Interbike First Ride Impressions: Rocky Mountain Instinct 29

By Eric McKeegan,

Rocky Mountain has been on a tear, with new bike releases on a regular basis for the last few years, and 2013 is shapeing up to be no different. Our intredid online editor traveld to BC to ride the 2013 Altitude 650b bikes with various Rocky Mountain folks, and I managed to score a quick test ride on the reborn Instinct 29.

As we first reported a few weeks ago, the Instinct 29 is billed as a lightweight 29er trail bike, that shares the same Ride-9 suspension system as the Altitude that allows rdiers to easily tailor the suspension for weight and riding style. 

If you’re not familair with it, the Ride 9 chip works like this:

The dual rotating inserts allow for nine different positions. By moving the shock forward, the geometry slackens and the suspension rate becomes more progressive, giving greater bottom out resistance for aggressive downhill trail riding. When you move the shock backwards, the geometry becomes quicker and the suspension more supple, for ripping around on technical singletrack and better climbing traction.

When you move the shock upwards, it requires a higher air pressure to support the rider at sag. This is beneficial to lighter riders, allowing them to run “in the sweet spot” of the shock, and not wind up with an under pressurized shock, which feels overly harsh. Conversely, when you move the shock downwards, a heavier rider won’t need as much air pressure, increasing shock and seal durability, and keeps the damping range usable.

OK, got that all stored away in the memory banks? On the Instinct 29 those concentric square links/chips can be adjusted to result in a 68.1-68.9º head angle (an aside to Rocky Mountian: You can round off those 10ths of a degree, no one will bnotice or care.) Chainstays are on the longer side at 17.8” and BB drop is listed at 35-25mm and my figuring came up with a rough height of 13.1-13.5” or so. I don’t carry a tape measure at Interbike to check these things.


Anyway, I got set up to ride by the perpertually-stoked Dre Hestler and headed out to pound over the rocks, kitty litter, and loose sand that Bootleg Canon calls trails. The Ride-9 system was set up smack dab in middle with something along the lines of a 68.5 degree head angle.

I had a good time on this bike, it pedaled very, very well, even without the Fox suspension clicked into the platform “Trail” mode. I’m not sure what it is about Canadian bikes, bike I always feel comfortable on them from the get-go, and this bike was no different.

The Instinct feels like a long-legged XC bike to me, just the ticket for those riders looking for an efficient ride with a solid cushion of rough terrain chops in reserve. The 32mm 130mm fork felt fine, but as a rider used to 34mm stancions or larger, I was missing the bigger tubes when trying to punch through some rough bits at speed.

While this bike might have been damned with faint praise by a Rocky Mountain demo guy as “not bad for a 29er”, it is obvious big wheels have come of age. My only dilemma after riding this bike is trying to decide whether to get the 650b Altitude or 29er Instinct to review in the pages of Dirt Rag in the coming year. I have a feeling we can’t go wrong either way.