Deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2025 graham wallpaper 6
Review

2024 Rocky Mountain Altitude Review

Photos Deniz Merdano
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The last iteration of the Rocky Mountain Altitude was a fantastic bike which blurred lines between heavy-duty trail bike and EDR/EWS race rig. My riding progressed more on that bike than any other. The completely redesigned Altitude lays the previous trail bike equation to rest, and aims to rule enduro races or mob comfortably down ridiculous grades. It might even push me further down the road of progression on my continuing dirt journey.

Over the past few months, I've ridden the Altitude C70 Coil model on nearly every ride. You can check out the spec and first look photos here. Since moving to the Sunshine Coast, I've shuttled less tech-gnar, and pedaled to more jumps. There's no doubt in my mind Rocky Mountain has taken the Altitude to a whole 'nother level, so let me tell you how it's fared so far.

Deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2025 graham wallpaper 24

Grip for days with the Altitude C70 Coil.

Suspension & Setup

Fox 38 / 170mm travel

113 PSI
HSC: 4 (clicks from closed) // LSC: 4
HSR: 5 // LSR: 12

Fox DHX2 Factory / 160mm travel

550LB spring
HSC: 5 // LSC: 4
HSR: 4 // LSR: 10

________________________________________________________________________________________________

I’m lucky to be familiar with the excellent Fox DHX2 coil shock. The Altitude tech manual suggests a 550lb spring for my 202lb/92kg self, so I swapped the stock 500lb spring for 550lb, landing at 18mm sag, a hair less than the 19-21mm recommended. I usually prefer to run my suspension firm, but the rear wheel grip felt high and didn’t wallow into the midstroke, so I stuck with the 550lb spring.

Rocky Mountain reduces the 65mm stroke of the DHX2 down to 60mm. Those tempted to pull the travel reducers out for slightly more squish will break the frame (and void your warranty) - so don’t.

At the front end, I started with 110PSI in the Fox 38, my usual pressure for the 170mm travel air spring. After a few weeks of riding, the fork felt somewhat harsh, so I checked the pressure. Sure enough, I had dropped to 101PSI, and brought it up to 113 PSI. In my experience, small-bump performance of the 38 isn’t facilitated well by the mid-stroke travel zone, which is the zone the fork lived in with less air. It feels counter-intuitive to increase air pressure for small-bump performance, so keep a watchful eye if something feels awry and get that shock pump out.

Deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2025 graham wallpaper 20

Rear wheel traction combined with the stable pedaling characteristics of the LC2R lets you clean nasty climbs with relative ease.

Climbing

Not necessarily party time here, but the 2024 Altitude climbs well for a race-ready enduro bike, tire inserts and all. My test bike arrived with a 175mm Fox Transfer dropper post, though I’d much prefer a 200mm dropper as stock. Longer/slacker/lower geometry has progressed with the new Rocky, as the wheelbase grows 33mm - not insignificant! The stretch is offset by a 77.5° seat tube angle (1.5° more upright than the previous generation), and a slacker HA of 63.2°, tightening up the seated cockpit position. The updated geometry values end up being much more comfortable on longer climbs, while commanding the front wheel easily.

There is an immense amount of grip through the rear wheel. Off the bat, I wondered if this grip would transmit forward energy directly into the ground, but the LC2R platform pedals very well on serpentine climb trails, with minimal bob - whether the climb switch is engaged or not. Punching up unexpected rocks or roots keeps forward momentum instead of sinking deep into the mid stroke, a welcome change from the last generation of Altitude. Ascending smooth pitches, I’d use the climb switch, but open it up for technical bits to make sure I’m going to clean crux climbing moves. I’ve unexpectedly climbed a few nasty pitches I'd previously managed only on lighter dual-link bikes. Despite the 36lb stock weight, the Altitude climbs surprisingly well, without forcing me to hack up a lung.

Deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2025 graham wallpaper 3

Gobbling up all of the chunder.

Deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2025 graham wallpaper 13

Graham gets airborne? The Altitude is a stable bike for airs, with ultra-smooth landing gear.

Descending

Party time! Until I could source a 550lb spring for the Fox DHX2, I had a few rides with the stock 500lb spring. Riding an undersprung bike feels fairly wonky, but impressively, the mid stroke support felt very high without reaching end-stroke progressivity on medium sized hits.

Once the proper spring was installed, I found a versatile test track: 150m of steep, greasy steps wind through tentacles of roots, slackening into natural loamy tech-flow. As the loam recedes, an endless series of off-camber corners and small drops quickly decide if you’re flowing or trickling. Pushing into the natural undulations and nailing crucial braking points reward a focused rider with speed, though pedal-catching stumps and logs threaten to feed you a trailside snack of tree bark. You really have to be on your game to flow through this section cleanly. Finally, a low angle blast through mossy loam is interspersed with a few jumps and flat corners, ending in a glorifying brakeless 200m straightaway. 

I dropped into the opening chute, trepidatious of whether I’d be able to control my speed, or skid off into the gnarled forest. The Altitude laughed and said “you got this!”, the 63.2° HA combined with 450mm chainstays asserting themselves as steep terrain tamers. I was able to keep my body position forward, instead of hanging far behind the saddle for dear life. After the gnar of steep rolls into holes tapered, I fought my fingers to stay off the brakes and pushed into every undulation, gaining momentum. Carrying higher velocity into the lower corners unlocked the Altitude's proper operating speed - this is a race bike, remember? Floating over trail chatter and letting the bike devour bumps felt more intuitive than staying on the brakes, as the bike positively came alive! In my head, I was in my favourite bike movie, ripping high speed verdant trails with a crew of buddies. 

The Altitude corners exceptionally well, again, within its operating speed window - so take more speed into your favourite turn next time. If I had a lazy, backseat body position, I’d quickly be reminded to shift my weight forward and let the bike eat. The stiffness of the one-piece rear triangle is apparent, but isn’t so stiff that you’d get tossed out of a corner in an uncontrolled manner. Off-camber traction has long been an Altitude hallmark. This rig is no exception with a stickiness akin to shit on your shoe, but I smell cedar and petrichor instead.

Jumps and drops are a blast on the Altitude. It feels balanced in the air, and gaps are easy to pull for. Pushing the bike into lips and wonky take-offs feels predictable and supported. If I’ve used every last millimeter of suspension, I’ve not felt a single harsh bottom-out, or been bucked off. I suppose I’ll need to tee up some bigger terrain, or attempt to keep up with Ryan and Tim on bike park days.

DSC01431 deniz merdano rocky mountain altitude 2024 graham

Rocky Mountain Product Manager Ken Perras is an absolute beast on a bike, and reaches for the Altitude most days.

Mini-interview with Rocky Mountain Product Manger Ken Perras

NSMB: Overall stiffness of the Altitude has increased dramatically compared to the last Altitude. Is stiffness increased everywhere, or focused on one particular axis? 

Ken: Our main goal at the start of the project was to increase both torsional and lateral stiffness at the rear triangle. A common issue amongst our racers and team riders with the previous generation Altitude was the softer rear triangle. A 1-piece rear triangle attached with two short links, one of them being very stiff, was a natural way to increase this stiffness.

I should be clear that stiffness isn’t binary in that it’s either ok or not ok. Ride feel is a personal preference and no one value is absolute. Rather it needs to match the intended use of the bike as well as be a cohesive design with respect to stiffness “feels”. So we had some numbers in mind, aimed for that, and confirmed it by test riding a few different iterations.

NSMB: Can you speak about what kind of kinematic benefits you were specifically trying to achieve with the LC2R platform, and where the 4-bar Smoothlink fell short in kinematic refinements?

Ken: Another goal at the start of the project was to increase mid-stroke support so that you had more of a platform to push against in the active portion of the suspension travel. The previous generation Altitude has incredible sensitivity and good progression to absorb the big hits but lacked that mid travel support. It rode deeper into the travel, and it affected both the balance and composure of the bike when ridden faster in more aggressive terrain. With the new Altitude, we fixed that by tweaking the overall suspension rate. The new bike has a more consistent rate, with better support in the mid-stroke portion of the travel, and a less abrupt ramp at the end of the travel. 

NSMB: Mid-stroke support feels much higher than the last Altitude. Can you explain why this is so significant for the redesign?

Ken: The increase in mid-stroke support means that the bike will ride higher in its travel, absorb impact energy earlier, and leave more travel on tap for the bigger hits. Absorbing impact energy earlier means the bike stays more composed, more balanced. There is a balance that needs to be achieved because there is too much of a good thing. We wanted to retain a level of small bump sensitivity, comfort, so we had to play around with the suspension kinematic to ensure we didn’t take things too far or leave any performance gains on the table.

NSMB: The downtube storage is huge. What kind of "out of the box" things have you seen transported in it for giant rides/comfort/humorous anecdotes? 

Ken: Well first off I’m loving putting my mid-weight knee pads in there. I can fit a pair of Akta knee pads with a bit of massaging, folding of the pads. Any small pad, like a Sam Hill lite from 7IPD will slide in easily.

I do have a funny story about the size of the PenaltyBox. I did a triple crown last summer on the hottest day of the year. I brought 3 spare jerseys with me along with all the usual items needed for such a ride, all stuffed into the downtube. At the end of the ride, I thought I grabbed all the extremely sweaty jerseys from the downtube storage but 3 months later when I was trying to pack the downtube again with a bunch of stuff, I found 1 of them in there all the way at the bottom, wet and stinky…

NSMB: OEM CushCore spec is slick. Was this difficult to implement at the build factory? I caught a video of factory installation taking less than 30 secs/side, when does Rocky drop the installation tool for consumers? 

Ken: There was some head scratching at first as our assembly factory never installed something like this. CushCore (the brand) was on it from the start and worked closely with our assembler to teach them how to install the inserts by hand, and eventually developed a stand-based tool like what you see in [auto] tire shops to mount the wheel on and install the insert. That video you saw was from my boss while he was visiting our assembler in Taiwan. The worker installing the CushCore had Popeye-sized forearms and was installing the heavy duty Pro inserts by hand in about 30 seconds! This was on Maxxis DoubleDown casing tires as well, so overall a pretty difficult package to do by hand with new components.

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Build Notes

I primarily ran position 2 on the Ride-4 geometry chip. It’s felt great here, not in full slack mode, but certainly slack enough with a 63.2° headtube angle. I felt comfortable with the 478mm reach, eventually using the supplied reach adjust headset cup at +5mm. The swap was straightforward and took no longer than 5 minutes, the FSA headset bearings felt smooth as if they were new.

The Fox 38 Factory is the fork I've inadvertently ridden the most over the past three years. It's smooth, predictable, and punches through gnarly crap extraordinarily well. The 38 arrived with the Grip2 damper, though I'd be keen to try out the new X2 damper if it improves overall forkin' experience.

The PenaltyBox 2.0 downtube storage has done exactly what it's intended to do. I routinely stuffed it full of an extra layer, a tube, some tools, and snacks. Unfortunately I discovered that a snapped XT derailleur will fit along with those items, and make awful Foley trail music. The door hasn't made a peep over the duration of the test and has kept water out, with the latch engaging smoothly. Dear bicycle universe: this is now the standard for a storage door.

I swapped the Maxxis Assegai Exo+ MaxxGrip front tire out for a more damped Double Down casing, with CushCore Trail inserts, by hand. This is my first experience with the venerable brand of tire inserts. I was relieved to find they’re far easier to wrangle than the Pro version.

The wheels feature a DT Swiss 350 rear hub w/36T star ratchet, and a Rocky Mountain-branded sealed front hub. Can't say I fuss over front hubs too much, as long as the bearings live for a reasonable stretch. DT competition spokes laced to Race Face AR30 rims - not my favourite hoop. This caliber of bike needs a stronger rear rim at the very least, and I've already put a decent flat spot in the back. Regardless, rims are consumables, and I'm relieved CushCore trail inserts come stock. There's no doubt they have saved the AR30 rim countless times from rock strike detonation.

Touch points are handled by the fantastic ODI Elite Pro grips, and WTB Volt Race saddle. Both feel comfortable, and I should likely keep a pair of ODI Elite Pros in my parts bin. I suspect they'll end up on every bike I ride.

I swapped the Shimano XT Trail 4-piston brakes and 203mm RT86 Ice-Tech rotors for Hope Tech 4 V4 brakes. XT trails are a worthy enduro brake, but fall behind in power delivery, especially for a bigger guy like me. If Shimano ever decides to produce a 220mm 6-bolt brake rotor, the Altitude is the bike they should be on - at least up front.

Cable routing is very tidy, and the bike runs nearly silent. Molded protection lives on the bottom of the downtube, and covers any areas susceptible to chainslap on the one-piece rear end. My chainstay protector was a pre-production version. The new production bit covers the CS behind the chainring preventing scratches on the pretty sparkle paint.

The two small fenders have done an admirable job of keeping dirt from being flung upon the rear shock and linkage, which will likely minimize bearing wear over the long run.

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Final Thoughts

Rocky Mountain has succeeded in building a burlier race-focused successor to the previous Altitude. Resurrecting the LC2R suspension platform brings much more stability and calm when wading into gruesome terrain. Slow-speed performance on low angle terrain isn't its forte, nor focus. However, we're talking about a race machine that encourages you to ride through rock gardens without braking, enter corners faster, and send that scary jump you've been eying for months. Fleeting moments of invincibility arrive when you're within the optimal operating speed window, and I intend on being in that zone far more often.

I'm curious to try the Altitude C70 Coil with an air shock, and flip the aft shock mount to run a mullet/MX setup. Stay tuned for these updates over the summer.

Rocky Mountain Altitude C70 Coil, $9299 CAD

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Comments

dano91
+10 Cr4w Graham Driedger finbarr Kenneth Perras paradox@Goet Mammal Pete Roggeman lennskii Jotegir Alex_L

Was skeptical looking at the early pictures of the bike but she’s definitely a nice looking bike in person. Have a lot of friends on the last gen altitude and I really feel like that bike is not even close to being dated, and might be the better option for people wanting more of a trail bike that can still hang with the big rigs. This thing looks like a great ripper for those who prioritize shuttles, racing and bike park. 

Side note: I think it’s awesome that Ken pops into the comments to answer questions. Not many product managers doing that anywhere.

Reply

finbarr
0

I agree with you about the previous gen, it's still a great bike. I feel the same way about the Instinct. I was comparing geo numbers and they're still up there. Great bikes and really configurable.

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Jotegir
+1 Pete Roggeman

Yeah, I'd have to agree that the carbon models in particular look great in person. On paper and in reviews this seems to address all of the areas for improvement that I'd personally noted in previous rocky mountains in a race setting. The previous generation altitude being an incredibly well-rounded long travel bike did come up in the comments of the first look and certainly holds true now. That said, I recall the rocky rep in my area had a Slayer build up to be lighter than my Instinct - I am sure it wasn't holding him back on the climbs the same way as if I were to build my ideal Slayer. One could likely do the same for the new altitude if budget and riding style allowed. 

Re Ken: How many other companies can you post on a forum with questions like "hey can I run a 2021 Instinct with an 8.5x2.5 rear shock and 27.5 wheel" and get a legitimate answer from someone at the company rather than a blanket "hey don't do that"*? Great service. It's clear Rocky's full of a bunch of nerds who love tinkering with stuff as much as we do. 

*the answer to this specific question might be "hey don't do that", I don't recall, but it's merely an example.

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Jotegir
+5 slyfink Tehllama42 Cr4w shenzhe Sjwagner75

Is the video of this 30-second-cushcore installing Adonis public?

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Gdreej
0

I'll try to track it down!

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Nukeitfromorbit
+1 Graham Driedger

Rear travel number?

Reply

rnayel
+2 Graham Driedger Mammal
cheapondirt
+1 Jotegir

Interesting tidbit on the fork pressure. I got mine in the sales preceding gripx release, and I've been running it at a pressure that's been good except I never use full travel. Last ride I lowered that a little, I won't say I noticed it feeling worse, but it definitely didn't unlock more cush like I had expected. The only differences I could detect were ride height and a bit of a wallowy sensation.

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morgan-heater
+1 Jotegir

Have you played with volume spacers? I find that I like less progressivity and more damping as a heavier rider.

Reply

cheapondirt
0

Yeah, I removed all spacers. The 38 is overkill for my skills and size, but I couldn't pass up the sale price at 65% off MSRP.

I don't really have a complaint about not using all the travel. Just interesting to note that actually could be a good setup, not leaving as much on the table as I had assumed.

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demo7_rider
+1 cheapondirt

I can recommend trying a TruTune insert. Running it on a 38 180mm and it allowed me to run 5psi higher pressure and still achieve bottom out on occasion. The curve also becomes straighter so mid stroke isn't wallowy like you get with lower pressures

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cheapondirt
0

That's a good tip, thank you!

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monsieurgage
0

Only issue I have heard of is that the concentric lower link eats bearings for breakfast.  Comes with a tool and I am sure it would not be hard to replace the lower link bearings.

Have you had to do this and what was the fuss rating and cost?  I imagine a simple contralateral pounding with a punch and press in some 30 dollar (each) bearings?

Bike looks dialled otherwise.

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Gdreej
+1 Jotegir

Not saying this hasn't happened, but release date of this bike was April 10 - you know someone who's torched bearings in 6 weeks?

The lower link (and all) suspension bearings are moving smoothly on my test bike. I'll update if this changes over the next while.

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monsieurgage
0

Released to the public April 10th.  The altitude was ridden before its release date and I've heard that some have torched their bearings.

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Gdreej
0

Fair enough! That sucks and shouldn't happen. ll keep a watchful eye on things.

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Jotegir
0

Eh, the sample size is hardly determinative at this point. It could be a number of things - early conditions, bad luck, bad road trip weather, power washing.... or what happens to every manufacturer, and what I might guess here.... frame alignment issues. We had a Pipeline with alignment issues that was roaching bearings on a 120 lb intermediate rider. Rocky sent everything to get her sorted free of charge with no grief (this was pre jotform. Curse jotform! I just wanted to speak to Bill, man). That was one in the hundreds of Rocky fullies we sold while I was there, but hey, it happened then and it could happen again.

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kperras
+4 finbarr Graham Driedger lennskii GH1987

I can attest that the concentric main pivot bearings have a silly-long service life. In fact, even after a year of use, the 2nd test mule still ran the original set. 

The first bearings to go are the lower link - rear triangle pivot ones (#6900) because they're more exposed to wheel spray but they're very easy to source and replace.

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GH1987
0

Love that you guys are in all the comment sections with stuff like this. So helpful and part of why I'll always be a rocky lifer.

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MTB_THETOWN
0

This bike sounds pretty great, but the article could use a better lit picture of the bike itself. A back-lit dark bike in dark woods makes it hard to tell what's going on with the rear suspension. 

I think I'd like to test one out though. I've been happily riding and racing a Spire since it came out, but I'd be interested to try something else.

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Gdreej
+2 Tehllama42 MTB_THETOWN

The first look with brighter bike shots is here. Thanks for the reminder, I'll put a link in the above. 

I haven't hopped on a Spire, but know many happy folks aboard one. 

Hopefully you're able to demo the Altitude - let us know what you think if you do!

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tehllama42
0

Me, an idiot, who has been longshocking Rocky Mountain frames for the better part of a decade now...
I'm genuinely curious how this would do with the longshock & mullet treatment as compared to the Slayer, paired with a 180mm fork to keep the bottom bracket a bit more slammed.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 finbarr

Well, if it will actually break your frame as stated rather than the normal "Not recommended", then I'd have to think it wouldn't do very well.

Rocky is usually very open about this sort of thing if you ask em. The old-school mtbr forums are full of presumably Ken telling people what ride-x setups will and won't work for various lengths of shocks and wheel sizes.

Reply

eh-steve
+7 Jotegir Andy Krull Graham Driedger Kenneth Perras UMichael BarryW GH1987

To be fair the article said brake not break, so maybe you're at risk of tire rub slowing you down not breaking the frame? 

I'll be here all weak.

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Gdreej
+1 Jotegir

Dam, this is very cringey. The info on pulling the shock travel reducers is directly from Ken.

Reply

eh-steve
+7 Jotegir Graham Driedger Tommaso Gomez finbarr Morgan Heater BarryW Mammal

How dare you fix the article. Now my joke is definitely not funny.

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kperras
+7 Jotegir finbarr Graham Driedger Mammal Tjaard Breeuwer GH1987 trevsky

Yep, that's me! RMB-PM2. I hop on MTBR periodically to check in on the tech questions.

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kperras
+4 Cr4w Graham Driedger lennskii dhr999

This new frame has too many moving parts that want to collide with each other. The hot tip though would be to use the MX shock position (with a 27.5 rear wheel) which results in 170mm rear travel. The frame is not meant to be paired with a 180mm single crown fork, so voiding the warranty will come at your own discretion.

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fatfootguy
0

Sorry, so you can run a 65mm stroke as long as you run mullet?

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kperras
0

230x60mm only. Even in mullet.

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morgan-heater
0

Hi - Quick question on your LSR setting on your fork - it is way different than factory recommendations, but your other settings are nearly identical. What feeling were you chasing to get there? I'm a similar weight and haven't diverged much from the factory rebound settings, but my compression and spring rate are pretty much the same as yours.

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Gdreej
+1 dhr999

Hey Morgan. I try to keep my LSR fast for grip on anything wet & slick. These are the settings that work well for me, but I deviate every so often for different terrain choices.

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Danno
0

@Gdreej or @kperras have either of you run a 210mm OneUp (v2 or v3) post in the large frame size? I have read the user manuals and understand the minimum and maximum ranges that can be accommodated when fully extended however it's not clear what the max seat tube insertion depth is in the frame as I have read other conflicting reviews online about seat post insertion being an issue with 200mm+ posts such that the seat gets in the way when it's fully down due to lack of insertion depth. Any information you have would be very helpful as I'm considering moving to this bike and have challenges historically when it comes to fit with the length of my limbs. Thanks in advance!

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kperras
0

I personally run a 210 OneUp V2 (also had a V2) in my large frame but I also have several (3?) inches of post showing above the seat clamp. I could run a 240 if I wanted to but I guess I have long legs.

The tech manual has max insertion depths listed, as well as a comprehensive guide on seatpost fitment. Every one defaults to wanting the ability to slam the post all the way down to the collar but there's more to it than that. For starters we have shorter seat tube lengths than many of our competitors. If you're sizing up a frame size, you might run into issues if you also want to run longer posts. 

Measure your required saddle height then use the chart in the tech manual to figure out what post you can run.

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Danno
0

Thanks very much for your response Kenneth. Knowing you personally run a 210mm OneUp on a large frame along with working with the measurements stated in the manual gives me the confidence that it will work out! Bike looks fantastic, great job Rocky!

Reply

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