Sam B's Rockhopper and Hardrock

Everything started when I candidly said that I might want to find an old MTB Specialized frame while working with Jo Chhun aka The Specialized Collectionneur. Two days later, he sold me that frame. The only downside: the BB was seized. Long story short, the problem was solved around a Boréale on a Friday evening after the shift

Making up my mind on what this bike would be was probably the longest step. It went through a few iterations in my head: from a single speed beater to a 3x9 configuration, to finally settle on a 1x11. All good ideas, but I wanted something different than what I already have or had before.
Then came the parts compatibility problem, which was resolved with help from Sam M and Simon (thanks guys!), since a lot of the parts that I wanted at first were victims of the Great Parts Drought of 2020-202?. I even ended up lacing Rhyno rims - not the Lite version - that we had in the shop’s basement because wider rims were nearly impossible to find to fit with my Deore XT 32h hubs.

The waiting has been unbearable but I finally ended up building my Rockhopper last fall. What a charming ride! With the Soma Oxford bar (Albatross minus Nitto’s glory), the 1x11 drive train, the Maxxis DTH 26x2.15" tires, everything was what I wished for. Unfortunately, winter was coming and I couldn't see myself riding my new bike in Montreal's slushy and salty winter. So I went on a search for a similar bike to carry me during the cold months. I just love old MTB geometry. They sit tight on the road, they are not too nervous and you can ride them with big tires.

Going through Marketplace and Kijiji and having notifications on for every new ad that fitted my criteria, I ended up finding a reasonable Specialized Hard Rock. I obviously made a couple parts upgrades and changes, like the Surly Open Bar handlebar, a Gravdal winter tire in the front (the rear one was in good shape and knobby enough for our winters), I blocked the front derailleur to make a 1x7 transmission, and an old Brooks C15 I had on another bike. Nothing too fancy of course, but just enough so I would enjoy my winter rides. Let me tell you that it's a big change from a fixed gear without brakes…!

Now that biking season is at its peak, my dear Rockhopper had a small makeover. The release of SimWorks’ Bubbly pedals changed my world. It moved me to the point where I couldn’t resist buying a pair. The fit was also perfect with this bike. The cockpit went through some changes to have a more versatile setup that I would enjoy on long distances; Salsa Cowchipper handlebar 52cm (why not?) and the beautiful VO Faceplate quill stem which is made to fit modern handlebars onto bikes from another era. I also got lucky with the Newbaum’s eggplant coloured bar tape which is a perfect match with this bike lettering!

Photos by photographer and bike-pusher @jochhoo and yours truly

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