Crash-test du Rockman Slate

Rockman Slate Test Ride

Tuesday 28 April 2009
by Ben Swales
popularity : 8%

JPEG - 165.2 kb Our partner Trialprod built up their first Rockman Slate frame last week. It belongs to Nicolas ’Hubertus’ Ollier, the owner, and he built it up with the best parts in his shop. This ultra-top-of-the-range bike tips the scales at a paltry 8.89kg, and we showed you some close-ups of it a few days ago in the article An 8.89kg Rockman Slate!.

As we promised, here’s the full test write-up of the bike, which I was able to watch and take part in for a good hour on the rocks at the end of last week. First of all, here are the main technical characteristics of the Slate:

Material Aluminium 6061-T6
Wheelbase with Rock-type forks with 35mm rake 1080mm
Wheelbase with Echo-type forks with 45mm rake 1090mm
Chainstays 380mm
Chain tensioning system Snail cams
BB height +45mm
Head Angle 71.5 deg
Headtube length 110mm
Published weight 1.59kg
Trialprod price 525€

Let’s see what that means in practice!

The look...

Even though I’d only seen photos until now, this bike had me completely seduced. It looks even better in real life. This bike is a real aesthetic winner! The anodised champagne colour is really classy and the white, asian art inspired decals really impress!

Two new close-ups in the sunshine...

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Close-ups of the front end...

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Weight and design...

JPEG - 19.9 kb Hub had already warned us: this bike is feather-light. The very first moment that he took the frame out of its box he was impressed by its weight (or lack of): "You don’t feel as though you’re holding a frame in your hands!" This was confirmed when he weighed it, just 1.59kg! As far as we know, that makes it the lightest 26" currently on the market.

The frame is made from 6061-T6 Aluminium. The tubes are double-butted in order to maximise rigidity while bringing the weight down as much as possible. It also has "variable thickness" tubes; the walls vary in thickness so that they are thicker towards the ends (for rigidity) than in their centres (for weight). This design, which helps to explain the amazing weight of the frame, means that it is really only aimed at experienced competition riders. An impact on the downtube would inevitably lead to a crack, so this frame is not for beginners.

The technical characteristics of this bike have nothing to envy in the top-of-the-range bikes from market leaders like Koxx (it is even manufactured in the same factory). The headtube has been cut away at the front, it has a CNC machined yoke between the seat and chain stays and pierced reinforcing plates joining the chain and seat stays to the seat tube and the yokes. It’s a design very much inline with today’s tastes that leaves nothing to chance!

Can we find anything bad to say? Perhaps it could be a bit stiffer at the rear end. When you apply pressure through the HS33 brake, you notice the stays flexing a little bit, but that’s easily remedied with a booster. Hub’ fitted his with an Echo SL booster (52g). The frame has horizontal drop outs and chain tension is adjusted by traditional alu snail cams, so it’s not the easiest of systems to adjust, and if you have to take the wheel out, you have to start again at the beginning.

The ride...

The geometry of this bike conforms to the current MTB-trial competition ’standards’: with an Echo SL fork (45mm rake), it has a wheelbase of 1090mm, a +45mm BB and it’s chainstays measure in at 390m. All of this combines to give it a very clean and efficient ride feel. It really is a comp beast. On first riding the bike you notice how stable it feels, on one wheel as much as two. It sits nicely on the back wheel and taps and sidehops easily - our first attempts were nice and high! It gives you the confidence to try some big moves as soon as you swing your leg over it. It’s the first bike that I’ve tested that weighs under 9kg, and this lightness, combined with it’s effective geometry make it feel like a toy in your hands! You can ride whole sections without putting in too much effort, even though I’m not too keen on Hubertus’ ride position. His bike is built up with a 138mm x 25° stem, no spacers and a Rock riser bar, meaning that the front end feels a long way away. I prefer a more standard ride position: a shorter stem of 125-130mm x 25° with the same bar would be much better.

Photos from the test...

We started out with a basic tap, landed first time thanks to the clean and efficient feel of the frame...

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A little hook. The ride position held me back a bit on the bunnyhop, but the bike went up all the same...

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A static up... The stability and lightness of the bike make this sort of move feel very easy...

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On the rear wheel, the bike is magnificent, you can do whatever you want!

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A few little sidehops... The bike practically puts itself on the back wheel, and with astonishing stability. The rear end, when stiffened by a booster, responds to the slightest movement...

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Build and price...

There’s not a lot more to say about the build of the bike, which is built up with the best parts in the Trialprod catalogue. The Echo SL stem is great, even if it is a bit long for my liking. The bolts, BB and pedals are all titanium. The rear Echo SL break is really effective and feels really nice. The front Hope disc, fitted with a 180mm Rock rotor, is just as good. I started using Continental tyres on my own bike a while ago and wouldn’t go back to Maxxis or Try-all (for example) for anything. They grip in any condition and have a very good rebound. I also really liked the Onza Pro Series rims, they’re really light! The rear is double-walled, with a square drilled outer wall and circular holes in the inner wall and is just as light as single-walled rims such as Try-alls. The front wheel is single-walled, with circular holes and drilled side walls as standard, something that only Onza does, as far as we know, and it makes it the lightest rim currently on the market at just 554g! The Rock hubs are sublime and also among the lightest available.

So this bike is at the very top of the range. The price however, is very reasonable for such an excellent product: seulement 2235€ for this build - good job Trialprod!


Frame Rockman SLATE
Fork Echo SL
Stem Echo SL 138x25
Headset Tensile Ace
Handlebar Rockbar with Rock foam grips
Front brake Hope mono trial with 180mm Rock rotor
Rear brake Echo SL with blue Rockpads
Front wheel Onza Pro Series rim + Rock disc hub
Rear wheel Onza Pro Series rim + Rock hub
Bottom Bracket VIZ Ti axle
Cranks Echo SL
Pedals Magnesium body with Ti axle
Freewheel White Industries Eno green trial
Chain Echo SL (half-link)
Booster Echo SL
Front tyre Continental Race King
Rear tyre Continental Rubber Queen
Tubes Maxxis Ultralight
Bolts Titanium


So there are my impressions of the Rockman Slate, fitted with the best top spec parts in the Trialprod catalogue. They are mainly positive: I really like this bike, it’s a real comp beast, aimed at the highest level.

There’s not much more to say, but here’s a list of the good and bad points about the bike. I won’t mention the ride position, a spacer would sort that out in a jiffy!


    • The impressive weight of the frame (1.59kg!) and this build (8.89kg!),
    • Its mean looks,
    • Perfect geo with a 45mm rake fork,
    • Clean and efficient ride feel
    • Amazing price for such a good product (525€ frame only, 2235€ featured build)


    • The traditional chain tensioning system,
    • Flexy rear end makes a booster essebtial,
    • It’s really for experienced riders only, with a downtube that won’t handle impacts well (fit a protector).

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