Rocky Mountain RC50 Review

I’ve had this bike for about 8 or 9 months now. So far I’ve primarily used it for commuting, which was my intended use. It replaced another RM bike that I had, a Summit RL. 1399The summit was also my commuter bike, although I also used it for some cycle touring in the Columbia River/Wenatchee area of Washington State and Continental Divide Route through Colorado.

So here’s my brief, non-technical description of the bike. It is an aluminum mid-weight frame with a lower to mid spec groupo and lowish end mechanical disc brakes. I have 700cc wheels with fairly narrow road tread tires and I added some clipless/hybrid pedals to it. On top of this, I’ve added a Nite Rider LED headlight, a rear red led light, a pump, repair kit, and I just put on a rear rack. I held off on the rack for a while because I had never tried to attach a rack to a frame that has disc brakes before. Just last week I learned that they actually make racks for disc brakes, so I bought one for $32 and had the shop install it for me.

Overall my impression of the bike is excellent. Keeping in mind the cost of the bike, I think RM put a lot of value and quality into the RC50. I have a few bikes that are much higher spec’d than the RC50, so I’m quite familiar with top of the line gear; however, the RC50 definitely holds its own. The frame seems relatively light and it is significantly lighter than my summit. I would guess that the frame is similar to race ready cyclecross frames in terms of weight. I’m not too sure about how strong it is. I would have to do some serious thinking before thinking about using this bike for touring with a load. The frame geometry is quite upright compared to my older summit, and I guess that the RC50 is similar to most mountain bikes these days in that respect. I would prefer the top tube to be a bit longer, but it’s no big deal. I could slap a longer stem on the bike but it really doesn’t bother me too much. For quick farting around on the streets it doesn’t really matter. I would say that the frame is quite stiff, although this has something to do with the tires I’m using. My summit was a lot more forgiving (it was a steel frame), but the tires were quite a bit wider too.
The groupo has its good and bad points. I have no complaints about the rear derailleur or shifters. The front derailleur has caused me some grief though. I had a difficult time setting up the limit so that the chain wouldn’t flip over the big ring. Once this was set up correctly, I found the force required to move the chain into the big ring to be a lot more than it should be. I took the bike into the shop and they said it could be an issue with the bb spacing. Apparently some bikes need tweaking on the spacing to get the front derailleur tuned right. After a couple of days at the shop I picked the bike up and they told me the spacing was okay. They set the limit and then removed several inches of excess cabling, claiming this would reduce the friction. I haven’t ridden the bike since then, and I don’t expect any miracles.
One the big reasons I bought this bike was for the disc brakes. I love disc brakes, they make sense for many reasons. Rim brakes can be a constant headache for rubbing against the rim, they are a major pain in the ass for fenders, and they wreck the rims. Disc brakes eliminates almost all of these annoyances. Disc brakes can still rub, but this friction doesn’t cause any noticable resistance in the ride because the disc diameter is so small. The RC50 brakes aren’t perfect though. The levers are a bit sloppy and the brakes tend to squeak quite a bit. However, they work perfectly well and are excellent value I think. I wouldn’t even think about spending any money for upgrading. For the other bits (stem, handlebar, cranks, etc), everything is fine. The only thing I would consider upgrading is the front derailleur.

2 comments on “Rocky Mountain RC50 Review

  1. Lovely. Made my day (which is saying something)

  2. Thanks for sharing your impression. I appreciated it.

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