Rocky Mountain Altitude

Wheel Size: 

  • Size Small: 27.5”
  • Sizes M–XL: 29’’ front / 27.5’’ or 29’’ rear

Travel: 160 mm rear / 170 mm front

Geometry Highlights:

  • Sizes Offered: S, M, L, XL
  • Headtube Angle: 63.5° (Neutral position)
  • Reach: 480 mm (Size Large, Neutral position)
  • Chainstay Length: 450 mm (Size Large)

Frame Materials: Aluminum and carbon fiber versions available

Price (see below for full details): Complete bikes starting at $3,999 USD / $4,799 CAD

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 Rally Edition
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Intro

The Rocky Mountain Altitude was last updated in 2020, and that version still shared a main frame with its more Trail-focused sibling, the Instinct. With both bikes historically sharing a similar silhouette and update cycle, we assumed that the recently updated Instinct would be followed by an updated Altitude. While we were right about a new Altitude following on the heels of the new Instinct, we sure didn’t expect this degree of reimagining of the Altitude platform. 

The revised Altitude features a new suspension design, a stated focus on increasing frame stiffness, and some fairly bold geometry numbers. I.e., it looks to be a major departure from the outgoing model. Read on to take a deeper look into the fully revised Altitude and understand where Rocky Mountain has found more capability and speed out of the new design.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude
The updated Rocky Mountain Altitude in the wild (Photo: Marcus Riga)

The Frame

To say that Rocky Mountain has a storied history in mountain biking would be quite the understatement; iconic bikes like the Pipeline, Slayer, and RMX have been ridden by Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie, Richie Schley, and other godfathers of the Freeride movement in the 1990s and early 2000s. Rocky Mountain’s bike designs have changed drastically over the years, with more recent bikes like the Element, Instinct, and Altitude all sharing similar frame silhouettes — and in the case of the outgoing Instinct and Altitude, sharing frames as well.

The 2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude no longer follows that familial aesthetic. Gone is the forward shock mount on the top tube, with the shock now being mounted quite low in the frame and controlled by a dual-link layout that Rocky Mountain calls LC2R.  While the new frame will undoubtedly get some “looks like a ______” comments, Rocky Mountain actually debuted the LC2R name back in 2006 with the Slayer, also continuing its refinement in other iterations of the Flatline Downhill bike, which has since gone to pasture. Those were linkage-driven single pivots rather than the new Altitude’s dual mini-link arrangement, to be fair, but had some similarities in the positioning of the shock and so on.

LC2R stands for Low Centre Counter Rotating, describing the low-slung position of the shock and the motion of the dual links through the travel. Those two stubby links, one rotating around the bottom bracket, not only position weight exceptionally low in the frame for better handling, but also create a unified rear triangle for what Rocky Mountain says is greatly increased lateral stiffness compared to the outgoing model. Rocky Mountain also notes how the arrangement allows for a lot of flexibility in controlling different elements of the Altitude’s suspension kinematics, which have been designed to follow a linear-progressive leverage curve — meaning a fairly straight, predictable curve.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain Altitude upper linkage

Rocky Mountain doesn’t publish full kinematics graphs for the Altitude, but says that its leverage rate increases slightly in the last 25 mm of travel to peak at 36% total progression, which should make for quite a bit of bottom-out resistance while ensuring the frame plays well with coil shocks, too. Rocky Mountain also notes that they’ve taken steps to minimize pedal kickback, which can settle the amount of feedback translated to the rider, but sometimes at the expense of pedaling response under power.

As with the updated Instinct, Rocky Mountain uses a size-specific suspension tune for each of the Altitude’s four frame sizes to better accommodate the needs of different-size riders. The Altitude keeps the RIDE-4 geometry adjustment system, allowing folks to tune geometry via a flip chip at the forward shock mount. A flip chip at the lower link also allows for full-29” or mixed-wheel compatibility, but only on Medium through XL sizes — riders on the size Small only have a full-27.5” wheel option.

Rocky Mountain continues to offer the Altitude in both aluminum and carbon fiber frame versions, with higher-spec models and the frameset option only available in carbon. The carbon Altitude gets Rocky Mountain’s suitably Canadian-themed PenaltyBox 2.0 downtube storage, but both frames get a bottle mount on the downtube and an additional accessory mount under the top tube. Unsurprisingly, the updated frame gets a SRAM UDH as well.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain Altitude PenaltyBox 2.0

Another noteworthy aspect of Rocky Mountain’s bikes that caught my eye is the transferable warranty. Any Rocky Mountain comes with a 5-year warranty that is transferable to second owners, which is great to see in the spirit of supporting future buyers in the used market.

Fit & Geometry

Not content with a reinvented suspension layout, Rocky Mountain has also pushed the Altitude’s geometry measurements toward the more progressive end of the spectrum — while still including an impressive range of adjustability via the RIDE-4 flip-chip arrangement.

The outgoing Altitude’s RIDE-9 flip chip was more complex in its options, but the neutral option provided a 65° head angle, 480 mm reach, 634 mm stack, and adjustable 437–448 mm chainstays in the size Large. The new Altitude gets substantially longer and slacker, with a 63.5° head angle, 480 mm reach, 639 mm stack, and 450 mm chainstay for a size Large in the neutral RIDE-4 setting and 29” wheel setup.

The prior Altitude’s slackest setting provided a 64.4° head angle whereas the new one drops as low as 63°, so it’s a slacker bike by a good margin. The seat tube angle has also been steepened substantially, from 76° on the outgoing Altitude to 77.5° on the new one (again, in the neutral setting), putting the updated Altitude more in line with other newer Enduro bikes.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain Altitude frameset

Opting for the mixed-wheel configuration does an impressive job of preserving nearly identical geometry measurements as the 29” setting, with the only real differences being the inherent decrease in bottom bracket drop due to the smaller rear wheel and a 0.1° difference in head tube and seat tube angles, depending on the RIDE-4 position. We’ve mentioned the irksome lack of an industry-wide standard as far as how bottom bracket drop is measured on mixed-wheel bikes, and it’s worth noting that Rocky Mountain elects to measure it relative to an imaginary line drawn between the front and rear axle.

As with the new Instinct, Rocky Mountain has implemented size-specific chainstays for the Altitude via a size-specific rear triangle. The 2-position chainstay adjustment from the prior Altitude is no longer, and the new fixed position puts the Small at a rather short 427 mm chainstay measurement, where the Medium gets 440 mm, and Large and XL top out at 450 mm. 

Riders looking for additional tinkering capability will be pleased to also see that the Altitude includes a reach-adjust headset in every build spec. Frames ship with the neutral +0 mm cups installed, with +/– 5 mm cups included as accessories. The cups drop in (no headset press needed) for easy tinkering.

Zack Henderson reviews the Rocky Mountain Altitude

The Builds

Rocky Mountain offers an extensive range of builds for the new Altitude, from the RockShox Flight Attendant Altitude Carbon 99 to the aluminum-framed Altitude Alloy 30. Builds offer a mix of RockShox and SRAM parts as well as options from Fox and Shimano, and while most models are equipped with an air shock, coil-shock options are available in both the Carbon 70 and Alloy 70 models. Rocky Mountain also kindly includes a Maxxis DoubleDown-casing rear tire, and all bikes except for the Alloy 50 and Alloy 30 get a single Cushcore XC insert in the rear wheel as well.

Highlights from each model’s available builds are as follows:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore
  • Brakes: Shimano MT6120 (w/ 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Zeb Select RC (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ Shimano TC500 hubs
  • Dropper Post: X-Fusion Manic Composite (SM: 150 mm; MD: 170 mm; LG–XL: 200mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT / SLX, Race Face Aeffect Cinch cranks
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX Trail (w/ 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 38 Performance (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ Shimano XT rear hub, Rocky Mountain SL front
  • Dropper Post: X-Fusion Manic (SM: 150 mm; MD: 170 mm; LG–XL: 200mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT / SLX, Race Face Aeffect R Cinch cranks
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail (w. 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 38 Factory (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox DHX2 Factory
  • Wheels: Race Face AR 30 w/ DT Swiss 370 rear hub, Rocky Mountain SL front
  • Dropper Post: X-Fusion Manic (SM: 150 mm; MD: 170 mm; LG–XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT / SLX, Race Face Aeffect Cinch cranks
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail (w/ 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 38 Performance (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance
  • Wheels: WTB ST Light i30 TCS 2.0 rims w/ DT Swiss 370 rear hub, Rocky Mountain SL front
  • Dropper Post: X-Fusion Manic (SM: 150 mm; MD: 170 mm; LG–XL: 200mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail (w/ 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: RockShox Zeb Select+ (170 mm)
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
  • Wheels: Race Face AR 30 w/ DT Swiss 370 rear hub, Rocky Mountain SL front
  • Dropper Post: Race Face Turbine R (SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG–XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT, Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks
  • Brakes: Shimano XT Trail (w. 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 38 Factory (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox DHX2 Factory
  • Wheels: Race Face AR 30 w/ DT Swiss 350 rear hub, Rocky Mountain SL front
  • Dropper Post: Race Face Turbine R (SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG–XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR w/ Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail (w/ 203 mm rotors)
  • Fork: Fox 38 Factory (170 mm)
  • Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory
  • Wheels: Race Face ARC Carbon 31 w/ DT Swiss 350 hubs
  • Dropper Post: Fox Transfer Factory (SM: 150 mm; MD: 175 mm; LG–XL: 200 mm)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X0 Transmission
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC (w/ 200 mm SRAM HS2 rotors)
  • Fork: Rockshox Zeb Ultimate Flight Attendant (170 mm)
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Flight Attendant
  • Wheels: Race Face ERA Carbon
  • Dropper Post: RockShox Reverb AXS (SM: 150 mm; MD–XL: 170 mm)

Folks interested in the DIY route can also buy the Altitude Carbon frameset for $4,099 USD / $4,999 CAD, which includes a Float X2 Factory shock and the same reach-adjust headset that’s included on the complete bikes.

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The outgoing Altitude was a highly versatile take on the modern Enduro bike, offering a more lively and engaging feel at the expense of high-speed composure. It’s clear that Rocky Mountain is moving the Altitude in a more aggressive direction, but how much of that versatility will remain?

(2) The Altitude’s resurrection of the LC2R suspension design promises suspension performance improvements across the board, emphasizing a predictable feel and low pedal kickback. How will it compare to other bikes with a similar suspension layout and low-slung design?

(3) With nearly identical geometry between the mixed-wheel and 29” configurations, which types of rider benefits from each of the Altitude’s two wheel-size options?

Bottom Line (For Now)

After quite a few years of sharing a frame with the shorter-travel Instinct, it’s interesting to see the Altitude breaking new ground with a completely reimagined suspension configuration and very different geometry from the outgoing model. Rocky Mountain seems to be emphasizing stiffness and high-speed capability with the updated Altitude and its LC2R suspension system, so we’re curious to see how that all plays out on the trail — and we’ve started spending time on one to find out.

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Flash Review: Our Initial On-Trail Impressions

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David Golay reviews the 2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude for Blister
Flash Reviews — MTB

Flash Review — 2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude

The new Rocky Mountain Altitude doesn’t look anything like the old one, but how much has the on-trail experience changed? Check out our impressions so far.

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