Just a few weeks back Rocky Mountain introduced a new Altitude trail bike, but apparently they have had an e-bike version waiting in the wings. For all of those in North America worried about the decline of mountain biking with all of the e-bikes that keep popping up, you don’t have to worry for now on account of this bike. The new e-MTB Altitude Powerplay is staying in Europe for the time being, where there is both a broader acceptance of pedal-assist bike on the trails and an established e_MTB race circuit where you can take on other e-bikers on a mix of dizzying climbs and technical descending. And the new Altitude Powerplay is up for that challenge with a design that integrates a unique custom-made e-drive system, idler pulleys & battery tech into a massive bottom bracket setup for an unmatched low center of gravity, and what Rocky Mountain is calling “the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should”…
The aggressive 27.5″ Altitude Powerplay was developed closely with gravity legend Wade Simmons from its very beginning. He took the bike to the south of France earlier this spring to get the first real shredding on the final production bike.
The heart of the Altitude Powerplay is Rocky Mountain’s own integrated Powerplay e-bike drive system. Developed in parallel with the new carbon frame, the compact motor design allowed Rocky to keep the bike’s chainstays much shorter than normal for an e-bike, and to get the weight balance low and forward for improved handling. That works be essentially putting the motor in front of the crankset and driving the rear wheel through a combination of a drive ring, the chain ring, and two idler pulleys that keep everything in contact.
By separating the drive motor from the cranks, Rocky Mountain says they were able to actually make “the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay… identical to those of the new Altitude” for a bike that rides like a bike instead of some kind of e-bike compromise. The adaptable layout & pivot point geometry is the same as the regular Altitude, but does get updated suspension kinematics to deal with the extra chain torque input.
At the same time, the setup gave Rocky Mountain more free rein than being fixed to an existing supplier’s motor, and in return they claim “class-leading torque, massive battery capacity, and ultra quiet operation”. The Powerplay setup uses an inline toque sensor to seamlessly add assist to whatever effort you put into the pedals that they say makes for an intuitive feel. Rocky’s 48v motor & 632Wh lithium ion battery (a lighter 500Wh version is also available) also boasts short charge times, needing just two hours to hit 80% capacity. The layout is also said to result in less drag when the motor isn’t pushing you, or when you exceed the standard 25km/hr assist limiter.
Rocky Mountain also wanted to create an e-MTB that wasn’t just about being bombarded with tech, and so the new Altitude Powerplay doesn’t get a display, instead relying on a low-key remote to cycle through its three assist modes, that still manages to show mode & charge. But if you want to get techy, there’s an option for that too. Just pair your bike with your phone (yes, it pains me every time I have to write a phrase like that) via the iOS or Android eBikeMotion app where you can customize setup, track functionality rides, and more.
The made-in-Canada, Boost-spaced bike pairs 150mm of rear wheel travel with 160mm forks. It was designed around 2.5″ 27.5 trail tires on wide rims, but can also be ridden with 3″ 26+ rubber for those looking for even more float. It gets full internal routing, including for the dropper post, a tapered headtube, and post-mount 180mm brakes.
It comes in a four size range (each fitting a full-size water bottle in the front triangle) and is offered at three spec levels. Separating cranks from motor, the bike uses a standard and easy to service PF92 bottom bracket and regular RaceFace cranks.
The top Altitude Powerplay Carbon 90 weighs in at 21.6kg (47.6lb) and will sell for a whopping 9700€ with its carbon frame, stays, SRAM EX1 drivetrain, Fox Float EVOL Factory 36 fork & shock, and carbon wheels.
The Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 comes in at 22.3kg (49.2lb) with a bit more palatable 7000€ pricetag, including the carbon frame, and alloy rear end, EX1, Fox Performance suspension and alloy wheels.
And the Altitude Powerplay Carbon 50 tips the scale at 22.3kg (49.1lb) and tips your wallet to the tune of 6000€ for the carbon main frame, alloy rear, Rockshox Yari+Deluxe suspension, EX1, and alloy wheels.
The new Altitude Powerplay will be available in limited sizes and models, starting in July 2017 in Rocky’s European markets.