The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay is the first RM ebike we’ve had for review. So there are many new things to discover here. How will the DynaMe drive stand up against the Shimano EP8 and Yamaha SyncDrive? How does Rocky tune the suspension for their ebikes? Firm or gooey? Is the battery going to die and leave you stranded? Stick around to find out.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Geometry and Build Details
The Altitude Powerplay looks pretty similar to the non-electric Altitude on paper. If you’re familiar with that bike, you’ll feel right at home on this one. It has 160mm of rear travel paired with 170mm up front. The heart tube angle ranges from 63.5° to 64.3°, thanks to Rocky’s Ride-4 geometry adjust system. I spent most of my time testing in the neutral setting with a couple of short stints in the slacker setting. Changing between settings is a pretty quick task. At 75.5° to 76.3°, the seat tube angle isn’t the steepest by today’s standards. It wasn’t as noticeable as on a non-ebike, but a little steeper could help keep that front wheel weighted better on the climbs. The reach in XL is 513mm with a 1298mm wheelbase. With a reach that long, it’s surprising to see the chainstay length under 1300mm. That’s due to the regular MTB length chainstays. With the Dyname drive’s location on the frame, Rocky can get those chainstays relatively short at 436mm. That goes a long way in keeping the bike from feeling too big.
Speaking of Dyname, it’s an entirely new drive system for me. It packs a punch at 108Nm of peak torque. The Altitude uses a 720Wh for long rides.
A couple of things stand out about the Altitude Powerplay, namely the Dyname drive. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. Compared to the Shimano and Yamaha drives, which aren’t overly obnoxious, the Dyname is much quieter. There’s no rattle or whine. You can hear a slight whirr, but for the most part, it’s pretty quiet.
The second thing I noticed is how smooth the power delivery is. Instead of an on/off switch of power, the Dyname acts more like a dimmer switch. It matches your effort very closely. If you’re putting in a lot of work, the motor is too. If you’re lazy and not pedaling hard, the motor gives you less juice. It makes for a very natural feeling ride quality. I’d argue the Altitude Powerplay is the most natural feeling ebike I’ve ever ridden. The power delivery is speedy. There’s no noticeable lag between turning the cranks and getting some assistance from the bike. On the flip side, the power turns off very quickly. I’m used to making a move I call the ebike bump on other drives. It’s where you give it a pedal stroke or two right before a ledge or uphill obstacle. The motor “afterburn” carries you up and over the obstacle. That move, unfortunately, doesn’t work as well on the Rocky.
Despite having 108Nm of peak torque, the bike never felt torquey or too much to handle. The extra power was noticeable on steep inclines where the other drives wouldn’t have enough power to continue giving you a significant amount of assistance. The Altitude continued to assist on anything I could keep the tires to stick to. There’s so much power on offer.
As far as the bike’s geometry goes, it’s a bit big and awkward on many of the Southern Utah mesa trails I did my testing on. It prefers wide open climbs rather than tight and twisty technical sections. The testing I did on my wide-open local trails went much better. Overall the bike is an excellent climber because of its natural-feeling power delivery and obscene amounts of power.
I could sum up the entire review with “Stable AF,” but that would be selling the bike short just a little bit. Sure, it’s stable AF, but it’s a bit more than that. I was pretty surprised at how much trail I could feel when riding this bike. It wasn’t squirrely or harsh, but it wasn’t a waterbed on wheels. The suspension tune allows you to feel bumps in the trail — not in a bad way. Knowing where the bike is on the trail helps keep it lively and active. Rather than it soaking up every bump and making it impossible for you to be in control. When the bike is big and heavy, a dynamic suspension tune goes a long way in counteracting that heavy bike.
Because of how the Dyname drive incorporates into the frame, the chainstay length on the Altitude PP is in the normal MTB range. Most ebikes have significantly longer chainstays. The short ones on this bike kept it lively and relatively easy to get off the ground. Sure, there’s a lot of weight and suspension to overcome, but the short chainstays helped get that front wheel off the ground for bunnyhops, jumps, and manuals.
The Altitude PP craves steep and rugged terrain. It feels very at home in the scary stuff. It wouldn’t be my first pick for slow-speed tech trails, but I’d take it all day for descents like Grafton DH.
I’m going to leave this section short. I’m currently working on a Heckler vs Repeater vs Altitude PP video as we speak. Here’s what I’ll say for now. If I wanted to goof around and have a ton of fun on every side hit, I’d take the Heckler. If I wanted the most well-rounded option I’d take the Repeater. If I wanted the best motor in the most capable bike, I’d take the Altitude PP. You’ll have to stay tuned for the rest.
Who is The Rocky Mountain Altitude POwerplay for?
I see the altitude Powerplay as an excellent option for two types of riders. I recommend looking at this bike for folks looking to have a self-shuttle DH rig. It is capable of handling any trail you dare to ride. It also has the juice to get you to the top of that trail quickly and repeatedly. One caveat, though, is that you’ll never have the excuse of your bike not being burly enough for the feature you’re scared to ride.
The second group of riders I think will enjoy the Altitude are the people wanting to do huge rides. The battery life on this bike is impressive. Especially in the trail and trail+ settings, you’ll be able to go much further than on other options. If you want to ride all day and know you’ll be getting into some steep and mean terrain, I’d recommend the Altitude as the bike of choice.
One Line Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Review
A beast of a bike both up and down the mountain
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