Jesse Melamed got off to an absolute dream start onboard the new 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude, winning the first EWS round of 2020. Except for the name, the new enduro bike has little in common with its predecessor. Rocky Mountain have taken the playful bike and turned it into a hard-hitting enduro machine. We spent a day in the bike park putting it to the test.

Rocky Mountain Altitude C70 | 170/160 mm | 29” | 14.50 kg size M (manufacturer’s specs) | € 6,900 | Manufacturer’s website

The old Rocky Mountain Altitude wasn’t the fastest bike. On the contrary: in our big 2017 race bike group test, the 27.5”-wheel bike ended up last, a full 6.67 seconds behind on a two-minute track. Shortly after publishing our review, the Rocky Mountain Race team switched from the Altitude (aboard which Jesse was still able to win an EWS at the time) to the 29er Instinct BC Edition.

Until now, the Rocky Mountain Altitude was a 27.5”-wheel enduro bike where the focus was put entirely on playful handling.
The new Altitude is a different beast, a hybrid of the Instinct BC Edition and the previous Altitude, offering significantly more composure and speed.
From 2021, size L and XL will only be available with 29”

The 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude in detail

Except for its name, the new Rocky Mountain Altitude has nothing in common with its predecessor. It offers 170 mm travel up front and 160 mm at the rear. Frame size S is available with 27.5” wheels, sizes L–XL roll exclusively on 29″ wheels and size M is available with either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. The new bike obviously replaces the previous Altitude but it also replaces the Instinct BC-Edition, merging the two. It features modern geometry and Rocky Mountain’s proprietary Ride9 flip chip on the shock mount. The kinematics of the rear suspension have been revised, not only promising to be more efficient up the climbs but also more capable on the descents. To better accommodate smaller riders, Rocky Mountain have done more than merely adapt the dimensions of the S frame, also fitting a shock with a shorter stroke length.

The basic rear linkage concept of the Altitude remains unchanged but the Canadian brand have revised the kinematics from the ground up.
The new Altitude features the proven Ride9 system, allowing you to adjust the kinematics and geometry
The bike also comes with a flip-chip on the rear axle to vary the chainstay length.

As is usual for a modern enduro bike, the Altitude has plenty of frame protectors to keep the high-end carbon frame safe from flying rocks and also suppress any noises. Each model comes with a chain guide as standard. Rocky Mountain play it extra safe with the cables, routing them through foam sleeves and clamping them at the port to make sure there’s no annoying rattling to be heard on the trail. Speaking of which, you’re likely to get annoyed when you have to change the bottom bracket. Instead of a threaded version, Rocky Mountain rely on the press-fit standard.

As it should be: a thick chainstay protector keeps the chain nice and quiet.
An added protector is supposed to fend off stones being flung at the chainstay by the rear tire
😭😭😭 – home mechanics know what we mean.
The short seat tube allows Rocky Mountain to spec the bike with a 175 mm dropper post
The front triangle will happily accommodate a large water bottle. You’ll even be able to fit a 500 ml bottle in the size S frame.
The front shock mount gets bolted to the carbon frame. That way, you’ll be able to mount shocks with different strokes adapt the frame in the future.

The geometry of the 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude

The geometry of the new Rocky Mountain Altitude is variable. The Ride-9 system not only allows you to change the angles of the front triangle, but you can also adapt the chainstay length via a flip-chip at the rear axle. The size S bike comes with 27.5” wheels while sizes L and XL are reserved for 29” wheels only and the size M lets you choose. In the neutral position of a size L frame, the reach sits at 480 mm, the 65° head angle isn’t overly slack and the seat tube angle is a moderate 76°. The 445 mm seat tube is nice and short, freeing up room to use a long dropper post. The chainstay length varies between 437 or 448 mm, depending on the position of the flip-chip.

The geometry at a glance:

Size SM (27.5″) MD (27.5″) MD (29″) LG (29″) XL (29″)
Seat tube 380 mm 420 mm 420 mm 445 mm 480 mm
Top tube 579 mm 603 mm 610 mm 638 mm 671 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 95 mm 110 mm 125 mm
Head angle 65° 65° 65° 65° 65°
Seat angle 76° 76° 76° 76° 76°
Chainstay 427/438 mm 427/438 mm 437/448 mm 437/448 mm 437/448 mm
BB Drop 12 mm 12 mm 27 mm 27 mm 27 mm
Wheelbase 1177 mm 1199 mm 1217 mm 1249 mm 1285 mm
Reach 430 mm 455 mm 455 mm 480 mm 510 mm
Stack 596 mm 606 mm 620 mm 634 mm 647 mm

Two colours, five models – the build spec of the 2021 Altitude

Rocky Mountain offer the Altitude with both carbon and aluminium frames, although the European market will only have one alloy model and four carbon options. The prices vary between € 4,000-11,500 with the carbon frameset priced at € 3,800. Depending on the country you live in, you’ll also get the bike in the C70 coil version and the A30 aluminium model. Read on for an intro to the individual models with a short summary of each.

Rocky Mountain Altitude A50 / € 4,000

The Rocky Mountain Altitude A50 is the entry-level model priced at € 4,000. If you’re expecting the aluminium frame to be built up with budget components, you’re wrong. Although the components aren’t high-end, they’re well-specced throughout. The suspension consists of a FOX 36 Performance fork and a DPX2 Performance shock. Braking is taken care of by Shimano’s XT four-piston brakes and the drivetrain consists of Shimano SLX and XT components. The wheels come with WTB’s ST i30 rims. The package is rounded off by a 175 mm Race Face Aeffect R dropper post (size L and XL) and the cockpit, including a 40 mm stem and 780 mm handlebar, is supplied by Rocky Mountain.

Fork FOX 36 Performance 170 mm
Shock FOX DPX2 Performance 160 mm
Brakes Shimano XT Trail 203/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano SLX/XT
Seatpost Race Face Aeffect R 125/150/175 mm
Stem Rocky Mountain 40 mm
Handlebar Rocky Mountain 780 mm
Wheelset WTB ST i30
Tires MAXXIS Assegai WT 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ 2.5″, Minion DHR II WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.4″
Price € 4,000

Rocky Mountain Altitude C50 / € 5,500

The Altitude C50 is Rocky Mountain’s entry into the carbon range. It is very similar to the aluminium model in terms of componentry but it comes with lighter WTB ST Light i30 TCS wheels. You get FOX Performance components for the suspension. The drivetrain and brakes are supplied by Shimano.

Fork FOX 36 Performance 170 mm
Shock FOX DPX2 Performance 160 mm
Brakes Shimano XT Trail 203/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano SLX/XT
Seatpost Race Face Aeffect R 125/150/175 mm
Stem Rocky Mountain 40 mm
Handlebar Rocky Mountain 780 mm
Wheelset WTB ST Light i30
Tires MAXXIS Assegai WT 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ 2.5″, Minion DHR II WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.4″
Price € 5,500

Rocky Mountain Altitude C70 / € 6,900

The Altitude C70 isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely the most sensible Altitude build after the A50. It comes with FOX’s 36 Performance Elite GRIP2 fork and an X2 Performance Elite shock. The drivetrain components, as well as the brakes, are Shimano XT throughout. The wheels are built up around Race Face AR30 rims and a DT Swiss 370 hub on the rear. As with all models, the tires are supplied by MAXXIS with a grippy ASSEGAI on the front wheel and a MINION DHR II on the rear, both in the EXO+ casing.

Fork FOX 36 Performance Elite GRIP2 170 mm
Shock FOX DPX2 Performance Elite 160 mm
Brakes Shimano XT Trail 203/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT
Seatpost Race Face Turbine R 125/150/175 mm
Stem Rocky Mountain 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Turbine R 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face AR30 / DT Swiss 370
Tires MAXXIS Assegai WT 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ 2.5″, Minion DHR II WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.4″
Price € 6,900

Rocky Mountain Altitude C90 / € 9,900

There is also a Rally edition of the new Altitude. The C90 comes equipped with FOX’s burly 38 Factory fork instead of the 36, offering the same amount of travel. Like the fork, the X2 shock is from FOX’s high-end Factory series. Shifting and braking are taken care of by top-of-the-range Shimano XTR components. The C90 is the only bike in the Altitude range on which Rocky Mountain spec 203 mm brake rotors front and rear – the rest come with 203/180 mm rotors. The Turbine R wheels are supplied by Race Face.

Fork FOX 38 Factory 170 mm
Shock FOX X2 Factory 160 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR
Seatpost Race Face Turbine R 125/150/175 mm
Stem Race Face Turbine R 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Next R 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face Turbine R
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF WT 3C MaxxGrip DD 2.5″, Minion DHR II WT 3C MaxxGrip DD 2.4″
Price € 9,900

Rocky Mountain Altitude C99 / € 11,500

The best of the best! That is the motto of the Altitude C99. For the insane price of € 11,500, you get the best components that money can buy. It is the only bike featuring SRAM components, such as the wireless SRAM AXS drivetrain and RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post. The suspension consists of a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork and a Super Deluxe Ultimate shock. Keeping the bike’s speed in check are a pair of SRAM CODE RSC brakes. Completing the package is a set of high-end Race Face Next R carbon wheels.

Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 170 mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 160 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Eagle AXS
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 125/150/170 mm
Stem Race Face Turbine R 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Next R 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face Next R Carbon
Tires MAXXIS Assegai WT 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ 2.5″, Minion DHR II WT 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.4″
Price € 11,500

Plush, balanced, fast – the Rocky Mountain Altitude C70 on the trail

We were able to spend the day in bike park Samerberg testing the new Rocky Mountain Altitude C70 before its release. While we were there, we didn’t succumb to the temptation of solely relying on the lift to get to the top of the trails but also used our legs from time to time. Besides the shaped bike park track with berms, drops and jumps, the Altitude had to prove itself on a variety of natural trails. We kept the Ride9 system in the neutral position, though we played around with the chainstay length.

The 2021 Altitude is a capable climber but it’s worth activating the climb switch

The new Rocky Mountain is one of those bikes that proves the geometry table doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Even though the seat tube angle isn’t particularly steep on paper, you’re placed comfortably and centrally on the bike as you ride. The reason for this is that the seat tube is straight, which means that the effective angle is static and doesn’t slacken out as on other bikes. As soon as you get on the bike, you’ll notice how plush the suspension is. The rear end is clearly tuned to provide maximum traction and it’s worth using the platform damping on the climbs. The Rocky Mountain Altitude isn’t a mountain goat, but it will reliably and comfortably get you up the climbs. We didn’t have time to test the bike’s technical climbing capabilities.

Send it! The new Rocky Mountain motivates you to step on the gas!

When the trail starts pointing downhill, the Altitude is in its element. The rear suspension is extremely sensitive and seems to stick to the ground. However, the bike doesn’t feel sluggish and immediately responds to rider input. The bike is very poppy and easy to get airborne, especially with the chainstays in the shorter setting. It capably deals with hard impacts and doesn’t bottom out harshly, instilling you with confidence and providing comfort. With the short rear end, you have to consciously shift your weight forward on flat trails to generate enough grip on the front wheel, though the bike is far from unbalanced. The reach is neither too long nor too compact, right on the sweet spot of being roomy without feeling like you’re driving a bus. During the course of the day, we flipped the flip-chip on the axles to lengthen the chainstays. No special tools or adapters are required, which is excellent.

In the long setting, the Altitude feel more predictable and composed

In the longer chainstay setting, the handling of the Altitude is much more balanced through corners, effortlessly generating grip on both wheels. The bike also feels more composed. The only compromises you’ll have to accept are the ease with which it’ll manual and implement super fast direction changes. Overall, we preferred the bike’s handling in the longer setting. The new Altitude is very similar to the Slayer introduced last year, which we’ve already reviewed extensively. Generally, the Altitude is more balanced and intuitive to ride. While the Slayer craves the roughest terrain, the Altitude is the better, more versatile all-rounder. If there’s anything for us to criticize about the Altitude, it’s the annoying rattling of the Shimano XT brakes and their wandering bite point.

One hell of a ride! We had a lot of fun with the Altitude!

Our initial conclusion on the 2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude

One day of testing isn’t enough for us to draw a final conclusion, but our first impression of the new Altitude is extremely positive. If you’re looking for a capable bike with plush suspension that is pleasantly agile yet also predictable and composed, you’ll find it here. The new Altitude is a lot like its big brother, the Slayer, but it’s quicker and more fun on flat trails. It seems like an excellent all-rounder for any kind of trail with the only slight compromise being its climbing efficiency. The price is hefty too.

Tops

  • rear suspension is plush yet supportive
  • excellent all-rounder qualities
  • adjustable geometry
  • good spec without any real weaknesses

Flops

  • leisurely climber
  • hefty price
  • rattling pads on the XT brakes
For more information, visit Bikes.com

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.