The closest anyone has come to making an ebike that handles like a regular bike
The Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay isn’t differentiated from regular trail bikes on their website. This speaks volumes about a unique approach to ebikes.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay 70 review
Rather than building an ebike around an off-the-shelf motor, Rocky has developed its own system, the main advantage being that it could achieve the same geometry and suspension layout as the non-pedal assist Altitude.
There are other bonuses to going it alone too. Like the inline torque sensor that delivers instant power to the pedals, something that no other system currently does.
It’s also got power in spades. Winning our acceleration tests and smoking the competition on every timed hill climb. And thanks to the higher capacity 632Wh battery that’s hidden inside the carbon front triangle, you can climb higher and faster than on any other ebike.
The motor is quiet too, the only real sound being that of the chain feeding though the two guides that keep it securely in place. This, combined with the seamless integration and slender carbon front end, makes the Powerplay hard to distinguish from a regular trail bike.
With Rocky Mountain’s Ride 9 chip in the upper suspension link, you can adjust the frame geometry and the suspension rate of the Altitude Powerplay by simply repositioning the shock relative to the linkage. Rear travel is set to 150mm and a Fox Float DPS Evol shock provides a three position pedal platform within easy reach.
Up front, the Fox 36 suspension fork delivers 160mm travel, where the ebike optimized chassis gets thicker wall upper tubes and a non-hollow crown for improved stiffness and strength. It’s the new Fox EVOL air spring that really seats it apart though, as small bump sensitivity is on another level.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay 70Rocky has nailed the build kit on the Powerplay too. It’s the only bike in this test to get a 780mm handlebar, and combined with the 50mm stem the fit on the size L felt spot on for anyone around 5ft 10in tall. There’s also an XL option for taller riders.
Tyre wise, Rocky bucks the trend for 2.8in Plus rubber, favouring 2.5in Wide Trail Maxxis Minion DHF’s front and rear. We’d like to see a DH casing tyre on the rear though, just to stop the sidewalls breaking down so quickly, while adding some additional puncture resistance.
From the get go the Rocky Mountain impressed us with its turn of speed and intuitive handling. Yes, the instant power delivery takes a little getting used to but you quickly learn to cover the brakes when you stop for a chat.
Having power always on tap has some major advantages though. Not only does it make it easier to get going again if you stall on a steep technical climb, but it also makes it easier to gauge just how hard to pedal and how much traction is available at any given moment.
With the most powerful motor in test the Rocky was the only bike to make it up certain sections of trail, but the short chain stays mean that you needed to sit right on the nose of the saddle and get comfortable with the front wheel barely touching the ground. Flipping the Ride 9 geometry chip from the lowest/slackest setting to the highest/steepest setting would definitely help in that regard.
But ebikes aren’t just about grinding up crazy steep climbs, they are also a blast on the way back down. And with the Powerplay’s geometry mirroring that of a conventional long-travel trail bike, you don’t need to adapt your riding style. In that respect, the Rocky Mountain is the closest anyone has come to making an ebike that handles like a regular bike.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. Our pre-production test bike would cut out for no apparent reason then start again as if nothing had happened. Hopefully it’s just a bug in the software, but that flashing red light on the handlebar remote was enough of a warning sign to prevent the Rocky getting a perfect 10 rating.
With most ebikes the choice of motor defines aspects of the frame geometry and to a lesser degree the suspension characteristics of the bike. Not with new Rock Mountain Altitude Powerplay. With its bespoke motor Rocky has been able to design an ebike that reflects the ride quality of a highly evolved 150mm trail bike. With instant power pickup, extended battery life and streamline proportions it’s not just the handling of the Rocky that will get you charged up for riding. It’s the best bike in this test by some margin, but we had an issue with the motor momentarily cutting and raising questions over it’s reliability.