I am fortunate to work at Endless biking, a mountain bike tour, lesson, and rental shop, that has a lot of different kind of bikes. The owners have allowed me to test those bikes to determine what I will be riding next year.
I have been a riding/racing a Rocky Mountain Slayer this year, and have really enjoyed it. It has 27.5 inch wheels, a 170mm travel fork and 165mm of travel in the rear. I can ride it anywhere, even in the bike park. It’s a pretty big bike with slack angles compared to some other Enduro race bikes, but it pedals pretty well and I have had some good results racing the BC Enduro Series this year.
What was sitting in front of me while I was thinking of this? Six Altitudes that I had recently built, two of which were my size and weren’t rented that day. So at 6:00, after I closed up the shop and asked permission, I got to work putting my 170mm fork from my Slayer onto the altitude, as well as my wheels so I didn’t potentially damage the almost new wheels that were already on the bike. I rode the bike with my fork around the parking lot and it instantly felt like a whole different bike than the one with the 160mm fork, which I rode back to back just bouncing around behind the shop.
That night, I took to the trails and after a couple warm up laps, I did some freelap timing, 5 Laps on a 1 minute trail. The bike felt amazing. It was so playful and light and seemed to accelerate a lot quicker than my Slayer when it was time to put the power down. Now I knew why the EWS guys had chosen it.
The next day, I did more freelap timing with my Slayer on the exact trail. The results were a bit shocking. I was 2-4 seconds quicker on a 1 minute trail on the altitude than I was on the Slayer, which I had been riding all year and felt extremely comfortable on.
What were the differences? As i mentioned before, the Altitude accelerates very quickly and is easy to throw around on the trail. The Slayer felt a lot closer to a DH bike bike. What was strange was, while testing the Slayer, I felt as if I couldn’t go any faster than my fastest time. I was relatively comfortable going that speed, but I felt like I had reached the limit of how much I could push it before sliding out in corners or crashing. With the altitude, I felt like I was more “on the edge”, but I felt like I could keep pushing and go faster if I did more laps.
Considering I’ve only spent a couple hour total with the Altitude and it’s already faster even without it being setup exactly as it would if it were mine, I was very impressed with the bike and I am seriously considering it for next year!