News: Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL Carbon Announced for 2015

Thunderbolt goes carbon and gets the aggressive XC treatment

27.5 Cross Country

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL

Official Press Release

Named after its lightning quick agility, the 2015 Thunderbolt MSL dominates on a variety of terrain. Equally at home on long, technical climbs as it is flowy singletrack descents, it’ll have you powering through the rough stuff and popping off every trail feature you lay eyes on.

The all-new SMOOTHWALL™ carbon frame on Thunderbolt MSL models represents a major milestone for Rocky Mountain: by using our new PIPELOCK™ main pivot we have removed all traditional bearings from the frame. This combined with grease ports in key pivot locations results in a stiffer, lighter, and lower-maintenance bike.

The Rider

We designed the Thunderbolt MSL for our own special blend of XC and trail riders—people who hammer at the pointy end of the pack, but stay aggressive and stylish when terrain gets rougher. Marathon racing? Sure. Triple up those whoops? Why not! BC Bike Race? Of course! Smash every corner? Be rude not to.

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL

Thunderbolt MSL RTC Design

We gave the Thunderbolt MSL 120mm of SMOOTHLINK™ suspension travel to provide a perfect blend of XC efficiency and trail capability.

In order to achieve the agility and responsiveness we were looking for with this bike we chose 27.5” wheels and engineered short, 422mm chainstays. We increased control by lengthening the toptube and reined in the stem length, and were able to significantly reduce standover height by tucking the shock into the toptube.

Finally, we added our RIDE-9™ system into the mix, providing a wide range of adjustment—from slack and progressive to steep and efficient—to allow riders to dial the Thunderbolt MSL in for their
preferred riding style and terrain.


RIDE-9™ System
Our patented RIDE-9™ technology is the key to our bikes’ extraordinary versatility. It uses two interlocking chip inserts to adjust geometry and suspension characteristics, allowing riders to tune their bikes to their specific riding styles, terrain, and weight.

SMOOTHWALL™ carbon uses one of the world’s most sophisticated carbon processes to deliver industry leading stiffness-to-weight, ride quality, and durability. We eliminate excess resin and fibers by using rigid internal molds instead of traditional air bladders. We then utilize different types of carbon in specific frame areas to maximize stiffness and impact resistance while minimizing overall weight.

BC2™ Pivots
Lighter and stiffer than conventional bearing pivots, our Bushing Concept 2 (BC2™) Pivots are the oversized next generation of our groundbreaking ABC™ system. Unlike other bushings, our patented system uses a hardened alloy insert that bottoms out to control the contact of the bushing surfaces, reducing the preload that causes stiction and binding. BC2™ Pivots also feature grease ports for effortless maintenance.

ABC™ Pivots
Our revolutionary Angular Bushing Concept (ABC™) pivots are lighter, stiffer, and require less maintenance than conventional bearing pivots. Like our BC2™ pivots, they rotate on hardened alloy inserts that bottom out to reduce stiction and binding. However, by using an angled bushing surface they increase their relative contact area, optimizing them for compact locations like chainstay pivots.

Rather than relying on lateral compression for stiffness like traditional main pivot designs, our patent-pending PIPELOCK™ pivot uses a military grade, hard-anodized collet that expands radially to create the widest—and therefore most rigid—pivot stance possible. Using PIPELOCK™ allows us to cut our main pivot weight dramatically while significantly increasing lateral stiffness. PIPELOCK™ Pivots also feature grease ports for effortless maintenance.

SMOOTHLINK™ Suspension
SMOOTHLINK™ suspension stays supple yet supportive through a wider range of gears than conventional single pivot or other four-bar suspension configurations. This patented system reduces both pedal-bob and bottom-outs, while allowing us to fine tune variables like braking and climbing traction across a wide range of intended uses.

2015 Thunderbolt MSL Key Features
  • Fully Di2 compatible with integrated battery stealth port in downtube.
  • Internal cable, shock, and stealth dropper post routings keep cables neatly stowed.
  • Easy internal cable management with downtube stealth port.
  • 142mm E-Thru rear axle increases stiffness.
  • BB92 pressfit bottom bracket provides maximum lateral stiffness.
  • Grease ports on BC2™ and PIPELOCK™ pivots allow for fast and easy maintenance.
2015 Thunderbolt MSL Geometry

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL Geometry

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 790 MSL BC Edition

2015 Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition

We’re a selfish bunch, so we couldn’t resist producing a Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition. With its lively, bottomless-feeling SMOOTHLINK™ suspension curve, adjustable RIDE-9™ system, and class-leading stiffness it was the perfect candidate for some additional brawn. Set up the way we set our own bikes up—wide bars, short stem, big tires, stiff wheels, and premium suspension—, the BC Edition translates the Thunderbolt’s agility into true trail bike playfulness and aggression.

2015 Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition Geometry

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition Geometry

2015 Thunderbolt MSL Models and Pricing

Thunderbolt 799 MSL: $10,999
Thunderbolt 790 MSL BC Edition: $6,399
Thunderbolt 770 MSL: $5,499
Thunderbolt 750 MSL: $4,299

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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