Altitude vs. Enduro & Shock Travel vs. Stroke

Bike's editors answer your questions

Who’s Ed? He’s the guy who takes your questions and passes them along to people who have the capacity to formulate answers. He passed along two this week: One that hints at a common misconception about shocks and one that’s digging for more details on how Rocky Mountain’s new Altitude stacks up against the Specialized Enduro.

Got a question for our editors? Post it in the comments or email us.

“How much travel does the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 have?”
–Alex, via comment section

Hey Alex,
Shocks don’t have travel–they have stroke, which is the distance the stanchion can move within the shock’s body.

Think of travel as the axle’s range of motion. For the front wheel, travel is only a function of the fork’s stroke. That is to say, for forks, stroke and travel are the same thing. There’s more to the equation for the rear suspension, since the rear axle’s range of motion, or travel, is dictated by the bike’s linkage, not the shock’s stroke.

That’s why you’ll see shocks listed by size, which typically looks something like “216×57.” The 216 refers to the shock’s eye-to-eye, which is a measurement of the distance between the shock’s two eyelets, where mounting bolts are inserted. The smaller number is the shock’s stroke.

The accurate way to determine your sag percentage is to divide the shock’s stroke length by your sag. Photo: Bruno Long

Because travel is determined by the linkage, and not the shock, two bikes can use shocks with the same stroke length, but have different amounts of travel. For example, both the Santa Cruz Bronson and the Specialized Enduro use shocks with 57 millimeter strokes. The Bronson has 150 millimeters of travel, while the Enduro has 170.

If you’re looking to change the shock on your bike, start by determining the stroke length and eye-to-eye measurements that your frame was designed around. These numbers can typically be found in the specifications for your bike. If you can’t find them, I’d recommend giving the manufacturer a call.
–Jonathon Weber, Online Editor

While they are fairly different bikes, how would you say the ability of the new Altitude compares to the Enduro 29?
–Lando4, via comment section

Hey Lando4,
Good question. I’m assuming you’re referring to the current Enduro 29 (we haven’t ridden the 27.5 version), with 160/165 millimeters of front/rear wheel travel, 66-degree head angle, and 76 degree seat angle. I would say that the Altitude generally has quicker handling than the Enduro 29, making it really good in tight stuff. For pure playfulness, the Altitude has the edge. But the Enduro, with its bigger wheels and extra rear wheel travel, is faster through chunkier terrain.

Rocky Mountain’s new Altitude (left) and the Specialized Enduro Comp 29 we tested at Bible. Photos: Ryan Palmer/Anthony Smith

I think it’s safe to say that the Enduro is a more capable bike overall, but then again, the Enduro isn’t really in the same category as the Altitude—it’s more on par with the Slayer. The Altitude and Stumpjumper would be a more apples to apples comparison, but knowing that the Enduro climbs probably as well as the Stumpy, I suppose it’s fair enough.

Speaking of climbing, I don’t think there’s a clear winner between the Altitude and Enduro 29. Even though the Enduro does have more travel, it climbs with surprising agility, so it’s a toss up on that front.

If you’re looking to maximize playfulness and maneuverability, go with the Altitude, but choose the Enduro 29 if you want speed and and more technical capability.
–Ryan Palmer, Gear Editor

First Impressions: 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude

Review: 2017 Specialized Enduro 29 – 2017 Bible of Bike Tests

Dream Build: Specialized S-Works Enduro 29