfect balance of stability and agility for a full suspension XC 29er. The slacker head angle also decreases toe overlap, which can be an issue on 29ers with short top tubes.

4. Less BB Drop
We raised the bottom bracket slightly over our previous 29” wheel bikes. While minimizing pedal strikes, this also allowed us to further tuck in the rear wheel, which helps with lifting the front end and getting weight over the rear wheel, making this 29er more maneuverable in tight sections.

5. Wider Fit Range
We can now comfortably fit riders from 5’4” to 6’6”

Element 999RSL
Element 999 RSL Frame Weight (incl. hardware and rear shock): 4.38lbs/ 1.993Kg
Element 999 Complete Bike Weight*: 22.3lbs / 10.14Kg
*without pedals.

Rocky Mountain Proprietary Technologies: SmoothLink Suspension

SmoothLink™ has been referred to by one reviewer as the ‘Holy Grail’ of suspension systems, because it delivers active bump absorption without compromising pedaling efficiency. A big statement, but science backs it up, and please bear with us on the techno-speak for a moment.

Rocky Mountain’s patented SmoothLink™ design characteristics dictate that a line drawn through the main pivot and the rear pivot is always above the rear axle at all points of travel. This is the key differentiator between SmoothLink™ and other suspension systems. The lower linkage member is virtually parallel to the Average Chain Torque Line (ACTL), at all points of travel. THIS is the key to bob-free suspension, since the two are parallel, the chain tension cannot act on the suspension.

Minimal Chain Growth Creates a Fully Active System.
SmoothLink™ features minimal chain growth (Element 29 : 8 mm) in order to create a very active suspension feel, while still maintaining the traction and forward drive created by the ETS™ effect. No kickback. No bob.

Caliper Mounting Position Reduces Brake Jack.
By removing the braking forces from the lower linkage, they are isolated and do not act on the suspension system, thereby greatly reducing ‘‘brake jack’’, or the stiffening of the suspension under braking. The slight change in the angle between the caliper and the lower link creates a ‘‘floating disk’’ effect.

Linear Rising Suspension Rate.
SmoothLink™ was created around a linear rising rate suspension curve, a rising rate gives the suspension that ‘‘bottomless’’ feel, while still riding high in its initial travel for an efficient pedaling platform.

Rocky Mountain Proprietary Technologies: ABC Pivot Technology

Our patent pending Angular Bushing Concept™ (ABC) pivots represent a paradigm shift in high performance suspension linkage. ABC™ pivots consist of an angular contact polymer bushing which rotates on a tapered alloy pivot. By carefully controlling the tolerance of these pieces, we are able to specify a torque value on the pivot and can eliminate binding, which has been impossible until now. The more you tighten a typical bushing system, the more the pivot will bind. Not so with ABC™ Pivots. And get this; they’re lighter, more durable, and laterally stiffer than a cartridge bearing. On the Element we saved 120 grams by switching to ABC™ pivots while increasing rear end pivot stiffness by 105 percent. Yes, you read that correctly; ABC™ pivots are 105% stiffer than a sealed cartridge bearing. Plus, they need almost no maintenance – just clean the contact surfaces from time to time.

We first introduced ABC™ Pivots in 2011 on Element RSL and MSL and most our customers are still riding the same bushings that came on their bikes. The technology has been such a success for Rocky Mountain, that we’re constantly looking for new applications for it.

ABC™ Pivots are used in 6 locations on every Element, saving 20g per location for a total weight savings of 120 grams over conventional cartridge bearings.

Rocky Mountain Proprietary Technologies: SmoothWall™ Carbon Construction

There’s a wide range of quality in carbon bicycle construction nowadays and it makes a huge difference in the ride and durability of a bike. It’s difficult for the customer to tell what’s inside the frame… If we could put windows in ours to show what’s going on, we would ! Before we get to detailed tech-talk, the take away is that our carbon manufacturing process in conjunction with ABC™pivots put us at the very front of the pack of the industry in stiffness-to-weight ratio and frame durability. A super light bike isn’t any good if the rider loses power to frame flex or the frame is fragile in crash situations.

Rocky Mountain’s FORM C13 High Modulus SmoothWall™ construction is 100% designed, engineered and tested in house by our engineering team. In 2011, we unveiled SmoothWall™ construction to the world with the introduction of the Element RSL, and since then it has won unanimous praise for its incredibly light weight and superior stiffness. SmoothWall™ construction is achieved by sculpting the inner surface of the frame as carefully as the outer, with the help of an inner mold, as opposed to the traditional air bladder. This results in no excess resin, fibers or filler, meaning no stress risers or extra weight.

The most important characteristic of SmoothWall™ technology is that it enables us to construct frames with the highest carbon layup density. SmoothWall™’s super high fiber to resin ratio with maximum compression of the pre-preg carbon layers results in the lightest and stiffest construction possible. SmoothWall™ also allows us to use full length (uncut) fibers, yielding a stronger frame. This all adds up to one of the most sophisticated carbon frames in the world.

Element RSL utilizes a precise carbon layup schedule, using multiple types of carbon weaves in specific locations to maximize stiffness and impact resistance while minimizing weight.

2013 Element 29 RSL Frame Features

1. E-Thru 142 Rear Axle
Bigger wheels = more flex, so we designed an E-Thru 142 x 12mm rear axle system into Element 29 RSL.

2. E-Type Front Derailleur
By using the direct mount E-Type front derailleur, we created the absolute lightest and stiffest swingarm configuration. The derailleur moves with the swingarm, eliminating clearance issues and allowing us to make a more compact, stiffer chain stay.

3. Internal Cable Routing
For less cable contamination and clean aesthetics. Our custom system allows for simple cable changes via a port near the BB.

4. Internal Remote Lockout and Dropper Post Cable Routing
For seamless integration of the newest technology from our partners.

5. BB-92
Element’s wide BB92 bottom bracket shell allows for a larger junction with the down tube and seat tube, dramatically increasing stiffness.

6. Stainless Steel Chainstay Guard
Because carbon fiber and bicycle chains don’t get along.

7. Seat Collar Sleeve
If there is one thing we know about, it’s riding in the rain. Element’s fitted rubber seat collar sleeve prevents water from collecting in your frame.

For more information visit

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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  • ginsu says:

    If they really want to sell these bikes these days, they need to open a Financing arm of their company like General Motors! Who really has the $$$ sitting around burning a hole in their pocket?

    And for the customers that can outright buy one. What kind of rich person drops this kind of money? Aren’t they usually snug and comfy in their Porsches!

  • bingbang says:

    What is the difference in bike handling between short top tube/long stem or long top
    tub/short stem?

  • Long Speed freak (Non De Plume') says:

    Had three days with the Rocky Mountain Elements 999. Traversed some 150 miles. I am team rider for another brand, this 999 bike is a engineering feat. I will bet that it will become the new blue print from now on, like specialized Epic was over the last few years to copy. Already the engineers we ride with we’re scrutinizing this baby for good reason. I am looking for ride boys… Hint hint.

  • George says:

    What a bike, the Rocky Mountain Elements 999 is the lightest, fastest greatest full sus climbing and descending trail bike on earth. Chopped my Old bike up after getting this thing. Super fast , amazing.

  • Steven Blom says:

    The best Mtb bike you ever get you legs over, FAST, climes well , rips the trails. Only bad the SRAM XX brakes are rubbish. Rated best bike at inter bike and Eurobike – 50 MTB editors can’t be wrong. 12 pros can’t be wrong. Trust me, its worth a spin. If you got the cash this is the baby.

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