Rocky Mountain in recent years has been more synonymous with trail riding and freeride than it has specifically with downhill. Out of the box the Flatline is a race build and although originally designed in part by the Rocky Mountain World Cup team back in 09, it’s not necessarily a hardcore race bike at it’s heart. Partly overseen since then by Thomas Vanderham it has clearly been tweaked for the playfulness of bike parks such as Whistler or the more extremes like the back country of Kamloops or the Red Bull Rampage.
The Flatline is perhaps one of the best out of the box completes, straight from the factory, full stop. With Shimano across the board including brakes, crankset, BB, shifters and derailleurs as well as Fox Suspension front and rear its more than good value for money. The rest of the componentry looks pretty sturdy as well with an SDG saddle and seatpost under your rear and a cockpit being taken up by a Raceface bar and stem and a Cane Creek headset. The only real upset in the build are the grips ; which were a personal preference thing and the stock wheelset. Whilst the Saint hubs on wheeltech DTSwiss rims are by no means of poor quality, the rims themselves tended to be a little on the lighter and fragile side. So it was interesting to see if they would really hold up to the abuse of multiple months of riding.
Overall the Rocky’s frame weight probably brings it down a little but when you compare it to the current generation of carbon steeds, it is by no means any heavier than many other alloy frames/completes on the market.
The Flatline was down for a long term test from the start but we never expected to have it quite as long as we did, a near solid six months and it didn’t skip a beat. There were a few little changes after an initial couple of runs, for instance the 400lb rear spring that came on it was perhaps a little too stiff. We were certainly getting bucked around in the rear on those first few rides and it was out. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have a good relationship with the Swift Rocky Mountain team and with a little help from Crundy it was switched out to a 350lb spring.
The only other feature we switched out from the original build were the Raceface Atlas’s bars to a pair of 775mm Renthals. This was mainly down to the fact that all three riders who rode the bike over the testing period found the Raceface bars to have a rather strange downward back sweep that just didn’t sit well with the bike handling or rider wise.
With the bike properly set up (thanks to Simon at Fox Suspension), a fresh set of pedals and it was ready to roll. The ride is quite well balanced, which is down to the “Low Centre Counter Rotating” (LC2R) suspension design. The two linkages behind the bottom bracket and just above it, really centres the ride and riders weight mid to rear leaving the front end as light as possible to manouver. The bike practically bounds through rock gardens, seemingly finding grip off the line and on. The flatline wanted to stay nothing but glued to the ground making even the slightest line deviation, over simplified, literally floating over the harshest of obstacles.
The suspension set up, coupled with the stock Maxxis Minnion 3C’s (colour co ordinated) allows this bike to hook up unbelievably in turns. Run by run it had me dabbing less and less in the entry before every corner, that lower centre of gravity holding me steady. The short stays and longer front end simply, help plant the bike.
It is no surprise then, that the Flatline for all its ground loving, is not particularly eloquent in the air. This is not the sort of bike that invites flick- ability, large whips and over the top flair. This is not to say that the bike is not capable of these things, its just going to take a little fore thought than your average carbon toy.
It likes to stay low and fast, take the big hits in it’s stide and in general makes you feel invincible. This is a bike that will last through years of abuse, weekend to weekend and race to race.
This steed is directed at the weekend warrior or part time racer. It is not quite light enough for the serious full time semipro privateer racer but is ample for a couple of State races and the weekend huck and trail session. This a bike that you can roll off the showroom floor and all you have to worry about before you hit the trails are what type of pedals your going to attach. That is all you will have to worry about for the next year, guaranteed.
Complete RRP $5899
Distributed in Australia by Adventure Brands
More info on the Flatline WC at www.bikes.com
Words : Robert Conroy Photos : Robert Conroy Rider : Mark Beeksma