The Rocky Mountain Altitude secured victory in our 2021 enduro group test – as the little brother of the Altitude, the new Rocky Mountain Instinct relies on the same frame platform and promises to deliver solid downhill performance. Are these just empty promises or can the C70 deliver on the trail?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 | 150/140 mm (f/r)
14.2 kg (size L) | € 6,500 | Manufacturer-website

The Instinct C70 shares the same frame platform as Rocky Mountain’s enduro racer, the Altitude. Accordingly, the elegant and well-thought-out carbon frame was developed for rowdy trail riding. Using a different shock mount than the Altitude, the Horst-link suspension of the Instinct generates 140 mm travel, complemented by 150 mm travel up front. Closer inspection reveals incredibly well-thought-out frame details, which give the 14.2 kg Instinct a discreet and elegant look. A huge TPU plate on the down tube protects the frame from stray rocks and prevents scuffs to the paint when you throw your bike on the back of a pickup. A small plastic fender protects the rear end from flying debris while a reasonably-sized seat and chainstay protector prevents scratches and paint chips while keeping the noise down. Moreover, a minimalist chain guide keeps the chain secure. Nevertheless, the Instinct isn’t completely quiet, because the cables rattle inside the frame on rough descents. The high-quality paint job is visually pleasing, rounded off with charming details like the subtle Canadian maple leaf on the top tube which only reveals itself after a second glance. Unfortunately, the beautiful look is short-lived. Shoes and knee pads rub off the delicate paint on the chainstays and top tube in no time. Here, other manufacturers like Nukeproof are way ahead, delivering their bikes with high-quality frame protection as standard.

Throttled! The spec doesn’t live up to the potential of the Rocky Mountain Instinct C70

By sending the Instinct C70, Rocky Mountain didn’t enter the race with a top-of-the-range model. As a matter of fact, at € 6,500 it’s a whopping € 4,000 cheaper than the Instinct C99 top-end build. For the C70, the Canadians rely on robust alloy components for uncompromised trail performance instead of eye-catching bling. While the FOX DPX2 Performance Elite shock may not have the lustrous Kashima Factory coating, it’s in no way inferior to the Factory model. The FOX 36 fork also features the black stanchions of the Performance Elite series, but contains a GRIP2 damper, controlling 150 mm travel at the front. However, the standard Instinct C70 model features an inferior FIT4 damper. While our test bike comes with a dream suspension setup, you’ll have to accept compromises in fork performance if you buy the standard C70. Not cool! A Shimano XT groupset takes care of shifting and braking, with the four-piston brakes stopping on small 180 mm rotors front and rear. Unfortunately, this setup doesn’t live up to the potential of the Instinct, both in terms of braking power and heat management. Fellow Canadians Race Face supply the wheelset, 780 mm bars, stem and dropper post. The Turbine R dropper offers 175 mm travel in size L and the matching remote ensures silky-smooth action and a very tidy cockpit in combination with the I-SPEC clamps. The AR30 wheelset rolls on MAXXIS Minions in the puncture-prone EXO+ casing. Particularly at the rear, the thin casing limits the high-speed capabilities of the Instinct.

Love for detail
The build quality and attention to detail of the Instinct are top. All critical points on the carbon frame are protected against stray rocks and flying debris.
We want more!
While downhill, the Instinct is capable of crazy speeds and crazy lines, the puncture-prone EXO+ casing can’t keep up. Luckily, the bike rolls on alloy rims.
Almost superfluous
The RIDE-9 flip-chip allows you to adjust the geometry and progression of the suspension. We rode the Instinct almost exclusively in the slack and progressive setting, which we liked the most!

Rocky Mountain Instinct C70

€ 6,500


Fork FOX 36 Elite FIT4 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Performance Elite 140 mm
Seatpost Race Face Turbine R 175 mm
Brakes Shimano XT M8120 180/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem Rocky Mountain AM 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Turbine R 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face AP 30 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra/DHRII EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL
Weight 14.2 kg

Saving on paint protection
The frame of the Instinct is well protected against hard impacts and rocks. However, we’ve already managed to rub off the elegant paint from the top tube and chainstays with our shoes and knee pads. In this regard, Nukeproof set an example, delivering their bikes with frame protection as standard. Rocky Mountain, take note!
Unfortunately not the standard spec
We tested one of the first available models of the new Instinct. While our test bike comes with a GRIP2 damper, the standard model features a FOX 36 with the more basic FIT4 damper. What a pity! We’d happily trade in the lockout for better damping performance.
Too small = too hot
Rocky Mountain pair the four-piston XT brakes with small and more basic 180 mm rotors front and rear. In this configuration, the brakes offer too little braking power and tend to overheat without the ICE-TECH rotors.
Silence is golden
The soft seat and chainstay protector is reasonably sized, making the Instinct super quiet downhill. Other manufacturers should follow suit.

The geometry of the Rocky Mountain Instinct C70

The geometry of the Instinct can be adjusted to a great extent. Moreover, Rocky Mountain make numerous size-specific modifications across the Instinct range, which includes a total of 5 frame sizes: the smallest XS rolls exclusively on 27.5” wheels and has a slightly modified frame shape, while the size S is available both in a 27.5″ and 29″ version. All other frames rely on big 29″ wheels. The RIDE-9 flip-chip in the shock mount allows you to fine-tune the geometry and suspension characteristics of the Instinct in 9 stages. In the slackest setting, the Instinct has a 65.1° head angle, while in the highest, this steepens by just over one degree to 66.2°. To spare you time-consuming experiments, we recommend the slack and progressive setting, which suits the Instinct best downhill. Furthermore, the chainstay length can be set at either 438 or 448 mm and anything in between.

Chainstay length, bottom bracket height, suspension kinematics… The adjustable geometry of the Instinct can be tuned down to the smallest detail – almost too many details! Our recommendation: choose the slack and progressive RIDE-9 setting and play around with the chainstay length.

On our size test bike with 481 mm reach (size L/slack setting), both settings make sense and have a noticeable effect on the character of the bike. At just over 76°, the seat angle is sufficiently steep, even in the slackest geometry configuration. As a result, the pedalling position is nicely balanced and comfortable, with the weight evenly distributed between your hands and saddle, making epic backcountry adventures a real pleasure. Uphill, this encourages a centred pedalling position and helps you weight the front wheel. Nevertheless, the Instinct can’t keep up with Canyon Spectral, which climbs more efficiently and feels smoother even with the shock open. As with the Nukeproof Reactor, it’s well worth using the climb switch on fire roads. Compared to the Brits, the Canadians strike a better balance between traction and efficiency for technical climbs.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 355 mm 380 mm 420 mm 445 mm 480 mm
Top tube 549 mm 582 mm 608 mm 636 mm 670 mm
Head tube 90 mm 90 mm 95 mm 110 mm 125 mm
Head angle 65.9° 65.7° 65.7° 65.7° 65.7°
Seat angle 76.9° 76.7° 76.7° 76.7° 76.7°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 19 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm
Wheelbase 1,133 mm 1,182 mm 1,209 mm 1,240 mm 1,277 mm
Reach 414 mm 437 mm 462 mm 487 mm 517 mm
Stack 581 mm 611 mm 615 mm 628 mm 642 mm
Helmet POC Tectal | Glasses 100% Glendale | Shirt Vans Party Shirt
Shorts ION Resistance Scrub Short | Kneepads Chromag Rift | Shoes Giro Chamber II
Socks Stance | Watch Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

Takes on anything – The Rocky Mountain Instinct on the trail

Downhill, you feel nicely integrated between the big wheels. In all geometry settings, the spacious front end offers plenty of freedom of movement. On flowing trails, the short chainstay setting ensures lively handling and begs you to pull manuals and shralp through berms at Mach 10. On natural trails and especially in open corners, the Instinct requires a very active riding style. In other words, if you want to keep the front wheel tracking, you’ll have to actively shift your weight forward. Alternatively, you can run the long chainstay setting, which ensures an overall smoother ride and allows you to carve through corners with ease, just like the Nukeproof Reactor. The supportive and poppy suspension invites you to pull off ledges, jump over obstacles and even gap rough trail sections. Not because you have to, but simply because you can! If there’s one thing the Instinct has, its reserves.

The Rocky Mountain Instinct is potentially very capable. Just imagine how much faster and rowdier it could be with the right spec.

Tuning-tips: 200 mm brake rotors | more robust rear tire (e.g. MAXXIS DoubleDown) | when you get your fork serviced after a year, upgrade to a superior GRIP2 damper (if you can budget an extra € 580!).

Like the Canyon Spectral and Nukeproof Reactor, the Instinct doesn’t shy away from challenging bike park trails and gets you through the occasional enduro stage too. But when the going gets rough (and fast), the tires and brakes reach their limit and feel easily overwhelmed. While we didn’t ride the Instinct with the standard FOX 36 FIT4 fork, it would no doubt fall behind the superior GRIP2 model on our test bike. Particularly on rough sections and at high speeds, the standard build would fall behind its two direct competitors, the Spectral and Reactor, which come equipped with superior forks.

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 is a great all-rounder that copes with any trail, both up and downhill, and doesn’t shy away from long days in the saddle either. However, the inconsistent spec prevents it from unlocking its full potential – this is a real shame because the frame platform itself is outstanding. The frame details, super adjustable geometry and discrete, elegant look are excellent, though the latter will be short-lived due to the delicate paint job.


  • adjustable geometry and kinematic concept
  • high-quality and well-thought-out frame
  • conveys safety and fun on every trail downhill
  • comfortable on long rides


  • the spec doesn't live up to the potential and rowdy nature of the Instinct
  • climbing efficiency
  • heavy paint wear on chainstays and top tube

Find more information here:

The testfield

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

All Bikes in this group test: Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 29 LTD (Click for review) | Canyon Stoic 4 (Click for review) | FOCUS THRON 6.9 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | MERIDA NINETY-SIX 8000 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290C (Click for review) | Orbea Rise M-Team (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | RAAW Jibb XTR Build (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 | Santa Cruz 5010 X01 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX (Click for review) | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Yeti SB115 TURQ3 (Click for review) | YT IZZO BLAZE 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: various