Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay
01 Mar 2019

Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay

Be rude not to…

01 Mar 2019

Bike Ride Hobart AKA Cranke, where I work, has recently added Rocky Mountain to the brands it carries in store. As part of the deal, we have a Altitude Powerplay Carbon demo bike to play on for a while.

Being mostly a Specialized store, when it comes to electric mountain bikes Bike Ride is all about Levo’s and Kenevo’s. They’re fun machines for sure. I’ve commuted down the mountain to work on a Levo dual suspension eMTB for the last 18 months so was interested to see how the Powerplay compares.

So FWIW here’s my first impressions after a few rides.

Firstly, the Powerplay is on the small size. The Large frame size demo bike has similar reach to my medium Ripmo, but feels like a much smaller, shorter bike overall – especially compared to the medium Levo’s which are like monster trucks in comparison. On the trail, especially in lower speed tighter sections it translated to a more fun, relatively nimble feeling on Powerplay vs the Levo. The Powerplay shares the same geometry as the non electric Altitude which is kinda cool. You do get the feeling though it’s a little dated in terms of reach and seat tube angle, the latter especially when climbing. Might be time for new frame moulds hey Rocky Mountain!

The rest is all about the electric side of things. While Rocky Mountain’s home grown motor might be quiet, its collection of idlers and sprockets definitely isn’t. The drivetrain clatters away, always reminding you it’s there. Worse, you can feel the constant chatter of the drivetrain through the bike. All up very different to the smooth, vibration free power delivery on the Levo. Additionally it’s easy to imagine trailside stops  on the Powerplay requiring a removal of the motor cover plate to clean debri out of the drive system.

Another thing immediately noticeable is how aggressive and instant the power delivery on the Powerplay is. Literally just resting your foot on the pedal is enough to make the bike kick forward. This does make for a lot of fun on the trail, but isn’t super safe in built up urban environments IMO. The bike would occasionally kick forward even when cycling through power modes when stationery. The Powerplay reaches maximum speed quickly, subjectively much quicker than the Levo, which makes for continual smiles out on the trail every time it surges forward. Not sure about torque across a wide cadence range though as at times the Powerplay seemed to struggle on hills the Levo cruises up. Overall I think the power delivery is a bunch of fun, but needs to be refined.

Impressively the Powerplay does a great job of managing power delivery when changing gears under load. Try doing that on a Levo and the drivetrain will let out a massive snap in protest.  A long delay is required to unload the drivetrain before changing gears on the Levo. Changing under load on the Powerplay is a super smooth non-issue.

The last significant thing I noticed straight up on the Powerplay is the handlebar controller unit. It might seem intuitive but it isn’t. At a glance, what percentage of battery do I have left? Key info on an ebike right. Can’t tell on the Rocky’s controller. There is a sequence of flashes you could memorize… but there’s not much more user friendly than a fuel gauge like the Levo’s and other ebikes use.

So that’s about it for my first impressions of the Powerplay. It’s a fun bike for sure, but with a retail price in AU of over $10,000 TBH I think it needs to be a little more refined.

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