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Interview with Rocky Mountain Bicycle’s Altitude 29er Designer

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Last year at Sea Otter, we saw the end-stage prototype of the 2010 Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er and went ahead and put in our request for a review.  At Interbike, we demo’d it, and for the past couple of months we’ve had one to ride.  And ride it we have…in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.  So, while we’re waiting for the trails to dry out just enough to get back on them, we figured we’d talk to the folks behind this bike to get a little info on how and why they developed a 5″ travel 29er mountain bike for their first big-wheeled full suspension effort.

The following answers are from Rocky Mountain’s designer Alex Cogger:

BIKERUMOR: What were the design considerations and goals when creating the Altitude 29er?

ALEX: Several. We had already received wide praise for our SmoothLink suspension and Straight Up geometry that we launched with the Altitude (26″) last year. We wanted to bring the same level of performance to the big wheel crowd.

We had a blank sheet of paper for our first 29″ dually, and chose to not chase the racers, but instead we decided to go after the Every Man. The Altitude is a do-everything bike: climbs brilliantly, rails downhills, and is acknowledged as being clearly superior to the ETS-X, it’s predecessor. We wanted the same type of capabilities in a 29’er. While it’s not specifically a race bike, with a quick tire swap, you could enter a Marathon, or even a Super D. I’m itching to take one to Downieville!

We wanted an extremely linear rising supension rate, which gives the Altitudes such a smooth, bottomless feel, paired with an RP23 Boost Valve shock for pedalling efficiency.

We used many features found in the Altitude (direct mount FD, pierced ST pivot, large bearings, FORM tubing) and added a few twists. We are running a tapered headtube, with a 1-1/8″  steerer and an internal cup on the lower, which allows us to keep the bars super low on a 120mm front end.

BIKERUMOR: What type of rider and riding is the bike intended for?

ALEX: Joe Six Pack. Everyone who isn’t racing every weekend, or freeriding at the local X-tremeâ„¢ Zone. You, me, them, us. Lycra under baggies, visor on the lid, Camelbak toting, GPS carrying funhog. I call these bikes the 80%’ers. 80% of people should probably be on a 5″ – 5.5″ light, efficient dually. There are too many people out there getting beaten up on race bikes, or pushing big, heavy machines around for no good reason…

The Altitude 29 was made for big, punishing days in the saddle, 5 hours in, 3 mountain passes and a lake calling your name at the bottom… That, and tooling around in the forest monster-trucking over everything. I’m reluctant to pigeonhole it: one of our design engineers is riding his hard on the North Shore (with some beefed up wheels), so you could call it a “freeride trail” bike, but then again, I plan to race one in endurance events (and I come from a weight weenie XC background).


(Editor’s note: The bike is a lot of fun.  We don’t really want to give it back.  Look for the full review in late February.)

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14 years ago

Out of all the 29’ers that I’ve seen developed in recent years, this is the one that attracts me the most. I own a 5′ 26’er and a SS 29’er. The 29er thing is for real, their is a very noticeable advantage in attack angle over obstacles, and this bike creates a package that looks ideal on paper (haven’t had the pleasure of riding one). I am sure it would be a BLAST at Downieville!

14 years ago

This bike was designed by D’Arcy O’Connor of rocky mountain bikes, not Alex Cogger!! Get your info straight…

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