INSIDE THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN POWERPLAY E-BIKE

An aggressive trail bike

In addition to the first look of the Pivot Shuttle we featured in our coverage of new pedal-assist mountain bikes that broke ground at the Eurobike show (EBA, December 2017), we also highlighted the impressive entry into the market by longtime Canadian bike brand Rocky Mountain with their Altitude Powerplay e-bike.

At the time that issue went to the printer, we were unable to track down Rocky Mountain product manager Alex Cogger to get some technical information on the bike. However, we recently had that opportunity, so here are some of the more salient facts about another exciting e-MTB that could be headed to America in 2018.

EBA: The spec sheet says this is the third generation of the motor since it begun in 2010; did it originate in-house?

Alex: Yes, 100 percent in-house. We say it’s third generation, but really all it shares with the original versions are base concepts. We’ve almost completely reworked the system.

EBA: What are any key differences between the Gen 1 and 3 models?

Alex: The original G1 was a belt drive on the non-drive side with no reduction. This system was developed for urban bikes, and we adapted some of the base concepts to our Powerplay drive. Specifically, the high voltage of the system, which reduces charge time, and the high torque output. The G2 system was skipped right over when we unlocked a few key design features and moved straight to G3 to build it around our suspension platform. The Powerplay bikes are completely different in that they feature internal reduction on the non-drive system with output at the drive pinion.

EBA: Owing to the strong legacy that Rocky Mountain has in mountain biking, was there much push-back internally and externally about developing an e-bike?

Alex: For sure initially there were internal reservations about the project, but they were quickly dispelled. Essentially, once anyone rides the bike, they realize A) how much fun it is and B) they don’t behave like motorcycles. After a short while we had 100 percent buy-in from all the haters. That isn’t to say that we all want to run out and replace our traditional bikes with them, but the blinders are off. I think the biggest difference was that the Powerplay didn’t ride like all the competitors’ bikes that we had tested.

EBA: What actual structural and geometry changes had to be made to the frame to accommodate the motor?

Alex: Beyond the obvious like motor mounts and battery housing? We had to alter the head angle slightly on the small-size frame to accommodate the battery. Otherwise, the geometry is exactly the same as our Altitudes.

EBA: What is the bike’s weight? And compared to the standard Altitude?

Alex: Medium-sized versions of the Altitude Powerplay range from 47.6 pounds for the high-end Carbon 90 model to 49.2 pounds for the Carbon 70 and 49.1 pounds for the Carbon 50. That’s compared to a range of just 28 pounds for the Carbon 90 to just under 30 pounds for the Carbon 50. So, roughly 20 pounds has been added to the e-assist bikes.

EBA: What should consumers know about servicing the motor?

Alex: While designing our own system seems daunting, we’ve boiled it down to five major components—drive, battery, iWok, speed sensor and torque sensor. We had diagnostic flowcharts that will pinpoint any issue to one of these five components. At which point, if there is a fault, it’s simply a straight-up replacement (by an authorized dealer). Also, the mobile app has some diagnostic ability as well, which a dealer can use to help guide troubleshooting.
Wear parts are simple, traditional mountain bike components and can be easily serviced by any bike shop. For example, thanks to our design, there is no need to pull the whole drive and send it away to replace a worn-out bottom bracket. Otherwise, the rule of thumb is to simply keep the bike and system clean and lubricated.

EBA: Are there any other motor specifics beyond the spec sheet?
Alex: Yes, there are, but they are a secret!

EBA: What do you call the three assist modes?
Alex: Eco, Trail and Ludicrous!

EBA: What is the source of the battery?
Alex: The cells are sourced from Samsung.

EBA: Right now the bike is only available in Europe. Will it eventually be coming to America later this year?
Alex: It depends on a few things, mainly: Are our customers asking for it? Is the market ready? And, can we supply the so-far-overwhelming demand from our established e-MTB markets! Check Out www.bikes.com


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