a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: December 2, 2012
Strengths: I got the exact bike as shown above that comes with the new Columbus Zona frame. This tubing is 0.7 pounds lighter than it's Reynolds 853 predecessor for an 18". I ride a 16.5" and the tight geometry is damn near perfect!
Paintjob is beautiful and you can feel the embossed lines of the leaf designs.
Weaknesses: Only weakness to me is that it doesn't come with optional rear V-brake adaptors like the Voodoo Bizango (yes I might want to go back to V-brakes in the future!). At 100mm travel geometry you can easily fit a V-brake rigid steel/ carbon fork and with front and rear XTR v-brakes this bike will be a superlight semi-retro hooligan!
My Marin team issue was a 17" and Marin's are known for their longish top-tubes. The Blizzard is tighter at the cockpit but steers more responsively at 100mm travel. Climbing is nice and you can remain seated but the steepest of climbs.
Just got the 30th Anniversary (2011) Blizzard brand new at closeout / discon prices and it's as good as I expected. Yes the latest Columbus Zona (double butted) frame is made in Taiwan but which good steel frameset isn't nowadays? - Bizango? Dragon? Duster? Well if you are peeved that it is Zona tubes now instead of Reynolds 853 take heart that the new frameset is 0.7 pounds LIGHTER! And has a better chance of lasting LONGER without the ultra-thin butted tubes of the 853.
I was aware of the country of origin before buying but tell me which high-end butted steel frame with as small diameter tubes as the Blizzard will ride harsh??? I won’t say the ride is butter soft but it does have the ‘spring’ or responsiveness of steel.
To be honest I was a little worried when I bought this bike to replace my 1992 Marin Team Issue (Tange Prestige tubes). Main concern was that the new frame would not have the exciting rear spring of the Marin (my team issue had quad-butted rear stays – flex heaven!!). I was pleased when the Blizzard had the similar springy rebound when I whip it out of corners and actually handled better than the 80mm front travel Marin as if I banked too hard the Marin’s rear triangle flex does bottom down and whip out a bit too much at times. The Blizzard was more predictable exiting corners at speed. On pavement the Blizzard does ride at a better smoother pace compared to other steel and titanium frames I’ve owned. Steel is real and does absorb little bumps to let you enjoy/ concentrate on the real stuff.
Only recommendation is that modern good frames have 15mm front and 12mm rear axles. The non-flex from these new standards makes a great difference in whatever you do on the bike. The Blizzard works well with QR 9mm so to keep it tight throw away the quick-release wheel skewers and buy steel rod bolt-on skewers. They are tighter and keep the rear and front a little bit more focused. Everything else, just forget and ride! It’s steel dammit!
It’s now end of 2012 and this bike is actually not dated with its 100mm front travel. You just have to find the right use for it. It is a perfect fit for my old Marin as my Marin was perfect for my type of road, pavement and short and fast off-road rides. I pull out the Blizzard whenever I want to beat the hell out of guys with their newest full-suspension rigs for 2-3 hours. I have a Giant Reign 1 when I need 150mm of front and rear travel.
As trail bikes and hardtails start to standardise at 120mm - 140mm travel, this Canadian designed steel thrasher is a gem with its tight geometry and short travel. Keep the weight low and this bike will be flying fun and tough to boot. Where else can you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?
Similar Products Used: Marin Team Issue 1992 (Tange Prestige), Dean Titanium 1995, Merlin Titanium, Jamis Dragon Race 2010, Klein Attitude 1997, Klein Rascal 1992, Trek 950 (True Temper OXIII), Cannondale Killer V 900 - rigid 1990.
Bike Setup: Rockshox SID, XT groupset and brakes, Raceface Cranks, Raceface stem, handlebars, headset and seatpost, Flite titanium saddle, XT hubs and DT400 rims, Continental Race Kings Supersonics...
from Nelson, New Zealand
Date Reviewed: August 6, 2003
Strengths: Good angles, short top tube, sexy graphics, good quality paint job, the ride of steel, Canadian craftsmanship.
Weaknesses: no rear disc mount (yet).
Wow! This is one sexy bike. It loves single-track. The more technical the better. Putting a 4" fork on it slackened up the angles just enough to make it a bit easier to through around. It's really stable at speed and still excells in the twisty bits. The comfort of the ride is deceptive. I feel better after a ride than I ever did on my old Marin fully.
The disc/V set up works well with the rear booster. I didn't realise how much post flex there was until I put that on.
I'm still running 8 speed 'cos I'm a bit of a retro-lovin' fool. I'll be putting a RF ti BB in it this week and eventually an XTR rr mech and some XT shifters while 8 speed is still available.
Steel rules. I love this bike. Thanks Rocky Mountain.
Similar Products Used: Not much similar in NZ. Maybe the odd old Kona. Used to have a True Temper KHS but it was too long for me.
Bike Setup: Reynolds 725 frame with red lettering, Marzocchi MXC (4"-blk), RF 100mm stem(sil), Kona 1.5" riser bar, XT thumbie fr shifter, STX rr shifter, XT rr lever with XTR V-brake, 525 disc on the front, WTB headset (red), Hope XC fr hub (red), F219 fr rim, F519 rr rim, Ringle' rr hub (red), Hope wheel skewers (blk), Salsa flip off seatpost binder(blk), RF XY seatpost, Selle Itallia Octavio seat, XT fr der, old LX rr der, Salsa rr brake booster, IRC Trail Bear K 2.35" tires, RF turbine LP cranks (wht), RF rings.
She's a real bitsa, but I got everthing pretty cheap and it all works well together.
from St.Paul, Minnesota, USA
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2002
Strengths: That Frame, 853 Renyolds rocks!Climbs like a Mt. Goat. Rails like a Indy car.Fit and Finish(welds and paint)
Weaknesses: No disc brake mount on a high end bike??? what's with the goofy rear deraler cable routing?? Itsy bitsy flipping stem (100mm)They must grow em with short arms up there in Canada.
At 6'0 foot 220lbs I just could not be talked into Alumm. I raced the Stump for 5 years. Finally after much cussing and lots of new parts the wife said enough already! go buy a new bike. I started looking around and very few companys sell steel these days. I was alittle tenitive about the Blizzard at first. It felt way differn't then the Stump, I felt all bunched up.I changed the stem and seat post that helped. After 3/4's of a race session I love it. It's not as stabble as the stump on the fast down hills, but out performs it in every other area. Great bike for the price. Nothing feels like steel.Goes up like nothing Ive ever seen. The standard grips about the UST out of true, hard to change flats, limited tire selection. WHO SHOULD BUY IT? Anyone who is looking for a steel bike that doesn't want to spend a ton.This one is a keeper, unless I get a deal on one with disc brakes. 4 chilis for value I had to swap a few parts to get it to fit right. 4 Chilis for Overall, Disc brake Mount?
Similar Products Used: 90 Rockhopper comp ridgid. 96 specialized stump, XT/XTR,Rino lite, 98 Manitou SX-R, ATAC, USE post.
Bike Setup: Stock execpt, Mavic crossroc UST rims,Hutchinson Python tires, Time ATAC pedals, USE Seat post, Selle saddle, 140mm stem.
a Weekend Warrior
from Sydney, NSW, Australia
Date Reviewed: March 16, 2002
Strengths: - Reynolds 853 steel - very very very nice! - Fantastic feel. - Really good geometry. - Frame detailing excellent throughout. (checkout the dropouts!) - Successfully combines performance with comfort and durability. - Gorgeous, thick paintwork and maple leaf graphics. - Rocky Mountain quality.
Weaknesses: - It doesn't wear out, so no excuse for buying a newer model! - It's so gorgeous, I keep secretly thinking about buying another one.
I agree with the previous reviewer: this is a fantastic bike! This is my third Blizzard. The first I got in early 1992 and, despite a run of other bikes since then (see above), that '92 Blizzard was still my favourite ride until just last year when I bought the 2001 Blizzard. There is a "rightness" that comes with buying the same frame again 9 years later. (I'll also point out that I'm building that '92 frame back up again into a "thrash" bike - I just can't resist that beautiful frame!)
Also in agreement with the previous reviewer, I too suggest buying it as a frame only (which I did) and building it up how you want. (Taking that beautiful maple-leaf-painted black and pearl frame out of the box is an experience I'll never forget.) (Sad, isn't it?) (Consider yourself warned.)
I'm 6'3" (191cm) tall, and weigh a chunky 230lbs (105kg). I haven't broken any bikes yet, and certainly have no fear of it on the Blizzard. I ride a 21" Blizzard. The sheer size of that frame still scares me to look at it, but it rides better than ever, and its size is no drawback. Even on seriously steep rocky descents it's not a problem (except in my mind, where the frame feels a little 'close' to me). This frame loves being ridden at warp speed over rough ground, yet it's also incredibly stable and precise when slowed to a crawl.
I have my Blizzard set up for the very rough, rocky, technical trails we have around here in Sydney: beefy Marzocchi fork, wide rims, and big fat tires. I have a 2.3" Hutchinson Mini-Jumbo tire on the back, which I originally bought to protect me from the beating I was getting from the Specialized M2 I had. Well, now with the Blizzard's compliant rear end, combined with that 2.3" tire, there are times I just can't believe I'm on a hardtail. And that's with the tire pumped up hard! (Otherwise I get pinch flats.)
The compliancy and response of quality steel frames is a rare and wonderful thing. Like all frames, they can be built to be super stiff, or to be more forgiving. This one is built to perform, yet strikes a good balance for all-day comfort. I haven't experienced ANY unwanted flex. Something about the Reynolds 853 tubing: although it's light to pick up and is springy and responsive to ride, on the trail it feels 'solid'. It's a surprising feel, especially on a rocky trail. A feeling that it's absorbing or sucking up all the impacts, and not being thrown off course - that it's 'glued' to the trail. I like it. I noticed it with the Tange Ultimate Ultralite Blizzard too, and the Reynolds 853 does it even more. I like it a lot.
The Blizzard is an all-day-riding sort of bike, and still completely comfortable and controllable at the end of a long day. It's also great for road touring, loaded with panniers - I did a 6 day tour in the New Year on asphalt and dirt roads, and even at the end of a 14-hour day (which had started with 3 hours of uphill) the Blizzard still felt great, and handled easily.
I could go on about steel, but since I've had 6 steel bikes and only one Aluminium (MMC) bike, you probably guess I have NO doubts about riding steel frames. Trust me - if you haven't properly tried a good steel frame, then you just don't know (we're talking hardtails here). I don't mind if you insist your aluminium frame is superior, but let's see who's still grinning after 3 hours of technical trail riding....
The Rocky Mountain Blizzard ain't cheap, but that's because you're getting STEEL, and it's the best steel you can get. (Not to mention Rocky Mountain quality.) Notice you only get steel frames on the really expensive bikes now? If you're purturbed by the cost of the Blizzard (US$1880), then get its slightly younger brother, the Rocky Mountain Hammer (US$1280). With a Reynolds 725 frame and identical geometry to the Blizzard, it's actually the very same bike they called the Blizzard back in 2000. The Blizzard frame on its own is CAD$695, which really is an incredible bargain, especially if you earn US dollars.
What a rave. Do I work for Rocky Mountain? I wish!! You'll rave like this too after you've ridden Blizzards for 10 years.
The handling of this bike is absolutely fantastic, and it rides even better than any previous bike I've had, or tried. If you want to win a three-hour race, then maybe this bike isn't for you, but if you want to enjoy a three hour RIDE, or six hour, or 24 hour, or ride day after day, year after year, you will NEVER regret buying this bike.
Very quick and agile on the single track. I have 3 other Blizzards from past years and all are a pleasure to grind through the singletrack. This year (2001) the paint (pearl white/black) and metal (853) are perfect. Recommend buying as frame and building to your own taste and standards.
Bike Setup: Race face, Syncros, XTR, Superfly; 22 LBS
a Cross Country Rider
from Fullerton, California
Date Reviewed: September 23, 2001
Strengths: The OX plat tubing gives just the right balance of flex and stiffness, I love the classic lines, and the pearl white paint glitters like an abalone shell!
Weaknesses: Nothing with the bike - oh, okay, don't care for the Mavics and the grips, both of which are easily switched
This bike is nothing short of wonderful, uphill or down. Unless you weigh less than 150, the extra grams are not noticeable. And when I'm not riding it (oh, the horror!), I can sit and stare at it for hours - classic lines, irridescent pearl white paint job, and beautiful maple leaf details on the seat and frame. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!
Five sizzling habaneros for a work of functional art!
Similar Products Used: Aluminum hardtails - Trek 6700, KHS Alite 3K - and after getting this bike, I won't buy another bike unless it's steel
Bike Setup: Stock except Thomson stem, Chris King headset, Salsa seatpost, Selle Italia Ti seat, Salsa carbon brake booster - looking at WTB LaserBeam wheelset in the very near future
a Cross Country Rider
from Austin TX
Date Reviewed: September 6, 2001
Strengths: The RIDE. Good lateral stiffness. Not flexy. The paint job.
Weaknesses: Not the lightest steel hardtail. Some of the decals flake off too easily.
Frame review only.
I got a very good price through Firehouse. The 2001 Blizzard was supposed to be built with Reynolds 853 tubing but RM ran out and couldn't get anymore. So, my frame is all True Temper OX Platinum. Which is what I believe all the 2002 Blizzards will be built with. If you like the cush of a steel hardtail but hate the flexiness. Check this frame out No way will I ride a aluminum hardtail on central TX trails, just too rocky. I didn't have the $ for a nice light fs frame . The combination of compliance and lateral stiffness is terrific. The bike holds a line very well. The performance advantage more than makes up for any concern about the weight of the frame(around 5lbs for the 21"). I raced it for the first time at Kerrville and had my all time best finish. I didn't have to fight the bike and it transfered the pedal power right to the wheel. I felt like I was moving faster with less effort compared to other bikes I've raced. I just can't imagine a better steel hardtail. The maple leaf paint job also looks great.
Similar Products Used: Kona Hot, various Specialized and Trek hardtails and softtails.
Bike Setup: I bought this as a frame only. I finally broke the old Hot frame and moved my parts over. Mostly xt, lx cranks, xtr cassette, King headset, Thomson post and stem, Crosslink wheels, Titec Beserker saddle.
a Cross Country Rider
from Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date Reviewed: August 17, 2001
Strengths: Durable, great value, excellent components, great looks and beautiful paint.
Weaknesses: I'm not so happy with the riser bar (too high and too wide) and grips. The bar is a matter of preference, though.
Too many decals on the frame and wheels.
The rings are not Race Face race rings, but their lower end models. While we're dreaming, a pair of red ano Turbine LPs WOULD have been nice.
I really like this bike. A lot of people have complained about the saddle, but I don't mind it at all. It has a nice groove down the middle, and it's not so soft as to be mushy. The component mix is top notch, and you know that with the Marzocchi fork and Reynolds 853 frame that the bike will last forever. (I think you can replace the Marzocchi cartridges too -- putting in the 2002s with lock-out would be sweet.) I think I'll be upgrading to a flat bar and new grips soon, and ripping the "ST3 geometry" and "Wheel Tech" decals off, but aside from these trivial problems I'm very happy with the bike. It's comfortable and handles quickly.
The value is superb. I only gave it 4 chilis overall because I do think there are some upgrades that this bike could do well with. They would inevitably increase the price, though. If you want a sweet steel hardtail, I've no doubt that this is the way to go. It costs so much less than offerings from the likes of de Kerf and Independent Fabrication.
Similar Products Used: various Trek, Fisher and Kona
Bike Setup: Stock 2001, except I swapped the pedals for ATAC. My bike came with an XY seatpost, not Prodigy, which is nice.
a Weekend Warrior
from Oakland, CA
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2001
Strengths: Handles like a charm, climbs like a monster, and I actually like the colors--they match my shorts and pack I wear when I commute with it. The components are more than I expected at this price. I can ride pretty hard sometimes and I am 6'1" and `195 and the Bomber Shocks take it all and keep going. The Reynolds 853 frame is great! Not much heavier than aluminium and I just know nothing will happen to it. A smooth, fun ride, no matter what.
Weaknesses: Squeaky brakes, but I got that taken care of. Gears weren't set properly, but again, this is minor.
This may be the last bike I ever own. Frame is guaranteed for life, it takes me everywhere I want to go, is a blast to ride, uphill and downhill and between the cars, and just plain feels good to ride. For riders concerned about aluminium, this is the bike for you, as long as you aren't worried about a little, and I do mean very little, extra weight. it handles great and the stock components are top-notch.
Similar Products Used: I have owned two Hammers before.
Bike Setup: Bomber shocks, XT Deore, XTR, and RaceFace 44T
from Portland, Maine, US
Date Reviewed: July 6, 2001
Strengths: very quick, point and go. The OX platinum isn't the 853 i was expecting but is very well built and rides like a dream.
Weaknesses: nothing, except the long wait for the bike
This bike is sweet! Very fast, fun and confidence inspiring. I was unable to do races this season because I sent my old Rocky back (broke it because I was using a 4 inch fork on it and the head tube dimpled) and rocky was having trouble with getting tubing so i missed the first few races and then i had other things i had to do so i pretty much hung up the racing Idea this season but I still ride with the shop here and i wish i could race it this season because it would kick ass! Bike is great and it was worth the wait.
Similar Products Used: IFAB...that's it nothing compares
Bike Setup: RaceFace SYstem, XTR Cranks/Brakes, Sram Attack rapid fire shifters, Syncros ti seat post, Spinergy Spox wheels, time Atac Carbon pedals,Marzocchi Z-2 atom sport, very light bike
a Weekend Warrior
from Foothill Ranch, CA
Date Reviewed: June 12, 2001
Strengths: True Temper OX Platinum steel gives a very compliant ride. Geometry is "spot-on". Beautiful paint job. Frame Price (<$500) very reasonable.
Weaknesses: Rocky Mountain has got to be one of the slowest delivering bike manufacturer in the universe. Took 5 months to get the frame. Nearly canceled the order and ordered a DeKerf Team SL instead. Glad I didn't. I'd still be paying for that one if I did.
I never expected a hardtail to feel this good. I knew it would climb well but I never expected it to descend equally well. It's very calm and stable on the steep downhill stuff. I'll ride it till my butt gets sore. Then I'll go back to riding my Ellsworth Truth which I thought would never go unridden for more than a couple days. I'm glad I waited for the Blizzard although I must take one chili away because of Rocky's sucky delivery. Make sure you order yours five months before you need it.