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.