Sea Otter 2009: Rocky Mountain’s New 29ers

Before I get to the pictures I’ve got to give props to the crew at Rocky Mountain. They had a great group at Sea Otter. I got a chance to meet Andreas, Alex & Joanne and they were really good people. Joanne, the super engineer, and I had a good time discussing the numbers behind the new 29er bikes. OK, without further adieu:


The Vertex 29 is a logical progression from the super popular SS Hammer. Joanne said that she kept some of the same geometry numbers from the Hammer because of the high praise she received when researching the design. What sets the Vertex apart from other HT 29ers are a few things:

Built in rack mounts for those interested in off road touring (think Great Divide Race)

Direct mount front derailleur allowed the designers to widen the seat tube bottom bracket junction making for a stiff bottom bracket area

Shimano’s BB92 pressed in bottom bracket means larger diameter tubing for strength

Angled welds at the chainstay and seatstay are stronger than welds going straight

And, what seems to be all the rage these days, 1.125 to 1.5 inch tapered head tubes for more stiffness


Many of the Vertex 29 design elements were carried over to the Altitude 29 as well. But the full suspension Altitude 29 has a couple of major changes.

The “kink” in the Seat Tube gets the STA to 76* and allows for clearance of up 2.3″ rubber

– 76* seat tube angle. Most 29er full suspension bikes run STA under 74.5, but when shock is set up properly, the STA drops approximately 2 degrees on seated climbs. Rocky Mountain’s thinking is this: when sagged STA is sagged to 72*ish, the rider’s seated climbing is going to be done on the nose of the saddle. By using a 76* STA, a rider’s seated climbing will sag to a more comfortable 74*. While descending a rider pushes their weight over the rear tire making the STA irrelevant.

Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink Suspension: keeps the pivot above the rear axle at all points of travel

– the long and short of the Smoothlink Suspension is that it gives a flatter suspension rate for a more bottomless feel while also minimizing suspension bob.

Lastly, what you see in the pictures is the probable parts spec: wheels will be 15mm ta XT hubs laced to Stan’s Arch 29, Fox F29 w/FIT, RP23, Race Face cranks, Easton cockpit parts and Formula brakes. These two bikes are 2010 models and are not currently on Rocky Mountain’s website. Thanks again to Rocky Mountain for the time spent discussing their new 29ers.