Video: Jesse Melamed's EWS-Winning Rocky Mountain Altitude - Bike Check

Oct 27, 2020
by Pinkbike Originals  


Christina Chappetta catches up with Jesse Melamed at his home in Squamish, BC to learn more about how he raced his Rocky Mountain Altitude to victory twice in the shortened 2020 Enduro World Series.







132 Comments

  • 275 7
 I like "reading" bike checks at work, but I can't read a video. Is PB become PinkTube?
  • 70 0
 100% on the same page on this one. Especially with all the video call these days. There is always down time where you are on a call and nothing is really happening. So you can read here and there, but not necessarily watch a video.
  • 47 0
 I think PB is shifting to more video content because they get ad revenue from their youtube channel aswell as what they post on the PB main site. Like a double payday for one video I presume.
  • 21 1
 The only videos I actually risk getting yelled at my teacher for is Brandon semenuk and heavy freeride parts.
  • 17 0
 Same. I can read a bike check in class, but watching one is much more difficult
  • 5 1
 you tube Ad revenue dolla dolla bills yo!
  • 5 0
 @gossman: pretty much. Ad money for the clicks on the website and ad money from YouTube views. Gotta diversify your revenue streams. Now get back to work!! :-P
  • 3 1
 use captions ??
  • 1 0
 @bmxsnox: That's what I'm doing right now lol
  • 45 0
 You could turn on subtitles? See nice images and read along at the same time?
  • 2 2
 Yeah, this is why I don't bother with most of Vital's content.
  • 1 0
 Thank you! Thought I was the only one.
  • 11 0
 @JesseMelamed: I was about to slam videos, but you had to be reasonable. Now they are just slightly annoying.
  • 6 0
 @mtbforlife4: It's also well known that despite comments here to the contrary (and my personal preferences) visitors are way more likely to watch a video than read static text. It goes:

Clickbait Headline > Social Media reaction to the headline >Clip of actual video no longer than 15 seconds > Actual full-length video > .......................................................................... people read actual original text made up of ... words and stuff.

You lose audience along the way, hence sites that depend on advertising optimize for "stickiness" and "engagement"

Welcome to the idiocracy!
  • 2 0
 YT is blocked on my work computer, and cell signal is too weak for my phone.
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: Not nerdy mountain bike riders. We want text and detailed photos.
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: Jesse, just curious why you trained all winter on the Slayer and the reason you chose to switch to the Altitude? Cheers
  • 2 0
 I'd be very careful about using Pinktube at work...
  • 15 0
 @mayha49: I happened to use a Slayer at a race in the fall and liked it more than I thought I would, so I asked Rocky if I could try a Slayer for the winter. We knew that getting the Altitudes before launch may not go to plan so we had to prepare for the races before the launch date. I tested Slayer against my current Instinct BC at the time and preferred the Slayer so I decided to stick on that all winter and prepare to race that at the beginning of the year. As we know, those races didn't happen. So I switched to the Altitude when we got it, didn't look back and was able to race with it and win when the first races came around.
  • 1 0
 @sdaly: hahahahahahaha NSFW
  • 1 1
 @mtbforlife4: double dipping for your pockets rather than pleasing your readership is not why I came to PB 20 years ago
  • 2 2
 @DHhack: I work plenty, but this double pay crap is just that: crap. Trends like are the same thing that kill entire forms of media. Print is dying (dead) because of ad revenue and now youtube is forcing formally wonderful organic content like PB to start getting yucky. But yeah, maybe I should go back to work : /
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks Kaz, but I wasn't looking for a time machine. We all know the top of feed is where my eyes go.
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: Yeah what @BenPea said, though my only addition is that it doesn't address the root of my issue. Social media, creative digital content, advertising and blogging have become intertwined by necessity over the past 20 years and its one of the worst parts of "the internet". IMO. I will stop at the edge of the rabbit whole and leave you with just this thought, "if you were one of the crazy smart nerds who help connect the world on screens, is this the best use of it you can come up with?? ie FB, Google, Insta, Twitter, Youtube, etc"
  • 2 0
 @whatsstinky: I agree. There is a big(ger than normal) contigent of deep analysis members here, compared with your typical social media hub, and we really consume the technical & detailed content. I've got to believe though that PB still does better catering to the less in-depth viewer; show them more ads, count higher metrics when selling promotion.
  • 2 0
 Quick summary: "Obviously it worked"
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: There was a time when PB catered to bike nerds, because it was built by and for bike nerds. It's quickly shifting gears (pun maybe intended) to grab the uninitiated, just like the trail networks building rec path grade flow trails that make your gravel bike feel over gunned. It's just how things go. A sport blows up and people want in, but us crusty dirt demons are going to make a stink when given the opportunity. (Don't let anyone know we actually like those fast flow trails)
  • 11 1
 @mtbforlife4: for the record, we are ADDING video content, not shifting resources to it. We do more original written stories today than ever before, but we're having fun adding video to the mix.

One of our mandates is to grow the tent of mountain biking, and there's a massive audience in video—we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't doing video as well. Plus it's a great format for reviews and conveying personality with people like Jesse.
  • 2 0
 @gossman: you're generally on the money, but we're still pretty damn nerdy... www.pinkbike.com/news/tags/behind-the-numbers
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Oh don't get me wrong, the nerds behind the curtain are still nerds and I still love y'all to death!! All the heat in my rant is really aimed at the "man" driving this big machine. We are all just cogs on the gear. Ahh more puns!
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: See you done put us in our crusty place. This is the kind of wonderful forum that the internet is great for. And yeah, we get you. You guys are pumping out so much content it makes the bike world spin on its seat post so don't go stopping!
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: I can ride but I can't read good...
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: also, in situations like these it's only the people that don't like video (admittedly myself) that complain. Not those that like it. While there might be x amount complaining about video bike checks there could be double the amount enjoying it and not saying so
  • 5 0
 @blackapturphoto: this sums up the entire internet and possibly planet.
  • 1 0
 It's the rider not the bike....
  • 54 0
 Crank arm finish wear is one of those subtle cues I often notice. Like a secret handshake for folks who ride a lot...
  • 36 0
 Part of me wished that shimano could figure this out, but the other part of me loves the patina.
  • 15 3
 I like to keep them looking fresh, only takes with a simple strip of helitape.
  • 29 0
 I'd much rather see a bike check on a bike that's been properly used, rather than some garage queen, or one that's had fresh parts fitted just for the photo.
  • 17 0
 I think it depends on foot position also. I ride with my feet on the outside of the pedals so I have never had wear on my crank arms. It would drive me crazy if my shoes rubbed my cranks on every revolution.
  • 3 0
 @n8dawg82: Pedal spindle length as well.
  • 3 33
flag kntr (Oct 27, 2020 at 7:50) (Below Threshold)
 Clipless riders never experience this.
  • 25 7
 @kanter: he's riding clipless, so am i. Same pedals, his feet rub, my feet don't.
I'm assuming you're kidding but on the off chance you're not, shut up
  • 1 0
 @n8dawg82: yeah same, my bike's got a thicc rear end so I set my pedals up that my feet are as far outside as possible. Plenty of scratches where they hit the ground but none on the foot side.
  • 1 0
 @Adamrideshisbike: except when it wears through the wall to Shimano's hollow core. I just did this with a pair of Saints. They are probably still stronger than many other cranks despite this though.
  • 8 3
 @Bikerdude137: Ive ridden Shimano clippless for 22 years and ride 3000-4000 miles a year and I never get rub. Weird. No need to be so rude, dude. Must be the placing of the clips on the shoes. Ive never seen that much rub on a clipless riders cranks.
  • 2 0
 Because of my large feet I happen to wear through frame tape and the paint on my chainstays within a few months of riding. Yet to find a bike where this doesn't happen.
  • 3 0
 @kanter: yeah! same. 25 years of clipless. My current 5 or 6 bikes. 2 of them road/gravel, different clipless pedals, different shoes. No rub. Last couple of years I got some of them fitted on a proper bike fitter, that might help nowdays but I always had that thing in mind, too much rotation might not be good for the knee.
  • 4 1
 @mountainsofsussex: Oh this bike has been used alright! It looks nice for sure, but Jesse has ridden and raced 100's if not 1,000's of km's on it already.
  • 9 0
 This is the greatest response to the crank wear I have seen! I like it, secret handshake it is!
  • 30 0
 My favourite part of reading articles about @JesseMelamed is his participation in the comments. Thanks man and it was awesome to see you win twice this year!
  • 27 0
 You're welcome! It was awesome to do so, looking forward to more chances next year!
  • 27 2
 740 mm bars are going to have trendy enduro bros losing sleep tonight.
  • 5 1
 Trendy enduro bros need to see Sam Hills setup too then, I believe he is using 750s
  • 2 1
 I run 730s since cutting them for barspins, the first few real dh laps were pretty terrifying but honestly fine when you get used to it.
  • 8 0
 Jesse's also only 5'6"... which makes that about right on the trendy enduro bro scale if trendy enduro bro is 6 feet and running 800.
  • 5 0
 Funny I have been on 740's for 5+ years. A lot of the top Enduro racers have been on 740-760 forever. Graves, Clementz, Rude, etc have been on that width from the beginning.
  • 1 0
 haha, funny
  • 11 0
 @islandforlife: that's why at 6'5" I've duct-taped two ski poles together to get the required 940mm bar width.
  • 8 1
 At 6’2” the difference for me between 760 and 800mm is the 760’s have 0% less performance and hit 90% less trees.
  • 1 0
 I'm about 6' with a fairly big wingspan and my bike came with 800s, which I loved as soon as I got on. I'll admit I don't have the greatest upper body strength, so I reckon it helps with control. And let's face it, all the pros are pretty built, so could probably do more leverage than me using 600s. I keep toying with cutting the bars down though, as my local woods are really tight.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: except the most yoked EWS guy Richie Rude runs 750s while Isabeau C at 5' tall runs 760s....

@slickwilly1 gets it...
  • 1 0
 @slickwilly1: I'm 5,11" and went from 780 to 760. Won't be changing back.
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I read it quickly and read “ hairy big wingspan”, silly laugh for my day.
  • 1 0
 I don't know if we've now reached "pick a bar length and be a dick about it", now that the wheel size debate is sorta over? Maybe I'll get the hacksaw out over the weekend. If I don't like it, it's an excuse to buy some shiny new bars. Now, plastic or metal?...
  • 26 2
 Video Frown
  • 16 0
 Come on... we want the juicy deets...

-is that an angleset? External upper cup looks kinda like works components.

-I wonder when the 2.5" dhr2 will be available... still not on their website yet.

-I'm curious why jesse prefers the older dhx2 over the new 2021 model.
  • 8 5
 - yes, to make this bike feel like his old Slayer that he as comfortable with (mentioned custom parts, but no specifics, in this vid; but he has mentioned it elsewhere) . Seems like to help promote the new Altitude, RM forced/asked a pro to ride it with a bunch of custom parts to make it closer to an different model.

-no idea

- probably because he was comfortable with it (seems to be a key for Jesse, feeling comfortable on the bike so can let it rip and it responds predictably), but Fox doesn't seem to be forcing sponsored riders to upgrade without a solid testing and tuning cycle
  • 4 0
 @just6979: Being comfortable on a bike is key for EVERY pro. Ain't gonna win if yer not comfy on the setup.
  • 1 1
 @CaptainSnappy: they why do we also hear about the kids who don't know or care anything about their bike, just jump on a brand new one and win?
  • 17 0
 @just6979 Pretty much answered it all. Thanks for that! RM didn't actually force me onto the Altitude, but I liked the rest of the bike more for racing so I wanted to make it work and the angleset gave me a reach and HA closer to the Slayer that I had been riding.

Also no idea on the tire but I like it!

Same thing.
  • 13 0
 @just6979: I would say that is not as often and some people have loads of natural skill and talent. I have done the same thing in the past. But for me to come into a season and ride consistently fast with no crashes or issues requires a bike that is perfectly dialled in and comfortable.
  • 12 0
 How many flats do you get per season (that can't be fixed with plugs) now that you are running inserts?
  • 23 0
 I don't want to jinx myself but I got zero flats this year. *knocks on wood*
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: damn I’m jealous!
  • 3 0
 @DHhack: Good setup.
  • 5 0
 I love how people are complaining that he had to ride the altitude over the Slayer when he won more EWS races then anyone else this year.

98 percent of people commenting couldn’t even tell the difference with the custom components if you were to be put in a blind test with out looking at the bike riding it outside of the headangle.

I bought the new Altitude recently and can tell you it’s the best bike I’ve ridden so far. If you want a slightly different headangle that won’t make you any quicker anyway buy an angleset they’re like a 130 bucks.
  • 6 0
 Glad to hear you are liking it! And thanks for backing me up, I appreciate it.
  • 8 0
 rad bike, rad rider!
  • 3 0
 I like the format, preview by CC and then details and rational from JM , having ride video mixed in was a nice touch. Have to say that knowing he won on the bike gave it more credibility.
  • 4 0
 That graphic is siiiiiiick
  • 4 1
 Exposed zip tie on the inside edge of your grips? Doesn’t that tear up your hands?
  • 1 0
 I noticed that too, i was hoping for an explanation. Jesse why the Zip tie on the grips?
  • 2 0
 @fedfox: he cuts his grips down as he has small hands. Ziptie on inside and wired on outside edge
  • 1 2
 @fedfox: Squamish is in a temperate rain forest. If it's wet enough, non-lock ons rotate.
  • 1 0
 @CaptainSnappy: I guess I understand that it is there to prevent rotation. But a jagged piece of plastic so close to your hand doesn’t seem ideal. I would think that inevitably there are going to be situations where that ends up under your hand.
  • 4 0
 Nope! Haven't had any issues with it. We ran out of wire so we just tried using a zip tie and it ended up working well.
  • 1 1
 @CaptainSnappy: my esi grips never moved in 4 years of all season riding.
  • 4 0
 The wear on that water bottle is pretty impressive.
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed 170mm cranks and the 11-45 cassette - don´t know the chaingring - but wow there is some serious horsepower if you are pedaling a whole day in Finale/Switzerland with that combo
  • 2 0
 32t. Definitely grinding away.
  • 1 0
 The best “paint job”it has to be the Sam Hill dia dos mortos day ,but nice to see real riders talking about their bikes so open up ,they aren’t sharing any secrets just saying what is working for them at basis ,thanks
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed
Can you tell more information why you chose 170mm cranks over 165mm? And why a longer bike requires a longer stem? Hope to see something that helps me in a right choice =)
  • 2 0
 I have wanted to try 165mm but haven't had the chance yet. Longer stem to bring my weight more over the front wheel with the longer bike. Seems counter-intuitive to go longer and longer, but it's working!
  • 3 4
 Why not just race the Slayer that was used all winter? Rocky would rather have him race a bike with a bunch of custom stuff just to show off the new model (which isn't even sold in this configuration) than race a bike he was already comfortable on?

(Yes, I know he won, and in hindsight the bike was great for him, but why would they force that change from the get go?)
  • 10 0
 I think it's two things:
1) Marketing. New enduro bike = Rocky wants it seen racing and winning. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. You're a paid sponsored rider.. and you want to stay in their good books and keep getting juicy contracts? You do what your sponsor asks... even if they're asking nicely or even suggesting (yes, winning helps too).

2) The Slayer is a big heavy overbuilt 170/180 beast of a freeride bike... but with newer progressive geometry and kinematics. Jesse's only choice at the time was the old school geometry of the Instinct BC with 150/160 or the Slayer. Neither of those bikes are as good of a choice as the new Altitude which has newer progressive geometry and kinematics like the slayer, but in a lighter less overbuilt form like the BC Instinct and with little extra travel to help with smashing... but not so much (like the Slayer) that it sucks energy for the pedally sections of an enduro race. Also don't have to pull the heft of the that Slayer up the transitions. Yes, this bike is no doubt still pretty hefty with DH/DD casings, cushcore and coil... but not as heavy as the Slayer with the same spec.

As Jesse said, they basically gave him a new bike right before the race when he had been training on the Slayer. Sounds like geometry tweaks were strictly for keeping the general geometry, kinematics and grip levels feeling the same so he could feel confident pushing hard. As he alluded to... I think we'll see those custom chips and angle-set come off and he'll find a set-up he likes within what the Altitude offers.
  • 1 6
flag just6979 (Oct 27, 2020 at 9:26) (Below Threshold)
 @islandforlife:

1: I don't think Jesse should have refused the bike, but I do think it's pretty inconsiderate of Rocky to shove it at him right before what is already a damn weird race season.

2: obviously not the same "newer progressive geometry and kinematics like the slayer", hence all the tweaks...

3: time will tell, but i'm a bit skeptical that all those custom bits come off. maybe the shock/link chip when it does get the newest shock...
  • 11 1
 Like @islandforlife mentioned, I do think the Altitude is more suitable for enduro racing. It brings everything the Slayer has into a lighter, race focused package. And to clear it up, I knew exactly when I would be getting the Altitude and had plenty of time to ride it and get used to it before racing thanks to Rocky wrapping it in that cool maple leaf camo from RideWrap.
That being said, I wasn't feeling as good on it as my slayer. But I think it was down to the shock. In the end, I switched to the coil before going to Europe and it made a huge difference. At that point I wasn't going to risk changing the custom parts I had put on. I had just won and I was happy with the set up, so I planned to stick on the set up I had for the rest of the season and then spend the winter changing back to the stock set up and getting comfortable on that.
  • 3 0
 @JesseMelamed: sounds like you weren't expecting to like the Slayer as much as you did, given its intended purpose.

Both the Slayer and Altitude are much bigger bikes than the Instinct you used the last couple of years, although your bike setup had been trending in that direction with some of your setup choices. Was the extra rear travel a missing ingredient?

On another note, as a future content idea, it would be super cool to see something like you walking through how to set up a new bike, and what to look for when making setup choices. You seem to be more in tune with setup than most.
  • 7 0
 @DMal: That is actually a very fair point. I had been expecting to transfer from the Instinct BC straight to the Altitude when I got a chance. But in a happen-chance, my bike was stolen at a race and I ended up borrowing a Slayer to ride and loved it! So I asked Rocky to try one for the winter and, like you said, enjoyed it more than I was expecting. I was happy to switch to the Altitude when the time came.
I am actually not sure the rear travel made all the difference, it is quite possible the trend of longer bikes suited me more than I was expecting. I had to change my riding style and position but once I figured it out I was more comfortable going fast than I ever have been.

That is a good idea, but I'm not sure how truthful I could be about it all. There is a lot that goes into it and it really is personal preference. There must be thousands of permutations of setting up a bike! But in the future when I get this bike dialled in over the winter I will do a bike check and can cover some of the things I changed and the reasons for those changes.
  • 3 0
 @JesseMelamed: Congrats man, you were due and seem to be a humble guy getting it done. Anything you miss from the old Instinct when racing or trail riding?
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: You mentioned the coil making a difference, but you were using an air shock on the Slayer right? If the custom were parts supposed to make it as similar as possible to the Slayer that's a bit weird. But hey, if it works it works and in your case it clearly did, congrats on your season!
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: Not really! Although I haven't hopped back on it since riding the Altitude.
  • 2 0
 @crashtor: I had my air shock set up a lot better on my Slayer with it being an MY20 version. I'm sure I would have been happy with the coil on the Slayer too had I tried it.
  • 4 0
 no talk of the angleset?
  • 1 0
 So what is going on with the Instinct? I would think there is still a market for a 140 - 150mm 29er?
  • 2 0
 I would think there is!
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: Good news! Looking forward to seeing a 2021 Instinct or at least a carryover model.
  • 1 0
 I think RM is combining the thunderbolt and instinct platforms as they did with the Instinct BC/Altitude. X-small and small sizes will have 27.5 wheels and med through xl will get the 29 wheels. Ive heard delivery of the 2021 models has been delayed to february, which maybe why they havent released them on their website yet.
  • 1 0
 Numbers....give me more numbers...like Jared Graves ise to and still does on his bikes....
  • 4 0
 Like what? I have a bike check video on my YouTube going over my Slayer. Lots of numbers there!
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: Cool i'll check it out. Wheelbase, chain stay length, head angle...that sort of thing.
  • 1 0
 @klerric: ah I see! that's all on the website of course. But with my adjustments it's roughly 1226WB, 443CS, 64HA
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed: Cool, nice and slack...well doe this year dude racing and with the You Tube channel....Cheers
  • 1 0
 @klerric: Our tracks are usually steep and fast so I prefer it slack for racing.
  • 2 0
 740... surprising even despite Jesse being short, but I get it
  • 1 0
 Great bike, it's a shame you can't buy one. Stinkin' covid. Stinkin' supply chain
  • 2 0
 Don't touch the bike!
  • 6 0
 In fact, don't even look at it.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-NgeXl-PPA
  • 6 5
 No mention of the PUSH fork damper? PUSH coil spring in the fork too?
  • 2 0
 He was talking about his air pressure in the video, so I assume he's not running a coil conversion. But Jesse, if you don't mind, tell us about the damper. Not that I'm anywhere near as aggressive as you, so our needs are different, but it sure is fun to nerd-out on this stuff.
  • 7 0
 @aquanut: Correct, no coil conversion in the fork. Just the standard grip2 damper in the 38. What would you like to know?
I feel like this fork allows me to ride a lot lower in the travel without getting bogged down. It stays nice and level at sag and conforms to the ground well. It's soft and plush but pushes back when I need to pop and takes the big hits when they come.
  • 1 0
 @JesseMelamed:
This the first time I've heard someone talk about riding lower in the travel as a good thing. I get what you're saying, particularly about it staying level. I just always thought it had to be high in the travel to remain plush and supportive. Interesting, thanks!
  • 2 0
 @aquanut: Same, I've seen Push talk about how the early part of the travel is kind of the sweet spot...hence why you dont want to run too much sag and lose that.
  • 2 0
 @aquanut:
@Svinyard
The only reason I put it like that is because I went down a lot in pressure in this fork and it feels a lot softer to the touch than the previous fork setups I had. And when I watch video I seem to be using a lot more of the travel a lot more often but not just diving through it.
  • 1 0
 The highschool bathroom stall special.
  • 1 0
 How tall is Jesse??
  • 2 0
 5'6
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