Last year, in the true spirit of one-off show bikes, Rocky Mountain created a stunning hand built concept they called the Sherpa. Designed around a prototype WTB rim, the bike was designed to take you the kind of places where you’d probably need a GPS beacon.
Based upon all of the media attention and consumer feedback, Rocky spent the past year refining the concept, and will be making it available to consumers starting next month. Head past the break to see how they did it:
Calling the Sherpa a mid-fat trail bike would be missing the point, which is why they’re using the term “overland” to describe it’s capabilities. Think gravel grinder, meets fat bike, meets a party in the woods. To get there, Rocky has combined 27.5+ wheels, 90mm of rear travel, a 120mm fork, and a wide gear ratio.
The inspiration for the project came from talks with WTB, when the company shared some drawings with Director of Product, Alex Cogger. Buried deep within that stack of sketches they sent was an ultra wide 27.5” rim.
This concept intrigued Alex, because there were no tires that existed for this category yet. After some prodding, he was able to get his hands on prototypes, and set to work on developing a bike he always dreamt of making…
As a rider with a passion for undulating single track, and all the adventure that takes place in between, Alex had found that the existing mountain bike tires needed to be inflated to sketchy levels to deal with the additional weight of camping equipment. Using something like a “mid fat” tire, combined with suspension, allowed him to build a bike that was capable of being loaded up – but still fun to rally.
For the production Sherpa, Rocky utilizes a modified carbon Element 29er front end, combined with an aluminum rear. The rear of the bike has 90mm of travel, which has been mated to a 120mm travel fork up front, which gives the bike a more upright rider position and dials in the handling. The bars and stem also have some rise, which gives the rider a more comfortable seating position for long grinds, and allows them to enjoy the scenery.
One of the other challenges behind using a traditional suspension mountain bike to tour is that the total weight of the rider plus gear often requires inflating the shocks to their max levels. For the production Sherpa, Rocky teamed up with Manitou to work on a low volume air system.
Both the McLoud shock and the new Manitou Magnum that are spec’d require significantly less air than their competitors, which offers major performance benefits to the fully loaded overland rider.
To make the bike more versatile, the company went to great pains to make it compatible with a front derailleur. Part of the not-so-secret recipe is a custom 83mm spindle for the Race Face Turbine crankset, combined with a 142 rear end (which was chosen in part because it’s more readily available globally than 148), to fit upto 3.25″ tires, and still have good chain clearance.
Retail for a complete bike is $4,499 USD and we’re told the real world (no bullshit) weight for a size medium is 29.5 lbs. The company does not intend to offer a frame only option in the near future, but that could change depending on sales numbers.
When the Sherpa was shown as a prototype last year, it was a complete one off, but it’s amazing how new products have been introduced over the past twelve months which have helped make it a production reality. For the rider who likes to explore the paths less traveled, and still get shreddy, this may be the perfect traveling companion.