Camp Fruita: 2018 Rocky Mountain Pipeline Review

2018 RMB Pipeline Fruita

Plus tire bikes draw strong opinions from riders that may have already decided they don’t meet their approval.  The 2018 Rocky Mountain Pipeline is a 27.5 plus bike that may change some opinions about oversized rubber.  What sets the Pipeline apart is the ability to run any tire size without negatively affecting geometry.  Optimal BB heights can be retained with the Ride 9 geometry adjustment and removal of the lower headset spacer.  The Ride 9’s ability to tune geometry and suspension to match terrain and riding style is truly unique.

Recently, we were invited to preview the new Pipeline and Instinct at one of our favorite destinations – Fruita, Colorado.  During testing, the Pipeline seemed to raise some brows amongst our group riding the bike for the first time.  More than once, testers were returning to the Pipeline after riding the Instinct back to back.  Although this wasn’t an extensive test of the bike I feel that I had the opportunity to get a good feel for the bike on trails I’ve enjoyed for many years.  Here’s a little more insight to the test-cation:

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Fruita’s riding combined with its proximity to many other meccas is pretty hard to beat.


2018 Rocky Mountain Pipeline Carbon 70 | $5299 USD | 140mm travel front and rear | 27.5 plus


Whats NEW with the 2018 Pipeline?

The latest edition of the Pipeline brings technology from the redesigned 2017 Slayer.  Along with more progressive geometry, higher anti-squat and bearings in the rear shock eyelet (vs bushings) there is now clearance for 29 x 2.6″ tires!  Like the previous 2017 model, the 2018 Pipeline shares the same frame with the 29″ wheeled Instinct.   To help add control and descending capability, they’ve increased reach, slackened the headtube angle, and lowered the bottom bracket.

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Rocky Mountain Pipeline Horsetheif
Traction is one thing you really want on this drop into the Horsethief Bench trail.

With updated geometry and 10mm more travel, the 2018 Pipeline capitalizes on confidence with the increased traction of 27.5 plus.  The Pipeline’s Maxxis Minion 2.8″ tires may not be the setup that gram conscious riders will be excited about, but the 5.1lb frame should be.  Rocky Mountain also claims that the new frame is among the strongest the company has produced.

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2018 Rocky Pipeline
My favorite of all the available colors between the Instinct and Pipeline is only available on the Pipeline.

Riding the 2018 Pipeline

The updated Pipeline feels more ready than ever to tackle the roughest terrain while retaining its agility.  The bike does seem slightly plusher and the updated geometry gives more confidence without a trace of affecting the bikes pedaling capabilities.   I find the added traction and reduced air pressure in the oversized rubber to be both fun and confidence inspiring.  Anywhere less than optimal dirt conditions exist, you can find a nice benefit from plus sized rubber.  The 2.8″ Maxxis Minions begged to let the brakes go! Think roots, rocks, dusty dry and leafy fall conditions. The ability to compress the tires for a little extra pop over rocks and roots is quite fun as well.

The parts build on the Pipeline is excellent.  This was my first extended riding on the new SRAM GX Eagle. After a few days aboard GX, I am wondering why I need anything better.  The “Elite” level Fox 34 fork and rear shock also felt very similar in performance to the more expensive “Factory” offerings.  My only complaint is with the freehub engagement.  As power is applied after coasting for a bit some popping as the freehub engages is noticeable.

2018 Rocky Mountain PipelineFinal Thoughts

Rocky Mountain’s 2018 Pipeline is great for those looking for the confidence and fun factor offered by the oversized tires.  The Pipeline nails a level a performance with plus tires that is unmatched by its competitors.   With very respectably low weight, modern geometry and tunability the Ride 9 system the Pipeline is a winner.  The 2.8″ tires give the feeling that the bike will stick to the ground in nearly any situation.  Although I would likely ride 29″ wheels mostly with this bike, the ability to throw on a set of fun grippy tires is definitely a PLUS![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. rpark

    Which bike do you like better, 2018 Instinct 29, or 2018 Ibis Ripley LS

    1. Chad Davis

      It depends on the terrain as to which bike I like better between the 2018 Instinct and Ripley. I like the Ripley for the less gnarly terrain where I want a quicker turning more agile bike. I would prefer the Instinct in the rougher/steeper terrain where the additional travel and geometry would help maintain control.

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