Compare-O Bottom Line: Rocky Mountain Altitude brings full-tilt, all-mountain attitude

27.5 Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

A Little Upright in the Corners

With the word “rally” in its name, one would envision the Altitude 770 railing through the turns with abandon. But our test riders had to work a little harder than expected to get the bike to come around.

“It could have been because I carried so much extra speed into turns,” noted one rider. “But I really had to push down hard on the inside handgrip to get the bike leaned and turning. It wasn’t a big deal, but some of the 29ers in the test were easier to flick side-to-side, which seemed weird to me.”

Another rider echoed similar feelings and chalked it up to experience and bike time.

“I wasn’t super confident when coming up on the turns,” he said. “But think I’d overcome it with more time to learn the geometry.”

Speaking of geometry, as we mentioned in our First Look at the Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL 770 Rally Edition, the bike employs a chip system called Ride-9 that allows riders nine shock mounting options to tune the geometry, and change the shock rate. Due to its complication, we didn’t play with the options much, but like the settings on any bike, some trial-and-error would likely lead to a better, more personalized ride experience.

Rocky Mountain’s Ride-9 chip system allows you to change both the bike’s geometry and shock rate to suit your riding style and the terrain.

Go Fast, Take Glances

Despite being one of the heavier bikes in our test, the Altitude also has the highest gearing, further supporting its go-fast-or-go-home ethos. Factor in the e-thirteen TRS+ chainguide as stock spec, and it’s clear the company expects you’ll be pushing speed boundaries with the Altitude.

“I rode the Rocky slightly out of my comfort one, really putting the hammer down and trying to pedal everything,” notes one reviewer. “The faster I went, the better it floated over stuff. I can really see this being an advantage on rocky courses where you want to stay on top of things and not let the bike wallow and feel every bump. It’s definitely got some big mountain enduro genes.”

Cheers and Jeers

We really like the thinking that went into the Altitude’s part spec. The product managers at Rocky clearly knew what they were looking for and spec’d it accordingly.

The one thing—and it might be the only thing—that had us bummed was accessing the rebound adjustor on the Fox Float X. It’s minimal dial is sheathed by the shock’s bell end to begin with, but when combined with the cowl-like shrouding of the Altitude’s shock mount it’s very difficult to access. Many of us like to play with the rebound to get the suspension feeling good. On this bike it required tools—a bummer to be sure, but not a deal-breaker

Who is This Bike For?

Clearly Rocky Mountain has their crosshairs pointed at the aggressive all-mountain rider and enduro racer. We would love to get the Altitude MSL 770 down to Santa Barbara where this mini DH bike would thrive—rough-and-tumble trails that are easier to ride the faster you go. If you like an all-day, ride everywhere up-and-down bike, look elsewhere. You can do it on this bike, but with its weight and gearing you’d better be in shape.

The Last Word

The 2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL 770 Rally Edition is big and fun. If you have an aggro attitude and riding style—and maybe some buddies to shuttle with—the Altitude will not disappoint.

The Good
  • Excellent heavy-duty build spec
  • Great descending chops
  • Innovative Ride-9 adjustable geometry and shock rate system
  • Handsome graphics package
The Bad
  • Heavy
  • Requires hard steering inputs
  • Shock rebound adjustor not very accessible
Price and Trickle Down Versions

Altitude MSL 770 Rally Edition: $5,599 (as tested)
Altitude 750 Rally Edition: $3,299 (aluminum)

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL 770 Rally Edition
  • MRSP: $5,599
  • Weight: 29.76 pounds (sizelarge, without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 27.5 inches
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Color: Black with green/blue accents
  • Frame Material: Carbon front triangle, alloy rear triangle
  • Fork: Fox 34 Float CTD Kashima FIT, 160mm travel
  • Rear Travel: 150mm
  • Rear Shock: FOX Float X Remote Kashima CTD
  • Headset: Cane Creek Forty Series
  • Handlebar: Race Face Turbine, 785mm
  • Stem: Race Face Turbine, 31.8mm, 60mm
  • Grips: Rocky Mountai Lock-on
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Brakes: Avid Elixer 9 Trail, 180mm front and rear
  • Brake Levers: Avid Elixer 9 Trail
  • Shifters: SRAM X9
  • Front Derailleur: N/A
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM X9 Type-2
  • Cassette: Shimano HG81 11-36t 10-speed
  • Crankset: Race Face Turbine 1x
  • Rims: Stan’s ZTR Flow EX Tubeless Ready
  • Hubs: SRAM X9
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Competition
  • Tires: Continental Mountain King 27.5 X 2.4 inches folding
  • Bottom Bracket Type: Race Face Press Fit Team XC
  • ISCG Tabs: Yes
  • Chainguide: e*13 TRS+
  • Saddle: WTB Silverado SL
  • Head Tube Angle: 66.2-67.8 degrees, adjustable
  • Seat Tube Angle: 73.2-74.8 degrees, adjustable
  • Chainstay length: 16.85 inches
  • Bottom Bracket Height: n/a

For more information visit http://www.bikes.com.

This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

Compare-O Bottom Line: Rocky Mountain Altitude brings full-tilt, all-mountain attitude Gallery
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Rocky Mountain Altitude Bottom Line

The man piloting this bike is smiling. This is not an isolated incident. Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude MSL 770 Rally Edition

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Rocky Mountain Altitude Curve

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude Climb

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude Chip

Rocky Mountain’s Ride-9 chip system allows you to change both the bike’s geometry and shock rate to suit your riding style and the terrain.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude Charge

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Rocky Mountain Altitude DH

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Rocky Mountain Altitude Thumb

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born editorial director Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area and pedaling for Mtbr, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.


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  • Roger says:

    30lbs is light for an all-mountain rig…I guess you XC guys are still adjusting.

  • Benja says:

    It’s 2014, I’d say 30lbs no longer counts as “light” for All-Mtn. You can build a Bronson or an HDR at 26lbs. Full DH rigs are hitting mid-upper 30s.

    • Krash says:

      The Altitude can be built to 26lbs too. The Rally editions are the heaviest of the build options. The Altitude 799 comes out of the box a tad over 26.

  • roger says:

    Yeah, it’s 2014 alright…Enve wheels, xx1cassette, and carbon cranks will get any of these carbon bikes on 26lbs range. No one drops 10K on a mt.bike these days unless they are rich, middle aged men, 30lbs overweight who just started mt.biking.

  • enduropierogi says:

    I hope you guys have a Trek Slash somewhere, this Compare-O won’t be complete without it….

  • Benja says:

    Roger, hate to break it to you, but where I’ve been living and riding for the last 25 years (Bay Area and Portland OR) there are a crap ton of folks who spend $6-10k on bikes regularly, and trust me, they are not overweight or have just started riding (riding since ’86 here). Rich, sure some, middle aged, definitely. Doesn’t mean they can’t smoke riders half their age!

    And you don’t need Enve wheels or full XX1 to build an HDR or Bronson at around 26lbs. But it’s not worth arguing, these are bikes and these are First World Problems. The Rally edition stuff from RM just doesn’t feel like it has a point IMO, but I’m sure Rocky’s Marketing Dept knows better!

  • Gunnar says:

    I have the exact same model as tested, and was a bit surprised by the amount of sag used on the testbike. After breaking in the shock i ended up with 20% sag. With that i use all the travel even in the most progressive geo setting. That is also real close to the recommended setting from Fox. Any comments from the testers on that?
    Regarding the weight: the wheelset is real sturdy but crazy heavy and some of the other components are a bit overkill as well. I would have no problem running this bike on a dh track. Will try it with light wheels though, which will be interesting.

    • Dongoose says:

      Gunnar-

      We didn’t get any rides on the Rocky before the test and the bike was brand new from stock, so its likely our shock wasn’t broken in…in fact it did seem to get better the more we rode the bike.

      Curious to hear how you deal with the rebound setting on the shock. We took to carrying a small screwdriver to adjust it.

      We think you could easily drop a few pounds without any durability loss–wheels and tires being the most obvious…crankset too…if you went with an RF Next Sl with direct mount you could cut its weight in half.

      Don

  • Skyno says:

    I was able to test ride this bike and it absolutely shreds – just eats up the terrain – I liked it so much that I am building one up right now. I ran the sag at about 30% with the Float X & that was pretty close to perfect – hucked it as hard as I could & bottoming out was a rare event. Rally edition has an alloy rear triangle and a few components that aren’t particularly light; the full carbon model has a frame weight just over 5 lbs. (about 1 lb. lighter than HDR & 1/4 lb lighter than Bronson).

    • Rene says:

      Do you know what the rally ed. frame weight is?

      • Skyno says:

        I couldn’t find a definitive source on this, but since I am building up one of these, I did bit of research and estimated from measurements I found that the 770 frame was about 250g heavier than the 790 with a comparable shock, but keep in mind that the Rally edition comes with the upgraded Float X, which I believe is about 150 grams heavier than the standard Float, but well worth it for the performance – so you are probably looking at just under 6 pounds

  • Gunnar says:

    Don – Thanks for feedback! Both shock and fork have improved after breaking in and are now real good, a huge improvement over the fox products of the last couple of years.
    I use a small allen key for adjusting the rebound, it works but is still a hassle.
    Already dropped close to a pound by going tubeless and getting better tires on, switching to a SixC bar (same dimensions though) and removing the lower chainguide. The tire-change got rid of all of the vagueness in the corners, it now rails!
    With a rear hub change, lighter spokes and a lighter cassette i think the bike will be spot-on.

    Benja – for riding conditions where i live RM have pretty much nailed it with the Rally edition. They have done most of the changes that riders end up doing anyway. Also for european style racing it is nicely set up. So for some markets and customer groups, this is real good!

  • Jordan R. says:

    Rad review! I’ve been riding this exact bike for the last month or so and I’d have to agree that it’s one of the most fun descenders I’ve ever ridden. So far my only gripe is using a dental pick to adjust my rebound. The flow rims are rather heavy, but I am also riding this as my only bike, so it’ll end up on a chairlift soon enough. I’ve been running the shock at a touch under 30% sag and I definitely use all of the travel, but bottom outs never seem harsh. As far as the climbing I only feel the need to take it out of descend mode for smooth climbs and out of the saddle efforts. On anything technical I like the added traction from leaving the shock wide open.

    The first thing I did when I took it out of the box, however, was take the fork and shock apart to make sure I had proper oil levels. It’s something I do with any new suspension product.

  • Ryan says:

    I have been riding the piss out of this bike since aug. It is awesome. The conti tires started falling apart within the first month. (The stock ones do not have the black chili rubber)
    The 1X10 toughned me up on the climbs. When it gets steep switch it to climb mode and tell your friends you’ll meet them at the top. When they catch up and you can breath again tell them you’ll see them at the bottom because this bike hauls ass. Just be careful of the tight trees, the bars are wide.
    My plan was to buy it in aug and sell it in June. But it’s going to be very hard to replace this bike with something better.
    It is straight out of the box worth it. $5600 for everything you get is awesome.
    I have never been a Rocky fan but my mind has been changed.

  • scott says:

    I’m pretty certain you could build this same bike for around $5,000-but with a carbon handlebar, better tires and xt brakes.

    My 29er Banshee Prime XL weighs in at 32.8 lbs with Flow EX rims, Adent 2.35 tires, SRAM carbon cranks, 1×10 (42t oneup) and I only paid around $4500 for everything on it. . .

  • scott says:

    Oh and for climbing ability-do you think it has a lot to do with going with a single chainring? Older bikes were designed with the pivot placed above the smallest chainring to reduce bob- now that the middle ring is the only one left you are now climbing with the chain well above the pivot. . .

  • Sterling Mudge says:

    How about switching out the front chain ring for a smaller one? I know I can’t pedal a 34 where I live since we climb so much. Anybody know the smallest chainring you can run on the Turbine?

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