Rocky Mountain made their e-bike debut four years ago with the Altitude Powerplay. Not content with the off-the-shelf motors from Shimano and Bosch, Rocky developed their own motor system which made a name for itself as one of the most powerful on the market.
Now they have developed a new and improved motor, the Dyname 4.0, and they've put it in all-new versions of the Altitude and Instinct Powerplay e-bikes. The new motor boasts the same impressive power, but with more refinement, less drag and less weight, plus there's a bigger battery, faster charging and a higher chainline allowing for a more rearward axle path.
The Instinct and Altitude Powerplay bikes have been completely redesigned around the new motor, with mid-high pivot suspension working hand in hand with the higher chainline, 29" wheels, more travel and a host of other updates.
The Dyname 4.0 motor
The Dyname 4.0 motor packs a punch. It offers up to 108Nm of torque at the crank and peak power of 700W - that compares to 85Nm and 500W for Shimano's EP8
system. In the most powerful mode, it can add 350% on top of your pedalling power; it's very much about shunting you to the top of the hill as fast as possible.
And although the power is the same as the previous version, the motor is claimed to be more refined.
Dyname 4.0 Details
• 108 Nm torque
• 700 W peak output
• Up to 350% rider power amplification
• 720 Wh internal battery capacity
• Optional range extender
• Integrated idler
It's 18.5% lighter, all while squeezing in larger bearings for improved reliability. It's quieter too, thanks to a lower RPM motor that's said to reduce motor whine, and Rocky have removed the upper chain slider found on previous versions to reduce both noise and drag.
One advantage of both motors over other systems is the use of a conventional bottom bracket which isn't part of the motor, making replacement as simple as with a conventional bike. The system uses conventional RaceFace crankarms, with either a DH-width 149mm x 30mm or a 156mm x 24mm spindle. The BB92 bottom bracket is offset to the non-drive side to accommodate a custom spider that houses a sprag clutch (like a freewheel). This is needed to allow the cranks to back-pedal without turning the motor.
Both the old motor (left) and the new one (right) use a spring-loaded pulley (circled) to sense the tension in the chain, which corresponds to the torque applied by the rider and motor. The position of the pulley wheel is detected by a Hall sensor for rapid response. The new motor pulley uses a steel spring which is less sensitive to temperature changes.
Rocky say their fast-acting torque sensor "removes unwanted lag time to give an instantaneous and natural response when the power is applied." The motor's assistance is designed to peak at a cadence of 85rpm while providing plenty of support at lower and higher cadences. Meanwhile, the overrun - the time taken for the motor to stop after you stop pedalling - has been reduced for a more natural feel.
Rocky has integrated the display screen into the top-tube, where it shows information like the assistance mode, battery level and speed. This should make it harder to damage than bar-mounted displays like those from Bosch or Shimano. A small remote to change the power modes is located by the grip. Rocky calls the four assistance modes Ludicrous, Trail Plus, Trail, and Eco.
The top-tube mounted display is a neater solution than most.
Battery capacity has been increased from 672Wh to 720Wh (about a 7% improvement), putting it in touch with Bosch's biggest 750Wh battery. The battery is still removable for off-bike charging by releasing the cover and retention bolt. The new Powerplay bikes are compatible with Rocky's Overtimepack, an external range extender that gives an extra 314Wh of battery capacity on top of the 720Wh internal pack, for a total of 1,034Wh of energy. That's among the biggest total battery capacities of any e-MTB.
There are two chargers: a two amp and a four-amp version. The slower one is good for a 0-100% charge in 7 hours 35 minutes, while the four amp can do it in 3 hours 55 minutes.
The Altitude (left) and Instinct PowerplayUpdated Instinct and Altitude Powerplay
The Altitude is designed for enduro-style riding with a 170mm fork and 160mm rear travel (10mm more than the previous version), while the Instinct is designed for trail riding with 150/140mm travel. Both use 29" wheels front and rear in all sizes (the previous Altitude Powerplay was 27.5"). Both bikes are available with carbon and alloy frames and share the same motor and design updates.
"The Altitude was designed for aggressive, high-speed riding," says Rocky's PR, "while the Instinct is meant for long days of exploration and efficient riding." My view is that if you have a motor you may as well have more travel for climbing and descending.
The new motor has a higher idler position than the previous version, and no guide ring lowering the chain back down towards the chainring. This creates a higher chain line, which Rocky have taken advantage of to raise the main pivot for a more rearward axle path. It's not as high as some high-pivot bikes, so Rocky are calling it a mid-high pivot design. The axle path has about as much rearward as forwards movement throughout the travel, similar to Trek's "high-ish-pivot" Session.
In addition to the more rearward axle path, the suspension has been made a touch more progressive compared to previous designs for more bottom-out resistance. Note the graphic above shows the shock rate, which is the inverse of the leverage ratio that we're more used to seeing. The Altitude has around 31% progression in the leverage ratio throughout the travel when calculated in the more common way.
The Altitude and Instinct Powerplay offer four geometry settings using the rotating chip (left) plus two chainstay settings, 10 mm apart.Frame details
The new Powerplay bikes get Rocky's RIDE-4 geometry adjustment system, which offers four geometry configurations via one rotating flip chip on the shock link. There's also a 10mm chainstay adjustment chip at the rear axle to further tweak the geometry, bringing the total geometry configurations to eight. The chainstay length is around 437mm in the short setting or 447mm in the long setting. Compared to the outgoing models, there's also added downtube and chainstay protection, shuttle guard and a chain guide; plus updated tube profiles for greater front-end stiffness, as well as improved rattle-free cable routing and dual bearings at the chainstay and seatstay for increased stiffness and durability. Size-specific shock tunes are a nice touch, too.
Claimed weight for the Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 is 23.53 kg (51.9 lbs) for a size large. Claimed weights for the other models are TBC. According to Rocky, this weight includes DoubleDown tires and CushCore inserts, which are fitted to the Carbon 90, Carbon 70, and Alloy 70 models. A pair of CushCore inserts weigh around 520g (1.15 lbs).Geometry
The geometry of both bikes closely mirrors their non-motorized equivalents. Part of the reason Rocky wanted to develop their own motor was to allow room to design the pivot locations and motor together, rather than fitting them around an exiting motor housing. One implication of this is the chainstay length is no longer than the human-powered bikes, and among the shortest for a 29er eMTB. This should make it a bit easier to lift the front wheel compared to some of the e-bikes out there.
Compared to the outgoing bikes, the reach and wheelbase have been lengthened considerably. Roughly speaking, the reach numbers have moved up one size. Pricing and Availability
The Altitude Powerplay and Instinct Powerplay will be available this winter from Rocky Mountain dealers. Regional availability may vary.
Altitude Powerplay Carbon 90 Rally Edition: $13,129 CAD / $10,649 USD
Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70: $11,339 CAD / $9,059 USD
Altitude Powerplay Alloy 70: $9,239 CAD / $7,779 USD
Altitude Powerplay Alloy 50: $8,399 CAD / $6,999 USD
Altitude Powerplay Alloy 30 Coil: $7,349 CAD / $5,749 USD
Instinct Powerplay Carbon 90: $14,699 CAD / $12,039 USD
Instinct Powerplay Carbon 70: $11,549 CAD / $9,159 USD
Instinct Powerplay Alloy 70: $8,819 CAD / $7,459 USD
Instinct Powerplay Alloy 50: $7,769 CAD / $6,499 USD
Instinct Powerplay Alloy 30: $6,929 CAD / $5,599 USD