Jonathan's Winter Hardrock

Hi, this is my 2021 winter beater. First of all, the bike is mostly assembled with used parts that I already had on hand, or that I took from other bikes in my fleet.

The frame is a 1992 Specialized Hardrock: an entry-level mountain bike, using 26-inch wheels, with enough eyelets to attach accessories and turn it into a great city bike.

A must in winter: the mudguards, to which I always add mud flaps to stay really dry. Leather is a great material for mud flaps because it is stiff enough and ultra durable. The alloy or stainless steel mudguards from Velo Orange are perfect: silent and durable, you can always re-polish them if necessary.

Personally, I use Gilles Berthoud mudguards because I had the chance to go to France and bring some back, but the Velo Orange are very similar. The mud flaps, were made by a friend and he offered them to me. Thank you Rémi.

For added safety, I ride with the 45NRTH Gravdal studded tires, which are great especially if you want to ride on roads without asphalt, like snowy country roads. For the city, I like the Winter tires from Schwalbe.

About the brakes; I always use Kool Stop salmon colored pads, which provide excellent braking. cantilever brakes, although less powerful than V-brakes, offer much more clearance between the rim and the brakes, so less rubbing noises when dirt and slush build up.

A single-speed bicycle is very practical in winter, because it requires less maintenance. You will also limit mechanical problems due to its simplicity, in addition to making the bike lighter. To convert to single-speed, several things will have to be considered (frame shape, ratio, type of hub, need for a chain tensioner, etc.). A store visit will make your life much easier!

I like to use a specific chain for winter, the KMC’s are affordable and very resistant to rust and salt.

This year I am testing a system with 2 speeds, via a Paul Melvin chain tensioner, which allows this somewhat eccentric system. For now, I'm not sure if I'll keep this transmission ... the single-speed is still more reliable and elegant! For the ratios, I use 46/34 teeth chainrings and an 18 tooth sprocket at the rear.

I use Crane ENE bells on almost all of my bikes. I ring for my safety and out of courtesy when passing other riders. The brass versions offer the nicest sound in my opinion.

When it comes to errands, nothing works better than a Wald 139 basket. Affordable and big enough to hold a backpack lengthwise. I always attach it to a luggage rack to increase rigidity and to carry more weight safely. I'm using a rather expensive Nitto Mark's rack here, but another slightly less expensive model that I like is this one.

Finally, I use a Lezyne front light which comes in several power levels. I like being able to illuminate the road and obstacles well, not just being seen by motorists.I like to put it up front, near the top of the wheel, for optimal lighting. If you fix the light on the handlebars, the beam can be blocked by a full front basket.

I had to use a bit of resourcefulness for the binding system. It consists of a piece of Nitto hardware, an Axiom fender adapter, a fork column stub and a headset cap!

For the geeks and retrogrouch of this world, here is the complete parts list!

  • Specialized Hardrock 1992 frame, 18 ”.
  • Nitto Bullmoose handlebar (the modern model)
  • Luggage rack: Nitto Mark's rack (extra-long Nitto rods)
  • Basket: Wald 137, without the original hardware
  • Tires: 45NRTH Gravdal, 26 ”x 2”.
  • Wheels: Shimano LX M565.
  • Rims: Mavic 231
  • Front shifter: Friction microshift
  • Front derailleur: Shimano LX 565.
  • Crankset: Deore, 46/34 teeth.
  • Chain tensioner: Paul Melvin + Wolftooth sprocket, 18 teeth.
  • Pedals: Ysixty with extra long pins
  • Mudguards: Gilles Berthoud + homemade leather mud flaps
  • Brakes: Dia Compe XCE cantilevers + Kool Stop salmon pads.
  • Brake levers: Shimano
  • Saddle: Terry Liberator race, TI
  • Bell: Crane Ene in polished brass

Pictures also by @jochhoo

24 Feb 2023
Hi Rick, Jo usually changes up his parts pretty often for fun, but you can message him at his Instagram linked at the end of the article for questions. Happy riding!
24 Feb 2023
Fantastic build. Long term thoughts on this drivetrain? I'm considering building a tringle speed myself and am interested to hear about your experience with this system. Cheers!
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