Rocky Moun­tain Alti­tude Pow­er­play Car­bon 90

A lit­tle bit of help makes for fast and fun rides on the trails

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Brad Hunter

A lit­tle bit of help makes for fast and fun rides on the trails

In Fe­bru­ary, Rocky Moun­tain’s emtb lineup, which has seen sub­stan­tial Euro­pean suc­cess, launched at home. The com­pany it­self en­gi­neered a mo­tor-drive-and-bat­tery sys­tem to fit neatly in and around its de­sired pivot and shock lo­ca­tions. By not hav­ing to build the frame around an out­sourced mo­tor, the com­pany didn’t have to make com­pro­mises with its ge­om­e­try. As a re­sult, the Alti­tude Pow­er­play, a nearly 50-lb. bike, feels sur­pris­ingly nim­ble and quite easy to ma­noeu­vre through all but the most techy trails, es­pe­cially when try­ing to get the front wheel up over ob­sta­cles. Alti­tude Pow­er­play mod­els have proper ebike-spe­cific com­po­nents in­clud­ing a stiffer more ro­bust Fox 36 fork, sram Guide RE four-pis­ton brakes and the wide-range EX1 driv­e­train. The full car­bon frame on the top model, the Car­bon 90, helps keep flex min­i­mal. Most peo­ple who picked the bike up were sur­prised it was not heav­ier. The 1 x 8 driv­e­train works very well; it’s de­signed to shift only one gear at a time, re­duc­ing the chance of a bro­ken chain with all the torque that mo­tor could de­liver. That said, the sen­si­tiv­ity with which the power as­sist op­er­ates is im­pres­sive. When you need to fi­nesse the out­put over slip­pery rooted climbs, the sys­tem reads your in­put well to keep you from spin­ning out. If I ever found my­self stalled out, not able to get restarted on a tricky climb, the in­te­grated walk mode was help­ful as push­ing the 47.6-lb. bike up­hill is not a fun task. In this mode, you can change gears while walk­ing along, which ad­justs the speed that the bike moves.

The con­troller for the sys­tem sits tidily above the drop­per lever on the left side of the bar and gives ba­sic in­for­ma­tion to the rider, such as bat­tery level and cur­rent as­sist level. For more de­tailed gps-based data, in­clud­ing maps and speed, a phone bar mount and a free down­load of the Ebike­mo­tion app will pair most smart­phones, via blue­tooth, to the sys­tem. This fea­ture also al­lows you to ad­just the mo­tor maps to your own lik­ing, in­stantly. Dur­ing early test­ing, I needed to turn down the full power slightly as there was still ice and snow on the trails. I found the Lu­di­crous set­ting, as they call it, too much for those con­di­tions. Once things dried up, it was a dif­fer­ent story. I raised all the power set­tings up from stock. I found my­self be­ing able to fit rides into much shorter time win­dows and would al­ways fin­ish with lots of charge left­over. You will be fresher in the legs. I found, how­ever, the ex­tra weight of the bike did show my lack of up­per-body work this past winter. I was knock­ing out 15-km trail rides with 600 m of climb­ing and black-di­a­mond de­scents in around 50 min­utes, af­ter do­ing five hours of trail work that day and hav­ing no real de­sire to get on my unas­sisted bike.

For some rid­ers, the emtb cat­e­gory is still a bit con­tentious. There are fans and haters. Still, any­one who threw a leg over my test bike had a pretty big grin af­ter a few pedal strokes.

“I was knock­ing out 15-km trail rides with 600 m of climb­ing and black-di­a­mond de­scents in around 50 min­utes.”

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