: Rocky Mountain
Altitude 70RSL CarbonSize
: Bykguy 5’9” 150lbs/XC & DH race backgroundTest Location
: Moab UtahTrails
: Amasa Back, Porcupine Rim, Sovereign
The anticipation of riding warm dry trails in the sun had us making great time on the drive with only NASCAR like pit stops for gas and snacks. After 19 hours on the road, we were pumped to see sunshine and warm-ish weather in Moab. We had barely unloaded the bikes before we had nailed down plans for our first ride the next morning. We all agreed that Amasa Back trail would be the best choice for the first ride as it offered everything you’d want for a bike test ride —5 miles of technical climbs, including ledges, sand patches and plenty of loose rock sections to challenge your balance and traction — followed by 5 more miles of rough, fast rock strewn trail with plenty of drops of all sizes.
With this being my first real ride on the Altitude, I felt very comfortable with the stock size and fit, The cockpit is just long enough that you can get comfortable on long steep climbs, but not so long that you can’t pull the front end up for surprise drops and up over ledges. Rocky Mountain introduced a new geometry concept with the Altitude called “Straight Up Geometry” and what it does is compensate for the slackening of the geometry once you add the riders weight to the bike. In the past, other bike geometry was based on “un-loaded” suspension — meaning without the riders weight added to the bike, the correct suspension set up requires between 20-30% suspension sag (pre-compression of the shock by the rider's weight). Once you do this it causes the head and seat angle to slacken. By slackening the head and seat angles, you produce a less climb friendly geometry with the rider's weight too far back over the center of the bike and this induces a tendency for the bike's front wheel to lift up or wander on really steep climbs.
The Altitude's “Straight Up Geometry” was noticeable on the steep sections on the Amasa Back trail and made for a very comfortable body position for putting down power and getting fantastic traction on loose or sandy climbs. When the time came to descend, I was concerned that the bike might feel twitchy like many XC race bikes with steep geometry often do. I have to hand it to the Altitude — it performed great on the descent, and the 5 inches of rear suspension felt big and plush on the bigger drops and square edge rock hits without feeling twitchy — just responsive and stable, which is just what you want from a “trail” or “XC Marathon” bike. The end of Amasa Back trail came too quickly for me as I was just starting to explore the limits of the Altitude, so the next day's ride would be the world famous Porcupine Rim trail — which is a must do trail for technical riders.
We all awoke early in anticipation of a big 3+ hour ride on Porcupine Rim and I had the Altitude cleaned and lubed — ready for another day of pushing its limits. The Porcupine Trail starts with some fast rocky sweeping sections, then begins a long climb to the top of the canyon rim. This trail is usually dry, but to our surprise, there was snow and mud on some sections which added another element to the day's test ride. The Altitude continued to impress with great balance, fantastic traction and probably the best body position for climbing I’ve ever experienced on a 5” travel “Trail or XC Marathon” bike. If you’re like me and love going as fast as possible downhill, you will look forward to reaching the lookout point on Porcupine Rim — because it’s all downhill from that point — 11 miles and a drop of 2,700 vertical feet to the end of the trail. This is where I can see the limits of most bikes, as this section of the trail has tons of jagged, exposed rock and ledge drops as large as 5 feet — and combined with speeds of up to 60 kph, you can find a bike's handling and suspension weak points really quickly.
As a point of reference for anyone thinking I’m just taking it easy on this bike, my friend from Switzerland is top level XC and Megavalance racer who was riding a pimped out Intense 6.6. He had a hard time keeping me from passing him on the fast, rocky sections of the trail. The Altitude showed great stability on the fast, rough sections and never faltered on the tight technical climbs. I don’t usually get so excited about a test bike, but this is one that I would be stoked to have as my own. The Altitude is a great all round bike that a rider could do an epic 5+ hour mountain ride on the weekends and still have a fast bike for the weekly race series here in a place like Edmonton.