Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er- 2010 – First look

29er Pro Reviews

The Altitude’s drivetrain is almost all Shimano except for Race Face Deus cranks and BB. Shifters and rear derailleur are XT while the front derailleur is SLX. Pedals are Shimano.

Gearing is a very low 12-36. For 29er rookies like myself it was explained that the low gearing helps offset the fact that you’re powering a pretty big wheel around trails.

Wheels are Stans ZTR Arch 29 on Wheeltech hubs; a nice touch as this can be easily converted to tubeless (although I ran tubes).

Supplied stem was a 90mm Easton which I swapped out for a 70mm FSA. This is paired with a custom-for-Rocky Easton aluminium flat bar with 9 degrees sweep – meant to put a rider in the same riding position that they would be in on a 26″ Altitude as compared to the taller Altitude 29er. Brakes are Formula R1 with 180mm rotors.

Closeup of the bottom bracket area. Bashguard is the sole modification to the drivetrain.


The Altitude’s frame is a fetching anodized black with clean under the top tube cable routing (no routing under the BB to get trapped with mud). Welds are clean. The sloping top tube with bend in the middle lends a lot of clearance for standover. The rear chain stays can easily accomodate a 2.4″ Nevegal.

Head tube and seat tube angles are 70.5 and 76 degrees per the Straight Up geometry. Don’t scoff gentle readers and keep an open mind. I’ve ridden steeper, more technical terrain then most on a conventional Altitude. Initially I was skeptical about the geometry thinking that angles would be too steep, but it works. I’ll talk more about this (if I haven’t already gone on enough about this ad nauseum in previous reviews) in the follow up more comprehensive ride report.

Geometry and dimensions

At least some people in the Rocky design team have substantial experience riding big wheels in technical terrain lending credence to Rocky’s boast that the “our new 29ers are … suited to the technical trails at our doorstep “. You can see this attention to detail in how Rocky Mountain has tweaked design details (particularly frame dimensions) so that the ride compartment of the Altitude 29er mimics the conventional Altitude so that the 29er retains Rocky’s nimble, singletrack-biased feel and characteristics. Consider the following dimensions for equivalent Medium sized frames (all in millimetres) and note the following reasoning per Rocky:

  • The chainstay is relatively short to promote better handling
  • The seat tube is also relatively short to compensate for the bigger wheels putting the rider higher.
  • Note that the wheelbases of the Altitude big and little wheeled bikes are almost identical despite the wheelsize difference (I wouldn’t have made that sharp turn on the cantilevered wooden bridge in the Pipeline video without some hopping if the wheelbase was longer).
Altitude 29er Altitude 26er
Seat tube length 406.4 457
Horiz. top tube length 580 575
Headtube length 100 110
Chainstay length 452.1 429
Wheelbase 1124.6 1123

Another thing you will note is that the headtube is pretty short for that size of bike. According to Rocky, this was done (a) to save weight; (b) to help the rider get a bit lower to offset the bigger wheels; and (c) give the rider more options to customize options (ie you can add headtube height by adding spacers but you can’t subtract height – at least without access to welding equipment. One will also note a bent seat tube. It means you can’t get jam the seatpost really low (a downside) but it means more rear tire clearance (definite upside).

These are trivial vignetttes perhaps but it reflects the kind of thought Rocky put into this bike.

Rear of the Altitude 29er. Note that the waterbottle cage clears the rear shock comfortably.

Chainstay assembly pictured with 2.1 Maxxis Crossmark tire. I fit a 2.4 Kenda Nevegal in there with room to spare


The list price for the Altitude 29er is $ 3999 Can ($ 3999US). More details on the Altitude 29er, including detailed specifications and geometry can be found on the Rocky site.


About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

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  • Noah says:

    The bars look rolled forward a lot, I just built 4 of these last night and found that the bar seemed best when it was on the -1 line in the middle of the “E” on the stem’s face clamp. Also, did you cross the ft. & r. der cables? They came kinda funky from the factory and I redid them….

  • leel says:

    Hey there Noah. I’ll try your suggestion. The bars were actually at the -2 line so they were rolled back.

  • Maple says:


    Any chance of doing a comparison ride vs the 26er Altitude? A side by side….

    And let us know how the ride up to Pipeline was.

    I’m seeing a lot of 29er’s in my US rides, but other than Scott and Drew locally, not a lot of confidence for riding the local trails from the stores, would be nice to know just how gnarly you would take this bike… Pipeline definitely seemed like a good choice as a good middle of the road trail….

  • LeeL says:


    That’s a good idea. I’ll get a demo Altitude & try it. I figure Ladies will be about the high end of technical trails to try the bike – lets face it; the Altitude is a xc-biased All Mountain bike so taking it down A-Line would be pushing its envelope.

  • Amir says:


    After riding a 29er here on the Shore, would you buy one?

    I’m talking in general terms here, comparing a 26″ vs. 29″ and not the Rocky you reviewed. I mostly ride the valley trails in and around Whistler, a bit in Pemberton and Squamish. From talking to a few of the LBS employees who’ve thrown a leg over a 29er, the consensus seems to be that it’s not ‘made’ for our trails here… better suited for less technical, fast desert style riding.

    I’d like to get your opinion as i’m (loosely) considering a Tallboy.


  • LeeL says:


    Let me put it back to you. Why would you want the Tallboy? Good deal, want to try something different etc?

    I can’t really answer your question – I’ve had a grand total of five rides on the Altitude – not really a good sample for anything but the most superficial of impressions and hardly anything on which I’d base a substantive review.

    Also I have zero experience with the Tallboy. I don’t even know its spec or geometry. I could pop off some generalities about 29ers but there’s lots of information in the FAQ in the 29er forum

    Let’s face it, there’s some fast and flowy in Whistler and particularly Squamish but you have to go further north to the Chilcotin to find fast, rangy singletrack. So you should buy a bike that does well in the hyper-technical trails of the Sea-to-Sky corridor; remember that Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, Vancouver xc and all-mountain trails are considered downhill/freeride in many other parts of the world so we’re not exactly a representative market for which most bikes are designed.

  • Amir says:


    I already own a Blur LT carbon for riding Whistler/Squamish/Pemby. A bike which if find perfectly suited for these trails.
    The Tallboy would be an addition, used mostly for racing/competing. Why a Tallboy? I’m already a very satisfied Santa Cruz owner and see no reason to switch brands.

    Let me rephrase my question. Do you find it more difficult/easier/the same so far on our trails here compared to what you’re used to?

  • LeeL says:


    So far, based on my five ride experience (all on easier Shore trails), I’ve found it basically the same

  • Noah says:

    My buddy Seb (who guides in Whistler) really took to the Tallboy, he shreds it.

  • Bruce says:

    Just bought one on Sunday. Rode it once and liked what I felt. Though, I will have to see over time.

  • Calvin says:

    Love the video. Sweet riding!

  • andrew says:

    Great video! Did you get any pedal strikes? How high is the BB? Thanks

  • leel says:


    The BB height is in the specs from the RMB website – check out the link. I didn’t get any strikes but haven’t tested it out on really technical terrain as yet.

  • LeeL says:

    Here’s another video. Rode Kill Me Thrill Me April 23 2010. Tight twisty trees with some flowy sections ending with rock slabs. A fun ride with lots of variety

  • Simon says:

    Looks very sweet. Could well be my next bike.
    To me this is in the same (trail) bike class as Spes Stumpjumper FSR 29, GF Rumblefish, Intense Tracer, Turner Sultan and Niner RIP9 from the looks, geometry and longish travel. Comments on this comparison?

    However, I get the impression from the riding position that it is a bit more racey than the others. Would you consider racing it in marathon events and the likes?

  • LeeL says:


    This is my first 29er. I’d be lying if I tried to make comparisons. It’s very plush as set up. If I was to consider racing it in marathon events I’d probably stiffen up the suspension. The bars are actually decently high also so to make it better for climbing I’d probably take the one spacer out from below the stem (it’s a flat bar with lots of sweep so it looks “racy”. To compare, my RMB Element is a lot more racy in terms of geometry

  • LeeL says:

    Pemberton – April 24, 2010 – We rode up Happy Trail then over to Cream Puff. I was on the RMB Altitude 29er. Sharon was on the Norco Vixa. I love this trail – can’t seem to get enough of it

  • leel says:

    Here’s another video – D’arcy the designer/engineer from RMB came out for a ride on a more technical trail in North Vancouver

  • LeeL says:

    Ladies Only – North Vancouver

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