Powerplay: Wade Simmons in the South of France

Jul 10, 2017
by Rocky Mountain Bicycles  

Words by Wade Simmons
Photos by Matt Wragg


I have always been an early adopter—whether it’s freeride bikes in 1997 or eMTBs in 2017. When Rocky Mountain asked me to be a part of the Altitude Powerplay’s launch video, I was instantly on board. Mountain biking is my life. Climbing, descending, XC, freeride, e-bikes, whatever. I live for it all, and I was excited to be a part of this. And maybe a little part of me likes rocking the boat.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

I was involved in the “regular” Altitude’s development and I had given feedback on some of the early eMTB prototypes, but the goal of this project was to document my first taste of the production Altitude Powerplay.

We sat down and made the call to travel to the South of France, with its warm climate, spectacular trails, and delicious carbohydrates. Europe is leading the charge on eMTBs, so this was the perfect opportunity to explore what Rocky Mountain’s DNA would bring to the land of croissants and Strava-doping.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
The coastline of the Mediterranean Sea is a welcome sight during Canada's colder months.

After a redeye flight from Vancouver to Nice and a few hours of driving, we arrive at our first shoot location and meet up with our friends Gaetan and Gaetan. Thankfully, one of them goes by “Baguette” (his last name sounds like du pain, and the French are serious about their bread).

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

I am jet-lagged to shit, but can’t resist taking the bike out for a spin. “Moment of truth,” I say to Baguette.

Altitude Powerplay. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Old dog, new tricks.

I was blown away. My exhausted, delirious enthusiasm in the film is genuine. That moment is me realizing that the possibilities of e-bikes are truly endless.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

The next day, we find this perfectly scooped wallride that just begged to be ridden, but it has a rough, slightly uphill approach.

“I’m hitting that,” I call it out the moment I see it, but in truth I’m not sure it’ll work. I put in a few cranks and carve the whole thing first try.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

What surprised me most was how the added power opened up new possibilities everywhere. I was able to keep things flowing and link that wallride up with all kinds of other features. This zone was too damn fun!

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Europe has some things figured out.

On the advice of Rocky Mountain EWS team manager Lilian, we eventually make our way down to Toulon for a change of pace. The terrain there is amazing—extremely technical, with epic backdrops overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s no wonder that this is a breeding ground for some of the world’s fastest riders.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Again, I am blown away by the bike; this time by the climbing. Although I got my start as an XC racer and I do love technical climbs, I’ve always enjoyed some help from gravity. The Powerplay turns that notion on its head, and I quickly take full advantage of the additional speed and flow on the punchy, difficult climbs the area had to offer.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Rough, scrabbly climbs for days.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Just keep an eye on the trail and don’t blow a corner! Seriously, don’t blow a corner.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to travel the globe riding my bike, but damn there are a lot of horrible wakeup calls. So, each morning (is 4am even considered morning?) I drag myself out of bed with all the grace of an angry, nearsighted badger, and we head out to catch first light.

“Not sure this is going to happen today,” says Brian, our producer, cat-herder, and resident worry wart. We are engulfed in a thick layer of marine fog while getting our breakfast—remember when I said the French take their bread seriously?

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

The video team is worried the fog won’t clear in time for the sun to crack, but since we’ve come all this way...

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

We get unbelievably lucky. The fog breaks, swirling as it lifts over the craggy seaside mountains, and we are treated to an epic, unforgettable sunrise.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Mountain biking.

Forget about the bike! That moment, dropping in above the foggy ruins was absolutely surreal. What follows is one of the best days I’ve had on the bike in a long, long time.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

We wrap the film up that evening. There’s a certain excitement after a successful trip when you know you got exactly what you were after. An ocean side cantina was the scene of some celebration that night, reflecting on good times and new horizons.

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.

This trip shined a new light on mountain biking for me. There is a paradigm shift underway. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Throughout this trip I realized I wasn’t riding an eMTB to make my riding any easier, I was riding an eMTB to open doors to things a regular bike couldn’t. This old dog is learning some new tricks, finding new lines on old trails, and having a blast. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

——

Altitude Powerplay trip. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Wade and his Altitude Powerplay.

Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay is an eMTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike. It brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike and opens the door to amazing terrain for all. The Altitude Powerplay is available in select European markets only.


Video by Liam Mullany
Additional filming by Gaetan Riou
Edited by David Peacock & Liam Mullany
Produced by Brian Park
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Photography by Matt Wragg
Special thanks to Fred Glo, Lilian Georges, Edgar Martins, Tribe Sport Group, Gaetan Riou, Sarah Tatine, and Gaetan Dupin

“Omar”
Performed by Bayonne
Courtesy of Mom + Pop
By Arrangement with Hidden Track Music
open.spotify.com/track/54f36LcrbW4X9XPtdBZr3N



54 Comments

  • 34 5
 Obesity is also the future...
  • 10 0
 I have to agree, you see more if it every day...
  • 9 3
 Yes and butthurtness is blowing the stock market
  • 6 0
 @cunning-linguist: Don't worry. Axle widths are keeping up nicely.
  • 6 0
 @vinay: only 2mm a year, judging by some of the fat C&%#'s I see around they need to be growing in metres!!!
  • 4 4
 Look in the mirror in 10 or even 20 years. You might be surprised.
  • 3 0
 Best reply ever.
  • 3 2
 not really as you still have to pedal.
  • 7 0
 @colourclashing: If you went to the gym to lift some weights and had the weight machine 'assist' you to make that bench press would it still be the same thing, would you still be lifting the same weight?

- If you went for a run but it was on a conveyor helping you to run the same distance would it be the same as running with no help?

Sure, you still have to pedal and Ebikes are fantastic for people with any physical issues (weight, injury, age etc) but its tragic to see how many are being sold to able people, all with the excuse of 'but I get the same workout, honest, I just rider further / harder' - No chance, not from the guys I have seen seated up fire-road climbs barely breaking a sweat while others put the effort in.
  • 3 0
 @Racer951: true dat. Also, it's one thing in the hands of skillful riders who wanna mess around, but when you start giving weaker unskilled riders the tool to go much faster, it's a window for more crashes, frustration on the trail (imagine a complete rookie buzzing past you early on the trail, just to become an obstacle on the technical sections a minute later!), and anti-bike regulations. But, this goddamn industry has to re-invent itself every couple of years to make $$$, so they'll market anything aggressively, and use anyone (why, wade? why???) and with enough time and effort people will swallow any pitch, dumb as it can be.
  • 1 0
 @foxinsocks: wade on eMtb, Brett leaves Rocky Mtn. the world is falling to pieces
  • 19 0
 He didnt earn that beer.
  • 15 1
 Can't blame the godfather. I don't think e-mtbs will ruin biking; e-mtb'ers will probably never be considered part of the crowd, just like dudes who ride electric longboards. But the thing that's hard to get over is that mountain bikes are the greatest thing on earth, due in large part to being one of the most efficient and fun machines out there, and we put motors on them. It's like climbing a mountain, thinking you're in the wilderness, and then finding they built a road to the top with a souvenir shop. It does something to you.
  • 17 1
 no thanks.
  • 14 0
 Imagine what he can be do on a motorbike! oh wait! He can!
  • 8 1
 I am afraid that e-mtb will allow more people to access remote areas more often. In germany there are only few real retreats for wildlife left and I can imagine if these are invaded by a crowd of e-bikers (Who couldn't just because of fitness and time reasons) officials might find it easier to ban all mtbers from the smaller trails, as they already try in many regions to preserve natural habitat. That's my main, and obviously egoistic, concern.
  • 9 1
 WADE!!! We can get old man Depends sponsorship together. ❤.

Next Rocky Mountain trials bikes
  • 5 1
 Opposition to eBikes is like opposition to gay marriage.

The loudest and most adamantly opposed are affected about two-tenths of five-eighths of bugger all nothing.

If someone choose to stick an eBike up their bum, it doesn't have any effect on your life. Why do you care?!

(Disclosure: I don't own an eBike)
  • 9 6
 I saw it happening over three years ago when I tried one. All you need to do is to put a few famours riders on Ebikes in some sick edits and people will start to like them. Off course some oxes like 26forlife crowd will never change their mind and stay true to God only knows which values but Ebikes may easily kill a big part of sales of regular bikes. Danny Hart, Sam Hill, just put them on these things. The moment Santa Cruz makes one Peaty will be the first one to smile to the camera and say how great they are. Semenuk just posted a vid riding one. Test by bike radar proves that for amateurs, heavier bike is faster down the hill As to this video Wade used to ride RMX7 with Super Monster, this Ebike is lighter slacker and better in every single aspect. Cool video I enjoyed it, greatly.
  • 2 2
 Dirt mag (on their separate section) has been testing the subject. How hard do you work on the uphills, downhills etc. You basically end up pushing harder, which I can understand. If I'm riding downhill, have got a tailwind or basically when I feel flow I'm pushing a bit harder than if I'm slugging uphill, against a headwind or through loose sand or mud. So I can imagine if the bike gives you that nudge, you'll just end up pushing yourself all the way. Sure, you also have people who just let the bike roll on the downhills or with a strong tailwind without pushing themselves to go even faster, but how many of those are there in mountainbiking? Like, how many in serious mountainbiking, the ones willing to spend this kind of money. I was in Switzerland a few weeks ago (Meiringen). Proper hills. You weren't allowed to take your bike on the uplift but you were free to ride your bike (pedal assisted or not) up the trails. Yes if I'd live there, I'd get one immediately. Of course, just riding all the time. No uplift, no queue for the uplift, no muddy smelly uplift because of me. Just out there blasting all the time. Can see the appeal. As it is, I don't live there so I don't need a bike like that right now. Doesn't make me against them by any means.

As for the video, I like it a lot. As for the pictures, the one when he's riding down through the fog is my favorite. Proper wallpaper material. Would you need an eMTB for that? No, you can either take a heli-drop (which surely isn't as lazy as riding with pedal assist), maybe a 4WD (which surely cause much less damage to the soil an eMTB) or get up even earlier and ride or hike your bike up in the cold wet fog (he already got up at 4am).

As for 26" wheels, sorry they're here to stay. If you've got a bike and it makes you smile, why change?
  • 2 0
 @vinay: Im sure guys that want to push themselves as hard as possible (The kind that review for Dirt mag for example) will push things on an e-bike but this wont be the case for many customers who will use them to simply allow less effort to be spent climbing to the trailhead.

The guys that dont like to put the effort in still had to climb that trail (even if they push up) if they want to ride it, now they can just crawl their way up using an e-bike, they dont want to 'push harder' so never will and their fitness will never grow like it should.

In 'big country' rides where you need elite-level fitness then fair enough, but I see these at the local 7 mile trail centre loop, children ride up many of the climbs ffs - an ebike in this situation unless you have a physical condition is plain lazyness, nothing more.
  • 2 0
 @vinay:
I was having this conversation with a guy at work this morning (he's recently bought an e-MTB in addition to his 'normally aspirated' Trek)
He uses both regularly on the same trails. He says on his trek he will do climb 'A' at say 4-5mph in a low gear and be at the top completely knackered. On his e-bike he will do the same climb the next day but use a couple of gears up, climb at around 10-12mph and still be completely knackered at the top. Basically if you use them right you should still be totally spent after a ride but with the e-bike you've either gone twice as far or done it twice as fast.
He also added that he can now go on a ride with his much younger, much fitter son and keep up with him/not hold him up for longer so for him it's a win/win.
  • 2 1
 @Racer951: I have seen enough inconsiderate a*sholes and people who should not ride where they ride (due to poor fitness, skill or equipment) on trails through 17 years I ride, that E-bikes don't bother me. Just go to any bikepark and look at sht that goes down there. Dead sailors flying, meticulously manufacturing brake bumps, standing behind jumps, I mean stupidity knows no bounds. Same on regular trails, screaming at hikers while hauling brakes.

Ebikes cost hell of a lot of money, by average double of a good bike) so that will filter out a huge portion of idiots. Then lots of idiots who ride analog bikes these days will move to E-bikes. So I would not expect crowded trails. Absolute skill loosers will still keep away from difficult features. Ebikes do not cause more trail erosion. When it comes to trail access the legislation is simple: forbid the use of vehicles with ANY sort of motor in wildlife areas. I don't mind sharing marked bike specific trails with E-bikes.

There is very little if anything to worry about
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I have no worries about erosion or loss of trail access, as Ebikes are speed limited I think thats largely a load of bull, especially as duffers locking brakes up do far more damage than climbing more quickly - I just have a personal issue with the requirement for fit and able people to ride an e-bike on very un-demanding terrain.

You want one in the mountains or you have a duff leg etc fair enough - Using it on a 40 min mildly undulating trail centre that is already overpopulated doesnt seem like a good idea though, nobody wants some obese cretin steaming up behind them on a singletrack climb while you are putting in a lot of effort, it just removes all of the heirachy of rider fitness and skill which we seem to just about manage here, there are already plenty of people that moan when caught etc but usually very fast climbers can also descent fairly well - not if they are on an e-bike though!
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Ebikes do not cause more trail erosion ...

I don't think that's true. If e-bike riders say that they ride longer, than my conclusion ist, that they use more kilometers of trails. Therefore there's more trail erosion
  • 4 1
 Mr. wade, you are not climbing those trials! ur E-bike is doing it. It will never have the feeling that you achieved something that you climbed a tough trail and feel good about it. Never the less, these e-bikes are becoming cooler everyday, the battery is looking slacker and probably in near future gonna look like a normal bike, but will never have the feeling that you are doing it in ur own, which is pretty damn amazing.
  • 6 3
 I really hope these bikes will eventually be permanently banned from trails here, and that the same legislation as for off-road/enduro motorcycles will be applied. As you look at how he climbs the stairs, the speed he carries and how seemingly effortlessly he does it, you can't help but think that what he's riding is closer to a motorcycle than to a bike. Honestly, not sure even someone like Nino Shurter could keep up with him on his "normal" mtb...
  • 2 0
 calm down froggy...
  • 13 7
 THIS PAGE IS NOT FOR MOTORCYCLING!!!
  • 2 7
flag fiatpolski (Jul 11, 2017 at 0:32) (Below Threshold)
 And an e-mtb is NOT a motorcycle.
  • 8 1
 @fiatpolski: does it have a motor? Is it a cycle?
Do fat middle-aged men ride it?
If yes to the above its a motorcycle
  • 5 2
 Damn, backstabbed by the godfather. Bugger off with this e-shit already. Go fondle your throttle somewhere else and leave us real mtb'ers to enjoy a good challenge in peace.
  • 3 0
 Don't feel angry, feel superior. See? All better now.

I'm more worried about hitting one of these things climbing up a downhill trail...
  • 3 2
 guys...is anyone complaining that the guys are using the chairlifts in Whistler...? Why is it cool to use them and so uncool to ride an E-MTB in terms of reaching the top? I´m still riding and loving my ´conventional´ bike...but I can´t follow your arguments.
  • 2 2
 that's so true and counts for shuttling by car as well
  • 2 0
 it may be its better because the chairlift allready exists, so the operator can use his infrastructure allmost the whole year. Sure, the chairlift uses electricity,and it is maybe an environmental pollution, but what about all the trash with this used batteries, its verry toxic, you can hardly recycle them, and for fabrication them they use a lot of resources like lithium, it is the same with the solar panels, i dont got the right sollution, but i can´t hear that "clean" Energy anymore.
Why in the Mountains, its recreational area, there is no need to hurry.
  • 2 0
 You pay to ride the chairlift and the trails accessed by the chairlift are designed to accommodate the increased use. They are also A LOT more worn then trails you climb to un-assisted.

Shuttle trails are known to be beat and are minimally maintained, is that how you'd like all your trails to be?

Remote trails maintain their character because they are harder to get to. Once that obstacle is removed, might as well let all motorized vehicles have access.
  • 3 0
 I think you're missing the point here. People reaching the top of some trails thanks to chairlifts and shuttles is one thing, fat dentists riding on trails that were once only accessible through pedaling, will and motivation is another. Ebikes are going to enable unfit, untrained and unskilled people to ride in places were only fewer people went, which was for the best. And it's not only a matter of trail erosion, it's also about how your ride is spoiled as you see, that after a 3h long effort to the summit of some trail, some fat dentist is already there, taking a selfie on his ebike whilst tweeting with his chubby fingers "epic session, smashed all the KOMs on Strava".
  • 2 0
 The King is dead, long live the King!

For those who are like to weep: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FMGYycBAMU

And Yes, I´m still having fun on my Kona Coiler 26 from 2008 Smile
  • 4 0
 Damn it. Got a tendency to believe all of the godfathers' words...
  • 3 0
 This guy looks healthy. Why healthy people should by use this electric devices? Maybe because they are lazy....
  • 3 0
 Wade your da man but wtf?
  • 3 0
 Why?
  • 2 0
 Hahhaha, loved the kitty cat clip. Puuuuurrr like an e-MTB motor.
  • 1 0
 While you're riding your e-bike up the hill, you can light up an e-cigarette and check your e-mail on your iPhone.
  • 2 1
 That's it. It is Wade-approved.
  • 1 0
 Anyone know the locations used here?
  • 1 0
 South of France all in the Var location.
  • 2 3
 as an addition to your mtb absolutely brilliant
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.029649
Mobile Version of Website