Rocky Mountain Bicycles is no stranger to trying new things. In 2009, they resurrected the venerable Altitude line; the name gracing a 140mm travel dual suspension bike. In 2010 this morphed into a 29er version with 120mm of travel. In 2009, the Altitude was described as “XC Marathon“. In 2010, the 29er version was also identified as “XC Marathon” but with technical ability pretensions. The 2013 iteration of the Altitude is a rework, is now graced with the “trail” moniker (whatever that term means) and among other things gains travel to 150mm (front and rear) and simplifes the product line; doing away with the 29″ and 26″ wheel size and presenting just the 27.5″ size.
Overwhelmed? The Altitude is shiftier than greased lightning with even more innovations like the Ride-9 system (convertible seat tube angle, head tube angle, BB drop and suspension tweaks using a 9 position “chip”); tweaks to its Straight Up geometry and custom tuning of its ETS – based Smoothlink suspension. Rocky was kind enough to put on a media clinic where I had a chance to take the Altitude MSL on some of my home Whistler trails to get a flavour for how it all comes together.
To summarize, Altitude demonstrates how shockingly versatile bikes are becoming. Jack of all trades, master of none it clearly is NOT. Superb climber, more than above average descender; I’d have to bandy trivialities to find a weak spot. The price for the carbon version certainly reflects anticipated consumer lust but look for (relative) value in the alloy versions. Read on for more…
Lee Lau’s biases
I’m 160 lbs, 5’11″ and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I’ve also made many bike trips to Switzerland, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and the Yukon (for example) so I’ve had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.
My personal bikes are a Santa Cruz Tallboy, Pivot Mach 5, and a Specialized Demo 7. I’ve had very little experience in the 650b category (going to buck Rocky and not call it 27.5) and, in that tire size have ridden the Rocky Mountain Altitude, the Norco Range and the Norco Sight but only for short rides. I am not sponsored by Rocky and have no commercial association with Rocky.