Rocky Mountain’s Sherpa Overland Bike Apr 16, 2015

Words by Morgan Taylor.


Rocky Mountain was the first company to take a stab at the 27.5+ tire size, with 2.8″ tires mounted to 45mm rims appearing on their Sherpa concept bike at the Sea Otter show this time last year. After a year of further tweaking, an under-the-radar appearance on Gabe Tiller’s Pushwacking the Idaho Hot Springs Route story under engineer Lyle Vallie, and all the refinement necessary to bring this new platform to market, the production version of the Sherpa “overland” bike is ready to hit the shop floor.


The original Sherpa concept featured eye-catching paint work with a Nepalese snow lion front and center. This design has been continued through the production model, in a more subdued gold-on-black that really does look incredible for a production bike.

As you may have caught in Gabe’s photos from Idaho, the Sherpa is based on Rocky Mountain’s venerable Element XC 29’r platform. With a carbon front triangle, 120mm of front travel and 95mm rear, accommodation for a front derailleur, and optional bags from Porcelain Rocket, the race-proven Element has morphed into a trail smashing bikepacking rig.


I’ve had the chance to ride various versions of the Sherpa through its development, and it’s been exciting to see this outside-the-box project go from the drawing board to the production line. For the final spec Rocky Mountain landed on a fork and shock from Manitou that feel surprisingly plush for short travel suspension pieces. With a broader selection of tires coming down the line, the Sherpa Overland is set to be a frontrunner in the 27.5+ category, regardless of what you want to call camping with a bike.

Be sure to check out Rocky Mountain’s short film, The Black Canyon Trail, and head to their site for lots of photos, product video, and all the details on the Sherpa Overland.


  • Keith Gibson

    that paint job is great

  • Bryan

    All hail the BCT, where you’re bound to get tagged by either a cholla or a bullet.

  • Kyle Kelley

    Where’s the video! Looks huckable!

  • boomforeal

    final bike looks great! so rad to see this project fully realized

  • naisemaj

    that paint! So rad. I wonder how it rides with regular 29er wheels and tires, if it doesn’t fuck with the suspension dynamics too much it would be an awesomely versatile ride. Want.

    • Morgan Taylor

      I see no reason why, with regular 29er wheels, the Sherpa would ride any different than an Element with a bigger fork (the 120mm Magnum appears to have approximately a 30mm higher axle-crown than a 100mm 32). Seems like a pretty versatile choice in that sense, like how my Ice Cream Truck that fits 5″ tires can also be run with 4″ tires or 27.5+ or even regular 29er wheels.

      • naisemaj

        I think usually the valving and rebound are set differently for the bigger tires, and sometimes the leverage curve too. I figured the fit would be fine too though

  • Josh Direen

    This thing looks great. Although, it cracks me up that one of the first 27.5+ bikes officially out is not using the boost standard, yet has clearance for multiple chainrings..