15 July 2009 - 0:18Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er
I am one lucky guy. Rocky Mountain has chosen me to be a test monkey for their upcoming Altitude 29er frame. Apparently they thought I knew a thing or two about big wheeled bikes…
The Altitude is aimed at the “epic XC” set, which I would quantify as one who rides all day. I so wish I was that guy… but I digress.
I was able to finally assemble the Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er after a couple of days. It was a painfully long process, but I shouldn’t really complain, I’m the first person outside of the company to even build the very first large prototype frame. The paint was practically still wet! I still managed to find every road block though, but potential buyers of this bike will never have to worry about any of them, as this bike will only be available as a complete. Hopefully my observations will help streamline their process, and they will be able to offer a pretty amazing bike. I feel very privileged to be part of this process.
Did I mention she was a good lookin’ bike too?
The complete bike weighs in at a touch under 28.5 lbs. The build is a Bike 29 Royale wheelset with Stan’s Arch rims, Bontrager Jones ACX front tire and WTB Prowler rear, Thomson stem and seatpost, WTB Devo saddle, Easton Monkey Lite lo-rise carbon bars, Ergon Enduro grips, Avid Elixir front brake, and a Formula K24 rear (the only brake I had laying around that had a long enough housing) SLX cranks and shifters, XT mid cage rear derailleur with XT direct mount front. The front fork is a Reba Team set at 120mm. Due to unforseen circumstances, I was unable to use my Fox F29 with the tapered steerer.
Here are some numbers:
HA 70.5°, SA 74°, 13.25″ BB height (unsagged) and 46.5″ wheelbase.
The Altitude features Rocky’s “Straight Up” geometry. The seat angle is intentionally steep, with the thought that once the rear end is sagged, the bike will assume angles that are becoming of an all day epic bike.
I managed to get a quick ride in during the Vermont Mountain Bike Festival that was held this weekend.
It climbs like a rocket. For those that don’t already know, the main way in to Perry Hill features a nasty climb right out of the gate. The steep seat angle, coupled with the short(ish) 17.5″ stays really helps keep your weight directly over the rear wheel, and amazingly enough, the front end stayed down. I was actually very impressed with the way the bike was able to handle such a steep climb, even with little saddle time to really feel the bike out.
Steering is very quick.
I felt as if I was over the front wheel a lot of the time though, and manualing into hollows in the trail was very difficult, and casual drop offs took a little more work than usual. I attribute this to shock set up, even though I was at “factory spec” I felt it could have been softer. I have some more fiddling to do for sure, but I am positive I can get it to feel exactly the way I want. I never once used the Pro Pedal setting on the RP23 rear shock, I left it all the way open, and it exceeded my expectations as far as pedaling efficiency goes. With a little less air, and maybe a low Pro Pedal setting, it will be right on the money.
This bike flies.
SRAM was awesome enough to find and ship me a rare Elixir brake line, so my next ride will not be marred by what, in my opinion, is a sub standard brake. The lever on my Oro (rear brake) kept sticking “on”, which was a massive pain in the ass, and was really starting to affect my ride experience.
My overall first ride impression, is that this bike has a ton of potential.
Now that my knee is able to deal with more effort, I plan on riding the ever living crap out of this thing.