I bought this bike after riding a 2011 Altitude Carbon 70 RSL 26er for many months. After riding such a light weight, great handling 26er for so long, I was skeptical about going with a larger bike with considerably more weight. I wanted a full suspension 29er and loved my 26er Altitude so much, I figured the 970 was a logical choice for going 29er.
I have owned a ridden 29ers before although they were hardtails. This bike was so easy to ride, no "transition period" needed to get used to the larger wheels or geometry. I immediately felt improved stability on the trail, less twitching in the front end and smooth flowing turns I could dive into without fear of washing out. The wheelbase on this bike is only slightly longer than my 26er which makes the feel really nice, and the switch from 26 to 29 easy. You will NOT feel like your lugging around a big oversized awkward bike!
You can buy cheaper full suspension 29ers, but if you want quality components and great geometry, do yourself a favor and test ride the Rocky Altitude 970.
a Cross Country Rider
from Medicine Hat, AB, Canada
Date Reviewed: April 3, 2012
Strengths: See other reviews of Altitude 29ers as I am not a pro reviewer, and have limited access to comparable models, but I will tell you my impressions.
29ers roll. It’s true. One gulley after another I rolled through the bottom, and far further up the other side than the 26ers. I pedalled far less on the resulting uphill. Given how extremely tight the trails here are, there are times when a 26” wheel is more agile, but the rolling momentum was an advantage far, far more often than a disadvantage. It also glides over small bumps on the flats with tremendous efficiency, as any 29er would.
It obviously descends very well. I’m sure a longer wheelbase and slacker angles would rip even better, but I won’t sacrifice climbing for that. I am not a downhiller, so I’ll simply say that it descends more confidently than anything I’ve ridden, which admittedly doesn’t mean much. Even though it inspires a ton of confidence, I doubt I’ll ever find its limits with my skill. I will say that one LBS employee is a downhiller, and he recommended it over the FSR 29 Comp. He felt the Altitude’s downhilling capabilities were best-in-class. His opinion means much more than mine on this topic. I am excited to open it up on some more open terrain.
Perhaps Rocky’s “straight-up geometry” is a fitting name, as I never felt stretched out over the top tube. I sat straight up, and on climbs, I followed Rocky’s recommendation and didn’t change my posture. I expected the straight up geometry to be a gimmick. It isn’t. Sitting up, the rear tire immediately hooked up, and I was climbing with x-country 26ers. I expected a 29er to roll well, and descend well with 120mm of travel. My fear was it wouldn’t climb like previous generations of Altitudes. I have no reservations in recommending this bike if you enjoy the up.
Weaknesses: It comes in just one spec. It's likely the one you'd pick if budget weren't an issue, but it's not cheap, and there aren't options.
I live in an area where we normally ride extremely tight singletrack with endless ups and downs that require short bursts to climb. I also regularly travel to Kananaskis, and Canmore, and would like to add an annual Moab trip to the mix. In other words, I needed a bike that can do it all, save big drops, with slightly more importance put on climbing. I didn’t want another x-country racer, as I want to be comfortable doing marathon rides, and get a bike that will take more abuse. I ride with guys who are riding Elements, Epics, and Top Fuels, so going to a 29er was a departure, particularly a longer travel 29er.
I decided to hunt for a 29er on the recommendation of my LBS, whom I trust. I wanted to go a little longer in travel for a little more descending capability and versatility. My logic was simply that a steeper, shorter bike would climb better, but I wanted the 120mm travel, which narrowed it down to just the Rumblefish and the Altitude. The Altitude came highly recommended by numerous sources (favourite bike of all time at my Rocky dealer – for what that’s worth), had the steepest geometry of any trail or all-mountain bike and a shorter wheelbase than everything except the Tallboy (which has shorter travel and costs considerably more with the same spec). Could I tell you the actual riding difference between a Tallboy, Rumblefish, FSR and Altitude? No. I haven’t ridden them all, and they simply aren’t all available. Also, perhaps choosing one over the other is a futile process. I’m sure they are all great bikes, and this may be splitting hairs, but if you're reading this, you're considering a significant purchase.
I think we have all ridden enough bikes to look at a the geometry and travel on paper and get an idea of how it will feel. The Altitude didn't disappoint. Overall, the Altitude is phenomenal. It felt amazing from the first five minutes, and I don't plan on changing anything for fit. Of course I’d imagine most reviewers feel similarly of their purchase, and maybe I’d be writing exactly the same glowing review of any bike in this price range, but I think what sets the Altitude apart is its ability to climb. It seems to me to be the perfect combination of 29" wheels and full suspension.
Similar Products Used: Specialized FSR Evo, FSR XC Pro, Epic,
Bike Setup: XT, which speaks for itself. I did not experience any wheel flex out of the DT Swiss rims. I thought perhaps I’d taco the front at one point, but I had no issue. The Fox fork is the Fox 29 Float 34 with 120mm of travel. This must be a special makeup for Rocky as Fox’s website lists it with 140mm travel. Everything else is as listed, and self-explanatory.
As for fit this was a big departure from my bike, or any of my buddies’ bikes. It looks massive. That’s everyone’s first comment. Those wheels look imposing. However, I was very surprised at how comfortable the bike was. The medium fit straight out of the box, which is rare. It took me years to dial in my road bike. I rode it hard for two hours, and by the end of the ride, I concluded that I wouldn’t change a thing. It simply fits, and never felt too big. I would guess that those under 5’8 or 5’9 might find 29” full suspension a bit much. Hard to say.
The sensation of sitting “in” a 29er, rather than on it is true, although not as overwhelmingly so on the Altitude compared to something like an FSR Evo. Still, with a low bottom-bracket in comparison to the hubs, the sensation is there. It took me only a few minutes to forget I was on a 29er.
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I'm not clear which of the MANY versions of Maxxis Ardent 29x2.25 is stock on the 2012 Altitude 970.
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