When we received the previous version of Rocky Mountain’s Altitude for our 2016 Bible of Bike Tests, we weren’t quite sure which category to stick it in. It had the travel numbers of an all-mountain bike, but rode a lot like many of the trail bikes we’d been testing. Rocky Mountain itself seemed just as conflicted, because they were calling it an “aggressive trail” bike, which is marketing speak for what we’d been experiencing.
Even though Rocky still classifies its new 2018 Altitude the same way, the bike is decidedly more ‘all-mountain.’ Compared to its predecessor, the 2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude is longer, lower, stiffer and slacker, and takes some elements, like hidden pivots and shock eyelet bearings, from the Slayer. And that’s not all it shares with its big brother.
The Altitude still has 650b wheels, 150 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, and is still spec’d with 160 millimeters up front, but it feels more capable, more supple, and more aggressive than before. It can best be described as a mini Slayer. For those of you out there who haven’t ridden Rocky’s most badass all-mountain machine, that comparison doesn’t mean a whole lot. For the CliffsNotes, watch our Roundtable Reel about it, here.
If you’re assuming that my comparison to the Slayer refers to the Altitude’s ability to descend, you’d be right. When losing altitude, it’s so goddamn balanced, and holy crap does it grip. About two-thirds of the Altitude’s rear wheel travel is very active and linear. When setup with the quick rebound (like it should be), you can load the suspension into corners, achieve incredible grip and then pop right back out without losing any speed. I know I can’t roost like Thomas Vanderham, but the Altitude makes me feel like I’m doing it exactly like him.
If you’re assuming that my comparison to the Slayer refers only to the Altitude’s ability to descend, you’d be wrong. For how supple and active it is on the downs, the Altitude climbs incredibly well, just like testers experienced with the Slayer. When you’re just sort of pedaling along with the shock open there’s a fair amount of suspension bob, but when you get on the gas it all goes away and the Altitude lunges up and over anything in its way of thinner air.
The Ride-9 geometry adjustment system gives the Altitude an extra level of tweakability. It comes in the middle, or ‘neutral’ position, which puts the head angle at 65.6 degrees. This is where I liked it the most, but if your descents aren’t very steep, you might prefer a 66-degree head angle. Then again, if your trails are steeper than a cow’s face, perhaps a 65-degree head angle is more applicable. And if you want it somewhere in between those, the Altitude can do that too.
Trail bikes don’t often come with Fox 36 forks, but they don’t often let the rider stay off the brakes the way this bike does either, so I’d say it’s a fitting spec choice. But don’t let the beefy front-end and Maxxis 2.5-inch Wide Trail Minion DHR and DHF tires fool you into thinking the Altitude is only for gravity lovers. Call it aggressive trail or all-mountain, this bike is made go anywhere.
2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude Details:
-Increased anti-squat for better pedaling efficiency
-27.5" Wide Trail and 26+ compatible
-Bearings at all pivots, including at lower shock mount (compatible with aftermarket shocks as well)
-Blind pivots maximize heel clearance
-Compatible with Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post simultaneously
-Seat-tube lengths have been adjusted to accommodate longer dropper posts at maximum insertion.
-Integrated "Spirit Guide" chainguide, with 2-bolt ISCG05
-Lower standover height
-Significantly stiffer thanks to one-piece seatstay, new envelope, and updated layup (25% more lateral stiffness)
-Boost spacing, metric shock lengths, post-mount 180mm brakes
-All sizes fit a water bottle in front triangle, even with a reservoir shock
Frame & shock: 5.45lb (2470g), size Medium
Altitude Carbon 90 & Carbon 70 complete: 28.4lb (12.88kg), size Medium
2018 Rocky Mountain Altitude Pricing and Availability:
Select models and sizes available May 15th.
Altitude Carbon 90: $6999
Altitude Carbon Frameset: $2749
Altitude Carbon 70 (tested): $5299
Altitude Carbon 50: $4099
Altitude Alloy 70: $3999
Altitude Alloy 50: $3199
Altitude Alloy 30: $2899