Sea Otter: Rocky Mountain Sherpa 27.5+ bike debuts

Bike packing and shredding singletrack no longer mutually exclusive

27.5 Plus Sea Otter Classic

2015 Sea Otter Classic

Built to carry gear and rip trail — at the same time.

Built to carry gear and rip trail — at the same time (click to enlarge).

The acts of bike packing and shredding singletrack are usually mutually exclusive. But Canada’s Rocky Mountain is trying to turn that notion on its head with its new Sherpa overland bike, a 27.5+ trail steed with 120mm front suspension and 95mm in the rear that’s designed to carry camping gear and rip — at the same time.

“Usually when you load down a bike you start to compromise performance,” explained Rocky Mountain team rider and PR man Andreas Hestler during the Sea Otter Classic. “The idea with this bike is to be nimble and agile even when it’s loaded down.”

Room to spare.

Room to spare (click to enlarge).

The new wheel size is the significant alteration. Rocky says this was done for obvious reasons. The 27.5+ tire’s higher volume and larger outer diameter (roughly equivalent to a 29er tire) improves traction and allows for low pressures even while carrying the weight of bikepacking gear. The outer diameter also allowed the bike to accommodate proper full suspension in a full range of sizes.

Here’s a video run-through of all the new bike’s features Also be sure to check out the extended photo gallery below.

The Sherpa made its initial appearance at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic as a concept bike. “But stoke and interest were so high we took it to production,” said Hestler of a bike that will come in just one build and retail for $4500 and be available in mid-May.

As proof of concept Hestler was part of a crew that did a three-day singletrack trip through the Black Canyon in Arizona.

“If you watch the video you’ll see that this bike can definitely handle real trails,” he said. “And in the end, that’s what this project was all about. Making something that really works, not just making other things sort of work in a new way.”

Andreas Hestler was joined by fellow Rocky Mountain team riders Wade Simmons, Geoff Gulevich, and Alex Cogger for some fun in the desert.

Andreas Hestler was joined by fellow Rocky Mountain team riders Wade Simmons, Geoff Gulevich, and Alex Cogger for some fun in the desert (click to enlarge).

Hestler was joined by fellow Rocky Mountain team riders Wade Simmons, Geoff Gulevich, and Alex Cogger. Filmmaker Brian Vernor came along to document the experience. The Black Canyon Trail is roughly 80 miles, winding through rolling grassland before dropping into the Sonoran Desert. Have a look. It’s a great film.

Here’s a run down of the new bike’s full spec:

  • Frame: SMOOTHWALL Carbon. FORM 7005 Series Custom Hydroformed Rear Triangle. ABCTM Pivots. Press Fit BB
  • Accessories: Frame, bar, and saddle bags not included. Porcelain Rocket bags recommended
  • Shock: Manitou McLeod Custom Valved. SmoothLinkTM Design 95mm. Rebound / 4 Position IPA Platform Settings
  • Fork: Manitou Magnum 27.5+. 120mm. TPC Absolute+ Damper / Compression / Lockout / Rebound / 110x15mm HexLock Axle / Tapered Steerer
  • HEADSET Cane Creek Fifteen Series: IS42mm Top / 52mm Bottom Tapered
  • Brake levers: Shimano M506 I-Spec Shifter Mount
  • Brakes: Shimano M506 Hydraulic Disc 180mm
  • Cassette: Shimano HG50 11-36T 10spd
  • Chain: KMC X10 10spd EcoProtect Anti Rust
  • Cranks: Race Face Turbine Cinch Custom 83mm 170-175mm 38/24T 2x10spd
  • Bottom Bracket: Race Face Cinch 30mm BB92 Press Fit w. 83mm Adapters
  • Shifters: Shimano SLX Rapid Fire I-Spec 2x10spd
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore E Mount 2x10spd
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus Direct Mount 10spd
  • Front hub: SUNringlé SRC Plus / Fat Fork Specific / 6 Bolt / 32H / 15x110mm Axle
  • Rear hub: DT Swiss 350 / 6 Bolt / 32H / 12 x 142mm Axle / Star Ratchet Freehub
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Competition
  • Rims: WTB Scraper i45 27.5+ TCS Tubeless Ready
  • Tires: WTB Trailblazer 27.5+ TCS 27.5″ x 2.8″ Tubeless Ready
  • Handlebar: Race Face Evolve 3/4 Riser Ø31.8mm x 725mm x 9° Sweep
  • Stem: Race Face 6° x 70-100mm
  • Grips: Rocky Mountain Lock On Mushroom
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Race
  • Seatpost: Rocky Mountain XC 30.9mm x 400mm
That paint job...

That paint job… (click to enlarge)

For more information visit

This article is part of Mtbr’s coverage of the 2015 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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