2019 Rocky Mountain Instinct Powerplay Review


Technical Specs & Ratings



Instinct Powerplay


Class 1


Full Suspension



Hydraulic Disc



500 Wh

500 Wh

53 lbs / 24.06 kgs


Sealed Cartridge Bearings

Rocky Mountain AM with 2" Rise

Rocky Mountain AM 760 mm Length

Flat Rubber, Locking

Fox 30.9 Dropper Post with Remote Lever


WTB Volt Race

Hydraulic Disc

SRAM Guide RE Hydraulic Disc with 200 mm Rotor in Front Rear, Quad-Piston Calipers, Two-Finger DirectLink Levers with Tool-Free Reach Adjustment and Tool Free Free Banjo Adjustment


More Details


5 Year Frame

Canada, United States


Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large

Medium: 19" Bottom Bracket to Seat Tube, 24.5" Reach, 29" Stand Over Height, 77" Length, 31.25" Width, 36" Minimum Saddle Height

Gloss Black with Red Lettering

Bottle Cage Bosses

SRAM Guide RE Hydraulic Disc with 200 mm Rotor in Front Rear, Quad-Piston Calipers, Two-Finger DirectLink Levers with Tool-Free Reach Adjustment and Tool Free Free Banjo Adjustment

Video Reviews

Written Reviews

To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Rocky Mountain ebike products.

Rocky Mountain is a bike brand that also offers some unique electric bikes like the Instinct here, a full suspension electric mountain bike with a mid-drive motor that is pretty new to the US, the Dynamo 3.0. We will get into that later, but for now, let’s look at some of the features. I should take a moment to mention that this bike is very similar to the Rocky Mountain Altitude except for this one is an alloy frame and has a few different components, so you will see a lot of parallel information if you are reading this and comparing with the review on the Altitude. For this alloy frame, it comes in 2 colors, 1 frame style, and 4 different sizes. The one we are checking out today is the ‘Alloy 70’ edition that retails for $4,199. At that price, you have some pretty high end components as you might expect, but is heavier than its sibling. Earlier, I got to ride the carbon fiber version and the difference felt like the difference between wearing light running shoes and big military boots. The suspension in the front is a FOX 34 Float Performance Elite fork with 140mm of travel and preload adjust while the rear is a Fox Float DPS EVOL with 140mm of travel. For tires, you have a Maxxis Minon in the front and a Maxxis Forekaster in the back, both are 29” x 2.3”, so almost plus size tires, but they have different tread pattern on purpose since the front and rear tires are used for different purposes when riding on a hill. The handlebar is wider, so you get a really aggressive and forward riding angle for agile turning and cornering. There is also a dropper seat post here which comes in really handy for mountain biking, and really, other uses too. Being able to change your seating position on the fly makes everything from standing still and switching riders to shredding a trail that much more enjoyable. Bottle cage bosses are also present here on the frame, but one thing it is missing is pedals. This is common on high end mountain bikes, but there may be a few that are miffed they are not included.

Driving the Rocky Mountain bikes is one previously uncovered by EBR; the Dyname from Propulsion Power Cycles. Customized for the Rocky Mountain as the Powerplay 3.0, this motor system is an interesting addition in the fray of electric bike motors. Unlike most production electric bike mid-drives, that consumes the entire bottom bracket area, the Powerplay 3.0 is mounted to the frame slightly above the existing, conventional bottom bracket, and is connected by a regular bike chain to both the front chain-ring and the rear gearing. This style of motor mount can be found more commonly in the conversion realm of electric bikes, on account of the customization options for the front chain-ring. As far as I can tell, this motor is not equipped to use a front derailer, as it would need to change both the motor and the chainring simultaneously. The motor is protected by a dual shell design on either side of the motor, and is fairly well hidden within the design of the bike itself. The Powerplay 3.0 relies exclusively on an integrated torque sensor for input. For a mountain bike, this is picture perfect. The bike responds very quickly, and scales very well based on the pressure the rider puts into the pedals. At both start-up, and demanding climbs, the Powerplay kicks in both quickly and at a predictable power curve. Without adjustment to my normal riding style, the motor delivered predictable power through many riding positions and situations. For mountain biking, this system has a great deal of power to put through the bike; 48v whereas most professional production mid-drives stop at 36v. I think this motor is a great choice for the designed purpose of the bike, however in road riding terrain, or gently perusing through fairly flat area in search of the next berm, the motor cuts off power at high cadence somewhat early. Since the system relies exclusively on a torque sensor, this is completely understandable from a hardware perspective. What this translates to is a motor that is superb on the trail, but has trade-offs when riding on easy terrain. I’d love to try a customized system like that that has been tailored for road use. Mechanically, you have a high end SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed system with trigger shifters and a massive 10-50 tooth chain ring, really quite a lot of range and something that fits the application well here. Stopping the Instinct is set of quad piston SRAM Guide R 200mm hydraulic disc brakes. These have quick 2 finger levers and a caste center on the rotor to reduce flexing, it really is a stop-on-a-dime set that feels great.

Powering the bike is a very high capacity 48v 14ah lithium ion battery pack. Although you might not know it judging by the looks of it. It is so well hidden into the downtube, that there is no markings or indication that there is one there or that it can even be removed. It actually can be removed, but you likely won’t be doing it anytime soon. That is because it is actually deep in the downtube near the motor, so you would have to remove the motor panel, then portions of the motor to allow it to slide out. This is a bit of a tradeoff since the battery remains protected and stealthy, yet it means either removing the battery or storing the bike indoors would be recommended during colder times to preserve the integrity of the battery. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.

Controlling the bike is a little unique as well since there is not display to speak of. Instead, you have a control panel on the left with 3 buttons. The center button turns it on while the + and – button go up and down the modes of pedals assist in which there are 3, so you won’t be scrolling much. To indicate what level you are in, there are twin horizontal LEDs that flash green, orange, or red to indicate the level of assist you are in. And that’s about it! No battery read out, no odometer, or any other settings or information. This is definitely a minimalist approach, but I do hear if you are looking for more stats, there is an app called ‘Electric Motion’ that can sync with the bike and show you some of those finer readouts. With a name like Electric Motion, we had a hard time searching for it in the App Store, so do be aware of that.

So to recap, the Instinct is a very fun, capable, and quality electric full suspension mountain bike. I really enjoyed the immediate torque and capabilities it had to offer, but it is not without its tradeoffs. The minimalist and stealthy approach means no display. There are no readouts or even basic information like battery level or speedometer here. However I am told there is an app you can download to get some of that info. As mentioned before, the battery is behind the motor, so while removal is possible, you will likely be confined to charging the battery on the bike all of the time, where as typically it is better to keep batteries indoors when not in use. However, given the $4,199, it offers a lot of high end components for the price. It was so much fun to take it out and I want to thank Rocky Mountain for the opportunity to do so.

As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Other brands ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)


  • The bike is compatibly priced, you get some high end components like the SRAM GX Eagle derailleur, FOX full suspension, and massive hydraulic brake rotors
  • The full suspension here is great, they are both Fox brand, they are both 140mm of travel, offing a lot of float and cushion
  • I love how streamlined everything is, the bike has a really stealthy look, part of that is from the frame integrated battery, the battery is secure since it is hidden in the downtube of the frame
  • The bike feels really steady, offers a great amount of control, a great example of this is the handle bar that is wide and gives an aggressive feel
  • The hydraulic brakes here are super impressive, it features a set of SRAM Guide R 200mm hydraulic brakes in the front and rear, quad piston calipers, and bigger rotors that cool faster and give great mechanical advantage
  • A great tread setup with Maxxis Minion in the front and Maxxis Forekaster in the rear, makes for very capable riding
  • Dyname 3.0 motor is new to the US and offers a very responsive torque sensor and guides you along with a massive 127nm of torque
  • A high capacity 48v 14ah battery pack will last throughout the day, most comparable bikes use around 36v 11ah, so you are getting a lot more here
  • Extra wide gear range in the 12 speed cassette, you get massive 10-50 tooth sprockets and a SRAM GX Eagle derailleur, nice trigger shifters in the front too
  • Super clean cockpit with no display that advertises that it is an electric bike, rather you get a set of stealthy and minimalist controls on the left to change pedal assist
  • Has a seat post dropper, so different sized riders can enjoy riding the bike and mount more easily while also transitioning smoothly between different stances and terrain
  • Rocky Mountain does offer a smartphone application called the Electric Motion App which allows you to view more stats, information, and read outs


  • Compared to the other Rocky Mountain options, the weight makes a notable difference, side by side testing against one of the carbon frames made this feel like a boot while the other felt like nimble sneakers
  • While it may be great for some, there is no display here, so you can’t see your speed or charge level on the battery, newer e-mtb’s have minimalist displays that can show you these readouts and more, some also have settings menus where you can change configurations, a missed opportunity here, but I do hear there is an App you can download to synch with the bike for some information
  • Since the Propulsion Power Cycle electric mid-drive brand is newer to the US, you may have a hard time getting it serviced or getting parts, but I do hear they have been active in Canada for quite some time now and will be supporting new products here in the US now
  • The battery is secure, but removal and putting it back means undoing the motor plate and removing part of the motor so it can slide out, so you will be charging the battery on the bike, unless you have a climate controlled garage, not the best for storage and can get in the way of charging the battery indoors at the office for example
  • A minor grip here since it is normal for this configuration, but remember that higher end mountain bikes do not always come with pedals like this one, so you will want to find a set you like and purchase them before you get out and ride

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