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.