2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70-297 review

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Rock Machine picked quite a long name for their bike. E70 means this is the second most expensive model in the line-up. 297 tells us there’s a 29er front wheel and a 27.5″ at the back. Rock Machine Blizzard INT comes in 3 sizes, M, L and XL. So it’s no surprise that the size Medium test bike is on the small side for us at just over 180 cm. This is our first encounter with the Rock Machine brand. And it’s our first encounter with DVO suspension.

Price seems to vary between different markets. In Norway, where we live, the price tag is a very competitive 52.990 NOK. It seems to be around €5.500 in a few other European countries. So, does that buy you a good emtb these days? Watch our review, or keep reading below.

Suspension

The DVO suspension sets this bike apart from the competition. The DVO Diamond E3 fork comes with 160 mm of travel. This is an ebike specific fork with a reasonably burly 35 mm stanction width. The fork offers knobs for rebound and Low Speed Compression. DVO did not include the OTT adjustment on this entry level Diamond series fork. We often ride the compression wide open-ish, but not on this fork. There is a big range of LSC, which is nice. We added quite a bit to remove the brake dive.

DVO Diamond E3 160mm fork
The DVO Diamond E3 160 mm fork is an OEM, available to bike manufacturers only.

The shock had us scratching our heads a bit. Rock Machine states different names for the shock in the specs. It seems it’s a “Jade R”. Just like the fork, it’s an OEM model that is only available for bike manufacturers. It seems to be a more basic version of the “Jade”.

DVO Jade R shock
DVO Jade R coil shock with adjustable rebound and air pressure(!)

Having identified the shock, it was easier knowing how to set it up. We followed the instructions for the Jade. Usually we don’t bother with instructions, but we needed some hints for the air pressure.

2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70-297

This coil shock has a piggy-back-thing. Inside is a bladder, an air chamber. We thought the rear end was way too active on our first ride. Spring tune and rebound setting was fine, still the rear end was way to active. And it felt like the rear wheel wasn’t keeping it’s line at all in fast turns. It turned out the air pressure was way to low, less than 100 psi. DVO states 170-200 psi air pressure. We bumped it up to 170 psi. That improved things, but close to 200 was better. Now the rear wheel tracked well and pedalling was more stable.

Rest of the specs

Good suspension is important and we’re willing to accept cheaper components elsewhere. But the Blizzard INT e70 specs are solid. We’re very happy to see the Shimano Deore M6100 dual caliper brakes. These have the 1-finger brake lever, unlike many other bikes in this segment.

2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70-297

Sure, the 10 speed Shimano Deore M4100/M5120 gears won’t impress anyone. But we quite like it. It’s solid and durable. The 11-46t cassette has a nice spread of gears. The dropper seatpost is 150 mm, quite generous for a size M bike.

Rock Machine Blizzard INT comes with the SHimano EP8 motor.
Shimano Deore M4100/5120 10 speed

The big front wheel comes with a WTB Vigilante TCS 29×2.5″ tyre. This is the «Tough/High Grip» version. That implies re-enforced side walls and a softer rubber compound. Back tyre is a WTB Trail Boss TCS 27.5×2.6″. This is the «Tough/Fast Rolling» edition with a firmer rubber compound and a less open thread pattern. These are solid tyres, but the rear rubber could be better in the wet.

WTB Trail Boss TCS 27,5×2.6″ Tough/Fast Rolling rear tyre

The Rock Machine Blizzard INT E70-297 registers at 24.8 kg on our scale. Pedals included. A perfectly average weight these days. But considering it’s a 630 Wh bike with a coil shock, it’s quite decent.

2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70 specs

Motor and battery

We really like the Shimano EP8 for trail riding. Sure, there are motors that offers more assistance when pedaling at just below cut-off speed. But the EP8 is so powerful and easily controlled on the technical trails. Check out our review of the motor here. Rock Machine went with the Darfon 630 Wh battery. Bigger batteries are getting common, but we still think this is a good size. It weighs just 3.3 kg, around half a kilo less than the Shimano and Bosch 630 Wh versions.

Shimano EP8 85 Nm

Rock Machine Blizzard INT geometry

Geometry looks sorted, mostly. The 64* head angle and 449 mm chainstays look promising. The 1.209 mm long wheel base indicates this isn’t a big size M. The same can be said about the 426 mm “reach”.

Geometritabell, trykk for større bilde.

We, at just over 180 cm, often end up riding size M demo bikes. And the distance between the saddle and handlebars seems fine when we get on the bike. But… The seat tube angle is 74*. It’s measured from the line going through the crank axle and the top of the seat tube. But the seat tube is actually a straight tube starting well in front of the crank axle. This makes the “effective” seat tube angle much slacker. When lifting the seat/seatpost, the saddle ends up far back on the bike. This makes the distance to the handlebars feel fine. But the bike ends up being very “rear heavy” and it doesn’t climb well. We push the saddle as far forwards as possible, to steepen the effective seat angle. But then the riding position feels cramped. The short 40 mm stem doesn’t help in this regard.

2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70-297
The white line shows how the seat tube angle is measured. Yellow line shows the effective angle.

On the trails

Having moved the saddle forwards, the Blizzard INT climbs decently. We get up all the hills we expect with a bike that isn’t an all out climbing specialist.

Riding a fairly small bike, expectations are high for the flatter trails. And the Blizzard delivers. The shock offers a nice pop, inspiring us to bounce over every little trail bump. Despite the weight of 24.8 kg, this is quite a playful ride. The bike doesn’t feel as burly as it might look. The short stem contributes to the fast steering response. Steering is precise and it doesn’t take much of an effort doing a sudden change of directions.

A playful bike on mellow trails usually isn’t great for the steep and gnarly descents. On top of that, we ride a bike that is on the small side for us. Granted, we’re not setting a record pace going down the mountain in a straight line. But when it’s time to pick lines through the turns, the Rock Machine is quick. The rider behind is on a big, heavy, long and stable 29er. And he can’t keep up though the sharper turns. It’s hectical and intense riding the Blizzard INT, but the pace isn’t bad. The bike quickly regains speed after braking.

Conclusion

We spent some time getting the suspension dialed. It wasn’t difficult. But it’s more time consuming compared to the Rockshox forks often found at this price point. The reward is way better suspension performace from the DVOs. They’re in a different league.

2022 Rock Machine Blizzard INT

The Rock Machine Blizzard INT e70-297 is a great bike for the money. It’s a fine and playfull ride that will handle most kinds of trails. Uphill performance is just fine, but it’s not a climbing specialist. The Blizzard INT isn’t as stable and confidence inspiring on the rough descents as a longer and heavier emtb with 38 mm stanction forks can be. Still, it’s fun on the descents. And it’s enjoyable on less challenging trails too.

  1. You mention “Rocky Mountain” when writing about the shock tuning. The bike in this review is a Rock Machine and no relation to the Canadian brand.