Mountain Biking

The 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude, in for Test – Singletracks.com

Rocky Mountain’s 2021 Altitude is on store shelves today with a complete redesign, merging the Altitude and Instinct BC models into one platform with 160/170mm of travel, which is just 10mm less rear travel than the new Slayer.

Size small frames have 27.5″ wheels, while medium riders can choose between 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, and sizes L and XL are solely 29ers. With this change, I would anticipate that the Instinct would see an update next year and take inspiration from the Altitude.

Rocky Mountain’s lineup has changed quite a bit over the past couple years. The Slayer has taken over as their big freeride bike, and the Maiden downhill bike has quietly disappeared from Bikes.com. It will be interesting to see if Rocky Mountain ups the travel on the 140mm Instinct 29er, or if they’ll leave it pegged as the middle of the line trail bike. The Thunderbolt, which started as a 130mm 27.5″ bike now has 140/150mm and sits as an aggressive mid-travel trail bike with smaller wheels.

This leaves a large gap between their hardtail Growler, the 100mm travel Element, and the 140mm Instinct/Thunderbolt at a time when riders are screaming for “downcountry” bikes or whatever you want to call them. One thing is for sure though, Rocky Mountain is sticking with their roots. That means bikes that are born and bred for BC’s steep and technical terrain and the 2021 Altitude Rally Edition we have on hand to test is exactly that bike.

Specs and deets

For the full list of builds available check out the full scope on the new Altitude that Gerow wrote. Rocky Mountain has a wide range of builds for this new bike, with aluminum models starting at $3,500.

The Altitude runs a reduced offset fork with a large frameset weighing a claimed 7.49lbs. As mentioned in the release news, the Altitude has the Ride-9 geometry adjust system and Rocky Mountain has added adjustable chainstay length to choose from a longer, more stable setting or a shorter, more playful feel. Adjustable chainstays seem to be gaining more traction on gravity race bikes. The complete Rally Edition weighs 32.3 pounds.

38 Special.

The Rally Edition gets a few touches that some of the builds below it don’t see, like a Fox 38 fork, a DHX2 shock, Shimano 203mm brake rotors front and rear, Race Face Turbine R wheels, and Maxxis Double Down 3C tires. Rocky Mountain says that this build replicates the model that the Rocky Mountain / Race Face EWS team rides and at $9,100, it ain’t cheap.

But, for an EWS-ready build, the Altitude Rally Edition spares no expense when it comes to race-worthy components. Like the Slayer we checked out last year, the Altitude is ready to send.

On the opposite end, Rocky Mountain is doing a great job at bringing capability to a reasonable price point. The Altitude Alloy 30 for $3,500 gets a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork, because it just makes sense, and a Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock. The A30 also has a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and Shimano 4-piston brakes.

Ride impressions

I received the Altitude Rally ahead of the release and have been able to squeeze in a few rides. So far, it feels very similar to the newest generation Slayer. The new geo keeps the bike right under you, and for a 160mm enduro ride, the Altitude’s heft is easily managed.

The standover height seems low, and the 1218mm wheelbase feels very stable. Rocky Mountain has shortened the seat tube lengths by about a half-inch compared to the old Altitude and Instinct BC to maximize dropper post insertion.

I have my medium Altitude set in neutral, and will likely leave it there. I will change the chainstay length to see how that affects handling though. The neutral setting puts the seat and head tube angles at 76° and 65°, respectively. Reach on the medium is 455mm. Rocky Mountain tends to be fairly conservative on geometry changes from one generation to the next, but so far, we’re getting along great.

To offer a comparison to the new Trek Slash released last week, also a 160/170mm enduro bike, the head and seat tube numbers are similar, and not as progressive as some other big bikes out there. But, the Slash offers a longer reach, with the size medium Slash at 450mm, which is 5mm shorter than the Altitude.

The suspension feels very efficient on climbs, and I’m just getting the Altitude warmed up for some fun descents. Keep an eye out for the long-term written and video review down the line.