ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE 750
Weight: 30.2 pounds
By Vernon Felton
Rocky Mountain didn't fiddle around the edges when it re-booted the Altitude. The 2013 version bears an entirely new frame configured around the SmoothLink design that debuted on the Element a few years ago. The new Altitude also sports an ingenious means of customizing the bike's geometry and, to top it off, now rolls on 27.5-inch wheels.
The Altitude boasts more travel than most bikes in the trail category—packing 6 inches of squish instead of the more standard 5—which might help explain why our testers frequently found themselves utilizing the middle Trail setting on the FOX CTD rear shock. With that bit of compression damping engaged, the bike proved a competent climber. However, the Altitude's move to 650b was lost on most testers, as any perceived rollover benefits were chalked up as the result of some strange wheel-size placebo effect.
Rocky outfitted the new Altitude with RIDE-9, a shock mount containing two interlocking chips. Rotating the chips enables you to raise or lower the bottom bracket half-an-inch and changes both the head and seat angles by as much as 2 degrees. RIDE-9 also tweaks the Altitude's rear suspension, altering its progressivity. In total, the system offers you nine distinct geometry and suspension rate settings.
Given how much you can tune the Altitude's ride feel, it's difficult to make a single, definitive assessment of this bike. Some of our riders, for instance, found the Altitude a little harsh in its initial stroke, yet bottomed it out frequently despite experimenting at 30, 25 and 20-percent sag settings. More time spent fiddling with RIDE-9, however would likely resolve that issue. This, is a bike we'd like to spend more time on (see Editor’s Note below). Kudos to Rocky for giving the bike a 142×12 rear through-axle and ISCG mounts, as well as some very capable components, including the Fox 34 CTD fork and Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this review back in October, for our Bible of Bike Tests issue. In the months since, I’ve been able to spend significantly more time riding the 2013 Altitude (and more time experimenting with its RIDE-9 feature). The result? I’m impressed by how much more capable the bike is in rough terrain when you set the back in its slacker modes. It’s still more of an uber-trail bike as opposed to an all-mountain rig, but the steering feels more confident and the issue of the rear suspension bottoming out that some testers mentioned in this review is eliminated as the suspension becomes more progressive in the slacker settings.
For the latest review of Rocky Mountain’s new Altitude, check out the May 2013 issue of Bike. If you want instant satisfaction, here’s a bit of a teaser for that review.
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