TECH CHECK

ROCKY MOUNTAIN POWERPLAY LINE

2022 ALTITUDE POWERPLAY

Words by Drew Rohde
Photos by JP Purdom & Drew Rohde

Rocky Mountain’s Powerplay eBike lineup turns four years old and sees major updates across the board. The further investment in tech and their proprietary drive unit firmly solidifies Rocky Mountain’s place in an increasingly competitive eMTB market. With industry leading torque delivered in a manageable and natural feeling manner, Rocky Mountain eBike riders grew to love many things about the Dyname 3.0 system. There were however some very real issues with the platforms, so rather than resting on their laurels of having class-leading torque numbers and knowing the eMTB market moves rapidly, Rocky Mountain set out to improve upon the Dyname 3.0 system while offering some much-needed updates to the geometry and suspension kinematics. Enter the Dyname 4.0 equipped Altitude and Instinct Powerplay. We’ve been hammering the e-Enduro Altitude to see how these changes have affected the ride of this Class 1 eMTB and were lucky enough to have some quality conversations with Rocky Mountain staff about the updates and goals of the new bikes.

Rocky Mountain Dyname 4.0 Motor

THE E

Rocky Mountain’s 2022 Powerplay lineup seeks to improve upon the things people loved about Rocky’s Dyname system while also addressing the shortcomings. The new Dyname 4.0 drive system takes the character and power of the outgoing Dyname 3.0 and houses it in a smaller and lighter package with reduced noise and improved response. The battery is now easily removable via a bolt-on hatch at the bottom of the downtube and has grown to 720Wh to further extend the range and keep you out on the trail as long as possible. This can be boosted further to a whopping 1,034Wh with the Over Time Pack addition, which entails sitting a 314Wh battery in the bottle cage area. The optional 4A charger can get the standard 720Wh battery back to full juice from empty in under four hours and even the 2A standard charger will charge the battery fully in 7.5 hours, which is still quicker than some of the competition.

Mechanical parts of the motor and related components have been improved to address the issues with noise, vibration and drag in the outgoing system. Removal of the upper slider reduced much of the noise and perceived drag, and oversized bearings have been added to ensure the drive can withstand the abuse for the long term. Retained from Dyname 3.0 is the mechanical torque arm that reads the tension in the chain produced by the rider pedaling, allowing for an instant response in the motor and an output that is directly proportional to the effort applied. This allows the power delivery to feel like a boosted version of your own input and create a very natural feeling in the way it ramps up and instantly stops assistance when you cease pedaling. For 4.0, Rocky Mountain looked to further tune the torque curves to enhance this natural feeling further, as well as tripling the number of magnets in the rear wheel to obtain a more instantaneous measure of the bike speed to factor this into the equation better too. The max torque remains an industry leading 108Nm, with 700W peak power output that’ll multiply the applied power by up to 3.5x.

2022 Rocky Mountian Powerplay Jumbotron

The new Jumbotron black and white display is integrated seamlessly into the top tube, ensuring it’s in a safe position that limits the clutter around the cockpit while remaining easy to view. A new smaller remote on the handlebar controls the settings on this display in an ergonomic and simple manner and makes it easier to get the position of the brake and dropper levers dialed in to work together. Rocky looked to add further user customization to the way the power is laid down, giving separate adjustments for the boost level and the maximum output power in each assist mode. This gives riders the ability to tune how much input torque is required to receive the maximum power from the motor and tune their preference of ultimate power and battery range to harness the most from their Powerplay machine on each ride.

THE MTB

With the tech addressed, Rocky also looked to improve the performance of the mountain bike part of the Powerplay lineup. We’d likely say the biggest change comes from the relocation of the main suspension pivot to a mid-high position, closer to the output cog of the motor. This produces a more rearward-biased axle path for the 160mm travel Smoothlink four bar system, which should help to improve the rough terrain performance of the rear end and increase stability in hard compressions. Rocky tuned the kinematics along with this, after learning a little more about the different requirements and forces produced by the motor compared with analog bikes. There’s increased anti-squat to create a firmer platform for pedaling, which drops off deeper into the travel to reduce chain tension influence; and more progression overall in the leverage ratio, which kicks in earlier in the stroke to provide extra support in the midstroke. A size-specific shock tune ensures these kinematics are taken advantage of by riders of all sizes.

2022 Rocky Mountian Altitude Powerplay

Following the industry geometry trends, Rocky Mountain’s Powerplay lineup sees the same treatment as their analog siblings, with a slackened head angle, longer reach, steeper seat tube and lower bottom bracket. Chainstays have grown slightly too as standard, but also feature a flip chip at the dropout to allow for the length to be tailored by 10mm. This all combines to produce a more stable platform for the descents with a more centralized climbing position to winch you back up. As we’ve come to expect from a Rocky Mountain full suspension frame, the new Altitude and Instinct Powerplay make use of the Ride-4 chip in the lower shock mount, which allows for a selection of four different kinematic and geometry settings to further personalize and tune the ride to the scenario.

On our Large Altitude Powerplay, in the slackest and lowest Ride-4 setting with the short chainstay, we see a resulting head angle of 63.5°; seat tube angle of 75.5°; 475mm reach; 638mm stack; 34mm bb drop and 439mm chainstay. This yields a 1,264mm wheelbase, to give a stable and confident machine to attack the gnarliest of descents. Seat tubes are relatively short throughout the range to open up the potential to size up for increased stability, but insertion depths are limited by the motor making it worthwhile checking sizes before ordering an extra-long dropper for smaller sizes.

The modular upper shock mount on the carbon frames will allow for future tweaks to the kinematic to unlock the most out of the rear end. Furthermore, The Powerplay frames feature an element of modularity that allows them to be transformed from one model to another with the fitment of a different suspension link and rear shock. The internal routing allows for moto or standard brake options and features clamped ports to keep things rattle free. Frame protection was re-addressed and features an updated shuttle guard at the top of the downtube, generous bolt-on downtube guard and ribbed chainstay protection to damp any chainslap and keep things quiet. A standard press fit 89.5 bottom bracket will accept a range of different cranks, letting you shave a bit of weight with a carbon option if desired. Speaking of cranks, we’re a bit disappointed to see 170mm crank arms on our size large bike as it really affects some of the amazing climbing capabilities this bike has.

Rocky Mountian Powerplay Lineup

BUILD KITS

The Altitude and Instinct Powerplay frames are offered with dual 29” wheels only and are available with both SMOOTHWALL Carbon and FORM Alloy front triangle options to cater for a range of budgets, both of which utilize FORM alloy for the rear triangle. The Altitude Powerplay Alloy begins with the Alloy 30 Coil model which retails for $5,749, with the Alloy 50 model at $6,999 and topping out at the $7,779 Alloy 70. Moving up to the Carbon begins at the $9,059 Carbon 70 (tested), with the next step up to the bells-and-whistles Carbon 90 Rally Edition hitting $10,649.

Our Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70, available in the orange/black tested or green/carbon, features a sensible build that focuses on performance without hitting the flashy levels. This $9,059 price tag gets you a 53lb machine that is equipped with the Performance level Fox suspension combo of a 170mm travel 38 Float EVOL fork with GRIP damper and Float X2 shock to control the 160mm travel rear end. The drivetrain and braking duties are handled by Shimano with their XT groupset, featuring four-piston brakes mated to 203mm rotors on both ends and a 12spd 10-51t gearing setup. A RaceFace Aeffect Cinch crank with 34T chainring transfers the power, matching the Aeffect R dropper that suspends the WTB Volt Race saddle. WTB’s ST i30 rims are laced to an house-brand sealed front hub and DT Swiss 370 rear hub with 24T star ratchet to handle the vicious torque output. These are shod in Maxxis Double Down casing 3C tires, with a 2.5” Assegai MaxxGrip up front paired to a rear 2.4” DHR2 MaxxTerra, both of which are fitted with Cushcore XC inserts from the factory – an awesome touch that we’re stoked to see to support the hard charging that the bike is designed for. Rounding out the build is the in-house Rocky Mountain AM 35mm cockpit, with 40mm stem and 780x38mm bar.

2022 Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay

The Wolf’s First Impressions

We’re stoked that Rocky Mountain have retained and improved the rock crawler style pedaling character of the outgoing model, with further boosts to the control on offer to modulate the impressive power levels and deliver enough traction to get up the most technical and steepest terrain. It also feels insanely fast while pedaling. This is the standout feature of the Dyname 4.0 system and really stands out above the competition in how fast and natural it feels, offering a more superhuman performance than a machine feeling. The 108Nm of torque on offer gets the Altitude up to speed faster than anything else out there right now, hitting the 20mph top speed in no time.

We’ve been rocking the Altitude Powerplay in the short chainstay position, and even in this shorter setting we’ve been left with the feeling that the rear end is still a little on the long side, reducing our ability to snap and maneuver the rear wheel around tighter corners and having us feeling a little awkward at times. This is likely due to that mid-high pivot of the suspension, which leaves the rear end feeling longer than that 439mm static number would suggest. It’s not a huge drawback but is something we’ll likely adjust too soon.

Major improvements are noted in the suspension performance overall, but specifically when handling high-speed chatter and braking bumps. The Altitude Powerplay’s new suspension absolutely eats up terrain and is one of the most welcome updates without a doubt. The added support in the mid-stroke helps keep the bike firm and poppy yet the rear wheel moves instantly out of the way of obstacles without blowing through the travel on bigger hits.

We look forward to spending a lot more time on this bike as we work towards our long-term review. We’ve been absolutely impressed with the changes so far, however we’d love to see shorter cranks get spec’d on this bike and are currently dealing with some error code issues with Rocky Mountain. It seems that the Error 121 is related to some initial break-in and calibration that can be remedied by the user and the bar-mounted remote, however, we think it’s something many paying customers wouldn’t be thrilled with on such a high-end product. We will be sure to keep an eye on the tech and electronics as we stack up miles and vert for our long-term review.

VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE
2022 Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay

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