January 04, 2022
28 October 2021
4 years ago I remember Jamie (head of Rocky Mountain Australia) coming into the store and telling me about this new Rocky Mountain E-MTB, called the Powerplay.
Back then, there was 1 model and I vaguely recall it costing around $10K.
I remember being shocked, almost in disbelief.
What idiot is going to spend that much on an E-bike?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all-in on Rocky Mountain – I’ve had several and the current Altitude is my personal bike.
But back then E-MTB’s were seen as cheating. Almost derogatory. A stain on the pure human-powered sport of mountain biking.
What idiots we were.
Fast forward years. Experience and time influences thoughts.
Some of my best moments have been riding E-MTBs.
My first E-bike experience was on an Instinct Powerplay at Red Hill. Others I’ve ridden, simply have not compared.
But what really distinguishes the Powerplay is that it retains the intuitive handling and realistic feel that I’m so used to from pedal-power.
What I mean by this:
I have to make ZERO compromises when I jump on a Powerplay. The E-MTB corners like my Altitude. Climbs, descends, jumps and overall, feels absolutely like I’m riding my analogue bike.
It doesn’t feel like you’re riding a computer chip.
It doesn’t feel fake – like the bike is in control.
And now Rocky Mountain’s brand-new Powerplay platform has stepped things up again.
Like the last generation Powerplay, Dyname also powers this new one.
It’s called Dyname 4.0.
The new Dyname 4.0 motor is 18.5% lighter than its predecessor, the Dyname 3.0. All high-load bearings inside the motor have been increased in size to improve durability.
To make the system quieter, the upper-chain slider from Dyname 3.0 has gone. Chainline has been improved too. Both these things reduce noise and pedalling drag.
And, the new Dyname 4.0 motor spins at a lower RPM. This creates less motor whine compared to off-the-shelf systems.
One key reason why Rocky Mountain’s Powerplay delivers power so naturally is because their system uses an analogue torque sensor.
Most off-the-shelf drive systems use a digital one.
And the digital torque sensor is too slow; creating “power lag” when you start OR stop pedalling.
The analogue torque sensor also measures the tension directly applied to the chain.
In other words, the power delivery happens at the wrong time.
Not good for mountain biking.
A new torque curve gradually applies power, building to a maximum of 700W @ 85RPM – the most efficient pedalling cadence.
Why a variable power curve?
Because you don’t want ALL the power dumped as soon as you pedal.
You have way more control – especially on steep technical climbs – than having access to all the power the E-MTB can deliver instantly.
Jumbotron is the name of the new integrated top-tube display.
Jumbotron displays: * Battery and assist levels. * Distance * Speed * Cadence * Custom power settings
Every screen can be navigated via the handlebar mounted remote. The remote itself is MUCH smaller than the outgoing iWoc.
The iWoc was also designed by MAHLE, whereas the current Rocky Mountain Micro remote is designed by Rocky Mountain.
Unlike previous Powerplay, the new E-MTB is still operable if the remote gets damaged. The bike is not reliant on this to work or change assistance modes.
The system can be customised to tune your Assistance Level and Boost Level.
The Assistance Level option adjusts the output power. There are 4 modes: Eco, Trail, Trail Plus and Ludicrous.
Every mode can be further adjusted to fine tune power delivery.
The Boost Level option adjusts how much power the motor responds with at the pedals. A higher Boost level means less pressure is required at the pedals. A lower boost level, means more pressure and a harder workout.
So in Super Boost mode, you get an extra 84% power at the pedals compared to the Factory Setting.
On Heavy Workout you get 62% less power.
Good for when you’re riding with your primitive friends on their analogue bikes.
Battery capacity has increased from 672Wh to 720Wh.
The new battery uses a 21700 cell architecture compared to the current 18500 that most E-MTBs use. There are 39 of these massive cells too. Less than the old battery.
That’s a good thing because it means better battery life.
The battery uses a smart BMS (Battery Management System). This allows the battery to be the “brains”; recording errors, monitor battery activity and therefore reduce errors and extend battery life.
The battery is surrounded by a 1mm thick impact resistant casing.
The battery is also removable using a 5mm allen key. It slides out at the base of the downtube. Unlike some that clip into the frame.
Just drop the protection cover and loosen the battery retention bolt (see above) and the battery slides out.
There are 2 types of chargers available.
A 4-amp charger will quickly charge the massive battery in about 4 hours.
The lighter, transportable 2-amp charger will take about the double the time.
As I mentioned, it all started with the Altitude Powerplay 4 years ago.
Since then, we’ve had the line expand to the Instinct and Instinct BC Powerplay E-MTBs.
For 2022, Rocky has consolidated the range.
There are 2 options – the Altitude Powerplay or the Instinct Powerplay. Both these platforms are available in Carbon or Alloy variants.