ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE POWERPLAY C70 eBIKE REVIEW

A TERROR ON THE TRAILS AND A BEAST IN THE TREES

Review by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen

Claiming some major improvements over their outgoing eMTB, the new Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay lineup was a bike we couldn’t wait to put to the test. Not only did Rocky Mountain update frame geometry and suspension kinematics, but they also release Dyname 4.0, their fourth generation eBike powerplant. While the last generation of Rocky Mountain Powerplay eBikes were fun and unique, they weren’t quite as refined as some offerings on the market and had a suspension feel that we didn’t love when it came to square-edge hits and major compressions. We are happy to say, that Rocky Mountain has absolutely delivered on their claims all around and the Altitude Powerplay has been one of our favorite eMTBs this year.

THE LAB

We received our Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 last fall and created an in-depth Tech Check feature that will cover all the features, updates and interviews with Rocky Mountain team members, and for that reason we’ll keep this section a bit shorter than usual and refer you back to the original feature and video here.

QUICK HITS

• 160mm Mid-High Pivot Smoothlink Suspension
• 108NM of Torque
• Ride-9/4 Position Geo Adjust
• REACH 475 – 483mm (Large)

Price: $5,749 – $10,649
Website: Bikes.com

Rocky’s new Dyname 4.0 drive system took the character and power of the 3.0 system and makes it better. Dyname 4.0 is smaller and lighter, runs much quieter, is also a lot smoother and also offers improved response and sensitivity. Rocky Mountain removed the upper slider, which was a cause of drag, noise and could be felt through the frame and seat while pedaling. A carry-over from the 3.0 system is the mechanical torque arm that reads chain tension for quick and accurate power demands. What is new however is that Rocky Mountain has added more magnetic sensors in the rotor for more instantaneous speed readings and tuned the power delivery for a very naturally assisted feel. It makes the class leading 108Nm of torque with 700W of peak power feel better than before, without an artificial or lazy ride experience. We’d say the Rocky system will likely keep you stronger than some as it still likes your input to make it go.

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70 Profile Shot

Another new and pretty neat feature is the Jumbotron display screen. This large display is neatly integrated into the top tube and even if damaged allows the bike to be ridden without issue. A major plus as other systems can render the bike a dead weight if the screen breaks in a crash. The bar-mounted controls are slim and easy to use as well, and we really like the on-board adjustability of the system. Riders can modify power, assist levels and how the motor feels based on preference, your mission that day or mileage goals.

As much as we like the improvements made to the electronic side of the Rocky Mountain Powerplay eMTB, it’s the rest of the bike that really won us over. The engineers moved the main suspension pivot to a mid-high pivot position, which is closer to the output cog of the motor. This change, combined with revised kinematics make 160mm of Smoothlink suspension travel a vast improvement. In typical Rocky fashion, the Ride-4 chip in the lower shock mount gives riders four different kinematic and geometry options to personalize the feel for your needs.

Speaking of geometry, Rocky Mountain gives the new Altitude Powerplay some very capable numbers without being so radical as to polarize the majority of riders. Our size large has a 475mm reach, 75.5-degree seat tube angle and 63.5-degree head tube angle. The Altitude Powerplay C70 also has a 34mm bottom bracket drop, which when combined with the 170mm cranks, is a bit of an issue for our crew. We’d love to see 160mm cranks as the bike sits a bit low and leads to plenty of pedal and crank strikes in technical, or rocky terrain.

There are a few options available from the Powerplay Alloy up to the Carbon Rally Edition, so budget and build kits are up to you. Something we really like about the Powerplay bikes is their modularity. If you want to transform the bike from the Instinct to the Altitude, it can easily by done, so with a fork, shock, and spare set of wheels you could essentially have two eBikes in one.

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70 Action

THE DIRT

Before we get into the review much, we have to address the fact that we had a motor failure at about 100 miles on the bike. We did a relatively quick and painless motor swap and have not had any issues since. We sent the drive unit back to Rocky Mountain and after they had torn the unit down and done more diagnostics, they found that the issue we had was exclusively limited to some early sample bikes that were not built on their factory assembly line. Andreas Hestler from Rocky Mountain shared “The good thing is that this issue was caught early on in the production, and we now have better assembly/test protocol that would have discarded that drive on the assembly line. The media bikes were sent earlier on a non-production batch, so the issue remained present on that particular bike.”

With the new unit installed we could go back to loving this bike and its incredible capabilities on all sorts of terrain. The changes made to the kinematics and mid-high pivot suspension platform give the Altitude Powerplay a composed and confident feel that let you push the boundaries of what you’ve been able to hit on your eMTB. No longer do we fight the balance of looking for bottom out resistance with harsh suspension performance or gaining a more compliant ride while regularly blowing through travel. We can now set the bike’s suspension up easily and have it eat up a variety of terrain without hiccup. Whether it was charging straight at lava rocks and washboard in central Oregon or hitting big drops and step downs in southern California, we all felt confident aboard the Altitude Powerplay C70. Our crew would love to see this bike drop a pound or two, as it felt less lively than some bikes in snappy, quick corners where you could flick the bike’s rear end side to side. It just felt like the weight was high on the bike and the bike wouldn’t dip as easily. The flip side of course is the composure and traction where other more playful bikes start getting a bit skittish.

When it came time to get back up for another lap, the Rocky Mountain is more than capable. With 720Wh of energy stored in the downtube, we were able to get tons of climbing in without range anxiety. The ability to customize the power assist and delivery is very cool and we definitely played with it a bit, although once we settled on our tune, we left it. Compared to some systems where you can put the bike in Turbo or Boost and just soft pedal your way up the hill, we’d say the Rocky Mountain Altitude, and all Powerplay eBikes require a bit more effort from the rider. Yes, you can adjust that tune some, but as a whole, these bikes like human torque. The benefit is you’ll get a solid workout and feel like you’re in-tune with the bike.

When you get this bike in the “powerband” hold on ‘cuz it’ll go! We conducted more than a few drag races and find that the Rocky Mountain is regularly at or near the front of the pack. It likes to go fast and if you get the right RPM and torque combination, it’s easy to drop your friends on the climbs. And of course, the massive 108Nm of torque…What a treat when you really need it. If you climb very steep trails, or especially if you love climbing rock slabs or technical stair-steppy ups, this thing will make you a hero. We love trying to find the gnarliest, steepest stuff to climb on this bike as it’s just so much fun.

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70 Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

To summarize this review into what we’ve answered the many people who’ve emailed us or stopped us out in public, we’d say, hot damn did Rocky Mountain make some major improvements on this eBike! From refining the drive unit smoothness and power to the much-needed improvement on the suspension performance and even bringing the geometry to a contemporary place, the Altitude Powerplay C70 is one of the best eMTBs we’ve ridden, we just wish it was a bit lighter! If you are an aggressive trail or enduro rider looking for a 170/160mm eBike that will be equally at home at speed as it is hitting big drops, the Rocky Mountain Powerplay is definitely worth considering. It does feel a bit heavy in some situations where other, lighter bikes can feel a bit more playful, but when you start getting a bit timid aboard those lighter play bikes, the Rocky will stick to the ground and keep you confidently charging ahead with little concern.

Price: $9,059
Weight: xx.x lbs
Website:
Bikes.com

VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN TO GET YOURS!

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE
POWERPLAY C70 SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: SMOOTHWALL Carbon. Integrated Display. Mid-High Pivot Smoothlink Suspension System. 160mm
Fork: Fox 38 Float EVOL GRIP Performance | 170mm
Shock: Fox Float X2 Performance

ELECTRONICS
Motor: Dyname 4.0 | 250w Nominal Power | 700w Peak Power | 108Nm
Battery: 720 Wh Removable Integrated Li-Ion
Remote: Rocky Mountain Micro Remote
Display: Rocky Mountain Jumbotron

COCKPIT
Brakes: Shimano XT Trail 4 Piston | 203/203mm
Shifter: Shimano XT, 12-spd
Handlebar: Rocky Mountain AM | 780mm Width | 38mm Rise
Stem: Rocky Mountain 35 AM | 5° Rise | 40mm
Saddle: WTB Volt Race 142
Seatpost: Race Face Aeffect R Dropper 30.9mm | 175mm

WHEELS
Wheels: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 Tubeless |
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 2.5 WT 3C MaxxGrip DD
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4 WT 3C MaxxTerra DD

DRIVETRAIN
Bottom Bracket: FSA BB89.5 24mm
Cassette: Shimano XT 10-51T
Cranks: Race Face Aeffect Cinch 34T | 170mm (LG – XL)
Derailleur: Shimano XT, 12-spd

We Dig

Major improvements all around
Powerful motor
Jumbotron integration and bike works even if it breaks
Suspension tune
Cush Core inserts
Let’s you go big!

We Don’t

Feels top-heavy
Low BB and Long Crank Arms

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