How much fun can you have on an E-MTB? The new Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon wants to redefine the trail benchmark with a proprietary motor and unique technical solutions. We’ve tested the new bike in Southern France to find out whether the Canadian brand have managed to achieve maximum trail performance with their debut to E-MTBs.

The Rocky Mountain engineers took their time, but the long wait was worth it!

The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon is a real eye-catcher, a balance of aggressive lines and refined curves it immediately grabbed our attention. The aforementioned motor is mounted low within the muscular carbon frame, with an integrated battery that delivers 500 or 632 W capacity, depending on the model. Rocky Mountain’s designers have managed to keep the downtube slim, delivering an elegant silhouette and leaving enough space for a bottle mount. The system is controlled via a compact remote on the bars that indicates the current battery status and support level through a number of LEDs – there’s no display on the Rocky. The bottom bracket houses a standard Race Face crankset, the motor is mounted in front of the bottom bracket driving the chain through a pulley wheel.

In contrast to other mid-mounted motors, the Altitude Powerplay comes with a standard bottom bracket with the drive unit situated right in front.
The fully integrated battery offers 500 or 632 Wh capacity, depending on the bike model, and is said to reach 80% charge in only 1 h 40 min (2 h for the 632 Wh version).

The Geometry of the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay

The unique drivetrain concept enabled Rocky Mountain to keep the chainstays extremely compact, just 423–426 mm (depending on the RIDE-9 setting), making them the shortest in the market. The seated riding position feels very balanced and should be well known to Rocky Mountain fans as the geometry is an exact duplicate of the current non-electric Altitude. The bike offers 150 mm of rear travel and comes specced with a 160 mm fork up front. The RIDE-9 system allows riders to customise both the progression of the rear suspension and the geometry, offering a wide range of tuning options for those who like to experiment.

The RIDE-9 system is already inconic in the non-motorised Rocky Mountain bikes and could not be missed out on the Altitude Powerplay.
The Altitude Powerplay’s geometry is exactly the same as the unmotorised Altitude, rendering very similar riding characteristics.
Size S M L XL
Slack Neutral Steep Slack Neutral Steep Slack Neutral Steep Slack Neutral Steep
Seat Tube 419 419 419 457 457 457 483 483 483 521 521 521
Top Tube 578 576 575 603 601 600 628 626 625 658 656 655
Head Tube 100 100 100 120 120 120 130 130 130 145 145 145
Head Angle 64.5° 65.0° 65.6° 65.0° 65.6° 66.1° 65.0° 65.6° 66.1° 65.1° 65.6° 66.1°
Seat Angle 74.0° 74.5° 75.1° 74.0° 74.6° 75.1° 74.0° 74.6° 75.1° 74.1° 74.6° 75.1°
Chainstays 426 425 423 426 425 423 426 425 423 426 425 423
BB Drop 14 7 1 14 7 1 14 7 1 14 7 1
Wheelbase 1157 1156 1155 1180 1179 1177 1206 1205 1204 1239 1238 1236
Reach 411 416 422 430 435 441 452 458 464 479 484 490
Stack 583 579 575 604 600 596 614 610 605 628 623 619

The Specifications of the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon

All three build kits are ready for some proper off-road abuse, we had the chance to test ride the mid-priced Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70. The builds share several parts in common, all relying on SRAM’s EX1 drivetrain, SRAM Guide RE brakes and the excellent MAXXIS Minion DHF Wide Trail tires in 2.5″. Our test bike was equipped with FOX suspension, featuring a 36 FLOAT EVOL Grip Performance fork up front and a FLOAT DPS EVOL Performance Elite shock in the rear. The kit is rounded off with a FOX Transfer dropper post and some well chosen Race Face parts.

All three bikes rely on the precise shifting of SRAM’s E-MTB drivetrain EX1.
The 2.5″ MAXXIS Minion DHF in the Wide Trail version generates savage grip and perfectly complements the concept of the Altitude.

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 90

Fork FOX 36 Float Factory 160 mm
Shock FOX Float Factory DPS 150 mm
Motor/Battery Powerplay Drive 250 W / 632 Wh
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200 mm/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM EX1
Seatpost FOX Transfer Performance Elite
Stem Rocky Mountain
Bars Race Face Next R 780 mm
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF 2.5″
Hubs/Rims Rocky Mountain Sealed Boost (front), DT Swiss 350 Boost (rear)/Rocky Mountain 30AM Carbon
Weight 21.6 kg (in M, manufacturer information)
Price € 9,700

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70

Fork FOX 36 Performance Grip 160 mm
Shock FOX Float Performance Elite DPS 150 mm
Motor/Battery Powerplay Drive 250 W / 632 Wh
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200 mm/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM EX1
Seatpost FOX Transfer Performance Elite
Stem Rocky Mountain
Bars Race Face Chester 780 mm
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF 2,5″
Hubs/Rims Rocky Mountain Sealed Boost (vorne), DT Swiss 350 Boost (hinten)/Sun Düroc 40
Weight 22,3 kg (in M, manufacturer information)
Price € 7,000

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 50

Fork RockShox Yari RC 160 mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RT 150 mm
Motor/Battery Powerplay Drive 250 W / 500 Wh
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200 mm/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM EX1
Seatpost Race Face Aeffect Dropper
Stem Rocky Mountain
Bars Race Face Next R 780 mm
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF 2.5″
Hubs/Rims Rocky Mountain Sealed Boost (vorne), SRAM MTH 746 Boost (hinten)/Rocky Mountain 30AM Carbon
Weight 22.3 kg (in M, manufacturer information)
Price € 6,000

Riding the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70

It takes just a few pedal strokes to get used to the unique feeling of the drive unit. The motor delivers its power very naturally and it’s easy to modulate in all three drive modes. The level of support can be adjusted through a smartphone app that offers tonnes of other features too. We found the stock settings to deliver a nice balance out of the box, with all three assist levels being usable in different riding situations. The feel on the pedals takes some getting used to, the extra pulleys do not feel as smooth as a conventional drive, especially in the lower gears. The design also generates a very distinctive noise, not comparable to any of the existing systems. While the motor itself is extremely quiet, the pulleys generate a rattling chain noise. We were also a little dissapointed with the remote control, it serves its purpose well, but at this price point, we would have expected a higher quality solution.

The self-developed motor delivers tonnes of power, with its balanced geometry the Altitude Powerplay delivers some great climbing abilties.
The pulleys tend to generate a rattling chain noise in some situation, the motor itself is close to silent.
The small remote switch shows the current battery capacity and the selected support mode, but it feels a bit cheap considering the high asking price of the bike.

As soon as you hit the trail on the Altitude, all those small issues are quickly forgotten. The geometry is based on modern trail and enduro bikes and that shows – the Altitude feels right at home in rough terrain. The bike climbs eagerly and is easy to manoeuvre over steps and obstacles. The motor delivers its maximum power at around 75 rpm, but also works well at other cadences, constantly driving the bike forwards in an unobtrusive manner. The maximum power output is en par with the best systems out there and the motor gives the rider great control over the power delivery. As opposed to some other systems, these characteristics make all support modes very usable for offroad riding and we enjoyed using the highest mode without feeling overpowered by the motor.

The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay cuts a good figure on the fire roads, but its full potential is only released once you hit some proper trails.

Every climb is followed by a descent and the Altitude fully comes to life once the trail points downwards. Rocky Mountain has managed to achieve a riding feel that is closer to a non-motorised mountain bike than most other manufacturers. It’s easy to pop up the front wheel and throw some playful shapes, tight turns and quick changes of direction are no problem. The Altitude feels very stable at higher speeds and is not easily flustered. The low centre of gravity and wisely specced componentry certainly plays a role here, with the powerful Guide RE brakes and the grippy 2.5″ Wide Trail tires generating huge amounts of confidence and control. The Altitude Powerplay proves that modern mountain bike geometry works just as well on an E-MTB, delivering a great handling package.

Strong motor, dialled geometry, great suspension: The Altitude offers everything you can ask of a modern E-MTB.

Conclusion

The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon is a unique E-MTB with a character that truly shines in challenging terrain. The trail performance is exceptional and caters to the more advanced mountain bikers. The new Powerplay motor will have to prove itself against the established competition over a longer test period, but we salute Rocky Mountain for the decision to develop their own drive unit that opens up new possibilities in terms of geometry and integration.

The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay will be available in limited quantities in select European countries from June. More information on the Rocky Mountain Website.

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Words: Moritz Dittmar Photos: Matt Wragg, Moritz Dittmar

About the author

Moritz Dittmar