Specialized Rockhopper | August 22, 2004

I went out and bought myself a new mountain bike today. I was thinking about getting getting a Claud Butler Cape Wrath as it’s had some great reviews. However I’ve heard less than complimentary things about the Judy TT forks, so decided to buy a Specialized Rockhopper from Evans Cycles instead.


I tried both of these bikes out yesterday and the Rockhopper just felt more responsive. Also, being shallow, Specialized have more cred in the mountain biking community.

Getting the bike this afternoon, I though I’d put it though it’s paces and take it for a spin. I went and rode the trail I talked about a few weeks back, and I have to say that my first impressions are good. Climbing was easier, acceleration was faster, and the shocks make a huge difference on the downhills. If getting a half decent entry level mountain bike can make this much difference, I can almost see why people get so equipment obsessed and spend huge amounts of money on their bikes.


Posted at August 22, 2004 7:56 PM


daniel said on August 22, 2004 8:41 PM

Mountain biking is cool i have just come back from a cross country trail got extremely lost found myself on a road 3miles from my town you will have great fun on your bike at least you should do

Rob Mientjes said on August 22, 2004 8:53 PM

I like biking around, but I’m not fanatic. The big bloggers seem to be. Dan Cederholm just doesn’t how to stop throwing bicycling dillemmas in front of us, and you tell us you almost spend too much money to be healthy on bikes. What’s going on in the Blogosphere?

Although, that’s just two.

Scott said on August 22, 2004 9:07 PM

The Rockhopper is a classic. Looks like they’ve updated it a bit. Congradulations, I hope you have a blast with it.

Mark said on August 22, 2004 9:34 PM

Mountain biking is a great sport and the Rockhopper is an excellent entry level XC bike - you’ll have loads of fun.

If yours came with pedal cages please do yourself a favor and take them off. Stick with platforms for a while, then move to clipless if you want to - but cages are deathtraps.

Daniel Oliver said on August 22, 2004 10:39 PM

I ride very often, although I have never really been into cross country. I ride cycle trials and motor bike trials which is more to do with balance and control while hopping over obstacles rather then speed and time trials.
I know a wee bit about cross country bikes however, well at least enough to know that the Specialized is a far superior bike. Nice one.

I’m quite surprised how many bloggers are into their biking.

Neko said on August 22, 2004 11:47 PM

Yummi, the Rock Hopper! It was my childhood dream bike. Few of my friends had it, ‘twas fantastic. Instead, I got a crappy underdog bike not equipped with the almighty Shimano gears and stuff.

It’s nice to know they’re still making this model after… like… 20 years. I’m envy: I wish I could get one too. Congrats for your purchase.

How said on August 23, 2004 1:56 AM

I have the comp disc version - an insurance replacement for stolen Cannondale F600. It’s a good bike - the forks and discs are amazing. Fitted with slicks it flies around town, too. Enjoy.

Richard Rutter said on August 23, 2004 9:44 AM

Excellent news Andy! What a turnaround - a few months ago no offroad experience, and now riding full blown seriously capable mountain bike. I’m looking forward to hammering down some knarly singletrack with you.

BTW I’m not so sure about cages being a deathtrap - I rode them for years before offroad clipless pedals came along. I’d still rather my feet were firmly attached to the pedals than bouncing around in on a bumpy trail. Anyway SPDs are the way to go (Shimano have an unbelievably bad web site).

Tore said on August 23, 2004 10:43 AM

Nice choice, Andy!

Many bike manufactorers choose flashy components (XT rear deraillers, brand name seat posts, etc) over a quality frame, which really is the hard and soul of any bike… no bike rides better than its frame!

There are in fact only around 3 frame manufacturers in the world, selling to all the different bike brands, and depending on how much money the individual brand want to dish out, they can either buy a cheap pre-fabricated frame or contruct their own.

Specialized (whose frames get done by Giant, but are spec’ed by Specialized and only allowed to be used on their bikes) makes very balanced bikes where all the components are in the same “class”.

I’ll also strongly recommend getting some clipless pedals, although I’ll advice you to buy Time pedals - especially if you’re usually riding in muddy conditions (which we definitely do in Denmark). They have bery good mud clearance and won’t clog up like SPDs often do.

Chris said on August 23, 2004 11:02 AM

I’d advise forking out 150 and getting yourself a set of hydraulic disks! Required if you’re seriousley thinking of doing some muddy stuff in the wet.

I myself am a proud owner of a Specialized P2, a DH / DJ bike. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but the frame can eat large hucks with no problem. My only problem is fitness and skill. I can currently J-Hop a foot/foot and a half, but I need to get my technique right for bigger stuff.

Good luck

Ben saunders said on August 23, 2004 12:47 PM

Good move, Andy. I have a Cannondale F1000 & I’m picking up my spanking new Cervelo P2K triathlon bike next weekend.

NB - if you find the words titanium, carbon fibre and leg shaving cropping up in conversation, it’s time to start worrying…

Paul K said on August 23, 2004 2:34 PM

If you do decide to commute on your steed, defiantly invest in a pair of slicks it makes all the difference whilst keeping your knobblies, nice and well…knobbly for the trails. I have a set of slickasurus’s on my specialized, you can get them from over at wiggle

Keith Bell said on August 23, 2004 3:44 PM

Good choice, Andy. I’m on my second Rockhopper Comp FS (after some miscreant stole the first). Specialized frames are excellent, and I think the Manitou forks are better than the Judys. As for people spending huge amounts on their bikes, be thankful that bike prices seem to drop like computer prices! When I bought the first Comp FS in the late 1990s, I seem to recall it set me back 900 or more. When I bought the second a few years back, it had a slightly improved spec and was somewhere in the 750 - 800 range. Now the Pro model in the current Rockhopper range is available for about 800 but has many upgraded components compared to my Comp FS, while the lower spec models represent very good value for money.

Enjoy the new toy!

Colly said on August 23, 2004 11:48 PM

Good choice Andy! Mine looks almost exactly like your Rockhopper, but it’s a shocks-less 2003 Hardrock Cr-Mo. Not as feature-rich as your choice, but another excellent introductory bike from Specialized.

I used to spend more on bikes, but they get nicked in Nottingham. Can’t lock ‘em to railings ‘round here like they do in Brighton…

Ian Clay said on August 24, 2004 2:16 AM

wow, the prices of bikes are sure looking tasty. I bought my ridgeback good fella March 2001 for 349, reduced from 499. I’m using it every day cycling a couple of miles to the shops and also long stretches around the Isle of Wight. I might trade it for something that is more comfortable for the long haul though I did a 30 mile trip off road, through some farmland and along the River Medina without too much fuss.

Dont forget to tighten up everything after the bike has settled (couple of weeks).

Steve Esson said on August 24, 2004 9:53 AM

Good choice Andy.

I just spent a long weekend with some friends riding around the Chamonix valley in the French Alps. Because space was at a premium we had to rent bikes rather than bring our own. I rented a Rockhopper and was very impressed with it.

It behaved very much like my Orange O2. On first sight it looks like a tank of a bike until you hop on. I loved the high level of control I got and the lovely gemoetry of the frame. The forks were great although I hated the shifters - maybe my renter had cheap replacements?

That was the first Specialized bike I had properly ridden and I would happily recommend a Rockhopper to anyone.

Enjoy the downs! Also go and checkout the downs around Corf and Swanage in Dorset… top riding.


Andy Budd said on August 24, 2004 3:25 PM

Thanks for all the feedback folks. Seems like the Rockhopper was a good choice. Now all I have to do is learn how to ride the bloody thing.

Ben - I love the new site and have added it to my list of blogs. So your a mountain biker and road racer as well! I guess your next expedition will have to be a solo mountain bike across the North Pole.

Ian - Sounds like a nice ride. I didn’t know they made mountain biking sandals as well as mountain biking shoes!

Steve - Nice pics of Chamonix. Surely it’s about time you set up a blog or something. There seem to be an inordinate number of mountain bikers in the local new media community, so we really should set up some kind of regular weekend ride.

Ben said on August 25, 2004 8:47 AM

Cheers Andy. As it happens, your site was one of the first to pique my interest in ‘standards based design’ (and your whopping list of links never fails to provide fresh inspiration). A little over a year ago, I didn’t even know what ‘view source’ meant and it’s been an interesting experience learning design the right way (without ever going near a copy of FrontPage).

I forget who said it, but I remember reading a comment somewhere about good web designers being ‘artists that paint with code’ - I love that idea, and my own site has become something of a hobby. I’m like a grumpy old git building a model ship, only each night I fire up Notepad2 instead of breaking out the matches and superglue…

Biking in the Arctic? I’ll be needing one of these, then…

i&ta said on August 25, 2004 8:58 AM

Still riding near-daily on my Specialized Stumpjumper. Made in 1985.

The fork has been replaced. Countless rims have been broken and replaced. As well as countless chains and cassettes have been worn out and then replaced too.

Other than those and a welder-removed (and then replaced) seatpost, everything is original. Well, except the cables, paint job, tires, seat, handlebars, brake pads, brakes, rear derailleur, the headset and bottom bracket, and what else?!

Hell, now that I think about it, everything — EVERYTHING — well almost everything has been replaced ‘cept (this time for real) the crankset, front derailleur, cable shifters and frame.

So, yeah, umm, it’s all about the frame. Six years left on its warranty. Any ideas? About breaking it that is, so that Specialized will replace it, wonchya know?! ;)

Andy Budd said on August 25, 2004 9:47 AM

Ben, you’ve got to do it fella. First person to bike to the pole! How cool would that be!

Ryan MacLeod said on August 25, 2004 9:25 PM

Mountain biking, especially cross country, is a great sport and the Rockhopper is a great hardtail to get started on.

Congratulations and have a nice time.