Nordvegr: The Way to the North
It’s normal to get home from a trip and feel like you’ve left something on the table. Whether it’s a trail you skipped out on or an area you didn’t have time to see, the things you didn’t do can be as motivating as the things you did. Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin have both been to Norway before, but it’s one of those places that keeps drawing them back.
Much like a lot of Remi’s travel, his first two trips to Norway were for both for racing. Back in 2013 and 2014, Remi was racing downhill and competed at the World Championships in Hafjell. Thomas’ freeride background has put him in Norway twice before, but never in the world famous Nordfjord region, and never on his trail bike. Travelling to compete is a rinse, wash, repeat cycle. The process broken down is: airport to hotel, hotel to event, and a few days later you’re flying home. This trip was a chance to see Norway in a different light, and after landing in Ålesund and boarding what would be the first of many ferries, the small town of Stranda seemed like the perfect place to start.
The people along the way can be one of the most interesting parts of travelling. Located just up the road from our rooms in the Hjelle Hotel is the small town of Folven, home to Norwegian freeskier, Fred Syversen. Fred is a local legend who in 2008 unintentionally set the world record for skiing off a 107m tall cliff, but today he coaches skiing on the glacier, operates an adventure sports campground, and is building out the Hjelledalen valley mountain bike trail infrastructure.
Our Scandinavian photographer, Mattias Fredriksson, likes to joke around but with an underlying sense of sincerity. Early on in our trip he forewarned, “It’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I tend to shoot a lot…cause the shooting is epic”. It was a constant theme of the trip but the fjord views near Sandane had us especially late for dinner. The trails were above treeline which left us exposed to the harsh wind and rain, but the combination of fast riding corners, natural features, and stunning backdrop were just simply too good to cut the ride short.
With another trip under their belt and trails under their tires, Norway remains an incredibly interesting place for Thomas and Rémi. Newly built mountain bike trails with a strong historic culture of moving through mountains leaves plenty of room for endless adventures in the Nordfjord.
A Film by: Scott Secco
Featuring: Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin
Produced by: Stephen Matthews
Post Production Sound by: Keith White Audio
Typography and Design by: Mike Taylor
Photography by: Mattias Fredriksson
Music: Pioneer by Ryan Taubert
Thanks to: Asgeir Blindheim, Fjord Norway, Visit Nordfjord, Veronica Vikestrand, 7 Blåner, Destination Ålesund, Sunnmøre, and Fred Syversen
Norway: The Characters Behind the Adventure
Behind every trip is a cast of characters with varied backgrounds and interesting outlooks. Individually, they’ve been brought on because they come with their own unique stories and skills and are strung together by a common thread; a passion for mountain biking.
I first met Mattias Fredriksson in 2010 while in Switzerland. He was shooting for Anthill Films’ upcoming film, “Follow Me,” and was incredibly friendly right from the get-go. His positive demeanor is contagious, and you can’t help but have a great time around him. Scott Secco and I first worked together in 2014 on his film, “Builder," and between the planning, building, and riding, we became great friends and have collaborated on several projects since.
Working for Rocky Mountain, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and ride with our talented athletes. Needless to say, heading out on a trip with Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin was an exciting experience. Our trip to Norway also gave us the chance to link up with local Nordfjord rider, Veronica Vikestrand, a born and raised Norwegian and a true asset to the trip.
RM: What’s it like coming to another country to film a video where neither you nor the riders have seen the trails before?
Typically, I do most of my work in British Columbia where either the rider or myself are familiar with the trails. Having prior knowledge of how a track rides and when certain locations will get the best light certainly helps the process. I normally rely heavily on rider input for which sections of trail to shoot: if the rider is having fun then I think it shows on camera.
It’s always a fun challenge to visit somewhere new since I think it forces you to have a more open mind and look at everything with an eye to creativity as I don’t have specific shots planned. Travelling gives me an opportunity to put myself in unique situations with people and cultures that are different than my daily life. I would say in general I travel more for the culture than the riding.
RM: What’s your process for reviewing and editing footage on the trip?
I’ve heard that I’m fairly unique as a filmmaker since I can’t sleep until I’ve gone through the day’s footage and edited it as tightly as I can. Editing what I’ve shot each day means the footage is fresh in my mind and I know which shots are my favourite. Plus, by the end of the shoot I’ll have a rough cut that’s often quite close to the final cut. The final benefit of this is that the riders can see what we’ve shot each day. I think this helps with their trust in me since they can actually see the footage (I can be a little slow sometimes to setup shots). I also respect athlete’s opinions on the video and Thomas and Remi had some great suggestions for this edit. Filmmaking is a team sport!
RM: You grew up in Sweden and have shot both skiing and biking in Scandinavia for many years. What’s the most special thing about Norway to you?
First of all, it might be the most beautiful country in the world. Everywhere you look it’s just insane! As a photographer I love this place because you just can’t go wrong. I like to joke (except I’m completely serious), that it’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I end up pulling over a lot to shoot the epic vistas.
I’ve been to Norway an uncountable amount of times in my life, both for personal and work trips, and I still haven’t gotten bored.
RM: You’ve had a long and varied career as a photographer. How did you get started in bike photography?
I grew up in the south of Sweden, 4 or 5 hours south of Stockholm, and started riding bikes in the late 80’s! Even before I had my first real mountain bike, I remember stripping off the kickstand, fenders, and chainguards to emulate the look of a proper mountain bike. My parents were choked because I came home muddy all the time, but I didn’t care, I was totally hooked.
Around the same time, I had started my own punk rock magazine called “Heavy”, was a drummer in a band, and I think that’s where I first found my passion for journalism. I loved writing about what I cared about, so at 16 started working for the local newspaper.
I spent my early career working for a handful of different magazines in Sweden, but I decided that writing in Swedish was limited compared to shooting images that everyone can enjoy! I shot the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, US and World Championships in 1999, but other than that I stayed far away from shooting events – ha ha. I focused on inspirational stories and trips because that’s what was important to me. I started shooting mountain biking, because I absolutely love to mountain bike.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
RM: Where did you grow up in Norway and how did you get into mountain biking?
Today I live in a small town just outside Ålesund and I’ve lived in this area my whole life. Living at the foot of the mountains and along rolling terrain separated by fjords, being in the woods and on the trails felt natural to me. I bought my first hardtail in the late 90’s, shortly followed with the purchase of the Kranked film on VHS. I was so inspired by what was happening in BC, that I bought my first full suspension later that year.
I tried downhill racing in 2004 but it just wasn’t for me. I’d get too stressed, lose my nerves, and just couldn’t get along with being forced into a format of riding. I think that’s why I first connected with Kranked so well, the idea of freeriding and using mountain bikes in whatever fashion you want was invigorating.
RM: As a born and raised Norwegian, how would you say the mountain biking scene in Norway changed over the past several years?
It’s been growing like crazy. New bike trails and bike parks are being built all over the country, and the enduro race scene has exploded. We’re also seeing a lot more “adventure-style” riders, taking inspiration from our backcountry ski and hiking culture. The riding here is very different than what you get in the Alps or North America, but mixed types of trail combined with Norway’s beauty is incredibly unique.
RM: How did you get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I have been working in the bike industry since 2008 with different brands. Right now I’m working for 7 Blåner, who has been the distributor for Rocky Mountain since 2016. I’ve always admired the Rocky Mountain brand and have looked up to what they stand for since I started riding in the late 90’s! The opportunity to now be helping show some of their legendary athletes around my home country has been incredibly exciting!
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Same thing I've been on all year, my Instinct BC Edition!
RM: How did you first get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I got a call from (Thomas) Vanderham back in February 2014 while I was working on the oil rigs in northern Alberta. He said that Rocky Mountain was developing a new downhill bike called the “Maiden” and that the R&D team was looking for feedback from racers. I didn’t have a sponsor lined up for the coming season, plus it seemed like a cool opportunity. After that first season riding the Maiden, I started racing enduro in 2016, and am now committed to a full EWS circuit as a rider on the Rocky Mountain Race Face Team. I really owe it to Thomas for giving me a chance to come on board.
RM: As an EWS racer, you spend so much of your season travelling around the world to race. What was the coolest thing about travelling to Norway to film and shoot, rather than be locked into a racing schedule?
When you go to these races that are all in amazing places, there usually isn’t time to appreciate where you are and what’s happening around you. At an EWS race, you’re so focused on performing, that you miss out on seeing the local culture and beauty of these places. The pace of shooting photos and video is so much slower, so you actually have time to soak in where you are and learn about what’s around you.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Tried and true, my Altitude.
RM: You’ve been travelling to ride mountain bikes for a long time. Do you still enjoy the process, seeing new places, and not knowing what kind of riding you’re in for?
Absolutely! One of the things that makes filming mountain biking so great is the diversity of the environments we get to work in. We can shoot in jungles, deserts and everything in between which is one of the reasons that I think bike videos are so good. Mountain biking has facilitated a lot of my most memorable trips and I'm excited whenever I get a chance to go to ride in a new location.
RM: You were riding in Norway over 10 years ago. What was that all about?
I've travelled to Norway twice before. The first time was in 2003, I think. I was new to the Oakley bike team and we travelled quite far north to Narvik with Wade Simmons, Kyle Strait and Cedric Gracia. That was the first time that I worked with Mattias Fredriksson as well and experience the awesome energy that he brings to a shoot. The second time was in 2009 for an event called Anti Days of Thunder that was definitely ahead of its time. They had some huge jumps built that we got to session and also involved a team relay DH race (that team Canada won if I'm not mistaken!) Some of the guys involved went on to help start the FEST series.
See the full story, photoset, and video, “Nordvegr: The Way to the North”.
Powerplay: Wade Simmons in the South of France
I have always been an early adopter—whether it’s freeride bikes in 1997 or eMTBs in 2017. When Rocky Mountain asked me to be a part of the Altitude Powerplay’s launch video, I was instantly on board. Mountain biking is my life. Climbing, descending, XC, freeride, e-bikes, whatever. I live for it all, and I was excited to be a part of this. And maybe a little part of me likes rocking the boat.
I was involved in the “regular” Altitude’s development and I had given feedback on some of the early eMTB prototypes, but the goal of this project was to document my first taste of the production Altitude Powerplay.
We sat down and made the call to travel to the South of France, with its warm climate, spectacular trails, and delicious carbohydrates. Europe is leading the charge on eMTBs, so this was the perfect opportunity to explore what Rocky Mountain’s DNA would bring to the land of croissants and Strava-doping.
After a redeye flight from Vancouver to Nice and a few hours of driving, we arrive at our first shoot location and meet up with our friends Gaetan and Gaetan. Thankfully, one of them goes by “Baguette” (his last name sounds like du pain, and the French are serious about their bread).
I am jet-lagged to shit, but can’t resist taking the bike out for a spin. “Moment of truth,” I say to Baguette.
I was blown away. My exhausted, delirious enthusiasm in the film is genuine. That moment is me realizing that the possibilities of e-bikes are truly endless.
The next day, we find this perfectly scooped wallride that just begged to be ridden, but it has a rough, slightly uphill approach.
“I’m hitting that,” I call it out the moment I see it, but in truth I’m not sure it’ll work. I put in a few cranks and carve the whole thing first try.
What surprised me most was how the added power opened up new possibilities everywhere. I was able to keep things flowing and link that wallride up with all kinds of other features. This zone was too damn fun!
On the advice of Rocky Mountain EWS team manager Lilian, we eventually make our way down to Toulon for a change of pace. The terrain there is amazing—extremely technical, with epic backdrops overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s no wonder that this is a breeding ground for some of the world’s fastest riders.
Again, I am blown away by the bike; this time by the climbing. Although I got my start as an XC racer and I do love technical climbs, I’ve always enjoyed some help from gravity. The Powerplay turns that notion on its head, and I quickly take full advantage of the additional speed and flow on the punchy, difficult climbs the area had to offer.
Just keep an eye on the trail and don’t blow a corner! Seriously, don’t blow a corner.
I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to travel the globe riding my bike, but damn there are a lot of horrible wakeup calls. So, each morning (is 4am even considered morning?) I drag myself out of bed with all the grace of an angry, nearsighted badger, and we head out to catch first light.
“Not sure this is going to happen today” says Brian, our producer, cat-herder, and resident worry wart. We are engulfed in a thick layer of marine fog while getting our breakfast—remember when I said the French take their bread seriously?
The video team is worried the fog won’t clear in time for the sun to crack, but since we’ve come all this way...
We get unbelievably lucky. The fog breaks, swirling as it lifts over the craggy seaside mountains, and we are treated to an epic, unforgettable sunrise.
Forget about the bike! That moment, dropping in above the foggy ruins, was absolutely surreal. What follows is one of the best days I’ve had on the bike in a long, long time.
We wrap the film up that evening. There’s a certain excitement after a successful trip, when you know you got exactly what you were after. An oceanside cantina was the scene of some celebration that night, reflecting on good times and new horizons.
This trip shined a new light on mountain biking for me. There is a paradigm shift underway. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Throughout this trip I realized I wasn’t riding an eMTB to make my riding any easier, I was riding an eMTB to open doors to things a regular bike couldn’t. This old dog is learning some new tricks, finding new lines on old trails, and having a blast. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay is an eMTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike. It brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike, and opens the door to amazing terrain for all. The Altitude Powerplay is available in select European markets only.
Video by Liam Mullany Additional filming by Gaetan Riou Edited by David Peacock & Liam Mullany Produced by Brian Park Post production sound by Keith White Audio Photography by Matt Wragg Special thanks to Fred Glo, Lilian Georges, Edgar Martins, Tribe Sport Group, Gaetan Riou, Sarah Tatine, & Gaetan Dupin “Omar” Performed by Bayonne Courtesy of Mom + Pop By Arrangement with Hidden Track Music open.spotify.com/track/54f36LcrbW4X9XPtdBZr3N
Introducing the Altitude Powerplay
Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike, and opens the door to amazing terrain for all.
Introducing a fully integrated, electric-assist mountain bike that takes our Altitude’s legendary handling and ride quality and adds a compact, powerful drive system. The new Powerplay™ drive system was designed in parallel with the frame, delivering ultra-short chainstays, optimised suspension kinematics, super-low centre of gravity, and class-leading torque. The result is an e-MTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike—perfect for everything from self-shuttling all mountain trails, finding flow between the descents, and squeezing in power lunch rides.Intended use: Aggressive Trail Wheel size: 27.5 Wide Trail Front travel: 160mm Rear travel: 150mm
“Rather than bolt on a bulky off-the-shelf system, we struck out on our own to redefine the category. The Powerplay system is the result of designing an electric drive for the suspension and geometry needs of proper mountain bikes; in fact, the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay are identical to those of the new Altitude. In our opinion this is the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should.”
— Alex Cogger, Rocky Mountain Product Line Director
It’s an Altitude — The Altitude Powerplay has the same geometry and suspension performance as the unassisted Altitude platform. It is the first e-MTB that features true aggressive trail ride feel.
Next generation drive system — The Powerplay™ drive system was designed from the ground up to allow true mountain bike performance, while providing class-leading torque, massive battery capacity, and ultra quiet operation.
Intuitive pedal assist — An in-line torque sensor provides smooth, instant power response, making for an intuitive, natural ride with no learning curve. Get on and go.
Charge fast, then charge hard — The 48v motor provides super short charge times, taking only two hours to reach 80% capacity of the available 632Wh lithium ion battery.
Fully supported — Easily serviceable components, with both replacement parts and strong dealer service support in Europe.
Powerplay™ drive system
The Powerplay™ drive system was born from the desire to push the boundaries of electric assist bikes. We knew from the project’s outset that to design an electric mountain bike to our suspension and geometry standards, we would need to take a fresh approach.
A low-mounted motor keeps the centre of gravity low and the entire system compact, while allowing for ultra-short chainstays and a bottom bracket that is integral to the frame. We use a high efficiency, three-phase brushless motor to provide class-leading torque and ultra quiet operation. To get instant power response on trail, we put the torque sensor between the chainring and the drive gear, and our 48v battery voltage allows for super fast charging.
Designed in Canada, the Powerplay™ drive system is sleek, lightweight, and powerful. Ultimately, it’s a drive system that allows us to deliver electric mountain bikes that ride like true mountain bikes.
Powerplay™ drive system details
- High efficiency, three-phase brushless motor provides class-leading torque
- Instant, natural power response makes for an intuitive ride, thanks to an in-line torque sensor
- Ultra-quiet drive operation
- 48v battery voltage for fast-charging and heat management in high-torque scenarios
- To prevent creaking and wear, pedaling forces are isolated from the drive system via a bottom bracket shell that is integral to the frame itself
- Increased stiffness thanks to structural motor casing
- Compact, low-profile motor design with reinforced motor casing and integrated motor-brace bashguard
- Display-free with a low-profile remote for a pure ride experience
- Bar-mounted remote displays assist level, battery level, and diagnostics; controls three assist levels and “walk” mode
- Optional eBikeMotion mobile app (iOS & Android) connects via Bluetooth and provides a wide range of system customization, reach estimates, ride tracking, and more
- Available with a massive 632Wh lithium-ion battery
- Minimal drag when exceeding the motor speed or when drive system is disengaged thanks to crankset clutch and elimination of traditional e-bike gearbox
- Based on a third generation electric drive system that's been in development since 2010
- Dealer service and parts support in Europe
- Wear items (BB, drive sprocket) are shop-serviceable with common shop tools
- Works with standard Race Face bottom bracket and crankset
- Charge fast, then charge hard: ultra fast charge times of 1 hour 40 minutes (to 80%) with the 500Wh battery, or 2 hours (to 80%) with the 632Wh battery
- Available full Smoothwall™ carbon frame
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 90 size Medium: 47.6lb (21.6kg)
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 70 size Medium: 49.2lb (22.3kg)
- Altitude Powerplay™ Carbon 50 size Medium: 49.1lb (22.3kg)
- Ride-9™ system for a wide range of geometry and suspension adjustments
- All sizes fit a water bottle inside the front triangle
- Geometry & pivot points identical to the traditional Altitude, with suspension kinematics optimized for additional chain torque
- Upper idler straightens the chainline for reduced drivetrain wear
- Integral bottom bracket shell is part of the frame, not the drive system—improving stiffness and preventing creaking or wear
- Standard PF92 bottom bracket is shop serviceable and easily replaceable
- Single-sided chainstay and seatstay pivots for a narrower rear triangle—reduces heel rub, even with Boost spacing
- Enduro MAX cartridge bearing pivots with simplified hardware
- Shock-eyelet bearings for small-bump sensitivity
- Designed for 27.5x2.5 Wide Trail tires for precise, aggressive performance; compatible with 26+ tires (26x3.0)
- Clean and tidy: oversized downtube ports for ease of cable routing, with full-length internal dropper post routing and internal brake routing in the front triangle
- Lightweight bolt-on axle for reduced hardware complexity and extra security in e-MTB applications
- Tapered ZS44 | ZS56 headset
- Post-mount 180 brakes
- Boost spacing
- 1x specific
- Metric shock, 210mm x 55mm
- Powerplay™ drive system
- Smoothwall carbon
- FORM alloy
- RIDE-9 adjustment system
- Smoothlink suspension
- Size-specific tune
Available in limited sizes and models starting July 2017. See all the models & colours.
Available in select European markets only: France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, & Italy.
The four horsemen. 4x4s. Four leafed clovers. Four letter words. Fourtified. Wade Simmons, Remi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck, and Carson Storch take their new Altitudes to the four corners of the earth.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWords & riding: Wade Simmons Photos: Brian Vernor
We've had a winter for the record books up in BC this year. Great for skiing, not so much for riding. I'm twitchier than a cornered housecat when I can't ride, so I jumped at the opportunity to do some warm-weather shredding down in the Los Angeles area on the new Altitude.
Pro tip: 4am is a good time to head out the door if you want to beat LA traffic.
LA, I reckon, wouldn't be on most peoples hit-list for a great riding destination. Myself included. Being the largest city on the western US seaboard, and having the nation's worst traffic, I was starting to wonder why the hell we were going to LA in the first place. Could we escape the city and do the new bike justice? Our photographer and man-on-the-scene Brian Vernor picked us up from the airport, and within the hour he was easing my concerns over mindblowing tacos and coffee-infused horchata. He promised the riding would be as good as the food.
Just in case Vernor was full of shit, I had some ideas up my sleeve too. I've been in the area a few times in my 20 years of hunting around for lines to film, and I've left a few nugs untouched. I was looking forward to possibly hitting them up on this trip.
To be honest, my fears were 100% unfounded. The riding in the LA area proved to be plentiful and diverse. We rode flowy urban singletrack, loose subalpine trails, freshly built jumps and berms, and a few big mountain lines. Pretty much a mountain bike smorgasbord, all within an hours drive from the Hollywood Hotel where we stayed. Maybe the riding is even better than the food...
Derby, TasmaniaWords & riding: Remi Gauvin Photos: Dave Trumpore
The second round of the Enduro World Series brought the Rally Team to Derby, Tazmania. Built only three years ago, we were racing on 7 wildly varying stages across 57 kilometers with 1700 meters of climbing.
Mild sunny weather during practice gave way to rain on race day, throwing many challenging trails into pure chaos. Stage two held the much-feared meter-wide crack on Detonate, with multiple riders being chewed up inside and spit out into the rocks below, but the real challenge of the race was at the top of stage 4 where rain washed the supporting dirt out of a high speed rock garden filled with holes.
I'd been working hard to adjust to the changing conditions over the race, and as the day wore on I started feeling stronger—bagging a 4th place finish on stage six, it was pretty fast and constant high speeds, which suit my style. Stage 7 was a short woods section with a sprint to the finish. It was kind of like riding the trails of the North Shore, which helped. It was kinda cold and miserable, and you didn’t want to be that dirty but you just keep going.
At the end of it all I fought my way up to 9th overall—finally achieving my goal of cracking the top 10 at an EWS. The Rally Team took the team win, with the whole crew putting up strong results. This puts us all in a place where we're happy, but getting fired up for the next round!
Sunshine Coast, British ColumbiaWords & riding: Vaea Verbeeck Photos: Margus Riga
With the snowline down to sea level in Vancouver, I wanted to be able to get on the gas and see how the new bike would respond. The obvious choice was the Sunshine Coast. It has unreal riding conditions almost year-round, and the Coast Gravity park has some of my favourite trails ever.
I love it there. The people, the ambiance, beautiful Sechelt, they all make it a destination of choice. [although for some reason all of Sechelt uses Papyrus font... what gives? -Ed.] CGP is one of the places that helps me feel good about going fast on the bike again during the off season. The guys work tirelessly to keep their trails impeccable, and it offers a perfect variation from the tech of the North Shore.
We had a tight weather window to shoot before a major system moved in, we were excited to get a few clear days. It was beautiful and dry, but oh so cold! With the cold came trails like glass covered in pine needles—always trying to throw me on my head! The perfectly sculpted corners had this incredible layer of hoarfrost that made for eerie noises and a surreal ride feel. I'm not sure if I had too much grip or not enough.
Despite being intimidated to send it into some of the natural terrain with challenging conditions, I quickly got used to the new whip and started opening up the throttle. Bluebird days, CGP's keys in my hand, untouched berms to myself, and sending it on my new favourite bike—this was definitely the highlight of my off season, and I quickly forgot about the sub-zero temperatures.
I'm thankful for those few days of shredding, and I'm going to keep the good times rolling through the season!
Queenstown, New ZealandWords & riding: Carson Storch Photos: Tyler Roemer
Riding the Fernhill Loop above Queenstown was epic every time. It has a little bit of everything. Climbing up through a mix of alpine terrain, going into native forest with quick descents here and there. You end up at the McGazza memorial, pay your respects to the big man, then drop into salmon run- which is a mix of steep techy trail, and loam. I would say this bike was made for that loop.
I also rode Skyline bike park in Queenstown quite a bit, so I had it set up in the slackest RIDE-9 position. The suspension was set up fairly stiff with slow rebound. When I 450'ed that hip in the bike park, it was completely comfortable! It felt like I was on a slopestyle bike. Then when I got back to ripping trail, it was snappy and responsive, while taking some pretty big impacts with ease. All around ripping bike.
New Zealand is my favourite place in the world, so having the chance to go my favourite place and test out the new Altitude was a dream come true.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the new Altitude
Directed by Liam Mullany
Produced by Brian Park
Featuring Wade Simmons, Rémi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck & Carson Storch
Filmed by Liam Mullany, Harrison Mendel & John Parkin
Edited by Liam Mullany
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Original Music by Thinnen
First ride on the new Altitude
"When losing altitude, it’s so goddamn balanced, and holy crap does it grip. About two-thirds of the Altitude’s rear wheel travel is very active and linear. When setup with the quick rebound (like it should be), you can load the suspension into corners, achieve incredible grip, and then pop right back out without losing any speed. I know I can’t roost like Vanderham, but the Altitude makes me feel like I’m doing it exactly like him."
Bike Magazine's Ryan Palmer was one of a select few journalists to get an advance look at our new Altitude. Head over to Bike Mag to see the rest of his first impressions.
The new Altitude is here
Taking trail to new heights. Often imitated but never surpassed, the all-new Altitude pushes the envelope of what a modern trail bike is capable of.
For 2018 we've designed an all-new frame to increase stiffness, improve pedaling efficiency and small-bump sensitivity, and include a host of next-generation features. Now available in both carbon and alloy models, the Altitude allows for a wide range of RIDE-9™ adjustments to tackle any terrain—from technical BC loam, to clapped out EWS tracks, flowy New Zealand jumps, and Moab slickrock singletrack.
"The Altitude has always been my go-to, do-everything bike, from technical climbs here on the North Shore to burly descents in the Italian Alps. This new one improves everything I love about the bike—it’s smoother, stiffer, lower, slacker, quieter, and nails all the little details. Just like this old freerider, the Altitude gets better with age!” — Wade SimmonsIntended Use: Aggressive Trail Wheel Size: 27.5 Wide Trail Front Travel: 160mm Rear Travel: 150mm
Improved suspension performance
We’ve increased overall progression and support at sag, while making small-bump performance even more sensitive. Higher anti-squat values dramatically improve pedaling efficiency.
Next generation features
Comprehensive evolutionary updates across the platform include features like tooled axles, single-sided bearing pivots, integrated “spirit guide” chainguide, boost spacing, and metric shock compatibility.
Our Ride-9™ system provides a wide range of geometry and suspension adjustability; it has been moved into the link for lighter, narrower packaging.
To add control and descending capability, we’ve increased reach, slackened the headtube angle, and lowered the bottom bracket. We’ve retained short chainstays to keep the bike agile, and used a moderately steep seattube for efficient climbing performance.
- Increased anti-squat for better pedaling efficiency
- 27.5” Wide Trail and 26+ compatible
- Bearings at all pivots, including at lower shock mount (compatible with aftermarket shocks as well)
- Blind pivots maximize heel clearance
- Lighter, tooled rear axle
- Improved cable management: large headtube ports, full shift housing, large downtube access port, and internal shift and brake housing within the front triangle
- Future-proofed to be compatible with Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post simultaneously
- Seat-tube lengths have been adjusted to accommodate longer dropper posts at maximum insertion.
- Chainstay and downtube protectors. *Due to production delays, the initial shipment of 2018 Altitudes will not include downtube protectors. They will be shipped to shops as soon as they’re ready.
- Integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide, with 2-bolt ISCG05
- 1x only
- Lower standover height
- Significantly stiffer thanks to one-piece seatstay, new envelope, and updated layup (25% more lateral stiffness)
- Modern parts compatibility (boost spacing, metric shock lengths, post-mount 180mm brakes, etc.)
- All sizes fit a water bottle in front triangle, even with a reservoir shock
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Frame & shock: 5.45lb (2470g), size Medium
- Protectors, chainguide, & axle: 0.57lb (260g)
- Altitude Carbon 90 & Carbon 70 complete: 28.4lb (12.88kg), size Medium
Naming: In the interest of describing our lineup more clearly, we’ve updated our naming conventions. What used to be called Altitude 790 MSL is now Altitude Carbon 90, and what used to be called Altitude 750 is now Altitude Alloy 50. The Altitude still uses high-quality Smoothwall carbon and FORM alloy frames, and higher spec-numbers still indicate higher end specs.
Gullyver's Travels: Episode One
I've crisscrossed the globe as a competitor for many years, but I rarely ventured beyond the mountain resorts that contests are held in. As I get older, I've started pushing to escape the industry bubble and get off the beaten path more. The premise behind Gullyver's Travels is to motivate everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and explore new places.
Episode One takes place in the French Alps and features long time friend and Rocky Mountain teammate, Tito Tomasi. A world traveller who also happens to be a phenomenal mountain biker, Tito has ridden some of the most remote places on earth. His personal motto is vive la vie, and we intended to do just that.
The next morning, an early rise followed by four hours of carrying our bikes on our back was all made worth it when we arrived at the snow-covered summit of Grand Glaiza. After enjoying the spectacular views, we pointed our bikes down the 10,800 foot descent that lay in front of us.
Once back in town, Tito and I parted ways. He was off on another adventure and I was off to Bike Park Chatel for some big rig rippin'. It's no wonder why the Bike Park Chatel locals are all shredders, the park is filled with trails that have great flow and a number of sizeable features.
After two days of racking up vertical, it was time to head home. A big thank you goes out to Tito for being an amazing tour guide, and to Bike Park Chatel. Their hospitality is always second to none.
Until next time, see you on the trail!
Mountains as Far as the Eye Can See
Mountains, mountains, mountains. As far as the eye can see. We are definitely in the Alps…
Words by Remi Gauvin, photos by Matt Wragg
La Thuile 2016 will go down as the most descending in 4 days I have done to date. In those days we descended 15,000m, wore through brake pads, and made a short career of tires. We also had a lot of fun.
La Thuile is on the French-Italian border near the famous mountaineering towns of Chamonix and Courmayeur. Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe, loomed over most of the stages throughout the weekend, but the weather played nice.
Stages were almost all accessed by lift with the exception of stage one. This meant that while our legs were fresh at the start of each stage, the long steep runs were punishing on the rest of our bodies. Riders were complaining that their arms were dead by the end of each run. All stages were physical in their own way and each one had a solid dose of climbing. The energy we saved on the transfers was more than spent on the stages.
Stage 1 started across the valley from the ski resort, and was the one stage without chairlift access. We climbed Col San Carlo and then up into the alpine, 900 meters above La Thuile. The stage started with some typical tight European switchbacks before passing through grass fields and dropping into the woods below. Alex Cure and Andreane both finished 4th on this stage.
For Stage 2 we headed back to the lift and made our ascent to the start. This stage started in the alpine, flagged though rough rocks and gorse bushes, only burned in by the countless riders who were sent to ride through it. Next we cut through a farmers cattle field—in practice we'd encountered a herd of stubborn cattle here, and they could not give a damn if there was a bike race happening where they wanted to graze. Then, finally ending on an old access road that zig-zagged across the bottom of the hill. Andreane finished a career best 2nd place on this stage and Florian took 3rd in the men’s field.
Stage 3 was one of the fastest stages of the weekend, but also one of the longest, with a brutal climb at the bottom. Fast rock faces and high speed corners in the alpine, twisty woods in the middle, followed by some of the best steeps of the race. Just when you thought it might be all over the course turned a sharp right and sent us onto a gravel road pointing right back up the hill. During the race the crowds screamed at you to pedal, while your legs screamed at you to stop. Stage 3 one of the best of the weekend, but it was also one of the worst of the weekend.
A night off to reflect on the days racing went by quickly. Soon we were back on the top of the mountain about to drop into Stage 4—one of the longest and most physical stages of the race. It seemed that it was always just slightly flatter than you wanted. A gravel road climb in the middle of the stage had me seeing red into the next section, and hanging on by a thread by the end of the stage. Andreane showed her fitness once again and backed up her first day with another 2nd place.
Stage 5, although not extremely physical, was very technical. Steep off camber sections meant that you had to be precise and patient in during the stage in order to shine.
The final stage of the weekend stage had a mixture of the highlights of every stage of the race. Tight switch backs, technical off cambers, steep chutes and a solid climb in the middle of the stage. The bottom was lined with spectators as you entered the finish area. It was a great stage to finish the weekend on.
Florian Nicolaï said that although he was happy with his 5th place result, he didn’t perform his best in a few of the stages and it cost him. Nevertheless, his consistant performance bumped him up into 3rd place in the Overall category.
Jesse also felt that his 13th didn’t reflect his pace this weekend and a few mistakes on Stage 5 knocked him back in the overall. After injury troubles the last few rounds, it's great to see him smashing stages again.
Andreane was of course over the moon with her result. 3rd place in her first real race of the season!
Once again the team as a whole performed spectacularly. We were the number one team on the weekend and added 100 points to extend our lead in the Team Overall. Andreane finished a career-best 3rd, while Florian finished 5th in the men’s. Alex finished 11th, Jesse 13th and I finished 23rd. Seb also took 2nd place in U21, keeping pace in his season-long battle with Adrien Dailly.
Next stop, Aspen!
— Remi Gauvin
Thunderbolt & Altitude Lauded at the Bible of Bike Tests
We're honoured to have two bikes selected to be in Bike Magazine's 2016 Bible of Bike Tests. Both the Altitude 770 MSL and the Thunderbolt 799 MSL were lauded by testers, and we're proud of how they stack up against the competition.
Altitude 770 MSL
"Compared to some of the other all-mountain bikes, it felt downright ethereal. This was refreshing and liberating when it came time to hump uphill, and the Altitude has the steep seat angle and clean suspension kinematics to hustle upward with an ease that will endear it to XC racers and all-day climbers alike. The absence of heft and sense of balance persisted when pointed downhill too, making for a nimble ride aided by neutral handling and an effective, supple suspension."
Thunderbolt 799 MSL
We've been blown away by all the ladies ripping it up on the Thunderbolt, so for this year's Bible of Bike Tests we floated the idea of their women's bike testers evaluating it. We had them try the top-of-the-line 799 MSL model just to be cheeky, but don't worry: we make Thunderbolts across most price points.
"It “climbs like a cheetah on speed,” wrote one tester, while another noted: “This bike is built to go fast." (...) The XC-trail nature of the Thunderbolt was a perfect match for the Kingdom Trails network, which largely consists of buttery-smooth dirt ribbons twisting through tight trees, with an occasional root section mix in, and short, punchy climbs and descents. The 27.5-inch wheels, 16.6-inch chainstays and 44-inch wheelbase (size medium) no doubt aided in the Thunderbolt’s exceptional maneuverability through the forest mazes, and its rocket-like acceleration points to its astounding 25.5-pound weight. Testers also remarked that the bike descended with more authority than expected, with its 120 millimeters of rear travel feeling deeper than the number purports."