What it does well: “You could pedal over anything on the Sherpa,” said a tester. Which makes sense because this is Rocky Mountain’s first plus or midfat bike (like the Scott Genius Plus, the tires are 2.8-inches wide) in a category they’re calling “Overland.” The idea? The Sherpa is the bike you’d take bikepacking, or on that hut-to-hut tour way out over Monkey’s Ass Pass. It’s not speedy by any means, but we really loved riding it. The geometry lets you sit upright for big mileage days. The bars are wide and stable. And the front end offers 120mm of plush travel to help keep you from endoing in the dark. That fork travel gets paired with a more cross-country like, efficient 95mm of rear travel so you aren’t pogoing along. If that sounds overly specialized, know that we had no problem taking the Sherpa up to full speed on the rougher descents in Carbondale. The tires make it pretty hard to screw up. Which is kind of the point of a bike designed to explore fading logging roads and game trails. Our elk hunting art director is drawn to exactly that type of riding. He was so enamored with the Sherpa that he bought the test bike.
What it does poorly: Let’s be clear. The 30-pound Sherpa was made for churning out eight-hour days in comfort. It’s no short track sprinter. But if you add a dropper post you could run it on technical trail all day long.
So who’s it for? True, fat bikes with five-inch wide tires are ideal in deep sand and snow, but at the risk of getting some hate mail, they’re overkill in the mountains in summer. The industry saw those limitations and responded with a more realistic offering in plus sizing. (A similar thing happened with 145mm powder skis.) If you look at mountain biking as means to backcountry exploration, the Sherpa is the call. 30.4 lbs.