To get an idea of how quickly the RockShox Bluto has been adopted by the fat bike scene, the launch of the Rocky Mountain Blizzard was a pretty good indication. At the time, it was one of just two bikes announced that would use the fork which were launched the very same day. Introduced right before the Sea Otter Classic, it was like Rocky Mountain was waiting for the perfect bike to give new life to the Blizzard name – and what better bike than a fat bike?
For their very first attempt at a fat bike, Rocky took the approach of many larger companies with cautious optimism. Instead of going all out with high end carbon rigs, the Blizzard would be a simple yet well thought out aluminum bike with a solid spec and an affordable price. Because of that, the Blizzard is extremely intriguing. On paper, the Blizzard seems to have just about everything you would want in a trail oriented fat bike with enough money left over to buy some Winter riding gear.
Even though we aren’t dealing with the same blizzard on the East coast, our own Blizzard just blew in for a first look…
Available in two complete builds and as a frame kit, we’re testing out the Blizzard model which retails for $2,699. If you prefer rigid over the Bluto or just want to save some coin, the Blizzard Deore runs a lower end build kit with a rigid 15x150mm thru axle fork and comes in at $1,899. The frame kit includes the frame, RockShox Bluto RL suspension fork, and Wheeltech Fatso hubs for $1,399. All three frames have the same Totem pole inspired graphics which continue through the fork and the Sun Ringle Mulefut rims on the Blizzard. Personally, I love the look, but as I’ve already found it’s a take it or leave it type of affair.
Running a 12×197 rear axle, the frame and fork have clearance for bigger tires with the Blizzard shipping with Vee Bulldozer 26×4.7″ rubber. The seatstays and chainstays don’t offer a huge amount of additional room however, so 100mm rims are probably out of the question. While the Bulldozer tires are shipped with tubes, the Sun Ringle rims are tubeless compatible which should make converting to tubeless a matter of getting the right Gorilla tape and tubeless valves.
Ironically, the same day we learned about Raceface’s new 24t 64 BCD chainring and bashguard, the Blizzard arrived sporting that very combination. Mounted to a RaceFace Team XC crankset in a 100mm threaded BB, the chainring gives plenty of low gearing when combined with a standard 11-36t Shimano HG50 cassette and XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur. The frames do have direct mount front derailleur accommodations, so if you find the single ring too limiting you can gear up.
Laced to the Sun Ringle rims with DT Swiss Competition spokes, you’ll find Wheeltech Fatso thru axle hubs. Interestingly, the front has one of the widest flange spacings of any of the 150mm specific hubs we’ve seen which should be good for stiffness and handling.
It appears the Blizzards will not ship with frame bags, but they have the provisions to bolt one on directly to the top tube. The FORM alloy frame also has partially internally routed cables, as well as Stealth dropper post compatibility.
Sold with quality Shimano SLX disc brakes that include the I-Spec mount for the SLX shifter, just about every component on the Blizzard is a solid choice including the Cane Creek headset. A Rocky Mountain house brand seat post and stem, WTB Volt Race saddle, and Race Face Flat Wide 710mm bar finish the package.
Available in S-XL, our medium test bike came in just under 33 pounds, (14.9kg). Compared to many fat bikes, the Blizzard looks to have typically dialed Rocky Mountain geometry with a slack 68.5 degree head tube angle, shorter 455mm chainstays, and a shorter reach to go along with it. Combined with the Bluto and the parts kit, the Blizzard should be a blast to ride on trails, or while slogging through back country.