WHAT A COOL OPPORTUNITY! Huge thanks to Jenson USA and to Rocky Mountain! Have a peep at the new Altitude C90 Rally Edition here at Jenson USA via my affiliate link: http://bit.ly/RockyMountainJKW
Riding some new brands has been a HUGE highlight of 2020, and don’t we all know 2020 needs more positive highlights! I’ve had a 12+ year relationship with Ibis Cycles, which I go over in this video here. I’m extra excited about this most recent turn with my Ibis sponsorship, as it means I get to ride some of my original childhood dream brands- like this one! Now, the real key to this puzzle is my other longtime sponsor, Jenson USA. Jenson has been supporting my online content for a few years now, and they’ve recently begun offering Rocky Mountain bikes via online sales to the US market.
This Rocky Mountain Altitude C90 was an absolute DREAM on rocky, chunky descents! I have never ridden a 29er with this much travel. Yes, my Ripmo has a 170 fork and before that, a massive Trust Shout, but the Ripmo is only about 145mm of frame travel. The new 2021 Altitude is a 160mm chassis, and is set up with a Fox 38 fork at 170 travel. In the back of my mind, I was a little worried that this would be a tad cumbersome, but I was wrong. Once I got the geometry dialed in, the bike handled tighter, natural tech just fine. The travel wasn’t an issue at all. Yes, it feels big compared to my Chromag 27.5 hardtail, but hey, that’s to be expected, and in the majority of backcountry situations, it’s an advantage.
Now, before I ever got the bike dirty, I made sure to weigh it. Hey, if I’m being sent a “media sample”, I should do my best to pretend that I’m a responsible media type, right? 32.46 pounds. That sounds good to me. Turns out that is the exact same weight as my HD5! I then threw on a few parts I’ve been riding for a while now:
- Industry Nine 315 wheels (carbon, Hydra hubs, I9 alloy spokes) https://bit.ly/IndustryNine2022JKW
- WTB Vigilante 2.6 Tough High Grip front tire https://bit.ly/WTBVigilanteJKW
- WTB Trailboss 2.6 Tough High Grip rear tire http://bit.ly/WTBjudgeJKW
- Shimano E-Through Axle: https://bit.ly/Shimano2022JKW
- PNW Range stem, 50mm https://bit.ly/PNWComponents2022JKW
- PNW KW bars, 760mm https://bit.ly/PNWComponents2022JKW
- PNW Loam grips https://bit.ly/PNWLoamGrips2022JKW
- PNW Rainier IR seatpost (190mm drop) https://bit.ly/PNWComponents2022JKW
One thing that I’ll need to do a separate video about is the actual Ride 9 geometry adjust of this bike. In addition to the Ride 9 system, the bike has adjustable drop outs to change chainstay length, and a replaceable forwards shock mount (in case of future shock size changes). But the details don’t end there! The internally molded cable tunnels include a spare tunnel in case a rider wants to run a left side rear brake- WOW! That’s something I’ve never seen on another brand. Impressive work, Rocky!
The chainstays when positioned in the long setting are compatible with the SRAM universal derailleur hanger. Cool, but what’s really cool is the use of the Shimano rear axle thread standard. I swapped the stock bolt-on axle for a Shimano E-Through Axle so I could enjoy the convenience and security of a proper QR 148 rear end. I do this same thing on all my Ibis bikes as well.
My new athlete page over at Jenson USA: https://www.jensonusa.com/blog/rider-profile-JKW
Perhaps my favorite overall feature on the Altitude is the Ride 9 adjustment system. The bike came in the lowest/slackest and most progressive configuration. By changing the orientation of the Ride 9 chips, I moved the shock into the most neutral setting. This raised the BB and steepened the head angle, which was something I needed for my local trails. Once I went to that neutral setting, the bike rode VERY well on my preferred terrain. I also removed a volume spacer in both the fork and the shock. I wanted to be able to bottom the bike on harsh ~4 foot drops to flat, something that the tight and slow backcountry trails will occasionally feature.
Man, do I wish other brands would incorporate this type of adjustability into their designs!
The way I ride is so unusual, and often when I’m riding with other folks for the first time they’ll mention that they never thought their local trail could “look like that.” We don’t make all riders stick with only 2.8 tires, or only 2.3 tires; we don’t make everyone stick to one handlebar width, compression setting, or tire pressure, so why not have a few options on hand? The only thing I might say is a downside about the Ride 9 system is that Rocky didn’t ship the bike in the neutral position. The most aggressive position that it came in will be great for top level riders at a bike park, but for the average buyer, I’d think they’d much prefer the more neutral setting- or perhaps something even steeper and more linear. Maybe this changes depending on the spec of the bike- I did get the “mega smasher” model after all. But I am STOKED to play with the adjustability of this bike!
The industrial design of the frame is quite nice and modern. It still looks like an Altitude, which is a great shape, but it’s got an elegance that photos (at least, my photos) can’t quite convey. I found the front triangle to be quite stiff, and the rear end was a tad softer. The swingarm was still stiffer than my Ripmo AF, for instance, but it certainly had more give than my Ripmo Carbon V2. It was not a hinderance in any way on the trail, in fact, I think it helped hook the bike up more in the loose and rocky stuff.
I’ll do more of a proper ride report in a few more weeks, but for now, I’m pouring over maps, trying to find some more rad backcountry adventures to hit before the snow arrives.
Stay tuned for more!
My riding tutorials posted through June 2020:
- My 3 favorite skills drills: https://www.patreon.com/posts/if-i-could-only-38809964
- How to manual: https://www.patreon.com/posts/how-to-manual-37684861
- Cutty: https://www.patreon.com/posts/36579859
- Manual a berm: https://www.patreon.com/posts/35496772
- How to ride in Sedona: https://www.patreon.com/posts/34436065
- Switchbacks: https://www.patreon.com/posts/3-ways-to-33345804
- Nosewheelie: https://www.patreon.com/posts/32742504
- Bump jump: https://www.patreon.com/posts/31881231
- Trials basics for trail riders: https://www.patreon.com/posts/31145344
- Tight berms: https://www.patreon.com/posts/30389457
- Aggressive braking: https://www.patreon.com/posts/29579507
- Confidence for mountain biking: https://www.patreon.com/posts/28817411
- Cornering: https://www.patreon.com/posts/27981205
- Flowing/pumping down the trail: https://www.patreon.com/posts/27288868
- Stoppie through turns: https://www.patreon.com/posts/26296762
- Technical climbing: https://www.patreon.com/posts/25234847
- Boost jumps: https://www.patreon.com/posts/24161821
- Bunnyhop: https://www.patreon.com/posts/23396959
- Utilizing the wheelie on the trail: https://www.patreon.com/posts/23017910
- How to wheelie: https://www.patreon.com/posts/21879606
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