Rocky Mountain is one of those companies whose bikes deliver a signature ride. With roots deeply-planted in Vancouver’s North Shore, Rocky prides itself in making bikes that will shine at the Whistler Bike Park or in the BC Bike Race. As I would find out, the 2015 Altitude 770 MSL actually delivers a little bit of both bike park and trail sled — all draped in 27.5″ wheels.
Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL Features
- Smoothwall carbon fiber construction
- Ride-9 chip for ultimate adjustability
- 150mm travel front and rear
- Reliable Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes
- Stan’s ZTR Flow wheelset
- RaceFace Turbine Cinch crankset
- RaceFace Turbine oversized stem and low riser bars
- RockShox Reverb stealth dropper post
- Fox 34 Float CTD 150 fork and Fox Float CTD shock
- Weight: 29.6 lbs (as tested)
- Price: $5799
Rolling Over Stuff With the Altitude 770 MSL
Now in its third year, the Altitude 770 MSL is built around the Ride-9 chip that allows the rider to personalize the feel of the bike based on their weight, terrain and riding preferences. With 150mm travel, front and rear, the Altitude sits squarely in the market formerly called all-mountain, but is now called enduro. Either way, the Altitude 770 is built for aggressive riding, but won’t back down from any climb.
Heading into this review, I had to keep an open mind. Honestly, I haven’t ridden a bike with this much travel in quite some time. Being a 29er snob, there’s only a handful of wagon wheel bikes with that amount of travel, so dropping to 27.5’s should be the perfect mix of travel and wheel size. As it turned out, the miles just ticked away and I thought less and less about the nuances of the bike and just enjoyed it for what it was.
Initial setup: Masquerading as an XC Bike
Again, I thought I’d start out the test with the Ride-9 chip with the highest BB and steepest head angle possible. To do this, I set the chip in the fully rearmost position. I also flipped the stem for a slight negative rise, just to get the most cross-country configuration possible.
Setting out in this position, I felt like the bike was masquerading as something it truly wasn’t. Did it climb like a beast? Oh yeah, but was it a fun bike? Honestly, it wasn’t. It rode relatively well and there were no surprises, but I didn’t feel like the bike was very playful or smooth for that matter.
Ride-9 Changes Things Up
The beauty of the Ride-9 chip is just how simple it is to modify. They aren’t kidding when they say all you need are a couple of allen keys and 30 seconds — it’s that easy. So, I then went to the neutral position and hit the trails. Now we’re onto something, I thought. The nature of the bike changed dramatically, making me want even more, so after that ride, I then went to the forward most position (slackest angles and progressive shock profile) and never looked back.
It’s funny, really, that a staunch 100/120mm travel 29er rider would be so enamored by the performance of a 150mm travel bike, but once I got the Ride-9 chip settled and became comfortable, the bike just came into its own and felt very Rocky-esque.
Climbing capability (not speed) is certainly one of the strong points of the Altitude 770 MSL. No, you’re not going to take all the local KOM’s, but you won’t have any trouble maintaining traction and momentum on even the most grueling of climbs. The suspension remains active and traction is maintained really well — with only a slight loss when standing. The meaty tires certainly have something to do with this, but the SmoothLink suspension design should also receive some (or most) of the credit.
The meaty tires do provide extra traction in all conditions, but they don’t hide their rolling resistance very well. Some lighter, narrower and less meaty tires might change the character of this bike completely, but as-is, it was all traction all the time.
You do have to work into tight corners to get this bike to sing. And, I didn’t feel like the overall suspension performance was as smooth as some of the competition, but it does have a nice, progressive feel to it. I would certainly not call this bike “playful” as it does take some effort to get the most out of it. It’s not completely dead, but let’s just say that a little extra rider input goes a long way, but it does still require some extra chops to feel like you’re rocking the party.
Where the bike park skills shine is on flow trails, drops and stunts. I’m no spring chicken, so getting serious air time is not my modus operandi. But, whipping through bermed flow trails and tackling rocky drops and ledges made this bike want for more. Just know that this bike can handle rough terrain and bike park obstacles with aplomb.
Bits and Pieces
In regards to the cockpit, it felt a bit cramped and cluttered. There’s a ton of technology going on on these bars and I even found myself getting confused with all the lockouts, dropper posts and shifters that covered every extra square inch of the bars. On the cramped side, I would have loved a longer stem, but I don’t have a spare oversized stem lying around. So, I rode the bike with a shorter-than-ideal perch. A 23.8″ top tube on a size Large is a bit short, in my opinion.
All the components on the 770 MSL performed without a hitch. The full complement of Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes did their job admirably. I did wish for a 1x drivetrain aboard this bike, but for a 2×10 setup, this one worked well. I also appreciated the RockShox Reverb and found it to be reliable and responsive.
The Stan’s ZTR flow wheelset has remained true and have been nice and stiff. They respond well to quick sprints and have zero noticeable flex. My entire test has been run tubeless, and I suspect most people will go that route on this bike.
And, I’m also the kind of guy who prefers to ride with a single water bottle. All I needed was a side-loading cage and the inside of the front triangle became my hydration oasis — not something you’ll be able to do with other enduro/trail bikes of this caliber. Thanks for thinking of those of us who ride hard and fast for about an hour.
- Ride-9 system turns this into a Swiss Army knife (stick with full sled mode)
- Solid overall parts kit
- Doesn’t back down from any climb (just don’t ask it to haul ass uphill)
- Really responds out fo the saddle
- Love the choice in rims for easy tubeless and solid performance
- Ability to put a large water bottle inside the front triangle is sublime
- Loves flow trails, drops and airtime
- Boy are these handlebars busy with levers and gadgetry
- Short cockpit for the size
- Extended seatpost mast may prevent shorter riders from using a dropper
- Not very lively
- Difficult to manual
- Slow, but capable climber
The Bottom Line: Altitude 770 MSL
The Altitude 770 MSL is one of a myriad of enduro bikes vying for your attention. The 770 checks off most of the boxes in this category, with the exception of the short top tube. If you’re looking for something unique, but supremely capable, the 770 deserves some consideration.
More Info: Visit Bikes.com
The Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL is supremely capable and fun all over the mountain, but it is dogged by extra weight and a lack of zipp when climbing. It handles technical descents with aplomb and is fun at speed, but there are better bikes in this category.
…so how does it compare with an Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 MSL? That’s gotta be what many are wondering as they read this review…
You’ll have to wait on that. I’m hoping to get a Thunderbolt in for review soon. I’ll let you know.
A solid review – I have owned one of these for 4 months now and absolutely love riding it. I must confess I was a little perplexed with the choice of bars on the stock build – being Raceface Turbine 760mm wide & 10mm rise (almost flat) on a 60mm stem (6 degree rise)…. I chose to change to Sixc 20mm rise bars cut to 775mm wide on a 50mm Atlas stem (nil rise) and find I prefer that cockpit. The 10mm rise bars made it fell a bit more like some 29ers I’ve ridden and to me did not suit the character of the bike – in my humble opinion.
Having put the ride9 in forward/slack position I find the bike very playful and am always hopping off trail features, adding more fun to my rides. Each time I ride I seem to just end with a grin and often not wanting to stop, even when tired, due to the fun-factor.
It’s not overly light for a carbon bike, but assumedly built with Enduro intentions – being the same frame as the Rally edition (with different shock though). I am considering going to 1x – easily done with the Turbine cranks with Cinch chainring options – but may also add the new XT 11 speed in due course.
The Turbine cranks are stiff and reliable – but having had the Next cranks in the past this may be another upgrade option over time, to shed some weight and add some more carbon!
XT brakes are fantastic and I can’t see any need to change them ever – I think they have sintered pads on the stock bike … I have some finned resin ones to try soon, which may be a little less ‘grabby’. I have had to amend my braking style and be a little more delicate on the levers.
Tyres are a good combo – Ardent EXO 2.4 tubeless ready rear, with Minion DHF EXO 2.3 front. Having looked at Maxxis website I am unsure if these are the 3C versions of the tyres. Maxxis tyres usually have ‘100 labels’ around the edge to show exactly what compound etc, and these tyres don’t, but I cannot see the exact tyre these appear to be on the Maxxis site….. I run 22 PSI rear and 20 PSI front in tubeless format.
May consider changing to some lighter rubber as it’s a nice dry summer currently (in the UK) but these tyre are performing well currently.
I was unsure about the WTB Saddle for the first 4-5 rides but now it’s bedded in I find it really comfy, so barely think about it – which is always a good sign … i.e. if I’m not thinking about the saddle it’s doing it’s job well !
I only have a short inside-leg and so stand-over height is a bit tall for me on my medium frame (but I think they all have the same stand over height)…. from memory. With the Reverb fully inserted in the seat tube, when at full extension it is a whisker too high, as mentioned in the review, the seat tube could be slightly shorter to accommodate shorter legged riders ! Not a huge issue though and I can usually drop the post by a small enough amount to feel comfy on any climb.
So – all in all I love this bike, it is confidence inspiring and very fun/playful to ride. It always makes me want to ride more and I finish with a grin on my face every time. A few component changes over time to shed a little weight may further add to its playful nature, but when it’s this much fun I wonder whether I shall bother!
Thanks for your thorough comments — you should be a reviewer! It sounds like you’re liking the bike, so get out there this weekend and rack up some miles!
Thanks again for the comment and cheers!