When Rocky Mountain set out to design the 2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL Rally they had two things in mind: Specific components for the modern trail rider and the capability to handle the aggressive terrain found in their backyard, British Columbia. As a result, this trail bike delivers a punch. Of the five Altitude models to choose from, the Rally is the only one to come with a front carbon triangle and a stout aluminum rear end designed for heavy hitters. I received my Altitude Rally in February and have had a mix of Utah desert riding and some Salt Lake City single-track to test it on. This review is based on first impressions, not the long term. Nonetheless I have been impressed.
Frame: Smoothwall technology
The Altitude Rally frame uses Smoothwall technology to form the carbon front triangle. Basically, instead of using the traditional inflatable bladder method, the carbon is molded around a foam core that when pressed and heated, removes any voids within the carbon structure. The result is uniform carbon tubing that is up to the task of aggressive trail riding. The stout aluminum rear end sports Rocky’s four-bar SmoothLink suspension system that positions the axle 10 millimeters below the chainstay mounted pivot. Smoothlink is very similar to a horst link except that the pivot is above instead of traditionally below the axle, so chain tension can’t act on the suspension. The engineers at Rocky Mountain claim their system separates pedaling forces from your suspension creating an extremely active ride and bob-free pedaling.
Frame Pivots: Angular Bushing Concept
Rocky’s Angular Bushing Concept (ABC) utilizes bushings at both rocker arm mounts as well as the Smoothwall link. The designers claim that by using new materials and tighter tolerances, they have achieved more rigidity and less friction over traditional sealed bearings. I’ve only been on the Altitude Rally for a couple of months and have not experienced any play or friction. It will require a longer-term test to see if the pivots develop play, but I’m fairly confident that this bushing system is in it for the long haul. As for the main swing arm pivot above the bottom bracket, Rocky has chosen to use a hybrid bushing-sealed bearing system. As they develop ABC, you can expect it to take over the main pivot in the future as well.
Ride Options: RIDE-9 System
Rocky Mountain takes personal ride setup very serious and their RIDE-9 System is a reflection of that. By flipping a combination of flip-chips at the forward-shock mount, a rider has nine options to fine tune the geometry and suspension rate to their riding style and weight. Rocky has developed a very precise system that the average rider as well as racers will appreciate to get the most out of their ride. More on my personal RIDE-9 setup below.
Rocky Mountain spec’d the 150 mm travel Altitude Rally with a 1×10 Sram X9 and Raceface Turbine drivetrain with an E-Thirteen chain guide for security. Capable 27.5 inch Stan’s EX Flow rims are laced to Sram X9 hubs and are wrapped in the very aggressive 2.4 inch Continental Mountain King tires, a favorite of mine. The suspension includes a 160 mm travel Fox 34 Kashima CTD fork and for the rear, Fox’s new Float X Remote Kashima CTD with a custom trail tune. A Rockshox Reverb keeps the post out of the way on the downhills and a very wide 785 mm Race Face Turbine handlebar with a 50 mm stem round this bike out as a venerable trail-smashing machine.
Since we’re still in winter mode in Park City, I’ve taken my Altitude Rally on a few trips to Southern Utah to get some riding in. The trails were a mix of flowy singletrack and some technical rock rallying synonymous with Moab, St. George, and Hurricane, Utah. I also rode the Rally on Bobsled in Salt Lake City, a mellower flow trail with lots of berms and jumps.
The Altitude Rally is no XC bike. Don’t expect to win any hill climbs on this 150 mm travel beast. My Altitude Rally came in on the heavier side of things at a hair under 30 pounds. I also put the RIDE-9 setting at position 5 which slackens out the head tube by about a half a degree and lowers the bottom bracket a little over 5 mm. The Altitude Rally comes with a 160 mm travel fork which raises the bottom bracket and slackens the head tube, so my numbers above don’t reflect the non-Rally Altitude models.
While these numbers don’t seem like much, I wasn’t doing myself any favors. I am also one of those set-it-and-forget-it riders and would rather push through a difficult climb without changing my setup. However, I’m a fan of four-bar suspensions and Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink does not disappoint. The pedal bob was minimal and I felt plenty of power going to the rear wheel. The riding on Gooseberry Messa in southern Utah has its fair share of technical climbing that requires short bursts of extreme effort; and I was able to power over these features with relative ease.
From the top to the bottom is where this trail bike shines. The Smoothlink suspension kept my rear wheel planted over rough terrain. The large Continental Mountain King tires provide lots of traction, especially in loose terrain. And Fox has come full-circle this year with their suspension. Both the front and rear shock’s tune provided a solid feel on the trail and inspired lots of confidence. While the top tube of the Altitude Rally is a bit shorter than I am used to,I didn’t feel it slowed me down. If anything, the shorter length made the bike more lively and easier to push into corners.
Really this bike is home on aggressive terrain. Riding it on a flow trail like Bobsled didn’t do the suspension and handling capabilities justice. While it sank into berms just fine, I feel like this bike wanted me to just point it straight down the hill and mob. While that isn’t quite my riding style, the Rally definitely gave me a big boost of confidence on aggressive terrain.
Straight out of the box the Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL Rally is capable and ready to handle aggressive, enduro style riding. It’s no-nonsense Race Face, Sram, and Stan’s build invites you to “rally” (See what I did there?) over features you may have once turned away from. This bike isn’t quite the do-all bike that some riders are looking for. But the ability to fine-tune your geometry and desired spring rate really makes the Rally adaptable to most riders.
I am excited to ride this bike all summer and into the fall. I think it will work well for the diverse riding that Utah offers. I may break out the credit card and put it on a bit of a diet but as the bike stands out of the box, I haven’t come across a more capable ride that is ready for aggressive, loose terrain.
If you’re interested in a Rocky Mountain Altitude Rally, check out our White Pine Touring location for a test ride and a demo. Or if you’d like more information, get in touch with our Experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 800-745-1020.
By Paul Boyle, Marketing Specialist
Technical Features: 4.8/5 – The build spec is ideal for the modern trail rider. But the aggressive nature of this bike may make some riders shy away.
The Ride: 4.9/5 – Downhill, this bike is all about fun and staying on your line. Uphill, the 1×10 drivetrain coupled with a chain guide can make climbing difficult for riders who are not as fit.