20/08/2020 - Downtimes' RocketMAX

Downtime Podcast' Custom Cotic RocketMAX Build

Downtime Podcast x RocketMAX

We've got a big bike check for you today - Chris from The Downtime Podcast has written up his RocketMAX build. It's a detailed one so we'll hand over to him right away...

If you follow the podcast, then youíll know that Iíve spent the last 2 years riding a FlareMAX. I built it up with a slightly longer stroke Fox shock, so it was effectively the first FlareMAX 132, giving me a bit more travel to play with. Iíve loved every minute with the bike, which begs the questionÖ why change to the RocketMAX? Well there are three main reasons, and only one of them is really justifiable!

Itís nice to change things up every now and then I was hoping to go on at least one trip to some big mountains this year and felt like more travel would be a wise move for the bigger mountain terrain I ride quite a lot with Cy, we are generally a fairly similar speed, but he keeps pulling away from me when it gets really rough and rowdyÖ he rides a RocketMAX!!

Iíll let you decide which of those is the justifiable one.

So the frame element of the bike was decided, and then itís on to what to build it up with. Iíve been lucky to have support from some great people since the early days of the podcast. Cy is the obvious one, but Dustin from We Are One Composites and Jordi from Fox have also been supporters from really early on. So it was an obvious choice to put the Fox 36s and X2 on the bike, and Dustin recommended their new Faction 29er wheels on Industry 9 Hydra hubs for my build. Iíve been blown away by the performance increase over the 34s and DPX2 that I had on the previous bike, and the added adjustability appeals to my inner geek. The wheels have been great too. They are the next generation of product from We Are One, and theyíve managed to make things even better. They are lighter, stronger and have an amazing ride feel that I love. Direct, without being punishing, and nicely damped. Oh, and those Hydra hubs make a lovely noise.

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Last year I was put in contact with Aaron from PNW Components, and they have been supporters ever since. Aaron sorted me out one of their awesome Batchelor Dropper Posts and a Loam Lever Remote for this build. Iíve had a lot of issues with droppers in the past, but since switching to PNW Iíve not had to touch them once.

Since meeting and chatting with the guys from CushCore in 2019, I knew that theyíd really thought about their product and I was keen to try them. Theyíve been in my bikes ever since, and the RocketMAX is no exception. The damping they provide is worth any weight penalty as far as Iím concerned. The added protection is just a bonus.

Finishing kit this time around came from Nukeproof. They are a relatively small brand in the grand scheme of things who seem to just be quietly getting on with things, taking EWS overall wins and making some really nice components. So bottom bracket and headset are their new titanium coated ones which come with a great warranty. Never a bad idea in the UK climate! Iíve got their Horizon stem and Horizon V2 carbon bars (cut to 760mm) as my cockpit. I actually wanted the ally version of the bar, but it wasnít in stock at the time, and Iím really glad about that. The carbon bar doesnít feel too stiff (which is a problem Iíve had in the past) but still has the added damping that carbon provides. The shape is also really good and Iíve had no issues with wrist/hand pain at all. Iíve opted for the new version of the Sam Hill designed enduro pedal, and it doesnít disappoint. Itís well sealed and provides a tonne of grip. If anyone knows flat pedals, itís Sam!

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Grips are DMR Deathgrips, and these have been my go to grip for years now. I have tried a few others over that period of time, but never found anything that is as comfortable for me as Deathgrips are. Iíve chosen a Mucky Nutz Mug Guard short to keep the Ďsummerí out of my eyes, and it hasnít disappointed. These guards are made from recycled plastic and are a bit sturdier than some of the other front mud guards out there, so you donít end up with them deforming and contacting the tyre. I also like the fact that they come with reusable velcro straps instead of zipties, so they are easy to take on and off with no waste.

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I recently did a podcast episode with WTB about their saddles, where they explained their Fit Right system which helps you select the right saddle for you. It told me that a medium width Silverado would do the trick and it was right. Itís super comfortable and Iíve been riding without padded shorts with no issues. Iíve also got their 2.5 Verdict Dry Light/High Grip up front with 18psi in it. The rear is finished with a Maxxis Aggressor 2.4 with Double Down casing and 19psi so itís super fast rolling.

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Brakes are the SRAM G2 Ultimates. Iíve not ridden SRAM brakes for a long time (since they were Avid) but Iíd heard good things about these from Cy. He wasnít wrong, they have a nice lever feel, and plenty of power with the 200mm rotors that Iíve specced front and rear. I do have a bit of a soft spot for the oil slick ti-bolts too! SRAM have also finished off the rest of the drivetrain with a mixture of GX and XX1. Iím a big fan of the Eagle stuff, it just works and gives me enough range for 99% of the things Iíd want to ride up. I just need bigger legs to get that last 1%

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Iíve put a FUNN bashguard on there, just incase I catch anything. That way, itís not going to damage the chainring. It adds very little weight but is good for piece of mind. Iíve also covered the bike in Invisiframe to protect itís lovely paint finish, and popped some trusty Marshguard Slapper tape on the chainstay to help deal with any chainslap.

So letís talk a bit about set-upÖ Initially I was running the stem around 12mm from the top of the headset, but I had felt like front end grip wasnít quite right and I kept feeling like I was going to lose the front wheel. I initially tried bringing the stem down 2mm, and that did feel better, but not all the way there. So I tried going up 8mm to 20mm from the top of the headset and that seems to have sorted it. Bar height is such a complicated one, but itís super easy to change with spacers, so itís well worth a few repeated runs with the stem in different positions to see what feels best for you.

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Ok, suspension is where it gets a bit more complicated. Here are my initial settings which were based on the manual, and with the number of spacers that the fork/shock came with pre-installed.

66 psi - 1 spacer
HSC 11

165 psi - 3 spacers
LSC 19
HSC 16
LSR 17
HSR 12

(Clicks from fully closed)


Since then, I got my hands on a Motion Instruments Enduro Expert system and have done 3 sessions on my local trails recording data and making changes to improve my set up. The main thing I noticed was that the suspension was too progressive for me, especially the rear, and that the rebound was not fast enough front and rear. Here is where Iíve ended upÖ

66 psi - no spacers
HSC 11
HSR 8 (fully open)

160 psi - no spacers
LSC 19
HSC 18
LSR 19
HSR fully open

What difference has all the fiddling made? Well itís transformed the way the bike feels to be honest. There is so much grip that my confidence in cornering has increased massively. It also seems to recover grip really quickly if it does break traction. It carries speed much better through rough terrain, I assume because the bike is packing less. It feels more lively to ride, which at the moment is great. I havenít had a chance to ride it on anything with significant compressions/g-outs or jumps yet, so I need to see if I can handle it in those circumstances. If not, I may need to slow down the rebound a little to help me. I am by no means a great rider, so having this increase in performance purely from some suspension tuning is well worth having! Itís made the insanely fast RocketMAX even faster. I canít wait for more time on this absolute beast of a bike. Time to see if Cy can keep up...

Downtime Podcast x RocketMAX

If youíve got any questions, then drop me a note to chris@downtimepodcast.com. Otherwise, donít forget to give the podcast a listen over at www.downtimepodcast.com.

Thanks for reading,


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