Rocky Mountain Element 70

Rocky Mountain Element 70

Bike Testing: Riders, Bikes, Venue, Format, Judging Criteria and Results
An Overveiw of the testing process - how we did what we did

The Riders: Test riders were 100% independent, no riders were sponsored by manufacturers and no rider received compensation for test riding. Riders ranged in age from 24 to 42 years, all were experienced, seasoned mountain bikers with a minimum of at least 7 years in the saddle. Location had an impact on rider selection as it was easier for riders from the Ithaca and Syracuse area to attend, but riders from Cleveland, Durango, and San Francisco also took part. To attract a wider and more geographically diverse body of riders, our goal for future tests is to set up additional testing stations in mountain biking vacation meccas like Moab, Utah and Santos, Florida.

The Bikes: All bikes tested were 2008 models. The winning bike was a 19 inch Rocky Mountain Element 70. There only change we know of between the 2008 Element and the 2009 Element is the saddle, Rocky Mountain replaced the WTB Shadow V (which we dearly loved) with the fi'zi:k Nisene. We haven't used the new saddle so we can't judge if the change was a good one. Our goal is talk about the winning bike and why it won, not the bikes that did not win. There are no ads on our site, we do not accept advertising dollars from bike makers nor are we trying to win advertising dollars. Our winning bike is the the bike that won and not the winning advertisement bid. If you are curious what bikes the Element beat just walk into any bike store and look around.

Venue: We tested the finalist bikes, including the Rocky Mountain Element 70, over the same test trails at Shindagin Hollow State Forest, just outside of Ithaca, NY. The trails at Shindagin are considered the best mountain biking in NY State and have been named an IMBA Epic trail. The trails range from moderate to aggressive single-track and can be characterized as classic cross country in nature. To learn more about Shindagin Hollow visit:

Test Format: Each rider was allowed to ride all four bikes over a 30 day period. On at least two days each rider had to ride all four bikes on the same day. In practice riders did share test bikes more frequently than the minimum. A group riding with all 4 bikes allowed a dynamic to take place where a difficult obstacle could be tackled by the same rider on each bike. Since riding styles differ there was also a difference in what obstacles presented challenges. By riding each test bike on obstacles that were hard for a particular rider allowed riders to see which test bike made them a better rider. This bears repeating as riders found tackling their failures on different bikes allowed them to see how each bike responded to a task that had 100% of their concentration. This type of testing was the most enjoyable and fruitful for test riders. The winning bike was then evaluated for 2 more months.

Judging Criteria: The criteria was very simple - each rider assumed they were buying a new bike and then asked to select which bike out of the 4 test bikes they would buy using their own money. Testers assumed they would pay the list price for each bike (The Element lists for $3,499.) Votes were tallied on a scored vote format, with the scale being 1-4 - 4 being the highest score and 1 being the lowest. (Scored voting, or a points system, is how College Football teams are ranked.) Points were then tallied and the bike with the most points was declared the winner. This allowed Riders to vote using an internal scale based on their own riding style and their own interactions with each bike. Rider also made a short statement about each bike listing the bikes pros and cons, these statements were included in the review portion. The four bike finalist were selected previously by the same test riders using the same scoring format only in this poll the test riders were asked to pick the 4 best bikes made this year. Riders were also asked to score the 4 bikes according to Value and Reliability.

Results: The Rocky Mountain Element was selected Mountain Bike of The Year. The Element's score was nearly double the score of the 2nd place bike. Over 85% of test riders reported the Element as the bike they would buy from the test group. The Element also had the highest scores for Value and Reliability.