I would have preferred to see the Blizzard come back just like the Kona Explosif did - as a long travel hardtail - but, if you own the name Blizzard, you have to make it a fatbike.
On top of that, short of the Surly Pug Special Ops, the Blizzard is the sexiest fatbike on the market.
And there's still room for the Hammer to come back as a steel hardtail, right Rocky? Please?
requiem for a hardtail
2012 marks the death of the Rocky Mountain Blizzard.
In the spring of 1991, I walked into Revolution Cycle (which was a tiny bay in a commercial strip mall, and a mere shell of the empire it is now) and discovered the greatest bike ever made: the 1991 Rocky Mountain Blizzard. Well, maybe it wasn’t greatest ever made, but it is my favourite bike ever made; nothing made before or since has had made the same impression on me.
It was of course, primitive by today’s standards; it had no suspension, cantilever brakes and a steel frame, but really, it was ahead of its time. Its distinctive features were pretty new in the world of mountain bikes. Trek and Specialized were still cranking out frames with horizontal top tubes - which for me just didn’t feel like proper mountain bikes. They were just smaller road frames, presumably with geometry adjusted to work off-road. But the Blizzard’s design (and I want to call it a Canadian design, but I can’t prove that we did it first) - the sloping top tube, extended seat tube, and zero rise stem - felt like it was a rethink of what a mountain bike should be.
It had a Canadian made Syncros stem/bar/fork/seatpost - all black - Shimano XT components, Selle Italia Turbo seat, Ritchey rims - yes, black - and Ritchey Megabite tires. Twenty years of bikes have come and gone since this most perfect of Blizzards, and not one has looked better.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the Blizzard was a mainstay in the Rocky lineup, debuting in 1985. The ‘87 catalogue lists it as the Team Blizzard, and it was their racing bike, but it didn’t take long for it to settle into its role of ‘do anything’ bike. It was never a racer’s first choice - not that it was a bad choice mind you - it was the bike you bought if you wanted a great bike to ride tight, twisty trails, with ups and downs, trees and logs.
In other words, the forests of British Columbia.
By the year 2000 though, the steel mountain bike’s days were numbered, at least as far as mass production goes. Once companies figured out how to weld aluminum tubes together, and have them not snap after a couple of years, it quickly pushed steel aside, as aluminum made for a lighter bike that was easier to make.
So from about 2000 onward, there was a Blizzard watch each year. When the new catalogues arrived each spring, I’d rifle past the Elements, RM9s, and ETS-Xs to the hardtails; is there a Blizzard this year? I recall a major scare in 2004 when we heard that 2005 would be the end of its run for good. It would be custom built to order, only available to shop owner/managers. But, thankfully, there was a reprieve, and instead there was the 25th Anniversary special edition.
Again for 2011 there was a special edition celebrating its 30th birthday. Graphics made to the style from 1992 to 1998, in black and white, with Rocky Mountain’s now signature maple leaf fade. A beautiful ride with an exclusive price tag, and for a bike from a large company, it was built in very small quantities.
So small that when they took orders for the 30th Annivesary model, only two were requested in the 20.5 size - one by the owner of my old shop. Sadly it seems that two wasn’t enough to warrant production of that size, so he didn’t end up with one. Maybe he shouldn’t have sold his 25th Anniversary frame to me…
To be fair, it wasn’t the right size for him.
I was never able to buy a ‘91, but I do have the next best thing, so I’m pretty happy. I’ve bought and sold many many bikes in my life, but my Blizzard, I will never sell. My resolve is even greater knowing it’s run is complete.
And of course I’ll continue to keep my eyes open for a ‘91. Just found one for sale in Hamilton a couple weeks ago. Anyone in Hamilton who can pick that up for me?