Performance – downhill
As one might expect from my praise of this bike’s ability in technical xc singletrack applications, the Altitude is an extremely capable bike on downhills. Its geometry (exceptional standover, relatively slack head angle) is suited for technical downhills of the more moderate xc, all-mountain variety. Some bikes that excel in tight, twisty singletrack sacrifice high-speed stability. The Altitude was not one of those bikes and could rail corners and handle long-straightaways at high speed with aplomb and without trouble. I note that the Altitude’s wheelbase is approximately 2.2″ longer then the comparable ETS-X which it replaces in the size 19 frame; perhaps this and the lower centre-of-gravity design helps with high-speed manners?
I wasn’t quite as confident on the bike when it was used in steeper terrain in free-ride type applications or in the air, for example in steep rock rolls, ladder bridges or skinnies (see pictures of the Altitude in Action at the end of the article in North Vancouver for guidance). Acknowledging that it’s even more difficult to separate the frame from its parts when reviewing downhill performance, I felt that the Altitude as I had it spec’ed (conventional front air fork, 100mm stem, light front wheels) approached its limits in those free-ride situations. Having said that, RMB does not bill the Altitude as a free-ride bike. A rider is perfectly within his/her rights to customize the Altitude’s spec and make it more heavy-duty and bias it to free-ride applications but it isn’t within the scope of my review to change components to assess that aspect of the Altitude’s performance envelope.
Whistler ~ photo Sharon Bader
Whistler ~ photo Tyler Wilkes
South Chilcotin ~ photo Mark Rowe
Rocky Mountain Altitude 50 frameset – summary
The Altitude delivers on its promise as a bike for epics. It is a multi-faceted platform, a comfortable ride yet a capable tool that can be used to slice and dice singletrack. In its test build, it is a balanced bike but, based on its potential specifications, this reviewer suspects that it will be spec’ed in a way that is biased more towards climbing then descending. It’s going to be a worthy addition to the RMB franchise.
- Quality finish on the frame
- Bike handles beautifully in tight technical trails
- Well-thought out with lots of room for customization
- Downtube kink rides low; prone to hitting frame on objects
- Clearance for a tire bigger then 2.35 is doubtful on the prototype frame. Production frame to be tweaked so a 2.5″ tire can fit
- Prototype frame water bottle mounts too far back so a shock with a piggyback reservoir would not work with a waterbottle cage. Production frame to be changed so waterbottle mounts are moved forward.
4.0 Very Good
3.0 Above Average