Continuing my mission of riding aggressive trail bikes, I visited the Rocky Mountain tent at Outdoor Demo to try out their 2016 Altitude. They did me one better and set me up with the new Altitude Rally Edition, which gets a burlier spec over the standard Altitude.
After talking with Andreas Hestler–Rocky marketing guy and all-around bicycle bad ass–I rode an XL size frame. At 6′ tall, I generally ride a large, but I also like bikes with a long front center. The Rocky was long but not uncomfortable in the least, and I had plenty of stand over clearance with my 32″ inseam. There are a couple folks in the Rocky office that are around my height, and they’re split between L and XL frames based on their personal preferences. This is something to consider if you’re looking at purchasing one of these machines. As always, the best thing you can do is find one to ride at a demo event or to rent from a shop.
The standard Altitude is already a capable bike with 160mm of travel up front and 150 rear. A base model, aluminum-framed Altitude 730 sells for $2,600, and the line tops out with the full-carbon 799 MSL at $9,500. The Rally Edition takes that burly trail bike formula and kicks everything up a notch.
Instead of the Fox 34, the Rally Edition gets a Fox 36, a Float X shock over a regular Float, 800mm-wide Race Face bars instead of 760mm, and a beefy Stan’s wheel set. Basically, it’s how you would spec your own bike if you were racing enduro or regularly riding rowdy trails. The Rally Edition is available in one rad color way: a deep, sparkly purple with bright yellow accents. It’s a paint job that stands out without being too flashy.
Out on the trail, the Fox suspension was supple and plush. I rode both the fork and shock in their open settings, as that’s the best way to get a feel for a suspension design during a short ride. The bike climbed great and felt light and nimble–not something that can be said about all long-travel trail bikes.
Rocky spec’d the bike with Shimano’s latest generation 11-speed XT shifter and rear derailleur, as well as XT brakes. A single ring Race Face crank transforms your power into forward momentum, although there is a spot to mount a front derailleur should you want to go that route. I ended up riding the new XT on some other bikes, and it’s just great. The action at the lever is very light and the shifts are quick and crisp. Even in the desert dust, the brakes were silent.
The Altitude Rally Edition had no problems on the wide-open trails of Bootleg Canyon and ate up the chunky sections. There were some slow speed, technical maneuvers out there, but working the XL bike through them never felt cumbersome.
Seeing as how Rocky Mountain is based in Vancouver, BC, which is home to steep and techy trails, I’m sure the Altitude Rally Edition has no issue squeezing through trees, either. I’d love to get one of these in for a long-term test and take it on some all-day rides in north Georgia and up to Pisgah. It climbs efficiently and has plenty of travel to eat up our descents.
The complete Altitude Rally Edition is available for $6,500, or as a frame and shock for $3,100.