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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.