Editor’s Note: This is the third and final “Tech Intro” for the Euro based full suspension 29″er testing.

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… and here we go into the third contender of our full suspension bikes we have on test at TNI Europe office. Rocky Mountain sent us their top of the line “do it all” 29″er bike and you can see by the mud that it’s getting fully (pun intended) tested by both “c_g” and myself, (M1).

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Rocky Mountain Altitude 29 SE 29″er

(Category – Do-It-All/Touring Fully in European terms)

Interestingly Rocky Mountain themselves rate the Altitude 29 SE as 100 % XC Marathon and 70 % All Mountain. I am not exactly sure what to do with a 170% Bike ;)) but it sound like it was designed more with endurance racing than All Mountain in mind, a view I share only to some extent looking at the bike in front of me.

THE FRAME – RMB FORM 7005 Aluminum, Hydro-formed Seat tube

The Rocky Mountain altitude shares all the technological features of it “smaller” brother the Altitude – three different technologies are particularly featured by RMB:

* the FORM tubing and frame construction
* the Straight Up geometry and the
* Smooth Link suspension system

Taken from the Rocky Mountain web site here is the explanation of FORM tubing:

“…. that’s why we’ve introduced FORM™ – the design and manufacturing process of our high-performance frame tubing. Our philosophy behind FORM™ tubing is to push the limits of tube and frame design to create the frame’s unique riding feel.
Engineered Ride Quality: FORM™ tubing is a line of high-performance tubes designed to elevate the superior ride quality for which Rocky Mountain Bicycles are known. Innovative design: With 25 years of innovation, we continue to push the boundaries of bicycle design. FORM™ tubing is the exciting new frontier of our creativity.

Attention to detail: Every detail in a FORM™ tube set is carefully engineered and has a purpose: from the slightest variations in shape, to wall thickness, tapers, flares and bends.

Uncompromising quality: FORM™ tube sets are manufactured with premium materials and delivered by the best suppliers in the industry to meet Rocky Mountain’s strict requirements.”

That these words are not only marketing shows when looking at the strongly manipulated and hydroformed tubing all over – I don´t think there is even one straight tube to be found anywhere.

Rocky Mountain touts Straight Up Geometry on this bike and here is the explanation straight from the horses mouth:

“STRAIGHT UP – We’ve got your back. With a first of its kind 76-degree seat angle, you’re in a position to defy gravity at every technical uphill climb. The Straight up geometry and its bio-mechanically correct seat position allows for maximum horsepower. Not only will you get an efficient ride, it’ll save your lower back and limits pressure on your “sensitive areas”… if you catch our drift.”

GEOMETRY number are as follows:
Size S M L XL
Head Length
Head Angle 70.5° 70.5° 70.5° 70.5°
Seat Angle 76° 76° 76° 76°
Seat Tube length 406 445 495 533
Horiz. Top-tube Length 580 595 620 650
Head-tube Length 100 100 110 110
Chain-stay Length 452 452 452 452
BB Drop 29 29 29 29
Wheelbase 1125 1140 1166 1193
Front-Center – – –
Stand-over Height 691 724 757 787

(Note by c_g: Considering the strongly bent seat tube the stated 76° seat angle makes me wonder what exactly it refers to. Like it is with any such bent seat tube there is an actual seat angle only an effective one, that depends on the seat post extension.)

Third in the row of feature technologies is the Smooth Link Suspension:

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“Our groundbreaking SmoothLink suspension features minimal pedal feedback so you get a smoother pedal stroke, especially on uphill climbs. How does it work? By placing the rear pivot above the rear hub axle, we keep the average chain torque line parallel to lower link (the line between main pivot and rear pivot), we eliminate pedal bob.”

Seems that each company has their own idea as to how to most effectively fight pedaling induced bob. I would guess that the Fox Float RP23 shock with Pro Pedal is an integral part of that system, even though it’s not mentioned much.

…. So much for the featured technologies with their own marketing names. Overall it seems like Rocky Mountain put a lot of effort into either making something that really works or into marketing their philosophy. We’ll see how it pans out and let you know … but there is so much more to define this bike that we want to bring to you in some detail:

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The Altitude SE comes equipped with a tapered 1.5/1.125 head tube. That and the huge triangular to trapezoid formed down-tube should make for a super direct power transfer and very dependable steering accuracy. There shouldn’t be much flex either laterally or vertically.

The cable routing runs on top of the down tube and under the top tube and then makes it way to the derailleurs and rear brake. I wonder though why ROCKY went to break the complete seal of the housing for the sake of about 15 cm (6”) of straight line and exposed cable. Why not keep it closed all the way instead?

WHEELS – The wheels are a combination of DT Swiss X 470 29 32hole rims laced onto Front: RMB (Rocky Mountain Bikes) XC Sealed hub with a 15mm through Axle Rear: Shimano M529 Disc using DT Swiss Competition spokes.

Nothing too unique here except for the 15mm through axle which sure helps to further stabilize the front and add more rigidity. Interestingly, Fox claims that the 15mm system is lighter than quick releases. This trend also continues to grow throughout the mountain bike world. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard 32 hole, 3-cross, tried and true wheelset based on DT Swiss’ known quality and Shimano simplicity.

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TRACTION –
Traction on this bike is distinctly different than the other two bikes which once more pronounces the trail ride character of the bike. Here we have Maxxis Ardent Kevlar 29 F: 2.4″ / R: 2.4″ (standard specs should be 2.25 on rear) which are much meatier and have more tread than their brethren on the other two (race oriented) bikes. Maxxis describes this tire as such – “The Ardent doesn’t forget the racer with large block-style side knobs offering numerous edges for high-speed cornering. The center tread, while ideal for braking and accelerating traction, also features ramped knobs to minimize rolling resistance.

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BRAKES – Formula R1 Hydraulic with 180mm Discs front and rear. The brake levers are also Formula R1 with Reach Adjust. From my own experience with this premiere XC race disc brake I am expecting no trouble or complaints from this side. Being one of the lightest mountain bike disc brake ever made, the R1 still delivers top-level power and performance and generates more than enough power for All Mountain or Enduro use. The forged master cylinder body and caliper provide increased modulation, braking power and durability, while the R1’s patented caliper piston system increases fluid capacity in the caliper, further increasing performance under heavy use.

HEADSET – FSA Orbit Z1.5 Lower / FSA ZS-4D ACB Upper.

Like the other two bikes, it’s semi-integrated and a seemingly “no maintenance needed” tapered headset. Yet another recent add to the ever growing list of frame “must-have” is the tapered head-tube. It definitely add rigidity that seemingly can’t be achieved much more effectively any other way.

DRIVETRAIN – Standard upper mid-range Shimano components make up the drive-train front beginning to end. Here’s the break-down. Most parts are by SHIMANO´s XT group, such as the Rapid Fire 10/3 speed shifters, the rear derailleur, crank & chain rings, bottom bracket and chain. Only the front derailleur is a Shimano SLX Direct Mount.

The Altitude is the only one of the three that comes with three rings on the front end though in the not 29″er friendly 24/32/42 configuration. Yet another reason to look at this bike a bit differently than the other two. We again see a direct mount front derailleur. It’s interesting to me that something formerly was only seen on road bikes has made it’s way into the mountain bike realm. In any case, due to it’s simpler set-up, I’m glad that it’s here.

FRONT FORK – Fox 32 F29 RLC FIT 15mm

The front shock is an updated Fox 32 F29 with 120mm of travel, externally adjustable rebound compression and lock-out level with the new lighter 15QR thru axle system.

REAR SHOCK – Fox Float RP23 Custom Valved

The rear shock is a “Custom Valved” RP23 with 115mm of travel and Pro Pedal which has 3 settings for different riding conditions, manual lock-out, adjustable rebound and the varying sizes come with different length shocks according to frame size.

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OTHER COMPONENTS – The saddle is a fi’zi:k Gobi XM, our test bike has Rocky Mountain labeled lock-on grips and Easton EA70 stem (6° 70-110mm), handlebar (Wide Flat Ø31.8mm x 685mm x 9° Sweep) and seat-post (30.9mm diameter) parts round out the remainder of the components.

(Note by c_g: By what we see in specs, travel and geometry the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Altitude is a entirely different steed than the other two. It sure sounds like it were a lot more trail oriented but given the categorization by RMB themselves we suspect a pretty efficient platform with plenty of feedback and directness. M1 and I are taking turns in riding this one, just like the TREK and the SPECIALIZED to see what they are all about.)

Stay tuned to find out what we think about these 2011 full suspension bikes.

M1 (& c_g)