MBA Bike Test: Rocky Mountain Slayer 29
Built for big mountains and raised on heavy metal, the Slayer is a bike that’s tough as nails. Rocky Mountain designed this machine to charge down the trails and send it deep over every obstacle. The wrecking crew got its first taste of the all-new Slayer when we visited North Vancouver to ride with the Rocky Mountain team and put their newest creation to the test. Shortly after we returned, Rocky sent us one of these shred sleds to test at our local stomping grounds. The Slayer promises to be downhill-bike capable while still being able to earn its turns. This month, we headed out to slay our rowdiest downhill trails and see if the all-new Slayer could hold its own during long climbs back to the top of the trailhead.
The Slayer is a rough and tough machine with a stout new frame designed to conquer whatever a rider might throw at it. To ensure the bike can handle abuse, Rocky opts for an alloy rear triangle it with either a carbon or aluminum front triangle. Carbon models start at $4999, while full-aluminum models start at $3299. Both frame options feature sealed cartridge bearings, a press-fit bottom bracket, and internal cable routing. Rocky even offers easy cable routing for those riders who prefer to flip their brakes around to moto style.
Rocky is a firm believer in adjustable geometry, and while the Slayer didn’t get the full Ride-9 treatment, its Ride-4 chip offers riders four different geometry settings to work with. This feature allows riders to adjust the head tube and seat tube angles a full degree. It also adjusts the bottom-bracket height.
To ensure the Slayer was ready for long days on the trails, Rocky made sure all frame sizes could accommodate a water bottle inside the front triangle. Rocky also equips the Slayer with tailgate protection under the downtube to reduce frame wear during shuttle laps.
As expected, the component spec trickles down from the elite model we tested here. Our bike received the royal treatment with Fox Factory suspension and a Shimano XTR drivetrain. With that said, Rocky invested money where it’s most important and offers every model the luxury of a coil shock, four-piston brakes and Maxxis Double-Down compound tires. Rocky knows that not every rider can afford elite level components, but Rocky made sure to give even its most entry-level Slayer a highly shreddable spec. No matter which Slayer you choose, your components won’t hold you back from pushing your bike to the limits.
The Slayer 29 offers 170mm of Smooth-link suspension, while riders looking for more travel can opt for the 27.5-inch wheel-size model, which offers an additional 10mm of travel. The four-bar suspension design is controlled by a Fox Factory DHX2 shock with a two-position lever. This switch allows riders to quickly adjust compression to provide support during climbs or open the suspension up to a plush setting for descents.
DOWN AND DIRTY
The Slayer is geared towards big-mountain riders looking to take on gnarly terrain, but it’s not a bike that discriminates against riders who prefer a more casual shuttle ride to the top, nor does it discourage a rider from pedaling big ascents. The Slayer would be happy to spend a day riding laps in the bike park or heading deep into the backcountry for a true freeride experience.
The saying you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover couldn’t be truer than when talking about k, big-mountain the Slayer. While this coil-shock beast may favor the downhills, it’s not afraid to earn its turns. While you can’t expect this bike to be as spry as a trail bike, its ability to climb seems on par with some enduro bikes we have a pedaled. Our team of test riders put the Slayer to the test on an hour-long climb and found it surprisingly efficient considering its size. With the shock set in the firm setting, pedal bob was minimal, and our wide-range gearing allowed us to spin an easy gear.
The few times we left the shock in the open position, we found ourselves buried deep into the shock’s travel with less than pleasing results. That said, the switch was easy to reach, allowing us to adjust the compression for improved performance on every climb.
The slayer is always ready to go.
To be fair, no rider is buying a Slayer for the purpose of attacking long climbs. This bike is built for all-out speed and the ability to barrel right over anything in its path. Our test riders quickly found new lines aboard the Slayer that would not have been possible with a lesser bike. With the saddle placed in the dropped position, the Slayer turns into a full-on downhill bike.
In the corners, the Slayer 29 can be a handful due to its size; but, once the trails speed up, the bike becomes more nimble and fun. Slapping corners seem more suited to the smaller-wheeled model, while the 29er seeks out the fastest lines possible.
Thanks to the coil shock, pushing into the suspension offers a smooth and consistent feel that’s predictable on the trails. Furthermore, the DHX2 shock offers a wide range of adjustments that make it possible to tune the bike exactly to your liking.
MODS AND UPGRADES
The model we tested was armed to the teeth with quality components. The only modification a rider may want to make is swapping out the coil to correctly match his or her weight. To find more information about sag settings and recommend coil weights, head to Rocky Mountain’s website and look for their spring-rate tech document.
At the end of the day, the Slayer is well suited for the rider and type of riding it’s intended for. We wouldn’t exactly want the Slayer as our only bike, but we could easily see it replacing our downhill rig as a double-duty bike for shuttle days or big mountain adventures. Any rider looking for a durable full-send bike will find the Slayer is a great tool for the job. If an all-day enduro bike is more what you’re looking for, we recommend a bike with slightly less travel. Regardless, the wrecking crew had a blast trying to find the never-ending limits of this truly impressive machine.
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