Rocky Mountain Element 930 29ER

By Pat Kinsella 4 February 2015
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This sturdy, hardwearing comfortable workhorse of a cross-country bike also rates well for downhill and agility

WITH MY LONG-SUFFERING Jamis hardtail finally retired from active service and put out to stud, it was time for a new steed in the stable. I’d spent over two years testing various bikes in all sorts of conditions and, despite a strong case being made in more recent months by ever-more attractive 650B models, I decided to throw my dough in the direction of a twenty-niner, the set-up which suits me best for what I do most of: long-distance cross-country cycling.

Performance and price point are always the two key considerations in a big-ticket purchase like a mountain bike, and the two brands that have impressed me the most by keeping their price tags reasonable while delivering the goods in the gear department have been Giant and Rocky Mountain. After much deliberation, I went with the Rocky Mountain Element 930 and now, after exactly a year in the saddle, I can reflect on the wisdom of that choice.

Overall the bike has been exactly what I was after – a sturdy, hardwearing comfortable workhorse of a cross-country bike, which combines climbing agility with good descent control. It’s fast, if not always furious, and the spec – while not exactly all bells and whistles – is more than adequate for me. The 930 essentially shares a frame with its more expensive cousins, the 970 and the 950, with the cost compromise coming in the components – but these are fine for my requirements, and can always be upgraded over time.

The Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc brake system it comes with needs to be bled carefully to avoid sponginess at the levers but once set up properly, perform brilliantly. The dual suspension system – air-sprung RockShox Recon Gold TK 100mm 29er forks up front and RockShox Monarch RL 95mm at the rear – combine to give a smooth ride on the trails and provide great lockout for cycling fast along sealed and firmer terrain.

It’s not the lightest babe in the wood (there are carbon options in the more expensive models) but for the price RM’s ABC Pivot linkage system provides good performance levels. This bike has lovely strong lines too, with the FORM tubing in the frame and a tapered headtube all adding stiffness.

The components are predominantly Shimano (3×10 drivetrain and Deore rapid fire shifters), and I’m yet to have anything fail, even after putting it through a winter season of seriously soggy riding in the hills of southern England. Overall – happier than Pharrell Williams in an all-you-can-eat hatshop.

RRP $2899