Rocky Mountain Altitude 50 (2009) – Review

Pro Reviews

Introduction

Rocky Mountain Bicycles (RMB) will be resurrecting a venerable name from history when they release the Altitude in 2009. A marked departure from the racing-light steel hardtails that formerly bore the name Altitude, this new Altitude is described as a trail bike that keeps its wheels on the ground for “epic cross country”.

RMB provided me with a prototype Altitude aluminium 50 frame for review. The Altitude is slated to replace the ETS-X in the category which RMB calls XC Marathon and what other manufacturers loosely refer to as “all-mountain”. It will be produced in an aluminium version and in a (lighter, higher-end spec and more expensive) carbon version. As the Altitude is further refined to a production frame with a production spec, some details of this review may be redundant (I’ll highlight those details further in the review) so I urge the readers to also check the RMB website which should be considered to be authoritative.

I’ll note at the outset that I am reviewing the frame and NOT the components. My bike was built with a heavier-then-stock package for riding the Downieville downhill course. Although it is difficult to separate the bike from its parts, I will do my level best to confine my remarks to the performance of the frame. Because there is currently a paucity of information about the Altitude, I will be excerpting from a RMB presentation about this bike in lieu of my standard practise of directing readers to a website. I’ll then present my general impressions about this frame’s performance.


Whistler Alpine


South Chilcotin ~ photo Mark Rowe


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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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  • leel says:

    FYI – I’m in the process of trying to get some approximate pricing for the bikes as built for the North American market and will edit when I have this information. I didn’t know if I could get pricing so thought it best to publish this article and update with pricing for later.

    This is pricing from the feedthehabit article linked to in the review. I’m trying to confirm the pricing

    2009 Rocky Mountain Altitude Specs

    Frame, Trim Levels and MSRP (USD)
    Altitude 30 – $2849
    Altitude 50 – $3499
    Altitude 70 – $3999
    Altitude 70RSL Carbon – $4899
    Altitude 90RSL Carbon – $6499
    Altitude 29er – $1599 (single-speed) or $1999 (geared)
    Altitude Ladies 50 – $3499

    Here is Canadian pricing from Rocky Mountain

    Altitude 30
    $2,999.99

    Altitude 50
    $3,599.99

    Altitude LO
    $3,599.99

    Altitude 70
    $3,999.99

    Altitude 70 RSL
    $4,999.99

    Altitude 90 RSL
    $6,599.99

  • Yo… cool to see some rider feedback on the new Altitude platform. I’m looking forward to riding one at Interbike next week! The pricing you show (quoted from my article on http://www.feedthehabit.com) was given to me directly from Rocky Mountain, so it should be fairly accurate. Of course, like anything, prices are subject to change.

  • yeahboyeee says:

    The bottom of the downtube looks ridiculous and the tire clearance inadequate. Saving my money for now and hoping they look after these in rev. 2

    Pretty sweet to see them develop a nice 4-bar and essentially throw up a middle finger toward the big red “S”!

  • EGF168 says:

    Thanks, you told us exactly what we wanted to know and that’s one of the best thought out reviews I’ve read in a long time, oh and the pics were very helpful too, it looks a lot nicer in the pics than I thought it would.

  • leel says:

    ERRATA:

    - Prototype frame’s egg-shell white colour is a one-off. The production frame will be the brighter white depicted at the end of the review.

    - Production frame to be changed to have more tire clearance so a 2.5″ will definitely fit

  • taprider says:

    I like the effort to put the waterbottle inside the main triangle – very important for epic rides to have both camelbak and bottles, and for races like BC bike race it is way faster to use bottles than bladder.

    I like low bottom bracket for better handling and more stability. Striking pedals is not a big deal if you have some skill. 1 cm lower makes a big difference for feel, handling and stability, but makes negigible difference as to whether you strike a pedal or not if you are skilled.

    I like Rockies forward facing seat tube clamp, since it is easier to drop saddle while riding, and the seatpost can be marked in the keyhole cutout and remain visible (marking seattube above clamp weakens post)

    Don’t like bent top tube. Clearance is over rated. I’d rather have long flat surface for long portages. I like the classic look of original Rockies and in the case of Elements I like the ability to have two water bottles.

    Really don’t like bent down tube and the possibility of crushing it.

  • islander says:

    Quality review Lee. Glad to see you took it up on a few epics. For me, the shore-worthiness of a bike like this is a bit of a moot point. I say RMB should focus on the bottle mount(s) and as taprider suggests – stuff like ease to shoulder it etc (I agree standover is overrated in this category). No doubt, this is an improvement over the busy ETS platform. Would be great if RMB would issue a Special Edition with some more traditional paint we’ve long liked from Rocky.

  • Cory says:

    I spent a few hours on the Altitude this past weekend and posted up my thoughts in the Rocky Mountain forum.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showpost.php?p=4911737&postcount=33

    The Altitude is definitely a nice-riding platform.

  • G RANT says:

    Sure is neat, unless I skimmed it, that rear wheel travel is not mentioned. Is it me, or is that something that is important?

    Maybe I’ll check out pinkbike. They can tell me I’m sure.

  • leel says:

    You know, I can’t believe I forgot to mention the rear travel. D’oh! It’s 5.5″ Thanks for catching that.

  • Lee Lau says:

    Interesting post by Johnny Rockall of RMB about the Straight Up Geometry

    http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?p=2031182#post2031182

  • Radam says:

    Great review! I’m in the market for a 140mm epic bike and I’m adding this to my short list.

  • SingleTrak says:

    I’m a proud owner of the retired ETSX-50. Why? Altitude? Bottom is awfull. Adjustement on the front fork is lost. Makes no sense…

  • Rocky Rider says:

    Great report! Thank you very much. What frame size was your test-bike? Would you (your size is 5′ 10″, right?) choose 18 oder 19,5 frame?

  • LeeL says:

    Sorry for the late response Rocky Rider. I was on an 18″ bike. I am 5′ 10″

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