Rocky Mountain is one of the few companies using its own motor and battery system for its electric bikes — a brave move with emerging technology, but one that can pay dividends if you get it right.
- Best electric bikes 2019: road, mountain, commuting and cheap e-bikes
- Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 first ride review
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 frame
The drive system is packed into a carbon front triangle, with the 632Wh battery hidden neatly in the down tube, above the motor. This sits just ahead of the bottom bracket and is hidden behind a pair of plastic plates, which are removable to access the driveside sprockets and pulleys, or take out the battery and motor for maintenance.
Out back, the Powerplay is identical to the ‘analogue’ Altitude. It has the same pivot points, chainstay lengths and suspension kinematics. As on the standard bike, Rocky Mountain’s ‘RIDE-9’ adjustment chip gives you nine geometry and suspension configurations to experiment with.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 kit
This is the middle model in the Powerplay range and it gets Fox suspension front and rear, in the form of an ‘E-bike Optimized’ (basically, it has a stiffer chassis), 160mm-travel 36 FIT4 Performance Elite fork and matching Float DPS shock.
Shimano provides the XT drivetrain and brakes, while the motor uses Race Face Turbine cranks with a regular 34t chainring. The jockey wheels are also standard parts, for ease of maintenance. Race Face’s 30mm-wide ARC rims support 2.5in ‘Wide Trail’ Maxxis tyres: a Minion DHF up front and Aggressor at the back.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 ride impressions
The Powerplay has extra battery capacity over most of its electric-assist rivals (632Wh vs around 500Wh), but what really impresses here is the torque delivered by the motor, and the speed with which it’s applied. Changes in chain tension physically move a sensor, making power delivery as reactive as any I’ve experienced.
That extra torque, coupled with the grippy Wide Trail tyres, makes Rocky Mountain’s e-MTB arguably the best technical climber we’ve tested, full stop. Adding a little length to the chainstays and steepening the seat angle would improve this even further.
The power delivery isn’t quite as smooth as with a Shimano motor though, and the Powerplay’s torquey nature means you can feel some pulsing when pedalling up smooth fireroads. Those extra jockey wheels make it a touch noisy too.
With geometry identical to that of its non-powered sibling, it’s no surprise the Powerplay rides very naturally. It’s relatively nimble between the turns and the 65-degree head angle, 426mm chainstays and 452mm reach of the large size mean it’s not some super-long sled of a bike.
Because the weight of the motor and battery is located centrally and low down, the bike is fairly stable and confident at speed, despite being a little short by modern standards. The big tyres on wide rims back this up, providing ample grip when needed.
Like all e-bikes, on flatter trails the Altitude Powerplay can feel a bit dead, but it livens up considerably the steeper things get. I’d add a volume spacer to the shock for more end-stroke progression and ended up riding it with a touch less sag than usual to reduce a bit of mid-stroke wallow.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 early verdict
A mountain goat on the ups and more than capable back down too — a great all-rounder.
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 specifications
- Sizes (*tested): S, M, L*, XL
- Frame: ‘Smoothwall’ carbon fibre front triangle, ‘FORM’ aluminium alloy rear, 150mm (5.9in) travel
- Fork: Fox 36 E-Bike Performance Elite, 160mm (6.3in) travel
- Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance Elite
- Power: 250W Dyname 3.0 motor with Race Face Turbine cranks, 632Wh battery
- Shifters: Shimano Deore XT (1x11)
- Mechs: Shimano Deore XT
- Wheelset: Race Face ARC rims on Rocky Mtn (f) and DT Swiss Hybrid 350 (r) hubs
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 3C 27.5x2.5in WT (f) and Aggressor 27.5x2.5in WT (r)
- Brakes: Shimano Deore XT, 203mm
- Bar: Rocky Mtn AM, 780mm
- Stem: Rocky Mtn AM, 35mm
- Seatpost: Race Face Turbine R
- Saddle: WTB Volt Race
- Weight: 23.24kg / 51.24lb, large size without pedals
Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 geometry (based on Pos.1 Slack — Size L)
- Top tube: 62.8cm / 24.72in
- Seat tube: 48.25cm / 19in
- Head tube: 13cm / 5.12in
- Chainstay: 42.6cm / 16.77in
- Bottom bracket drop: 13cm / 5.12in
- Stack: 61.3cm / 24.13in
- Reach: 45.2cm / 17.8in
- Wheelbase: 1,206mm / 47.48in