2016 Rocky Mountain Maiden Downhill Bike - Dirt

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2016 Rocky Mountain Maiden Downhill Bike

Rocky Mountain Bicycles has a new downhill bike. That's not exactly surprising news. It was obvious that the BC-based company was working on something new when we saw Vanderham and Gulevich riding test mules at numerous events last year. More recently, a carbon prototype was “leaked” at Leogang last month. Early this week, Rocky invited a group of journalists to Retallack Lodge, deep in the Selkirk Mountains of BC, to ride production versions of the new bike.

Rocky Mountain Maiden – The Review

The Rocky Mountain Maiden is in many ways a departure from Rocky Mountain’s previous bike, the Flatline, which they chose not even to produce in the 2015 model year. The Flatline was the last of an older breed of Rocky Mountain bikes, with a linkage-driven single pivot design and one-piece rear end. The Rocky Mountain Maiden is a complete, ground-up redesign, hence the new name. While the test mules spotted under Vanderham and Gulevich were aluminum, Rocky skipped straight to carbon for the production version of the bike. Everything except the hardware is made of plastic fantastic.

As you would expect with a new downhill bike in 2015, this bike is designed around 27.5” wheels. The frame can be adapted to 26” wheels by way of a smart flip chip at the rear and a frame spacer up front. Over the past few years, Rocky has been implementing their Smoothlink patent – which places the chainstay pivot in front of and above the axle – throughout their product line. The Rocky Mountain Maiden gets the same treatment, but uses bearings at all pivot points rather than the bushings seen in the smaller platforms. The main pivot and rocker pivot get absolutely massive bearings – the same ones used in the press-fit bottom bracket – in a beefed up version of Rocky’s Pipelock collet axle system.

 

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Another feature carried over from other recent models is Rocky’s adjustable geometry system. Ride 9 on the trail bikes uses two concentric square chips to adjust both geometry and suspension kinematics. In the Maiden Rocky has simplified the system to just one square chip, resulting in four positions to fine-tune head angle and bottom bracket drop. Each position of the Ride 4 chip makes for a difference of about quarter of a degree, making for a range of 63.0º – 63.8º at the head tube with a 27.5” wheel.

Retallack proved to be an excellent location for a gravity shakedown. Over three days, we amassed over 20,000 vertical feet of descending – with a mix of alpine bench cuts, ridgeline singletrack, hand-made and machine-built berms, and seemingly endless amounts of natural high speed chunder.

The Maiden chassis is damn stiff, a point that is only amplified by the use of BOS suspension across the board. Gone is the Flatline’s long chainstay, with the result being the Maiden is a blast to smash through corners. Through the many incredible berms at Retallack, the bike had riders questioning their tire pressure as the stiff chassis and grippy trails attempted to rip the rubber from the rims. I am inclined to say that the Maiden provided the most fun I’ve had on a downhill bike since the 26” Specialized Demo.

Rocky is very proud of their new braking technology, and I can say that the bike does indeed feel very smooth when hammering the brakes in steep and rough terrain. The Maiden will let you dump all the speed you want before a corner, without inducing hand fatigue or the dreaded claw. Credit must also be given to Shimano’s excellent Saint brakes, which are a great choice. In chunkier terrain the Maiden was happy to skip over the rough stuff without getting bogged down, and responded well to carrying speed by jumping and pumping. Despite the playful feel, the Maiden still sucks up big hits like we expect from a bike in this category.

Morgan’s Word

Of late, the world of downhill seems preoccupied with creating bikes with the sole purpose of being raced at the highest level. While it is true that racing is the ultimate test of equipment and of rider, it is also true that most riders don’t compete, nor do they have the same needs as World Cup racers – even if marketing departments and internet engineers seem to think we do. The trend toward longer rear ends is resulting in a crop of bikes that go fast in a straight line – but there is a trade off, and that’s in the fun department. The Maiden goes against the grain here, and the result is a modern downhill bike that’s just plain fun to ride, in my opinion.

Price: $6,999 (World Cup spec shown – UK price coming right up and other models available)
Available: Late October

More information: Rocky Mountain Bikes

Morgan Taylor is an all-round bike fiend based out of a cabin somewhere deep in the Canadian wilds, but with an occasional internet connection he manages to reach out to the world. Read more from him on The Radavist and soon on Dirt Mountain Bike..

Stay tuned for a more in-depth feature from Morgan’s time on the Maiden out at Retallack Lodge.

 

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What are your thoughts on the Rocky Mountain Maiden? Let us know what you think.

 

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