In this writeup we look at an interesting electric middrive Mountain Bike with an unusual motor, different from the typical Bosch, Brose, Yamaha and other fare. In a following article in a few weeks we will look at affordable commuter on road ebikes for fleets. And after that who knows..
Everyman review: As a longtime electric transport advocate, diehard 1st gen Mountain biker in the 80's and 90's. And approaching it from a relevant angle to most people this review matches perfectly to the main stuff everyone wants to know, not going off track with obscure detail that otherwise might make you yawn
Skimming through our blog or our video channel you can see super Mountain Bike and Electric eMTB adventures from the last few decades. Its clear cycling and ebikes are a passion for me, and Ive personally had the privilege of experiencing some great rides lately on the very latest gear. Even as far afield as Europe Italy and the states which wont happen again any time soon. Anyway as luck would have it I recently got to go on a group testride on the latest new Rocky Mountain powerplay altitude eMTB electric bikes back here in QLD. It was right before the big lockdown. Lucky.
These particular bikes have piqued my curiosity since they were first released because unlike all other high end eMTB brands they built their own proprietary motor system around their own requirements, specifically to suit their high end Mountain Bikes. This shows a different approach and that theres more to the growing ebike sector than first meets the eye. I wont bother with all the 'on paper' specifications suffice to say these Power Play ebikes with Dynamo motors stack up nicely. I am always more concerned with the reality out on the trails. So lets dive in to how the Rocky Mountain eMTB go out on the trails!
After a quick walk around and induction by S (she knows her bikes) from Electric Bikes Brisbane (thankyou crew) and checking the settings it was clear these are serious off roading Mountain Bikes. The spec was solid from the suspension and other components right through to the drivetrain. Plus it was particularly interesting to note that these powerplay ebikes are all fitted with remote dropper posts too.
Plenty of travel plus the 27.5 wheel size L that I rode had quality meaty tires and felt spot on from the get go. Throwing a leg over the bike it had a nice low center of gravity which became even more apparent once up to pace. Loads of traction and a good seated position for my 6+ frame. I did feel like the suspension could use better setting up for personal preferences but thats only to be expected, and there was no display or lcd screen which I actually like, although some might miss it. Just a clean robust cockpit, and less to break. The integrated battery arrangement looked great and should stand the test of time without the visual interruption of an obvious big battery. But the bike part of things felt good. So on to how did the dynamo electric motor feel?
In a word unobtrusive. There was a very intuitive and progressive power ramp almost to the point I felt like it was not coming on enough! Compared to the bosch and even the Brose motors it was very smooth with little lag and almost none of the unnerving spin-on that Ive had with some other eMTB bikes. However I did almost wish for more punch. Going uphill was easy as you would expect but for example popping wheelies uphill was not as much (compared to others Ive ridden). Apparently the proprietary dynamo motors can be tuned to feel just how you like if you have the diagnostic software and access to the program functioning but at this ride that was not an option. We just got to ride it out of the box which realistically is what most people want to know about anyway.
Riding downhill you naturally are not using the motor much apart from perhaps for momentum and stability through its weight. And in fact at these times the less you feel that weight the better. And in this instance the Rocky Mountain Altitude powerplay was brilliant. Extremely unobtrusive so you felt really free to flow through the turns and whoops. It was not a super lively mountain bike but a lot more lively than say the Brose equipped Fantic XF1 eMTB. Ie in comparison those eMTB electric bikes from Fantic are one of the most motoX feeling bikes out there, right down to the moto style larger front wheel rimsize. Also the Fantic XFI eMTB has a far more aggressive motor intervention out of the box. Those Fantic XF1 eMTB ebikes are pictured in the last few pics below and feature in earlier xplor4 blogs/vlogs on this site and our youtube too for further comparison.
Verdict: I think the Rocky Mountain Altitude powerplay ebikes are a very well built quality excellent handling mountain bike for those wanting more cycle and less electric intrusion. I rate them.
Standout of the crowd. These Rocky Mountain eMTB altitude powerplay ebikes are almost exactly the same geometry as their non motorised siblings in the Rocky Mountain range. Which is exactly the reason the company designed and built their own in house motors - to retain the geometry and complete control of driveline placement, orientation and in fact normal bottom bracket componentry too!. Truly natural MTB feel.
An esoteric driveunit, quite expensive, perhaps bit soft out of the box, and even just really 'out of the box' for some.
If youve got an eMTB or any electric bike youd like to share or comment on? please let Mat know as we love electric bikes!
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The Trail location:
Naturally as trail afficionados we will have to comment here on the trails. The Samford valley (Fernyhills) trail network was worth the trip although I'd not rush back there, its quite close to the city but feels a world away. Kind of slippery shaley surface with the hard orange base so prevalent in the area. Combi track in the middle of the network, so named after the rusted wreck of a combi van pictured is the highlight trail for sure. Sweet singletrack that left us hungry for more xplor4 riding so.. After the ride there and a scenic drive home past several lakes that looked good for paddling! (also pictured above) We were still fired up to ride some more and got a lap of the local in too although not e powered-(last riding picture). Its always interesting to get straight back on our trusty old non electric MTB bikes straight away and as always find it quite adequate for fun. So if your wondering, no I have not taken the electric plunge on my MTB yet, only commuting ebikes so far (check part2 next week) And if theres a trail from our alltrails library youd like more info on, well what are you waiting for get in touch!
About the author: Mat Colefax is an outdoors enthusiast since forever. Particularly boards and bikes. Long residing on the sunny coast QLD, Mat is happily out there on the trails and waterways every chance he gets.
Any questions write to firstname.lastname@example.org