Rocky Mountain’s Altitude 730 is a bike that grows on you, Seamus Allardice found out, especially when you start playing with its Ride-9 system. Photos by Ashlee Attwood.
With its 650B wheels, 160mm travel X-Fusion fork, 150mm travel Fox Float DPS rear shock, slack angles and bright red (Cherry red? Fire truck red? It’s a mountain bike I’m sure just red will do) colourway the Rocky Mountain Altitude 730 is an eye- catching bike. It looks like the archetypal aggressive trail bike – and that’s because it is.
For the first few rides I was a little underwhelmed though. It climbed remarkably well and it felt quick on the trails, but Strava confirmed it was a little off my usual pace. I couldn’t quite figure it out… The Continental Mountain King tyres are a confidence-inspiring, terrain-gripping 2.4 inches wide, plus the X-Fusion fork was proving to be exceptionally plush and performing beyond my expectations. But the bike felt a little twitchy, especially on technical rocky trails.
So I prepared to write a review on how 29ers have dulled the need to hone technical skills; as they let you bash over obstacles, but to ride a 27.5 wheeled bike fast, you need to know how to bunny hop and boost over obstacles. Returning from my second or third ride on the Altitude a little disappointed (in my own lack of technical skills more than anything else), I decided that I would have to fiddle with the Ride-9 system before settling down to write the review. And wow, am I glad I did!
It changed the bike entirely! And I ended up doing another five or six rides on it because I loved it so much.
If you’re not familiar with Rocky’s Ride-9 system, it’s two interlocking cubes through which the rear shock bolts to the frame. But unlike the other bikes I’ve ridden with links or some other mechanical wizardry which can be flipped to adjust the bike’s geometry – Rocky’s Ride-9 system doesn’t just offer two settings; it offers a mind boggling nine. The Altitude 730 came set-up in the middle of the nine settings; I wanted to see what the bike could really do, so I switched it to the most aggressive setting. With the bolt now in the furthest forward position the head angle slackened to 66.6° and the saddle felt like it was out over the back wheel somewhere. Just rolling down the road, the bike felt totally different, and when I preloaded to boost off the first bump I couldn’t believe it was the same bike! My every move elicited a response from the rear shock, turning the bike into a playful tyke intent on taking to the air at every opportunity.
Pedalling efficiency and the once phenomenal ease of climbing suffered as the suspension began to work overtime. In the centre Ride-9 setting the Fox shock’s ‘firm’ setting was near rigid. In the aggressive forward Ride-9 setting ‘firm’ was nearer the original medium. Adding another 10psi to the shock made it more efficient, though my primary concern was blowing through the travel. With the super slack head and seat tube angles, climbing was tough. Long gradual climbs were easy as you can just grind them with the ample two by ten gearing offered by the SRAM X9 drivetrain, but when it gets steep it becomes near impossible to get weight over the front wheel (a Dual Position RockShox Pike would be ideal to counter this). But honestly, I didn’t miss the pedalling efficiency or the climbing ability one bit, not even on the torturous climbs of the Isuzu MTB Festival Enduro – I was having far too much fun going downhill!
In the Ride-9’s most aggressive setting the Altitude just grips and grips, it conquered everything I threw at it; from the washed out and rocky section at the top of Contermanskloof, to the silky smooth berms and gaps of G-Spot, plus a little off-piste adventure on the Heuningberg outside Bredasdrop were I missed a trail marker and ended up following a firebreak. If I’d been more mechanically inclined I’d have tried it in the ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ Ride-9 settings too, but don’t let my lack of mechanical skills put you off. Switching out the Ride-9 shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes the first time and you’ll probably get it down to under two after a couple of tries (Rocky say a few seconds, but that seems a bit ambitious).
At R29, 000 there’s no faulting the X-Fusion fork, SRAM X9 drivetrain or Avid Elixir 3’s, though a chainstay protector is a missing necessity. The Altitude 730 also lacks a dropper seatpost, again, at the price it’s not a surprise, but with a quick release seat-clamp rather than a hex-key bolted one, dropping the saddle for a downhill blast is no sweat. If you’ve got fewer budget constraints though, I’d suggest taking a closer look at the higher spec carbon models; all of which boast single chainrings, 11 speed drivetrains and dropper seatposts as standard – plus, with less weight to keep you earthbound they must really fly.
Sus the Rock Mountain Altitude 730 Geometry
All measurements are for a medium framed bike in degrees or mm.
RRP R29 000
|Head Angle||66.6 to 68.3°|
|Seat Tube Angle||73.6 to 75.3°|
|Reach||410 to 427|
|Stack||596 to 604|