A pumped up, all-day epic trail machine with the legs to take on almost everything
The Rocky Mountain Instinct trail bike gets a big-travel makeover worthy of its North Shore Inspiration with the Carbon 90 BC Edition.
Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition need to know
- Longer travel version of the Instinct, Rocky Mountain’s 140mm travel 29er trail bike
- Travel increased to 155mm thanks to a longer stroke shock allied to a 160mm suspension fork up front
- Does away with RIDE-9 suspension adjustment system in favour for a fixed, single position linkage
- Boosts the burliness by speccing beefed-up Fox shocks and wider rims/tyres
British Colombia, for those familiar with it, is a name that conjures up images of murky forests, skinny North Shore bridges and some of the most technically demanding riding on the planet. So for a bike to be labelled as a BC edition, there should be no doubting its intentions or pedigree.
And so we come to the Rocky Mountain Instinct BC Edition. In its standard guise the Instinct is Rocky Mountain’s 140mm travel, 29er ‘do-it-all’ trail bike. It had a completely new frame for 2018 with refined tube shapes and lower profile shock hardware. It also received a full complement of sealed pivot bearings to replace the previous bushings, resulting in better small bump sensitivity.
We’ve ridden several BC Edition Rocky Mountains in recent years, and the Instinct BC follows a familiar principle, with a beefed-up build, slacker angles and increased travel to make it a more capable beast. Rocky Mountain is offering you the ‘chef’s special’.
On the Instinct, it starts by simplifying the rear suspension setup. Gone is the Ride-9 adjustable geometry chip, replaced by a single shock position. The justification here is that most riders tend to set the Ride-9 in the lowest and slackest setting and leave it there. So Rocky Mountain slapped a new linkage that mirrors that setting. To eke a further 15mm of travel out of the rear the Instinct also features a longer stroked Fox DPX2 shock, boosting travel to 155mm. To match that increase in rear wheel travel, it also gets a burlier Fox 36 Float fork with 160mm of travel. It makes do with the Performance Elite version (same as the DPX2) but does use the much lauded GRIP2 damper found in the Factory versions.
Aside from the suspension, the BC Edition also benefits from wider, 30mm rims and Maxxis Wide Trail, bigger volume tyres. There’s a 2.5in Minion DHF 3C Maxx Terra at the front and complementary 2.4in Minion DHR 3C Maxx Terra at the rear to provide it with some of the best rubber available. It doesn’t stop there; the brakes are upgraded to SRAM Code four piston units with 200mm rotors, while the handlebars and stem are also pumped up to 35mm diameter for stiffness and the cockpit takes a shorter and wider approach featuring a 45mm stem and 780mm bar.
You might expect all these changes over the original would have resulted in a bike that loses its trail slant in favour of gravity-fed shenanigans. But the BC Edition is still most definitely a member of the Instinct family, feeling a bit more lightweight than other long-travel 29ers in its category. What is noticeable over the standard Instinct is the effect the boosted travel and taller rubber has on the geometry, especially the bottom bracket height. At 350mm it’s relatively tall, both compared to the regular version and many of its rivals.
Rocky Mountain has done some wizardry with the suspension kinematics to create a touch more anti-squat and has also given the shock a more progressive tune. This has been done to help the BC Edition retain a good level of pedalling prowess. Add in a sub -30lb overall weight and properly sticky 3C Max Terra tyres and it makes short work of steep, techy climbs. It’s also during those technical climbs that the BC Edition’s taller bottom bracket height works in its favour, with nary a whisper of pedal strikes over even the most rocky and stepped of trails. I was fortunate enough to ride the Instinct on a couple of all-day epics in Verbier, Switzerland. These included more than 2,000m of climbing and descending, when a bike’s climbing ability is almost as important as it’ descending confidence. In this situation, flick the shock into pedal mode and the Instinct doesn’t ride like a 155mm travel machine, more like a short-travel XC whippet.
As a result of retaining its all-day riding roots, the BC Edition far from a blunt instrument. The slackened head angle the longer travel affords still enables the Instinct to ride any trail you put in front of it, while the supple yet hard-working suspension will gets you out of trouble when you need it to. But it’s that climbing-friendly BB height and additional shock progression that create a sensation that you’re perched on the bike. Don’t get me wrong; the Instinct is a fun bike to ride. That high-riding suspension and slightly shorter reach give it a playful nature that loves to pop off anything and everything. It’s just over rock gardens and rough tracks that it feels a little less confident. Running a touch more sag and slightly lower tyre pressures certainly help in this regard and it would be interesting to see how the Instinct would ride with 27.5in wheels (The Instinct shares the same frame as Rocky Mountain’s 27.5in wheeled Pipeline).
When it comes to long travel 29ers the Instinct BC Edition offers a package a little different to most on the market. Whilst the majority have been built to have descending prowess in the spotlight, this feels like it has been designed to work everywhere. Of course any bike built to do it all will struggle to excel in just one area, and in this respect the Instinct is no the most engaging of descenders. But if you’re looking for a pumped up, all-day epic trail machine with the legs to take on almost everything in its stride, the Instinct BC Edition could just be for you.