Rocky Mountain Altitude Gets new Linkage, Adjustable Reach and In-Frame Storage [First Look]

The Rocky Mountain Altitude gets a ground-up redesign, including an entirely new suspension linkage, major geometry changes and some clever frame features.
Rocky Mountain Altitude LC2R from the drive side

We last saw an update on the Altitude, Rocky Mountain’s flagship enduro race bike, back in 2021. The Instinct and Altitude have always been closely related, the latest iteration sharing most of the same frame and using a different shock stroke and mounting point to change the geometry. This time around, the two bikes couldn’t be more different. While the new Instinct, launched last month, shares a pretty similar silhouette to the old bike, the same cannot be said for the Altitude, marking a radical departure from the classic hanging link design we’ve come to know and love.

If the instinct is the classic Jack-of-all-trades trail bike, the new Altitude is a hard charging bruiser of a bike, ready for big climbs into steep descents, and happy to ride bike park and shuttle laps. Rocky Mountain is clearly looking to carve the Altitude its own niche, and it looks to have worked.


2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude Key Specs

  • 170/160mm travel
  • Low Centre Counter Rotating (LC2R) suspension layout
  • Geometry highlights: 63.5º HTA, 77.5º STA
  • Wheel size: 29/MX compatible
  • Frame features: Ride-4 flip chip and reach-adjust headset cups, in-frame storage
  • Alloy and carbon frame options
  • Sizes S to XL
  • Price (USD): Alloy builds from $3,999 and carbon builds from $6,199. Carbon frameset priced at $4,099.
  • Buy from JensonUSA

Rocky Mountain Altitude LC2R frame from the drive side

Suspension

Let’s start by talking about the most striking difference to the new Altitude – the suspension. The frame is visually very different to the old bike, and that’s mostly down to the fact that instead of Rocky Mountain’s signature hanging link suspension platform, it now uses LC2R. In this case, LC2R is something of a misnomer, since their previous usage of the acronym described a single-pivot layout, used on previous generations of the Slayer, and the Flatline. LC2R now describes a virtual pivot arrangement, very similar to Santa Cruz’s VPP, the patent on which expired in 2015.

Counter-rotating virtual pivot designs have a pretty extensive track record. Short links make for a stiff frame that can tolerate abuse, and usually means hardware and shocks last a while. In this case, the low placement in the frame also makes for a low center of gravity, which should have a positive impact on handling.

Rocky Mountain claims this iteration of LC2R gives good small bump compliance, with a low leverage ratio at the start of the stroke, moving into a linear curve for a predictable and supple mid-stroke, with a ramp up at the end for bottom out support, with 36% total progression. Virtual pivot designs tend to pedal pretty well, and Rocky Mountain says the Altitude has been designed for low pedal kickback and efficient pedaling. Size-specific suspension tunes ensure that riders should get a similar ride quality across the size range.

Frame Features

The new Altitude is jam-packed with features. There’s a choice of two standard colors for most builds, Matte Black, and the two-tone seen here, plus a bonus black/purple in the top spec Carbon 99 build only. Frames are available in sizes S through XL and in carbon or aluminum, and both come with several standard features, including a reach adjust headset, RIDE-4 geometry adjust, and MX/29 flip chip at the lower link. The bike ships in the neutral headset position, and comes with separate cups that can be installed for a 5mm longer or shorter reach. The RIDE-4 flip chip at the front shock mount adjusts head angle, among other things, from 63º to 63.8º and changes the leverage rate.

The LC2R suspension platform keeps things relatively simple, with short stiff links, and minimal hardware. The pivots use one large bolt per bearing that are easily accessible, with the lower main pivot bolt being concentric around the BB. This requires a special tool to remove which is supplied with the bike and simply uses an 8mm hex tool. The BB itself is a BSA threaded affair, keeping things simple. ISCG 05 mounts, post-mount brakes, a standard eyelet 230x60mm metric shock and UDH keep things sensible.

Carbon frames get Rocky’s voluminous Penalty Box 2.0 in-frame storage compartment, one of the better ones I’ve seen, with a machined aluminum latch mechanism, a light and easy to use action, and hidden AirTag holder. It comes with tidy fabric pouches for storing a spare tube, tools etc. There is an additional mount under the top tube for a tool pouch, leaving little excuse for leaving spares at home. The carbon frame also has fully-guided internal cable routing, with easy to fit plastic covers at the head tube. Moto brake users rejoice — the rear brake hose can be routed to either the left or right of the head tube via a split accessed through the Penalty Box compartment.

The attractive two-tone sparkle paint job is protected on the downtube by a sizable rubber protector, with an additional piece provided as shuttle armor if needed. At the back, the rear triangle is fully protected inside the chainstays and seatstays with rubber armoring that should hopefully make for a quiet ride without detracting from the aesthetics of the frame. Protecting the rear shock and bearings, there are two plastic spray guards to keep crud from the rear tire away from the expensive bits.

2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude geometry

The new Altitude’s Geometry has an almost bewildering array of options, though most riders will likely find their preferred settings and stick to them, it’s no bad thing having them there. In the interest of fairness, I’ll compare apples to apples. The bike on test here is a size large 29″ bike, set up in the neutral position. The new Altitude drops a massive 1.5º off the head angle from the old bike to 63.5º in neutral, dropping a further 0.5º in slack mode. The seat tube angle comes in a 77.5º – 1.5º steeper than the old bike, and the reach stays the same at 480mm, with the ability to go +/- 5mm with the spare headset cups.

The Altitude comes with size-specific chainstays, with three different sizes total, from 427mm in size S, for 27.5″ wheels only, to 440mm in M, and 450mm in size L – 2mm longer than the previous bike. The BB actually raises a little from 27mm to 31mm, presumably to help keep things nimble as everything else gets longer and slacker.

Rocky Mountain Altitude geometry chart

Spec

The new Altitude comes in eight different spec levels, plus a frame-only option. Starting at the Alloy 30 build, each bike gets either a Rockshox Zeb or Fox 38 with various damper levels, a Fox Float X, X2 or Super Deluxe air shock, with an option for DHX2 coil shock on certain models. Every bike comes with a 12-speed drivetrain from Shimano and four-piston brakes, plus the A70 and every carbon bike comes fitted with CushCore XC tire inserts front and rear.

Rocky Mountain acknowledges that not everybody wants carbon, and while the A30 model combines the price-point of aluminum with a lower-specced build kit, the A70 coil build uses a top notch Fox Factory/Shimano XT build. At the other end of the spectrum, the $11,999USD Carbon 99 SRAM build features the Rockshox Flight Attendant suspension package, an X0 Eagle Transmission drivetrain and Race Face Era carbon wheels.

The bike I have in for test is the C70 Shimano build in the Across The Universe/Sweet Leaf paint scheme, size large. The build spec includes a Rockshox Zeb Select+ fork, and Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock. A Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain takes care of shifting duties, and XT 4-piston brakes take care of stopping with the classic Shimano on/off feel. The dropper post is a Race Face Turbine, and the wheels are Race Face AR 30 rims on a DT Swiss 370 rear hub and in-house front hub, wrapped with CushCore XC front and rear, a Maxxis Minion DHR II Double Down out back and a Maxxis Assegai EXO+ up front. Finally, the cockpit features a Race Face Turbine bar on a stubby in-house stem and ODI Elite Pro grips with a WTB saddle. Overall this is a sensible spec for a bike that’s built to take abuse. It’s not often we see different tire casings front and rear, and this is the first bike I’ve seen with CushCore installed from the factory.

Onto the trails!

The Altitude checks a lot of boxes for a mid travel enduro bike – modern aggressive geometry, innovative frame features that on the surface appear solid and require few proprietary parts, and a solid spec choice across the board that should suit a wide range of riders. Not only this but smart spec choices compliment the aggressive riding the bike is intended for, without sacrificing functionality and reliability to get the weight down to something that looks good on paper, as many brands are guilty of.

So far I haven’t had a chance to hit dirt on this bike yet but I’m excited to get some rides under my belt and see if it can put its money where its mouth is. Stay tuned for the full review with ride impressions.

Rocky Mountain Altitude head tube and cockpit