2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 70

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Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 70
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Tested: 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 70 - A Versatile Trail Slaying Machine

With 150mm of travel and a great build kit, this 'little' bike packs a big punch.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 70 - A Versatile Trail Slaying Machine

Typically, when a new test bike arrives at our door we know what to expect in regards to geometry, the build spec, travel, etc, but that wasn’t at all the case when the 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude showed up. Unboxing the bike and building it up, we were scratching our heads wondering how much rear travel the bike had or what the head angle was. Being that the bike was brand new, no online literature had been published, no product manual was included in the box, and Rocky Mountain was being very hush-hush about the whole thing, we were pretty much in the dark. So aside from measuring the FOX 36 fork up front at 160mm of travel and basing the assumed intended purpose of the bike on the components, our first rides on the new Altitude would tell us all we needed to know - Rocky Mountain built

Typically, when a new test bike arrives at our door we know what to expect in regards to geometry, the build spec, travel, etc, but that wasn’t at all the case when the 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude showed up. Unboxing the bike and building it up, we were scratching our heads wondering how much rear travel the bike had or what the head angle was. Being that the bike was brand new, no online literature had been published, no product manual was included in the box, and Rocky Mountain was being very hush-hush about the whole thing, we were pretty much in the dark. So aside from measuring the FOX 36 fork up front at 160mm of travel and basing the assumed intended purpose of the bike on the components, our first rides on the new Altitude would tell us all we needed to know - Rocky Mountain built this bike to be ridden fast and aggressively.

Highlights

  • 150mm (5.9-inches) of rear wheel travel //160mm (6.3-inches) of front travel
  • 27.5-inch Wide Trail and 26+ tire compatible
  • Bearings at all pivots, including lower shock mount
  • Increased anti-squat compared to the previous Altitude
  • Blind pivots to maximize heel clearance
  • Lighter, tooled rear axle
  • Improved cable management with larger head tube ports, full shift housing, large downtube access port, and internal shift and brake housing within the front triangle
  • Future-proofed to be compatible with Di2, FOX Live, and a dropper post
  • Seat tube lengths have been adjusted to accommodate longer dropper posts at maximum insertion
  • Chainstay and downtube protectors
  • Integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide with two-bolt ISCG05
  • 1x drivetrain only
  • Lower standover height
  • 25% laterally stiffer thanks to one-piece seatstay, new envelope, and updated layup
  • Modern parts compatibility with Boost axle spacing, Metric shock, and post-mount 180mm brake
  • All sizes fit a water bottle in front triangle, even with a reservoir shock
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Frame and shock weight: 2.47kg (5.5-pounds, size medium)
  • Tested complete weight: 12.87kg (28.4-pounds, size large, no pedals, Carbon 70 build)
  • MSRP: $5,299 USD

Geometry

Thanks to Rocky Mountain’s clever RIDE-9 adjustable geometry feature, the Altitude can be set up for pretty much any terrain and trail. With a head angle that ranges from a slack 65-degrees up to 66.1-degrees with the flip of a chip, the bike's geometry can be adjusted on-the-fly to one of nine positions in a matter of minutes. If your lunch loop is a mild track where quick handling is important, the steep setting is right for you. If you find yourself on more demanding trails, dropping the bike into the low and slack setting may be the ticket. We found ourselves happiest in the "Neutral" setting, which puts the head angle at 65.6-degrees. We measured the bottom bracket height to 349mm (13.8-inches) in the neutral setting, and the RIDE-9 adjustable geometry provides bottom bracket drop ranging from 13mm to -1mm. Our size large frame has a reach measurement of 458mm, which isn’t super long nor is it too short, and being that our personal bike's reach is within a few millimeters of the Altitude, we felt right at home on the new bike.

Suspension Analysis

Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos, the Youtube suspension whiz, was able to determine a close approximation of the Altitude's kinematics for the purpose of this review. These charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how it rides. Those unfamiliar with these types of graphs should watch André's excellent series of suspension fundamentals videos. The results of his analysis are as follows.


Observations:

  • The Altitude is a very progressive 150mm bike at 65%, meaning that the suspension is sensitive during the initial travel and offers great bottom-out resistance for a bottomless feeling. For less aggressive riders it may be difficult to use all the travel.
  • Given its high progressivity, 26% sag measured at the shock corresponds to an actual 30% sag at the wheel.
  • Pedaling efficiency is good, but it’s slightly lower than most trail bikes with anti-squat values of 80-85% on most rear cogs using a 32-tooth chainring (dropping to 65% on a 10-tooth rear cog). With a 30-tooth chainring the anti-squat values increase to 85-90%.
  • The amount of chain-growth and pedal kickback is slightly lower than most trail bikes.
  • An anti-rise of 68% means there is a good balance between geometry and traction under rear braking.
  • Overall, the Rocky Mountain Altitude is a very progressive bike with okay pedaling efficiency.

On The Trail

Despite the anti-squat values provided in the suspension analysis, one of the first things we noted with the Rocky Mountain Altitude was how well it pedals. Once again, numbers don't tell all. During our first ride, a short but steep climb to our local trail had us fiddling with the shock to make sure it wasn’t locked out as the bike’s chassis was oddly stable while we mashed on the pedals. Leaving the shock in the open setting was never an issue, and the bike remained supple over rough terrain even when we were hard on the gas. We found the Altitude to be a very capable climber.

With 150mm of rear travel, we were actually rather taken aback at how well this bike utilizes all its suspension without feeling overwhelmed.

We’ve ridden the Altitude in the steep, loamy trails of Northern California, rough and dry trails in SoCal, and even took the bike to our local resort to log some park laps. When pointed down, the Altitude is an absolute beast to ride. With sag set to 30% in the rear we never found ourselves harshly bottoming the bike out, even while coming up short on a few tables at the bike park. With 150mm of rear travel, we were actually rather taken aback at how well this bike utilizes all its suspension without feeling overwhelmed.

In hard g-outs and heavy cornering situations the Altitude offers excellent mid-stroke support and begs to be pushed harder, rewarding you with additional speed for your efforts. The combination of the excellent Maxxis Wide Trail tires and supportive suspension allows you to really lean and weight the bike into berms. Even in the "Neutral" setting, steep pitches are easily manageable and the bike allows you to drop your heels and keep charging forward. For a bike with "only" 150mm of rear travel, we were surprised at how well it descends. Small bump sensitivity is excellent, and rough and chattery corners are a bit more manageable due to this.

We found the bike to be extremely responsive to rider inputs with its point and shoot mentality - spot a line and go for it.

At 28.4-pounds (12.87kg) for the size large bike we tested, the Altitude is shockingly stiff. Rocky Mountain made some improvements and claims to have made the Altitude laterally stiffer by 25% over the previous model, and those stiffness improvements are definitely felt. We found the bike to be extremely responsive to rider inputs with its point and shoot mentality - spot a line and go for it.

Living up to its name, the Altitude is a bike that jumps quite well. Even with the rebound set a little faster than normal out back, we found the bike to be predictable and stable in the air (including a few laps with a 35-pound camera bag on). Despite the bike's supple beginning stroke the Altitude remained playful and poppy.

Build Kit

A trail bike spec’d with a 160mm travel FOX 36 fork? You don’t see that very often, but we were happy when we did with the Altitude. As capable of descending this bike is, a beefy single-crown fork up front compliments the ride quite nicely. While three-position adjustable forks used to be somewhat of a letdown for folks who are extremely particular with suspension setup, the addition of adjustable compression in the "Open" setting allows for finer tuning. Overall we were happy with fork's performance.

Shifting duties are handled by a Shimano XT drivetrain. While the cassette doesn’t feature the massive spread you can find from other brands, there was plenty of range for our local hills.

Race Face Turbine R handlebars and a 50mm long Rocky Mountain 35 AM stem make up the cockpit. While 780mm wide bars will suffice for most riders, we opted to throw on an 800mm Race Face Atlas bar based on rider preference.

As for braking, Shimano’s XT brakes kept us from blowing up multiple times and proved to be as powerful as they are reliable.

The inclusion of the newer Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II Wide Trail tires makes the build really shine. Paired with the 29mm wide Stan’s Flow MK3 rims they provided outstanding traction in predominantly dry test conditions.

The inclusion of the newer Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II Wide Trail tires makes the build really shine. Paired with the 29mm wide Stan’s Flow MK3 rims they provided outstanding traction in predominantly dry test conditions. While they may not roll the fastest, the traction is well worth the tradeoff.

When we first saw the FOX Float DPS EVOL Performance Elite shock, we were a bit concerned the rest of the bike would outride the in-line shock. After several months of testing, however, we feel that this shock plays well with the frame. Even longer runs at the bike park left us surprised at how consistent the damping was.

The Altitude is offered in three complete carbon builds, three aluminum builds, and as a frame only. Complete prices range from $2,899 to $6,999 USD. We tested the medium tier Carbon 70 build at $5,299.

Long Term Durability

We’ve experienced no creaks, knocks, or any other major signs of early durability issues with the Altitude, but a few smaller things have grabbed our attention. While Rocky Mountain does ship the Altitude with some clear frame protection on the downtube, we managed to gouge it up pretty quickly. With only one over-the-tailgate shuttle using a proper tailgate pad, we’d like to see some better protection in this area. It's worth noting that our Altitude was from the first production run and their rubberized downtube protection wasn't yet available, though this guard would not have prevented the scuffs we're referring to. 

Also, the rubber chainstay protection is already peeling off and catches our shoe while riding which is rather annoying. A little glue or adhesive spray helps address this, but we foresee it being a reoccurring issue down the line.

The Altitude is one beast of a “little” bike.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Altitude is a beast of a "little" bike. Sitting at 150mm rear travel and 160mm up front, we found the bike fun to ride on a variety of trails. It offers a very capable ride and will suit most people better than Altitude’s bigger brother, the Rocky Mountain Slayer, for everyday use. From our quick lunch loop with punchy climbs and short downhills to longer, rougher, and steeper bike park runs, we found the Altitude to be plenty of bike and right at home wherever we rode it.

Visit www.bikes.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Descending: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Fun Factor: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Value: 3.5 stars - Very Good
  • Overall Impressions: 4.5 stars - Outstanding


About The Reviewer

Fred Robinson - Age: 32 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 245-pounds (110.95kg)

"Drop my heels and go." Fred has been on two wheels since he was two-years-old, is deceptively quick for a bigger guy, and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. Several years of shop experience means he's not afraid to tinker. He's very particular when it comes to a bike's suspension performance and stiffness traits.

Specifications

Product Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 70
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
XS, S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size XS S M L XL
Top Tube Length 546 576 601 626 656
Head Tube Angle 65.0° Slack, 65.6° Neutral, 66.1° Steep 65.0° Slack, 65.6° Neutral, 66.1° Steep 65.0° Slack, 65.6° Neutral, 66.1° Steep 65.0° Slack, 65.6° Neutral, 66.1° Steep 65.0° Slack, 65.6° Neutral, 66.1° Steep
Head Tube Length 100 110 120 130 145
Seat Tube Angle 74.6° 74.6° 74.6° 74.6° 74.6°
Seat Tube Length 368 394 432 470.5 508.5
Bottom Bracket Height 349 349 349 349 349
Chainstay Length 425 425 425 425 425
Wheelbase 1120 1152 1179 1205 1238
Standover 817 817 817 817 817
Reach 385 413 435 458 484
Stack 528 591 600 610 623
* Additional Info Geometry listed in "Neutral" RIDE-9 position. 26+ geometry in photos
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details SMOOTHWALL Carbon
Rear Travel 150mm
Rear Shock FOX Float DPS EVOL Performance Elite
Fork FOX 36 Float EVOL FIT4 Performance Elite
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered 1-1/8 to 1-1/2 inch
Headset FSA Orbit NO.57E
Handlebar Race Face Turbine R 780mm
Stem Rocky Mountain 35 AM
Grips Rocky Mountain Lock-on XC
Brakes Shimano XT
Brake Levers Shimano XT
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters Shimano XT
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide Rocky Mountain Spirit Guide
Cranks Race Face Turbine Cinch
Chainrings Race Face 32 tooth
Bottom Bracket Press Fit Race Face BB92
Pedals N/A
Chain Shimano HG-600
Cassette Shimano XT 11-46 tooth
Rims Stan's Flow MK3 Tubeless Ready - Tape and Valves Included
Hubs Rock Mountain Sealed Boost 15mm Front, DT Swiss 370 Boost 148mm Rear
Spokes WTB 1.8-1.6
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF WT Maxx Terra 3C Tubeless Ready 27.5x2.5 Front // Maxxis Minion DHR II WT Maxx Terra 3C Tubeless Ready 27.5x2.4 Rear
Saddle WTB Silverado Race
Seatpost FOX Transfer Performance Elite, 150mm
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Rocky Mountain
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions Boost 12x148mm
Max. Tire Size 2.6-inch
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Teal / Purple, Teal / Black
Warranty 5-Year Limited
Weight 28 lb 6 oz (12,870 g)
Miscellaneous RIDE-9 Adjustable Geometry + Suspension Rate
Fully Sealed Cartridge Bearings
Internal Cable Routing
Price $5,299
More Info

​www.bikes.com

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