Words Images and Video by Chris Miller
Weight: 29 lbs. 9 oz
Pedaling up Cement Creek Trail we gained elevation as the sun dropped close to the ridges. Topping out Hunter hill above 12,000 feet we gazed towards Teocalli and Pearl Peak in the breath taking alpenglow. Tim cracks us two beers and we cheers to the moment, the moment when it is clear why we ride bikes.
We drop our seat posts with a switch of a button and drop off Hunter Hill into the next drainage as the sun drops behind the steep mountains. Ripping through alpine meadows at sunset with my best riding buddy, I felt as if I was in a mountain bike movie. We chose creative lines, airing off the steep rolls on the trail and pumping corners. Entering the canopy of the dark timber, roots and chunder emerged from the dark earth.
Pumping through the woods we emerged into the next meadow, maching down the trail like wailing banshees. Tim and I take turns training each other through the meadows alongside the waters of Brush Creek. Tim gaps a double and dirt plumes in his contrail. The valley opens up and we watch the dimming silhouette of Mount Crested Butte as we air drainage rolls on Brush Creek Road. We click our lights on, split paths and pedal back to our better halves with shit-eating grins.
Riding Trail 400 in Crested Butte this summer was experienced on the Rocky Mountain Slayer 70. The trail is pretty deep in the Elk Mountains, so I usually ride my hardtail on this route to cover some of the road miles leading to the trail efficiently. Having switched to this plush All Mountain bike, the feeling was similar to that of surfing fat skis in deep snow in contrast to wiggling down the hill on pinner skis.
With thirty years of design experience under their belt, Rocky Mountain came out with the redesigned Slayer 70 all-mountain bike. With 165 mm of rear travel and a 66.5 degree head tube linked to a Fox 36 160mm fork and 203 mm rotors front and rear, the bike clearly lends itself to big mountain descents, but the designers had a much more versatile goal in mind for the bike. One of the goals of the Slayer 70 was to weigh in under 30 pounds, which combined with a steep seat tube that pedals better under the suspension sag, led to a machine that could climb more efficiently that many of its All Mountain counterparts but truly excels in the depths of the most advanced terrain I could find.
My first ride on the Slayer felt rather sluggish. Coming from a cross-country background, it simply did not accelerate under me as I stood on the pedals like my hardtail. With time I learned to be efficient on the climbs by staying seated and spinning and choosing steep, fast descents. Then I started to have fun.
I took the Slayer out a few times at Crested Butte’s Evolution Bike Park to see how it would handle man-made, lift-served terrain. Immediately I felt what the bike was intended to do, haul ass. Hitting drops and rock gardens seemed like skiing powder. The bike that had felt sluggish on the first couple of rides felt alive at high speeds. Once I dialed myself in with the bike at the bike park, I took it back to Crested Butte’s world famous singletrack. The bike was not a burden to sit and spin long climbs in the mountains, and the descents were eye opening. The bike features a tapered steer tube and a 142x12 thru-axle in the rear, which makes the bike handle incredibly well when the handlebars are tipped into a rocky corner.
Out of the box our 2012 Slayer 70 was built and ready to go with Easton Carbon Haven Bars, a reliable Rock Shox Reverb dropper post, Formula The One brakes, SRAM X9 Shifters, and DT Swiss X500 wheels with Maxxis Ardent tires. Although it did not come with a chain guide it is ISCG 05 compatible.
Notably 2013 will bring changes to the Slayer 70 build kit that will add even more bite to its bark—with the biggest change being an upgrade to a 170mm Rock Shox Lyrik RC2DH Solo Air fork. Superb spring rates and adjustability makes this one of the greatest trail forks out there, period. In the rear, the 2013 slayer 70 will use a Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3 with an on-the-fly low speed compression switch (very helpful on the climbs) and custom valving. Other additions for 2013 are a stock Blackspire Stinger chainguide, Avid Elixir XO 4-piston trail brakes, and Continental Mountain King tires.
Overall, the Slayer 70’s strength is big mountain descents but it is light and efficient enough that it can be pedaled up the nastiest climbs. On flat and rolling trails, the bike takes some energy to pedal simply because of the slack geometry and the plush suspension. The Slayer 70 is part of a new generation of bikes that are allowing mountain bikers to push the game in the big peaks without the need of a shuttle truck or helicopter drop.