Rocky Mountain rolls out sleeker, more powerful Element
Blurring the lines between cross country and trail with a lightweight, fast and fun mountain bikePhoto by: Margus Riga
Rocky Mountain is hard at work refining and redesigning its bike line. First the Altitude and Instinct were recreated. Now the Canadian brand’s cross country race weapon gets a full revival.
The new bike looks a little different, though. The 2022 Element aims to blur lines between cross country race and trail bikes. It adds travel, pushing the trend of more capable XC bikes, sure. But Rocky also shows a sleeker side of the Element with new tube shapes and lighter, more efficient design.
2022 Rocky Mountain Element
The 2022 Element is more than just a new look of the same bike. Rocky Mountain continues the evolution of its size specific tune, rolling the 27.5″ Thunderbolt line in with the Element. That means the Element gets more travel, bringing the cross country trail bike to 120-mm rear travel and 130-mm front. It also means size-specific wheel diameters. The XS frame rolls on 27.5″ wheels while Small to XL bike all roll on 29″ wheels. Rocky’s also increased the standover clearance for shorter riders. The XC 2022 Element has 33mm more standover than the previous Thunderbolt and 56mm vs the prior Element.
Rocky Mountain’s already doing size-specific shock tunes for each size of its bikes. On the Element, that tune aims for a balance of support and traction. Anti-squat increases over last year’s model to offer quicker acceleration and keep that 120-mm of travel feeling XC-sharp. Rocky’s also reduced the end-stroke progression, so you get effective use of the entire travel range. The aim is to allow riders to run lower shock pressures and less damping, allowing for a smoother and steadier ride.
Size specific shock tunes updated for XC-trail riding. Photo: Margus Riga
Burly-but-light Fox 34 forks. Photo: Margus Riga
Still a Rocky Mountain. Photo: Margus Riga
Shimano drivetrain and more durable pivot bearings. Photo: Margus Riga
XTR, because it's still an XC race bike. Photo: Margus Riga
“The Element gives me a lot of confidence when it comes to racing, giving me a huge advantage at an event. It’s incredibly light and efficient but somehow rides like a trail bike, a combination that eliminates any weak points and allows me to push it on every section of a racecourse. Outside of racing, I love the feeling of being way the hell out there and the Element is perfect for that. You can cover ground all day without holding anything back on the descents.”
– Felix Burke, 2019 BC Bike Race winner
WATCH: Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Rocky Mountain launches the Element
Frame Features: 2022 Rocky Mountain Element
To make sure the 2022 Element can pull off its combination of cross country and trail purposes, Rocky’s added several interesting features and updates to the frame design. There’s more protection, more support, and a new tube shape.
The first big change is Rocky’s new Ride-4 system. It is a lighter, more streamlined and easier to use version of the brand’s long-standing Ride-9 geometry adjustment. To keep things simple, the Ride-4 comes with options for Slack, Neutral, and Steep, so you can tailor the geometry and suspension to your style of riding. Slacker for harder trails and harder riding. Steep for more XC-race riding and trails.
Still a very Canadian company. Photo: Margus Riga
Downtube protection for when XC-trail pushes more into the trail end of things and rocks start flying. Photo: Margus Riga
Chainstay protection that pulls double duty keeping the drivetrain quiet. Photo: Margus Riga
Clean cable routing and durable, shielded bearings. Photo: Margus Riga
Sleeker tubing makes for clean lines, and plenty of space for water bottles in the frame. Photo: Margus Riga
The Ride-4 system is simpler, and faster to use than Ride-9. Photo: Margus Riga
Race Face carbon fibre Next SL wheels laced with fast-but-fun Maxxis Rubber.
Fox 34 with what passes for XC tires in B.C. Photo: Margus Riga
Internally guided cables are clean and quiet. Photo: Margus Riga
Race Face carbon bars and a OneUp EDC for lighteight and carrying capacity. Photo: Margus Riga
LIght, but powerful brakes on the 2022 Element. Photo: Margus Riga
The Element Carbon gets full internally guided cable routing (or larger, easier to use ports for the aluminum models). There’s also a sleek, thinner top tube that keeps weight low without losing any handling characteristics. For bigger adventures, there’s room for more water onboard as well as a second set of bottle mounts to use an accessory mount. XS frames fit one large (710ml) bottle. Small fits one large and one small (620ml) while medium, large and XL frames can fit two large bottles in the frame. The lower water bottle mount even has two mounting positions, so you can place them in the easiest to reach position on your frame.
On the trail side, Rocky Mountain’s added more frame protection. There’s rubber padding on the downtube and seatstays as well as nose cancelling protection on the chainstays. The frame is also compatible with Rocky’s own Canadarm integrated chainguide, for riders that are pushing the bikes limits. Dual sealed bearings add durability and weather protection.
The 2022 Element has clearance for 2.6″ tires, max chainring size of 36t and minimum of 30t and comes in sizes from XL to XL.
2022 Rocky Mountain Element: Models and availability
Rocky Mountain is offering seven different versions of the Element, plus a frameset option. Four carbon fibre models start from the Element Carbon 30, for $5,250. They build up to the top-end, dream build Element Carbon 90 at $11,550 with Fox Factory 34 forks, Fox Factory shock and Transfer SL post, and XTR drivetrain.
Three Element Alloy models will also be available, starting from the $3,000 Element Alloy 10.
Availability will be through local Rocky Mountain dealers and, in the context of the industry’s ongoing supply issues, is slated for this winter.
2022 Rocky Mountain Element pricing
Element Carbon 90: $11,550
Element Carbon 70: $7,880
Element Carbon 50: $6,300
Element Carbon 30: $5,250
Element Carbon Frameset: $3,890
Element Alloy 50: $4,620
Element Alloy 30: $3,680
Element Alloy 10: $3,000