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  1. #1
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    New question here. Altitude 970 now or wait for 750?

    I've been contemplating various 'Trail' 29ers and thought I had my choice narrowed down to the 970, and I have an opportunity to get one of the last new 2012 XL 970's, but with the 700's announced this week I am starting to have second thoughts. Any suggestions/opinions on my dilemma would be appreciated.

    Some background, I'm BIG 6'6" ~270lbs, I have been riding a Cannondale Gemini 900 for the past 8 years. It is my do everything bike, but is getting long in the tooth, and is less fitting now than it was then. When I got it, it was a perfect fit for my usual riding on 'freeride' end of the AM range (with the occasional whistler bike park trip), the Gemini (170mm 26er) was perfect for this. But over they years I have shifted my focus to more endurance cross-country riding, including the occasional endurance race (finished my 5th 'Test of Metal' on the Gemini this June... it was HELL!)... The 40+ lbs Gemini is not the ideal for most of the riding I do now, but it has held up to some pretty extreme abuse. (any bike that survives 8 years of clydesdale abuse including 5 test of metal finishes deserves to be commended!)

    The Altitude 970 caught my eye for its reputation to be durable under big riders (#1 concern), a great climber, and a pretty good descender. Seems to be specifically designed for the kind of riding I am doing. But this would be my first 29er, I have not done any significant riding on a 29er before (beyond a parking lot), and I am nervous about going from a slack 170mm down to a pretty steep 120mm for my every day bike... my usual riding (around Vancouver and the 'sea to sky corridor'), while it involves some epic climbs, the decent are always STEEP and gnarly. I've been worried the 'wagon wheels' and steep angles would take too much of the fun out of the funnest (but shortest) part of the ride.

    Then I saw the 700's announced this week (and the Norco Killer-B's last week) and I started to doubt the 970 as the right bike for me. 150mm, slacker angles, smaller wheels, bigger tires... certainly a less extreme departure from what I am used to... but is that a good thing for what I am trying to achieve? I also noted the shorter TT and stem spec on the 700's geometry, will that be a poor fit for a 6-6er with more torso than legs whose goal is to find a bike for all-day riding (mostly climbing) comfort? Also looks like a higher leverage ratio on that air shock (always a concern for a 270er who has always stuck with coils in the past)... but that Ride-9 feature is intriguing!

    Pros for the 970... it is available now, full XT kit (including cranks & brakes) for a price between the 750 (SLX, XT, RaceFace, Elixir mix) and 750 MSL (X7, X9, RaceFace, Elixir mix). Unfortunatly the $1000 'carbon tax' makes the mostly XT (with RaceFace cranks & Elixir) 770 MSL out of my price range. (btw I LOVE the end-to-end black and red maple leaf color scheme on the both the 970 and 770... not so much either of the 750's with their mismatched forks)

    So... go for the 970 now, a known quantity (but abandoned platform)... or wait until "some time after Christmas" for the 750, less of a departure from my recent riding experience... but a greater unknown... tough decision.

    sh0rty :P

  2. #2
    Older & Slower
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    I would lean toward the 750 if I were you. Contact rocky about possible demo opportunities...that is what I did when I bought my element 950.

  3. #3
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    New question here. ...or the Instinct 970?

    The new Instinct 29er seems to be more similar to the Altitude 29er than the new 650b Altitudes. Is this the proper replacement for that odd-ball model in the Altitude line?

    Rocky is certainly covering the whole range of XC->"Marathon"->"Trail"->AM for 2013. Makes decisions about picking the "right" bike so much more difficult.

    I remember (not that long ago) when a hardtail with a 3" fork was considered the right tool for that whole range of riding... now every brand is producing a specialty model for every minutia of the sport. Guess I just have to pick one... and ride it on EVERYTHING despite it's label.

    sh0rty :P

  4. #4
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    ... and if we just ... Altitude 970 it is!

    Picked up my Extra Large 2012 Altitude 970 last night!



    I put some real thought and consideration into narrowing the vast selection of 29ers down to the Altitude this year, and the 2013 650b models are really a completely different beast. The 2013 Instinct had me thinking, some nice new features on a more similar bike.

    But I went for the Altitude 970, got an amazing deal for a gorgeous bike, I like the full XT kit (including cranks and brakes) not found on any of the 2013's, and most importantly it is here now! I'll be riding it this weekend rather than dreaming of one of the others!

    Getting light outside... time to go for a ride!

    sh0rty :P

  5. #5
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    ... and if we just ... Awesome!

    Quote Originally Posted by sh0rty View Post
    Getting light outside... time to go for a ride!
    Brief but awesome ride this morning. Truly climbs better than any bike I have owned before. Completed a big climb in the middle ring this morning that I have always needed granny gear to finish! ...I'm sure there is some 'new bike placebo effect' going on... but still sooo much nicer on the ups!



    I'm thrilled with my decision so far!

    sh0rty :P
    Last edited by sh0rty; 09-06-2012 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Grammar

  6. #6
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    Nice bike and good choice sh0rty!

  7. #7
    Clydesdale Warrior
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    One more reason to choose the 2012:


    The 10mm QR makes it simple to install the standard chariot hitch. All the 2013's have 12mm thru axles, no simple way to hookup the standard hitch (without some custom fabrication, finding a longer axle, etc.) and I'm not so sure about the "clamp on chain-stay" solution either both for safety and possible damage to the chain-stay.

    My son and dog are both big fans of the new bike too!

    sh0rty :P

  8. #8
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    I have a somewhat related question perhaps someone can provide some advice on.

    I had a 2006 ETSX-30 which was unfortunately stolen so I've been looking at Rocky replacements but am wondering about waiting for the Altitude 730 (or maybe 750). Here's some data:
    - I am about 6' 2.5"; my 20.5" etsx seemed to fit well (615mm TTL)
    - Tried an 2011 Altitude 29 size L (620mm TTL); felt long, possibly stem length?
    - Tried a 2012 Element 930 (think it was an 18.5 but might have been a 20); seemed to fit well but suspension didn't seem that plush (maybe it wasn't set up optimally for me)
    - I see JensenUSA has some deals on 2012 Element 30s and 50s; perhaps I should consider one of these? If so, not sure if 19" (605 TTL) or 20.5" (630 TTL) would be best
    - Like the level of suspension on the ETSX-30 (130 front, 120 rear) for my rides (local rides in Montana that can be rocky and occasional Moab trips)

    Any thoughts welcome!

  9. #9
    ups and downs
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    The Element 50 would pedal in a familiar fashion to an ETS-X30, but with a lower BB height so it will handle fast and flowy stuff better (but likely more pedal strikes), and with 120mm of travel it is a nice trail bike. The RSL 100mm Elements are very racey in handling but the Element 50 is a more direct replacement of an ETSX.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  10. #10
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    Thanks -- any thoughts on whether the 19 or 20.5 frame would be best for me in an Element 50? My 20.5 etsx seemed like a good fit but was wondering if the 19" frame might work for me in the Element (the 19 has a 605 ttl and my former etsx was 615, the 20.5 element is 630 ttl). Just a bit over 6' 2" and around 34" inseam I think.

  11. #11
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    My under standing was that 29" wheels arent a good match for Clydes due to wheel
    flex , possible failure .
    Or was that just when they first came out and technology wasnt that well developed
    then ??

  12. #12
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    Super light 29" wheels can be an issue for larger guys, especially Stan's because of the short sidewall. Oddly enough if you want bulletproof 29" rims, use carbon rims like the Enve.

    I think you'd want the 20.5" Element and run a shorter stem with wide bars. I'm 6'-1" and ride a 19" Element 70 MSL with a 100mm stem and 700 bar and I wouldn't want the cockpit any shorter.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  13. #13
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    Thanks! 20.5 Element 50 ordered.

  14. #14
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    Just ordered a 970 to replace my upgraded soul 29 cant wait to ride this bike ShOrty glade to see that it holds up to a super clydes weight cause I am in you weight bracket!

  15. #15
    Clydesdale Warrior
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrain48 View Post
    Just ordered a 970 to replace my upgraded soul 29 cant wait to ride this bike ShOrty glade to see that it holds up to a super clydes weight cause I am in you weight bracket!
    Awesome! I am loving this bike. Best fitting, nicest riding bike I have owned, by far!

    It has held up to my super clydeness for 3 weeks so far...

    sh0rty :P

  16. #16
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    This is for the nice person who gave me the good rep! Hope to ride it wednesday morning

  17. #17
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    Good job! Beauty!

    Thanks for sharing. Has to be one of the nicest mtb I have seen...

    Let us know how it is on the trails.

  18. #18
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    Bike is a dream! Climbs better than my hardtail descends like it has way more travel than 4 inches man I am on top of the world!!

  19. #19
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrain48 View Post
    Bike is a dream! Climbs better than my hardtail descends like it has way more travel than 4 inches man I am on top of the world!!
    I could not agree more, the rear suspension on the Altitude 970 is simply amazing.

    Right out of the box it is soooo smooth and active, I agree, it feels like so much more than the advertised 115mm. Unless you spend time watching the shock at speed (not recommended) you really do not 'feel' it working, it is just smooth, but when you stop and see where the O-Ring has moved to... wow! I set it to the recommended 20% sag, it felt 'too stiff' when I first sat on it like this (I'm used to 170mm with 30% sag), but on every ride (even easy-going ones) I find that I am using >90% of the rear shock travel. On one ride the O-Ring was pushed right off the bottom of the shock, but I never felt a 'bottom-out' at any point during the ride.

    I have been impressed with the climbing too, and I find myself leaving the shock "open" more-and-more often. The suspension is much more active with the pro-pedal turned off, and even climbing (in the saddle) I do not 'feel' the rear suspension sapping energy. (though if you watch the shock while pedaling, there is visible 'bob' even when seated) I found through experience that climbing traction is significantly better with the shock "open". Durring one of my first rides on the 970, on a short loop that I frequent that has a short but very steep and loose/rocky climb... The first time around the loop I forgot to lock-out, an out-of-the-saddle effort was met with very noticeable bob/bounce on both ends of the suspension, BUT I did not lose traction once and I made it to the top without incident. Second time around, I switched on ProPedal (#3 on RP32) before I got to the incline (also locked-out the fork) and went to pound up as I did before, bob was virtually eliminated, but I completely lost rear wheel traction 2/3'rds the way up, and had to walk it. So... unless I am doing a long sustained climb where traction is not a factor, I am leaving the pro-Pedal off. When I do use ProPedal, I'm using #2 rather than #3 to leave the suspension at least partially active. (maybe I'll use #3 if I am riding on pavement?) Locking-out the fork is still beneficial for any 'out-of-the-saddle' efforts though. No compression control on the RL fork leaves it pretty bouncy for any standing efforts under my weight. (I'm thinking about a custom valve tune on this fork... eventually... Maybe I'll first try heavier oil as a cheeper way to tune compression? That always worked for my old 'Bombers' back in the day)

    In contrast to the out-of-the-box performance of the rear suspension the Fox 34 RL fork was super stiction-ey out of the box. The 'hang it upside down' thing helped a bit. I ended up manually lubing the dust wipers (they were dry!) that made a BIG difference, and putting on some hard off-road miles has helped break it in too. The fork is starting to feel almost as nice as the rear. As the stiction has improved I have had to increase rebound, 1 click from full is now necessary. (another reason to try heavy oil?)

    What is most impressive about the34 fork is the lack of flex and deflection. While it is no DH fork, coming from a 32mm Manitou Sherman with 20mm axle, the 34 with 15mm is noticeably stiffer ...and I thought that Sherman was a tank when I got it. (pun intended) The 34 is the perfect balance of stiffness & weight for a clydesdale trail (heavy-duty XC) bike IMO.

    One thing that annoyed me for my first few rides on the 970 was a high-pitched squeak from the front wheel when rolling at low speeds, at first is was periodic (a small "squeak, squeak, squeak" on each rotation), but after a couple rides it became an almost constant squeal at speeds below 5km/h. I eventually found the source of the squeak was the 15mm end-caps on the "Wheel Tech" front hub. The end-caps stay stationary with the fork and axel, while the body of the hub rotates with the wheel. There is a rubber o-ring seal on the end-cap that seals against the rotating surface of the hub body, but those o-rings were dry. I put a little grease on the end-cap o-ring (on both sides) and the squeak was cured.

    Despite the extended fork break-in and easily cured squeak, my first few weeks with the Altitude 970 have been enjoyable ones.

    Enjoy!

    sh0rty :P
    Last edited by sh0rty; 09-26-2012 at 06:14 PM. Reason: because

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sh0rty View Post
    I could not agree more, the rear suspension on the Altitude 970 is simply amazing.

    Right out of the box it is soooo smooth and active, I agree, it feels like so much more than the advertised 115mm. Unless you spend time watching the shock at speed (not recommended) you really do not 'feel' it working, it is just smooth, but when you stop and see where the O-Ring has moved to... wow! I set it to the recommended 20% sag, it felt 'too stiff' when I first sat on it like this (I'm used to 170mm with 30% sag), but on every ride (even easy-going ones) I find that I am using >90% of the rear shock travel. On one ride the O-Ring was pushed right off the bottom of the shock, but I never felt a 'bottom-out' at any point during the ride.

    I have been impressed with the climbing too, and I find myself leaving the shock "open" more-and-more often. The suspension is much more active with the pro-pedal turned off, and even climbing (in the saddle) I do not 'feel' the rear suspension sapping energy. (though if you watch the shock while pedaling, there is visible 'bob' even when seated) I found through experience that climbing traction is significantly better with the shock "open". Durring one of my first rides on the 970, on a short loop that I frequent that has a short but very steep and loose/rocky climb... The first time around the loop I forgot to lock-out, an out-of-the-saddle effort was met with very noticeable bob/bounce on both ends of the suspension, BUT I did not lose traction once and I made it to the top without incident. Second time around, I switched on ProPedal (#3 on RP32) before I got to the incline (also locked-out the fork) and went to pound up as I did before, bob was virtually eliminated, but I completely lost rear wheel traction 2/3'rds the way up, and had to walk it. So... unless I am doing a long sustained climb where traction is not a factor, I am leaving the pro-Pedal off. When I do use ProPedal, I'm using #2 rather than #3 to leave the suspension at least partially active. (maybe I'll use #3 if I am riding on pavement?) Locking-out the fork is still beneficial for any 'out-of-the-saddle' efforts though. No compression control on the RL fork leaves it pretty bouncy for any standing efforts under my weight. (I'm thinking about a custom valve tune on this fork... eventually... Maybe I'll first try heavier oil as a cheeper way to tune compression? That always worked for my old 'Bombers' back in the day)

    In contrast to the out-of-the-box performance of the rear suspension the Fox 34 RL fork was super stiction-ey out of the box. The 'hang it upside down' thing helped a bit. I ended up manually lubing the dust wipers (they were dry!) that made a BIG difference, and putting on some hard off-road miles has helped break it in too. The fork is starting to feel almost as nice as the rear. As the stiction has improved I have had to increase rebound, 1 click from full is now necessary. (another reason to try heavy oil?)

    What is most impressive about the34 fork is the lack of flex and deflection. While it is no DH fork, coming from a 32mm Manitou Sherman with 20mm axle, the 34 with 15mm is noticeably stiffer ...and I thought that Sherman was a tank when I got it. (pun intended) The 34 is the perfect balance of stiffness & weight for a clydesdale trail (heavy-duty XC) bike IMO.

    One thing that annoyed me for my first few rides on the 970 was a high-pitched squeak from the front wheel when rolling at low speeds, at first is was periodic (a small "squeak, squeak, squeak" on each rotation), but after a couple rides it became an almost constant squeal at speeds below 5km/h. I eventually found the source of the squeak was the 15mm end-caps on the "Wheel Tech" front hub. The end-caps stay stationary with the fork and axel, while the body of the hub rotates with the wheel. There is a rubber o-ring seal on the end-cap that seals against the rotating surface of the hub body, but those o-rings were dry. I put a little grease on the end-cap o-ring (on both sides) and the squeak was cured.

    Despite the extended fork break-in and easily cured squeak, my first few weeks with the Altitude 970 have been enjoyable ones.

    Enjoy!

    sh0rty :P
    I agree shOrty this bike is a great deal.

    Are you sure that the fork is a 34mm sanction cause I cant find the fork on fox's website I cant find any 120mm 34mm sanction. Its funny I was thinking the same thing about the propedal I found steep tech climbing better wide open. Also Being a hardtail guy I have to remember to turn it off cause I bombed a downhill section in propedal and didnt remember to turn it off

    I love the Xt drivetrain and brakes it is a big step up from my old bike. I didnt use the wheelset that came with my bike I had a set of 36 spoke salsa semi's with xt front hub and a Chris King rear hub that are a lot beefier. I am not as experienced as you so the fork seems amazing to me, my old bike first had a suntour cheapy then a marzocchi tst2 44 that was ok but not as nice as this fox by any means so I guess ignorance is bliss in that reguard. Its nice know that your hear for advice cause you seem to know what you are talking about. here is an assembled pick with wider bars and my wheelset

  21. #21
    Clydesdale Warrior
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrain48 View Post
    Are you sure that the fork is a 34mm sanction cause I cant find the fork on fox's website I cant find any 120mm 34mm sanction.
    I'm sure it is a 34, when you see it beside a 32 you will see the difference, everything is bigger on it, the crown, arch, lowers, etc.

    The floats have internally adjustable travel, my guess is it is a standard 140mm 34 that has been set to 120 by RM for this bike. (common for OEM) This can be achieved by either setting the top-out bumper on a lower hole in the shaft of air spring cartage, or with a spacer on the shaft of the air spring cartridge. If the later it would be an 10 min effort to switch the travel from 120 to 140 and back. A little more effort if they used the hole in the shaft, but still do-able. (and then use a spacer for easy switching once the bumper is moved) I have not opened it up yet to see myself yet.

    See this posting for illustration of what I mean: How to lower your Fox Float 32 the GHETTO no-special-tools, or spacers method! - Pinkbike Forum

    Thinking I might try 140 to see how it handles for more AM style rides. (will also slacken the steering a bit) But 120 seems perfect for aggressive XC rides.

    sh0rty :P

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