Ride up, ride down, ride up, ride down, ride all day long. With its first in its category Straight-Up geometry and patented SmoothLink suspension system, Altitude is a super efficient climber and a wicked descender. Put this bike in your quiver and you might find it's the only one you ever pull out to ride.
Frame: FORM C13 Hi Mod Carbon Smoothwall Monocoque Front Triangle. FORM 7005 Series Custom Hydroformed Rear Triangle. ABC Pivots. Tapered Head Tube. Press Fit BB. Internal Cable Routing. ISCG05 Tabs. Adjustable StraightUp Geometry + Suspension Rate
Fork: Fox 34 Float 150 FIT CTD 650b
Rear Shock: Fox Float Remote CTD Custom Trail Valved
Tires (RR/FR): Schwalbe Nobby Nic Folding 650b x 2.35
Strengths: Wow is this fun. Coming from a light, 3.5" travel XC rig I was skeptical and a bit worried that 6" or travel and a bigger bike would overwhelm me. After about six rides, I cannot remember what it was like to ride anything else. I am still dialing it in on the shock, fork, but I have played with the ride 9 a few times as well. Did a long climb in the full out "climb" set-up (setting 2) and then changed in the parking lot--it takes about two minutes--and set it to full "descend" mode (setting 6). Right away I could feel the difference. I was noticeably lower (bottom bracket dropped a full 20mm) and noticed the bigger front wheel looming more. In climb mode it handles a technical climb very well, rolling smoothly and reacting quickly. Descending in full climb mode is a bit choppy and I could tell I was not getting everything out of the bike. Climbing in descend mode was, predictably, a bit sluggish--but not as bad as I would have thought. But descending, wow. I am waaaay more confident, able to fly through rock gardens, corner with confidence, and drop anything that my talent will allow without hesitating. This bike covers my flaws and mishaps with aplomb. I will be playing with the ride-9 some more to find a balance between climb and descend that fits me best, likely tilted toward descend because the short chainstays facilitate climbing quite well in even descending mode.
The 650b/27.5 wheels are noticeably smoother than my old 26". This could be psychological as well, but I do not hesitate to roll over rather than go around many obstacles. I have not ridden a 29er off road, so no comparisons there, but the other day I swapped with a riding partner so he could feel it and riding his 26er felt small, almost childish for a bit until I readjusted.
The stock build is superb, with the clutch-drive derailleur living up to its billing, 2x10 keeping me honest, and the reverb post coming in handy already and offering no issues. Loving it all.
Weaknesses: Price. You wouldn't believe what my wife thinks it cost vs. what I paid . . . I guess for carbon and a top build, this is becoming standard, but still it is enough to make me overly nervous about it.
Not too sure of the Sun Ringle wheels yet--first experience. No issues; just wondering if there's something better I should aim for. I had to add rime tape to set it up tubeless (not really an issue, but thought it would come ready out of the box).
I am 42 but am getting in the best riding shape of my life--partly because I just bought a bike that would be wasted if I didn't. So I am riding better in general because of fitness, but this bike is changing things for me as well. The "straight-up" geometry is certainly straight up, and with a short stem I am looking at more of the (larger) front wheel than I am used to, but as I noted when I changed back to a 26" for a short climb and descent it felt weird going back. I used to ride a Turner Burner, and I kept saying how that bike made me a better rider. This Altitude does not climb quite like that Turner--no bike I have ever ridden does--but I do feel like it is making me an even better rider because I can climb AND descend, corner, jump, drop, and flat out play far more than I could before. It's fun all over again.