Coming Soon: 2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL

The latest iteration of Rocky Mountain's Thunderbolt has been announced for 2015. Notable features include carbon frames throughout the range, 650b wheels, 120mm travel, Shimano Di2 compatible, shorter chainstays, lower standover, RIDE-9 adjustability, and new pivot technologies. We can also confirm that the 2015 Thunderbolt MSL will be available locally later in the year.

Named after its lightning quick agility, the 2015 Thunderbolt MSL is said to dominate on a variety of terrain. Equally at home on long, technical climbs as it is flowy singletrack descents, it’ll have you powering through the rough stuff and popping off every trail feature you lay eyes on.


RTC Design

Rocky Mountain gave the Thunderbolt MSL 120mm of SMOOTHLINK suspension travel to provide a perfect blend of XC efficiency and trail capability. "The all-new SMOOTHWALL carbon frame on Thunderbolt MSL models represents a major milestone for Rocky Mountain: by using our new PIPELOCK main pivot we have removed all traditional bearings from the frame. This combined with grease ports in key pivot locations results in a stiffer, lighter, and lower-maintenance bike", Rocky Mountain said in a press release.

2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL frame and suspension.jpg

In order to achieve the agility and responsiveness that Rocky Mountain was looking for with this bike they chose 27.5” wheels and engineered short (422mm) chainstays. They claim to have increased control by lengthening the top tube and reining in the stem length, and were able to significantly reduce standover height by tucking the shock into the top tube.

They also added the RIDE-9 system into the mix, providing a range of adjustment—from slack and progressive to steep and efficient—to allow riders to dial the Thunderbolt MSL in for their preferred riding style and terrain.

Three Models and a BC Edition

Thunderbolt 799 MSL


The 799 MSL is the superstar of the range and comes with a price tag to match, selling internationally for $11,499. You do, however, get a worthy list of components bolted on to your purchase, including a Kashima coated Fox 32 Float FIT CTD and a Kashima coated Fox Float CTD Remote shock, XTR drivetrain, XTR brakes, and Stan’s Valor Carbon rims.

Thunderbolt 770 MSL


The next model in the range is half the price at $5,799, still a considerable sum. But for this you do get Fox CTD front and back as well as a solid mixture of XTR and XT components in the groupset, apart from the Race Face Turbine cranks.

Thunderbolt 750 MSL


While most affordable in the range the 750 MSL stills comes in at $4,599 internationally. It comes with Fox suspension front and back, SLX brakes and while the drive train is made up of SRAM X9 and X7 components.

Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition.jpg

Rocky Mountain will also be producing a Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition. Said to have lively, bottomless-feeling SMOOTHLINK suspension curve, adjustable RIDE-9 system, and class-leading stiffness it was the perfect candidate for some additional brawn. Set up the way the Rocky Mountain team set their own bikes up (wide bars, short stem, big tires, stiff wheels, and premium suspension) the BC Edition is said to translate the Thunderbolt’s agility into true trail bike playfulness and aggression.

The BC Edition features the RockShox Pike RCT3 up front and a RockShox Monarch RT3 out back, and will be stopped by Shimano XT brakes while a SRAM X01 drivetrain will deal with the power transfer.

Further information on the features, specification and geometry of all these models mentioned above can be downloaded here.

South African Availability

The local distributor of Rocky Mountain bikes has confirmed that the 2015 Thunderbolt MSL will be arriving on our shores later this year. They will confirm which models we can expect, along with pricing, shortly.


Iwan Kemp, Aug 07 2014 02:09

A large Thunderbolt MSL BC Edition, thank you. Oh, frame only.

rock, Aug 07 2014 02:16

was just about to ping you, this seems right up your alley.

camelman, Aug 08 2014 05:57

That BC edition looks lekka. It will kick a Camber's butt even before the start line.

Squier, Aug 08 2014 06:48

Wow! That's a good looking beast!

wepat, Aug 09 2014 09:59

That BC edition looks lekka. It will kick a Camber's butt even before the start line.

Why would you make that comment no reviews yet just a picture riding it and actual reviews will be the true test and Yes I have a Camber

Matchstix, Aug 09 2014 10:37

Adjustability through ride 9 system is awesome! Top of the range comes at price though. Bikes will be awesome!

burty, Aug 11 2014 01:59

I still think a scalpel is the best looking machine but this is knocking at its door, flip its a hot bike

Matchstix, Aug 11 2014 02:25

Trigger is much hotter than scalpel the 27.5 one.

camelman, Nov 04 2014 01:36

Review: Instict Rally edition and Thunderbolt


Ek wil nou nie ou koeie uit die sloot grawe nie, but I had the oppurtunity to ride an Altitude Rally edition on Saturday and the missus rode the Thunderbolt.  



Let start with the Thunderbolt.  Let's start off and make one thing clear the missus loves her Epic, for every day XC and light trail riding.  She also has a Genius 720 for the Alpine stuff, so this bike fits right in the middle.  She loved this bike, even without it's brain set up and forget suspension she loved it.  It climbs almost as well and descends much better than the her Epic.  In her words, if she could have one bike and one bike only, the Thunderbolt would be it.  I would tend to agree.  For South African conditions this bike is ideal.  With a 120mm of suspension and slacker geometry it is the ideal bike for everyone that does not pretend to be a Sauser or Schurter.  The slacker geo will instantly give you more confidence on the downhills and the smaller wheels will make it much more fun.  And yes the bike was fun, much more fun than a 29r can every be in her words.  So there in short a review from a non riders's perspective.  I think she would have given the bike an 7/10, but a better component spec could bring it up to 8.5.



Now for the big boy.  Rocky Mountain Instinct MSL Rally Edition.  I was super excited to ride this bike, even though it was a large and I ride XL.  So excited that I forgot to tell the mechanic I ride my brakes moto style till I was a few kilometers away.  Then it was too late.  Bike had a proper Fox Float X shock and a solid Fox 36 Fork.  


Leaving the shop on the paved road was OK.  Never having ridden anything with a 160mm in front, the front end felt tall, but I just had to balance myself well in order for the front wheel to stay planted on the steep uphills.  Having an XL frame with an extra 25mm of top tube will help,as well as adjusting the geometry with the little chip around the shock.  Anyway you cannot fault this bike during climbing.  It really did not feel like a bike with 160/150mm of suspension.  Then again it was no XC racer either.  I managed to clear some rather techy steep uphill sections very easily.  I have only lately managed to start clearing it on my hardtail, but it takes a lot of horses, lungs and a good line.  With the Altitude I picked my line and went and was very surprised making it with the tall front end.  This bike really climbs well. 


While I am not a huge fan of the FSR/Horst link suspension (Specialized issues) and have usually not found it stiff enough for my liking, I can honestly say that I did not notice any flex in the rear stays when pedaling hard out the saddle.  The back end was very stiff, even with a 150mm suspension.  I did not have the time to tune the suspension either with the high and low speed compression either, but suffice to say it is plush but not soggy and never did I manage to use all the suspension(you cannot really try to hard knowing the brakes are the wrong way around). The Fox 36 is a really great.  I have had my issues with Fox forks but this fork really is the bussiness.  20mm Thru axle and 36mm stanchions make it super stiff and all those adjustment knobs were the bees knees. It is not a set and forget fork however.  It does not have a "flick of the lever" lockout so you really have to wind the knob in when you go up to make the fork hard, but this fork eats all you can throw at it on the way down.


As this is my first time ever on a 650b/27.5 from 29r's I was super excited to try out the big hype.  Moving down from a 29" Stumpjumper I though it would not roll as well or be thrown around the rocks garden a bit.  Not at all.  The only thing I noticed was how it easy it is to lift the front wheel up and over obstacles and how easy the bike was to handle in the tight and twisty stuff.  Something that my Stumpy was not that great with.  I am sold on 650B wheels for trailriding and for every day riding.  Would I go race a marathon on 650b, maybe.  Would I fit it on my do it all bike, a resounding yes.


In the end this bike is a true enduro/all mountain bike.  It is not a coffin you need to drag uphill and only live for the downs.  You can really earn your decent by riding all the way up and then bombing down.  As a true blue enduro race bike I would give it a 9/10.  As an all round trail/AM bike it gets an 7.5.  If I could change the fork and the shock to a unit with a lever that locks out easily and keep the same spec level, then it would also get a 9/10.  If I had the money the Altitude 799 MSL would be my pick for an all day big mountain ride.



With my 29r Stumpy FSR sold this week, I am going to put my money down on a Yeti SB6C frame, but if this was not my pick, the RM Altitude would be in top spot.

Nil, Nov 04 2014 01:49

Looks good :thumbup: