Opinions of RM Element
Whats peoples experience & opinions on RM Elements? How does it compare to the likes of FSRs etc?
How long do the bearings last?
with PUSH shock the difference between Element and FSR is neglidgable
Element and older Santa Cruz Blurs have the best frame geometry for technical single track and 100mm or longer forks (if you are a good technical rider that leans the bike to turn rather turning the bars). because as forks get longer the top tube should get shorter to maintain a reasonable wheel base. You can have both stability and a quick turning bike if you have longer travel suspension, slack head angle, lower BottomBracket height and shorter wheelbase.
Older bushing type Elements were lighter by ~1/2 lb. Bushings were easy to replace although if you couldn't find a deal on them expensive. Bearings get notchy quicker than a bushing develops play, but a notchy bearing does not have much side to side play; therefore, most people won't notice that a bearing is worn until it completely falls apart. You can only replace bearings a few times because each time you push them in and out you enlarge the hole in the frame they mount too, with bushings you could keep shimming the bushings and get a machinist to make you a custom inset to prevent wear.
Older 2003 and earlier Elements had much nicer looking seat stays that were not such mud collectors (the newer CNC stuff has lots of hollows that collect mud and are hard to clean, as well as being ugly).
In my opinion Elements (with the exception of the 2005/2006 80mm travel TeamSC) are the best technical XC race bikes and can even do Super D if you use bigger tires, mainly because of the geometry (older Blur being the only other option, since new ones are either too heavy or too light), cable routing (all along the top tube), standard diamond shaped frame (better water bottle mounts and better looks), forward facing seatpost cutout (better for raising and lowering the seat), tire clearance (2.5" if not gumbo muddy). Biggest problems are availability
chips & bier
I love my Element (actually an '01 Instinct). As an allround racing machine (mainly endurance stuff) and trailbike for local stuff, it just rules.
Regarding riding characteristics, I have a tiny frame w/ setback post and long stem, so it's stable on climbs, but has the short wheelbase I want for tight stuff.
The first year I ran the bike with rim brakes, and when almost locking up the rear wheel you could feel the suspension becoming a tad less active, for lack of a Horst link. With discs this effect is practially gone.
After 2 1/2 years of use in everything from bone dry dunes to weeks of nothing but silty mud, the swingarm's main bushings developed play. Since then I've taken to replacing the lot every year or so, to be safe. As the '04 models and later have bearings instead of bushings, I don't think you'll get too much feedback on their lifespan, yet.
I got a Element Race, it works fine with me. The only major upgrade that I did was swapping my original Marzocchi Z2 sport (Z3 internals with Z2 body) and replaced it with a 04 Talas RL. The marzocchi is on my Blizzard (replacing the old -out dated Judy XC fork - try finding parts for it). I'm going to upgrade to disc brakes next year and the bike performs well for my riding purposes. Everybody is different, you have to find what suits you.