Rocky Mountain builds bikes with a tell-tail signature that lets you know (beyond the label) that this bike was “Built in Canada”. By this I mean that nearly all Rocky I’ve ridden has been a downhill machine. The Altitude 29er is no exception.

Rocky Mountain Altitude 29 specs:

  • FORM 7005 aluminum hydroformed frame
  • Smoothlink suspension
  • Straight Up geometry
  • Tapered head-tube
  • 115mm rear travel via Fox RP23
  • Fox F29 RL FIT 120mm fork
  • Shimano XT drivetrain with SLX front derailleur
  • RaceFace Deus XC crankset
  • Formula R1 disc brakes (180mm rotors)
  • Easton EA70 cockpit (flat bars, stem, seatpost)
  • Weight: 28.4 lbs (as tested without pedals)
  • MSRP: $3999

Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er Review

After trying to get onboard this bike for over a year, I was finally able to swing it, but only for a couple of weeks. As luck would have it, the weather didn’t initially cooperate, so I had to dodge storms to make the most of it. In the end, it has been well worth the wait.

The overall package immediately felt like a Rocky with solid and reliable parts all-around. Fighting weight came in at an acceptable 28.5 lbs, which translates into a confident trail feel — not too light, but not too heavy. Unfortunately, after my first ride, I had to swap out the stock wheels due to a rear wheel issue. The spokes just needed some tightening and I’m no wheelbuilder, so a quick swap with a pair of Easton XC Two 29er wheels from my Kona King Kahuna mated to Kenda Small Block Eight 2.1 tires were used for the majority of the test.

While the stock Continental Mountain King 2.4’s are grippy in wet conditions, they felt a little slow in the hardpack conditions I was riding. So, the switch to the smaller Kenda’s was actually the perfect match. Some may scoff at a 2.1 tire width, but with 29ers, a 2.1 is more like a 2.2-2.3.

Heading out on the trail, it’s always fun to feel the huge difference 29-inch wheels make. On the climbs, you do have to muster a bit more horsepower to keep up with the wheels, but you are rewarded with supreme traction and a smooth, consistent feel. For the most part, the Altitude 29 climbs extremely-well. Long fire roads are efficient and fast and technical singletrack climbs are easily-tackled. Only on occasion did I find the front end wanting to wander and that was only when things were steep and technical. It’s really a minor issue that wasn’t anything different than most bikes in this class.

Where I really enjoyed the Altitude was in its ability to absorb a wide variety of obstacles. It seems that many bikes these days have a difficult time absorbing both small bumps and large hits — not so with the Altitude 29er. I found myself absolutely gliding over pocked trails in big-wheeled bliss. Small bumps are well-dampened and large drops are met with a nice, progressive suspension feel. The SmoothLink suspension isolates pedal and brake forces for consistent and smooth performance void of brake-jack, bobbing and other unwanted suspension-induced distractions.

Handling on the descents was superb as I carved my way down winding singletrack and smoked through switchback corners with speed (a little too much at times). I felt like the bike was very responsive and could track straight through just about anything. At super-slow speeds it did get a little tipsy and I did notice a little bit of wheel flex, but I wasn’t riding the stock wheels, so slight wheel flex may not be an issue with the stock hoops.

Overall, I’m impressed with this bike as a downhill-devouring 29er. To be honest, this is about the max suspension travel I’d like to ride in 29er clothing. Anything more than this and it tends to negate the beauties of riding big wheels. This is an expensive bike in an increasingly-crowded market, but I’m sure it will find its sweet spot.

Good Altitude 29er

  • This bike absolutely devours the downhill
  • Big wheels roll fast
  • Fox F29 fork is super-plush
  • Unbelievably-supple in all terrain… excellent small to large hit absorption
  • Enjoys being ridden aggressively
  • Love the Formula R1 brakes
  • Respectably lightweight for what you’re getting

Bad Altitude 29er

  • Rear wheel issues (loose spokes, but nothing a quick trip to the shop can’t fix)
  • $4k is a little pricey for this bike and puts it more than several more established 29ers in the market
  • Ride quality can sometimes feel sluggish on XC-type terrain
  • 2.4 tires were overkill for anything but loamy and wet conditions
  • Not sure why the F29 fork didn’t have a tapered steerer

Bottom Line: Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er

I had a great time on the Altitude 29 and found it very adept at charging down winding singletrack while remaining extremely-capable of pedaling until your lungs explode. Likely my favorite attribute of the Altitude is its ability to absorb a wide variety of trail obstacles… small bumps were smoothed out and large bumps were met with a progressive, smooth stroke. Bring on the big hoops!

Buy Now: Visit Your Local Rocky Mountain Dealer

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

15 Comments

  1. Jason,

    Nice review. How does this 29 stack up against the 2009-2010 RIP Niner, Fishers Rumblefish, and Tallboy. Also, compared to 26″ Yeti 575 and your favorite Mojo? Should anyone still be looking at the all mountain 26″ anymore in the same price range?

  2. John

    What’s funny is I had someone IM me that very question just as yours came in. To be honest, a good 26er still has its place for someone who likes to ride very technical, steep and challenging terrain at speeds. I’m more of an all-mountain guy, so when I get onboard a good 29er, I don’t miss having smaller wheels.

    I’d compare this bike to the Rumblefish in many ways. It climbs well, but descends even better. The Tallboy will be much faster-feeling and lighter, but pretty much just as capable.

    I’m still in the process of building out my new RIP, but I’ll tell you how it performs once completed.

  3. Well hurry up and build the RIP! Thanks for the reply. So for the Corner Canyon/Wasatch Front type of riding do you recommend the Kenda over the Mountain King even for 26″? I ran the King last year and liked it the first few rides, then it kind of lost grip so I am looking to switch. Switched out from Kenda Nevegal which I hated.

  4. What size are you building up? I see from other reviews you and I are the same build. I rode a 575 Yeti Medium, IBIS Large.

  5. Thanks. I am on the fence between buying a RIP or a Mojo. Ride consistently the same trail system of Corner Canyon and Wasatch Front. Not a big downhiller. Thoughts. Also, did you see my question about the Kings vs. Kenda?

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  7. I liked the Nevegal’s, but they are slow rolling. I had great luck with the WTB Wolverine 2.2’s last season on my Mojo. I really liked how fast they rolled and they hooked up well. The sidewalls were a little weak, so I did pinch-flat during my annual Crest trail adventure though.

    I have a set of Conti Kings and Race’s that I’m going to be using on the RIP and a few other bikes, so look for updates later this Summer.

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  9. Your review said that 4000 was alittle pricey. Just remember that most other bikes are made in 3rd world countries where the environment is not very important and worker rights are mostly non-existent. I rode the 2011 Specialized S-Works epic 29 and that’s a 9000+ bike. You can get an Ellsworth Enligtenment 29 for half that and it is made in good ole USA not Taiwan.

  10. Hey Matt

    Yup, good point. But the bikes you speak of are either fully-custom or full-carbon, which aren’t fair comparisons. As far as comparables, the Niner RIP 9 could be built up for $4k or less and the Gary Fisher/Trek Rumblefish II is $200 less complete. For only a few hundred more, you could also jump into the Santa Cruz Tallboy, which is also a new entry (like the Altitude 29), but it’s full-carbon and has been much-heralded by me and others.

    My point is that other truly-comparable bikes (like the RIP and Rumble) can be had for less and are more established 29er brands vs. Rocky. That’s what I meant.

    Don’t get me wrong though… the Altitude is great fun, but I’d have a hard time not telling you to at least look at other models in its price range (and lower) if you’re in the market.

  11. Oh and just to let you know, the Enlightenment (I thought you were referring to the Evolve, which is USA-built) is made in Asia and the RM Altitude’s are designed in Canada, built overseas and finished in Canada as far as I understand. Rocky used to build all frames in Canada, now they only build a few select models and I don’t think the Altitude falls into that.

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