The Rocky Mountain Blizzard 2016. Facelift into the future!
Hier gehts zur deutschen Version!
In biking business there are names that are just rock solid. Such as Rocky Mountain. For us being MTB enthusiasts ever since it's always been a special pleasure to see a FATBike appearing on our horizon made by one of those big name brands. So was the Rocky Mountain Blizzard when it came into the market last year.
Now we had the chance to test drive the brand new Rocky Mountain Blizzard* 2016 model. And of course take some very first pictures. And long story short: it's mainly a facelift build on the solid basis of the 2015 model. However there are some nice tweaks that improve riding joy.
Ah, and by the way… Today we saved the best for last – you will find a highlight at the end of this article. But first read it!
…some of the major drawbacks again found there way to the 2016 Blizzard. Worst thing in our opinion is the 1 by 10 shiftkit with it's super limited gearing range. An 11-36 sprocket paires up with a 28 teeth chainring. It's like riding on your MTB's granny gear the whole day. In other words: pedaling at high speed means a mere 25km/h!
We spoke to some awesome Rocky Mountain guys and they confirmed that the Rocky Mountain Blizzard 2016 again was specified for North American snow usage. Fair enough – this may meet the heart of FATBiking community in Canada and the northern parts of U.S.. But it's in fact hardly usable in Europe where FATBikes to our experience are heavily used in sommer, too.
Same story applies to the brakes. The Rocky Mountain Blizzard 2016 is equipped with Shimano's Deore disk brakes that lethargical gnaw on 180/160 millimeter discs. Maybe that's perfect on snow, but on alpine trails we highly recommend to beef it up!
A positive surprise indeed was the 2016 VeeRubber Bulldozer tire. The new model seems to have some new features under it's skin as it appears to be much more comfortable with way less tricky and sluggish handling than the 2015 model. Not sure what makes the difference here but it's absolutely worth mentioning.
…the Rocky Mountain excellences are also back in 2016. First and foremost this is the awesome Blizzard frame. The rigid aluminum construction features a 68.5° steering angle giving the Blizzard a snappy and very nimble handling on trails. Too sad that the bottle cage screws allow only a mere seatpost drop – but as Rocky Mountain masterminds have punched some extra holes into the tubing you are free to retro-fit a dropper post (which we highly recommend). Ah yeah and when speaking about retro-fit we have some bad news for your knee surgeon… Of course the frame features all mounts that are needed to put a proper 2 by 10 shiftkit onto your blizzard.
One more thing we HAVE to mention about the Blizzard's frame: it is just perfectly well made! You hardly find such nice welding work in mass production (yeah, well… „mass“ may be a bit misleading here…) bikes today. Rocky Mountain has preserved this virtue from their very beginning. Well done!
And as you may have recognized already the frame carries the biggest news for the Rocky Mountain Blizzard 2016: instead of dull matt black it's covered in glossy snow white paint now featuring some nice greenish decals under the clear coat. This gives the Blizzard a much more sporty and aggressive look. „Here I am, look at me! I'm damn hot!“ And damn it is right! The Rock Shox Bluto perfectly matches the tone which ends up in a seamless „monoblock“ design. By the way – at least to test bike was equipped with a 120mm travel version of the Bluto. We're however not sure if that will be the final stock equipment.
Into the detail
There are some more details that were fine-tuned for 2016 as well. So the very simple Race Face OEM cranks with build-in spider were replaced by a more versatile Chinch type Race Face crank. This may seem minor but in fact is a huge advantage! No ugly bashguard, good amount of weight cut and you can easily replace the direct mount chainring by a bigger version or even a spider to fit 2 or 3 chainrings without having to buy new crankset!
The rest stays pretty much what it used to be already in 2015. Sun Ringle Mule Füt wheels, Deore XT derailleur, some WTB and Race Face parts (wheras the stem seems to be a bit shorter for 2016). Solid stuff, not much to say about this.
The Rocky Mountain Blizzard 2016 is rather an evolution than a revolution. The new design may polarize – but that's the story about design… We indeed like it. The frame remains a real gem. Not super lightweight but outstanding in quality and built to last.
Contrary to this the technical features are less convincing. We appreciate the consequent snow-and-sand setup but in fact we miss a daily driver version. If we had one wish it would be Rocky Mountain Blizzard Transalp Edition with proper 2 by 10 (or 11) gears and serious brakes.
If you would like your own Blizzard why not checking to shop of our partner Alex*.
And here we go: a fantastic impression of what you can do with your Blizzard can be found here. Definitely a must-see!
*partner links are highlighted by „*“
I have upgraded my 2016 Blizzard with a 1X11 Shimano xt gearset, RaceFace dropper post, 203/180 brake rotors, 785mm carbon handle bars, whisky 70mm carbon rims with 4 inch Vanhelga/Husker Du tires…it’s now a $6000 bike but it’s better than anything else that I’ve tried for summer and winter riding. Riding it in the Canadian Rockies every day and loving it!
Sounds like a great build and a massive improvement over the standard bike.
Where in the Rockies are you?
Just saw your response; I’m in Canmore, AB – lots of technical riding here at the Nordic Centre. Stilll loving the bike, although the Bluto hasn;t been great – it’s going back next week for a complete overhaul at Rocky Mountain HQ in Vancouver.
Canmore… Too sad – was there a few months ago. Went for a ride to Penticton and had a break in Canmore (went to the Grizzly Paw – the classic…). Awesome riding there! Maybe next time!
I own this bike and it has had the rear hub fail twice in under 6 months! Trying to deal with RM has been nothing short of a complete nightmare. They simple don’t warranty their fat bikes properly by backing them. This bike has been sitting for over 3 weeks now with a broken rear hub. RM’s Quebec office has a guy named Sam that all warranty repairs must go through. This guy has little command of English and all his correspondence has been terrible to say the least. A promised replacement hub (Hope Fatsnow 197mm) has yet to arrive and I’m contemplating suing Rocky Mountain bikes for the entire cost of this now fully upgraded top of line fat bike! This 2016 RM Blizzard -50 has been the worst bike I’ve ever had the displeasure to purchase, so when it’s repaired it’s for sale immediately!
Update: RM finally got a replacement rear hub to me and it’s now on the bike. I’m finally able to ride this bike and find the replacement hub to be excellent!
This hub getting to me has softened my stance with RM considerably and I’m happy with this fat bike once again.
I own 3 fat bikes a Norco bigfoot, Salsa Bucksaw and the rocky mountain blizzard. I bought the Blizzard last but it has quickly become one of my favorite bikes to crawl game trails and ridges in Montana. The bike rides like a $5000 XC mountain bike with the geometry layout. The type of riding I do with this kind of bike the 1×10 works great and the brakes are fine. The salsa bucksaw is fantastic but I paid more that twice as much. If I was on a tight budget I would go with the Blizzard.
thanks for sharing your experience! The Blizzard indeed is a great trail bike. Interestingly a Blizzard here in Germany is not really what you go with when you’re tight on budget ;).
However you apparently have an impressive collection! Happy to hear more about the bucksaw and the norco. There are not many around here!