Sea Otter 2009: Report #4

Okay, another sunny day in the confines of Laguna Seca Raceway where more Sea Otter goodness is going down. Here’s my report from today…..

Rocky Mountain's new Altitude 29"er

Rocky Mountain's new Altitude 29"er

The linkage has bearings and bushings in there.

The linkage has bearings and bushings in there.

The Rocky Mountain Bikes company has taken the opportunity of Sea Otter as a stage to introduce their newest 29″er designs expanding on the steel hardtail selections they already have. This Altitude has “Form” aluminum tubing, which is hydro-formed to maximize weld areas and strengthen the frame without adding any extra weight. Interestingly the bike employs a different geometry called “Straight Up” that incorporates a steeper than normal static seat tube angle. The sagged angle then approaches optimal positioning for maximum rider efficiancy. The sagged angle should be about 74 degrees with the rider on board.

Don't call me Horst!


The 15QR will be standard issue on the Altitude

The Altitude will also have a low rear pivot placement, but it isn’t a “Horst Link”. Rocky raised the pivot placement to be just above the QR, thus eliminating issues with the licensed design. Rocky Mountain says that it makes granny ring climbing more efficient with less bob while cranking in the saddle.

The 15QR is standard issue on the Altitude. This will help stiffen up the front end, which also sports a tapered 1 1/8th to 1 1/2″ steer tube. Other features on the Altitude are 4 inches of travel on the rear, XT components with Race Face cranks, Formula Brakes with little maple leaf details, and Stan’s No Tubes Arch rims stock. No word on price or availability just yet.

The other bike in the line up is the hard tail Vertex 29″er. This bike has many of the same features as the Altitude with the Fox 15QR and tapered steer tube, all wrapped up in Form aluminum tubing. A couple of shots of the Vertex here for your approval.


The Vertex 29"er

The Vertex 29"er

Both the Altitude and the Vertex 29"ers feature direct mount front derailluers

Both the Altitude and the Vertex 29"ers feature direct mount front derailluers

I then made it over to the Specialized Team ten where Nic Sims set me up on a great looking S-Works carbon hardtail 29″er. The bikes will be available in the fall, but for now, this was my best chance at riding one, so I took it!


I took this one out on the wide open climbs and descents around the racing area and a few things were immediately noticeable. First, this chassis is pretty stiff where it needs to be, but it isn’t brutal. It has that “carbon” ride down, which it should, since Specialized has been into carbon structures for several years now. Trail chatter was nicely muted, but part of that was certainly the (gasp!) 25.4 diameter carbon bar at work. Also, the bottom bracket seemed to be quite stiff, as grunting up a steep climb single speed style resulted in no discernable flexing. The front triangle was also noticeably stiff and resisted flex well. This made descending the ruts and rough stuff much nicer.

It was a limited ride, so I won’t make any grand claims, but this frame seems as though it is both light, strong, and stiff where it needs to be stiff. The overall weight of the production bikes is sid to be just over 20lbs. I didn’t have a scale handy, but it was quite light, maybe a bit more than claimed, but it couldn’t be much.

Tapered steer tube, carbon frame = stiff!

Tapered steer tube, carbon frame = stiff!

The Roval wheels were pre-production

The Roval wheels were pre-production

All wasn’t peaches and cream though. The rig was set up with pre-production Roval 29″er wheels which as I posted in my report earlier, have a radial laced drive side, cross pattern disc side front wheel. As I was thinking, this wheel was a bit vague laterally. Most noticeable in “g-out” type sweepers and directional changes at slow speed pointed down hill. The wheel just doesn’t have the lateral support I like to see in a 29″er wheel. However; it is an all out racing weapon, so some compromise for weight maybe were given over to. I am not sure, but I found this to be a blemish in an otherwise spotless first ride.

Notice how thin the chain stay is around the tire/crank area....

Notice how thin the chain stay is around the tire/crank area....

....and how wide it is in profile. Advantage carbon!

....and how wide it is in profile. Advantage carbon!

Look for more detailed information later here on Specialized’s new 29″ers from The Cyclist.


9 Responses to “Sea Otter 2009: Report #4”

  1. Twenty Nine Inches » Blog Archive » Sea Otter 2009: Report #4 Says:

    […] Read my first ride impressions of the S-Works Carbon Stumpjumper on The Cyclist. […]

  2. Shiny Flu Says:

    I’m liking the extra options for race orientated 29ers.

    Speaking of options, one thing I miss from 29 Inches/Crooked Cog is the ability to ‘click-to-enlarge’ pics. Or just larger pics in general.

  3. AC Says:

    Hey GT,
    You rode the carbon SJ, but what about the Epic 29er? I aksed to ride it, but they said no. I have some pics if you want them.

    I know there’s a tons of Spec. haters, but that Epic 29er is the shiz!

  4. AC Says:

    Never mind. I see you wrote about the Epic 29er on day 2. I’m playing catchup..

  5. Guitar Ted Says:

    AC: I will hopefully be getting a ride report from Grannygear, as he rode the Epic and the hardtail at Sea Otter. Stay Tuned!

  6. Reydin Says:

    So GT,
    I gotta ask, in your short time on the SJ, how would you compare it to a Superfly (aside from the flexy Rovals) as far as turning goes and do you have any frame geo numbers.

  7. Guitar Ted Says:

    Reydin: I thought both bikes steered well, but the overall feel of the frames ride was totally different. The Fisher feels much more compliant, the Specialized was stiffer by far.

    I don’t have any geo numbers on the Specialized Carbon Stumpjumper, but my guess is that it will be nothing too far out of the ordinary. I was surprised that they had an 18″ and a 19″ frame available to ride at Sea Otter. That seems very different to my mind.

  8. Reydin Says:

    Thanks GT
    One last thing, I think I saw you at Seaotter, are you about 6’4″ and on the far side of 210lbs. ?

  9. Guitar Ted Says:

    Reydin: Nope, not I. I go about 6’1″ and weigh about 240lbs.

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