First Look: 2014 Rocky Mountain Instinct MSL 29er

By Rich Dillen. Photos by Brendon Purdy and Margus Riga.

With Rocky Mountain Bicycle’s recent relocation of their headquarters to North Vancouver, BC, what better place to get an introduction to the all new 2014 Instinct MSL? After the official ribbon (log) cutting ceremony, we got to find out what was up their plaid sleeves.

There’s been a lot of recent hoopla regarding all the new 27.5 and enduro specific machines, so what could possibly be exciting about a new 29er? After a very overwhelming response to the initial offering of the Instinct last year, Rocky Mountain thought long and hard about bringing out the best of everything they had to offer in one bike. Then they invited journalists from all over the globe to try it out.

Breaking the tech aspect down quickly, the Instinct MSL uses the Ride-9 System which has already been well established with other bikes in their product line.

The Ride-9 System enables the rider to customize the geometry and suspension rate to their riding style and weight, and with the user friendly platform, they can go to to totally optimize their ride.

The frame incorporates lighter and more durable ABC Pivots as opposed to conventional bearings to increase stiffness and reduce weight. All levels of the new Instinct line use Smoothwall carbon technology to deliver the best stiffness-to-weight ride quality and durability.

The fine details of the bikes throughout the line are current with all the modern bells and whistles; 142 thru-axle, ISCG-O5 tabs for a chain device, “Stealth” dropper seat post routing, and a BB92 bottom bracket. With a frame weight of only 5.18lbs and 130mm of travel, this is a bike that can handle all-day epic rides and still get up close and friendly with the gnar-gnar gnasties.

“This is not the bike that will win the BC Bike Race, but it is the one that would be most fun to ride.”

My personal ride for the day was the Instinct 970 MSL. Sitting just below the XX1 equipped 999 MSL, the XT 2X10 spec was the proper machine for the challenging trails that are just minutes away from Rocky Mountain’s new headquarters.

Once I got over my single speed luddite tendencies and reminded myself that the Smoothlink feature was designed to be neutral and active for full time traction, I backed off with the donkey balls attack style and allowed the bike to do its job. Once I found myself comfortable in the world of buttons, triggers, and a network of controls that made this Atari 2600 man feel intimidated in a world of Colecovision, I was able to use more of the bike’s potential to tackle the slippery root tentacles and slimy rock clusters.

Although I will probably cling to my single speed roots until my body falls apart and I die as a worthless martyr of a bygone era, I do believe this is the bike of the future. Lightweight and efficient enough for an endurance race, but burly enough to tackle some serious terrain. With its ability to be fine tuned to an individual rider’s needs and to adapt to terrain on the fly, the Instinct MSL delivers what it promises, an instinctive ride that can climb up a technical trail just as well as it can rip down it. 

Introducing the New Instinct MSL from Rocky Mountain Bicycles on Vimeo.

Key features