2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

Earlier this summer, Rocky Mountain introduced enduro race ready Rally Editions of their 27.5″ Altitude platform. The idea was to provide a longer travel build that was ready to go from showroom to start gate at any enduro race.

Compared to the standard 150mm travel Altitude 770 MSL, the Rally Edition bumps front travel to 160mm and swaps in a heavier duty Fox Float X rear shock. Handlebars, wheels and tires get wider. The drivetrain gets a single chainring on Race Face cranks and an e*thirteen chainguide. Out of the box it’s just under 30 pounds, and it’s ready to rip. Which is exactly what I did at Crankworx while trying desperately to keep factory rider Andreas Hestler in sight…

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

At the top of the gondola at Whistler with brand appropriate flaggage. Oh, Canada…

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

While everyone’s interests at Whistler seem to be served by lifts, there’s plenty of opportunity to climb, too. On such occasions, the Altitude performs quite capably with suspension set in the Trail mode. Seated or standing, pedaling is efficient enough to get you up the hill without unnecessary movement.

With enduro racing, if you’re not pedaling hard on the downhills, too, you’re not in contention. With that in mind, I tried cautiously hammering any little stretch I could on a couple of Whistler’s finest (like Karate Monkey, etc.). When I reviewed the Element 29er, the only complaint I had was the frequent pedal smashing from the very low BB. Fortunately, I didn’t get that on this bike and was able to (very) occasionally bring Dre back into my sights. For a second or two. Then he was gone again.

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

I’ve ridden several bikes with the new Fox Float X and it’s a darn good shock. Saris covered the launch and was equally impressed. She’s also liking the Ride-9 adjustable geometry and suspension system, something I didn’t get to play with at the demo.

Overall spec is really good. There’s nothing that’s begging to be immediately replaced, but it offers plenty of ways to save weight without giving up functionality.

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

If you’re just getting into this type of rig, you’ll notice a lot of drag on the chain with this type of guide set up, particularly when freewheeling it backward by hand. Fortunately, that doesn’t translate as much during pedaling, but it’s still not as easy going as a naked XX1 chainring.

2014 Rocky Mountain Altitude 970 Rally Edition Quick Review

Unfortunately, the 200′ sections of rapid fire stutter bumps overcame the suspension and thin lock on grips, making me wish it was a 180mm bike. On the trail sections that weren’t completely destroyed by braking bumps, the 160mm front/150mm rear suspension was more than adequate. And to be fair, we were running a bit more air pressure than normal since the tires had tubes in them. Lower pressure and tubeless tires would have helped smooth the rattle.

The generously slack head angle inspired confidence on the drops and descents, but it was still stable enough to keep the bike tiptoeing across skinny wood bridge features tucked amongst the trees.

If you’re looking for a race-ready bike that’s just as ready to rip your weekend fun rides, the Altitude Rally Edition is worth a look.

Big thanks to Dre for snapping the action shots and leading me down the trails!


  1. Altitude is easily one of the most desirable bikes on the planet right now. Last couple of years Rocky Mountain has done nothing but be awesome.

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