Specialized Rockhopper is a tried and true classic for one reason It’s a great bike!
If you aren’t familiar with the Specialized Rockhopper series of mountain bikes than I know already that you are literally brand new to the sport of mountain biking, and that’s ok. I fact that I am so confident in saying this, should tell you how much of an icon the Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike has become.
The Specialized Rockhopper has been around forever, and for one reason, it’s a great bike! I am too lazy to look it up but if I recall correctly, the Specialized Rockhopper has been around for more than 20 years! In a very fad-driven industry, that speaks volumes as to just how solid the Specialized Rockhopper really is, so let’s talk about why.
The mountain bike industry is absolutely gaga over Full Suspension mountain bikes these days and hardtails have kind of fallen out of favor but I have to tell you, for most riders, a hardtail is more than enough mountain bike and they have a lot of advantages over their more complicated cousin. The Specialized Rockhopper is a hardtail, aluminum frame mountain bike.
If you ask me, much of the Rockhopper’s success can be attributed to the foundation, the M4 aluminum alloy frame. It’s practically a work of art. Specialized is very particular to engineer their bikes towards both sides of the spectrum, the technical and the visual, meaning they make sure their bikes look and perform equally well.
The Specialized Rockhopper frame is acknowledged by many industry experts to be one of the best designed and best handling hardtail frames on the market. A great foundation to start with.
The fork is always a component that a lot of new buyers fixate on as they think the fork will magically improve their riding ability. A great fork can make a ride more enjoyable, no question, but it won’t make a difference to a newer rider. The Specialized Rockhopper is equipped with a RockShox Recon SL100mm coil spring fork.
This fork is great for beginners as it is dead simple to setup and maintains. Once you become a more skilled rider, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade the fork down the road, but 95% of the time, this fork will be adequate for most riders.The frame is a great base with which to hang the rest of the quality components that you expect in a mountain bike.
When your plan is to go deep into the woods, you want to know that you are riding something dependable. The components on the Rockhopper have changed over the years but the 08 Rockhopper Comp Disc that I am reviewing is nicely equipped with a combination of SRAM X7 and X5 shifting components, Avid Juicy brakes, DT Swiss rims and Specialized Fast Track tires. Very good quality components at this price point, no question.
Specialized Rockhopper Handling
The time I spent riding the Rockhopper for this review was great. It’s not an ultra lightweight bike and it doesn’t look like it came from the future, but what it does do is handle, ride, climb and descend very well. It gives me a piece of mind knowing that if I am going to be 20 miles deep into a trail, that my bike is rock solid and has very few things that can go wrong with it.
The Rockhopper will not disappoint in the handling department and is likely more bike than most riders can handle until they get a fair amount of mileage under the hood.The Rockhopper is one of my favorite bikes, you can tell that already. I am a big fan of simple and not the biggest fan of cutting edge ultra high-tech type bikes that are extremely complicated.
The Specialized Rockhopper is simple and straightforward but yet, a good rider can throw one of these down trails at unimaginable speeds. The Rockhopper is known to be a great handling bike that can carve corners with the best of them.
The Specialized Rockhopper offers a number of pros but here are a few that I noted:
- Strong, durable and attractive frame.
- Good, predictable handling that reacts dependable every time.
- Good geometry….very comfortable to ride.
- Reasonably light for this price point.
- Price – Great bike for a great price.
- The pedals – I hated them. Upgrade early….save the aggravation.
- Saddle – Very uncomfortable…as most stock seats tend to be. Get fitted and upgrade.
- Fork – More than adequate for most but may need upgrading as your skills improve.
Specialized Rockhopper Review Summary:
A great testament to the Specialized Rockhopper is that it has survived over 20 years of fads and trends and is still as good of a choice today as it was 20 years ago. Another testament to Specialized is that they are definitely a company that “gets it.” What I mean by that is they understand bicycles and they invest a lot of money in developing products that not only work, but appeal to the consumer. Chances are that if you ever buy a Specialized brand mountain bike, you very well might always own a Specialized Mountain Bike. They inspire that kind of owner loyalty in their products and I think that’s great, especially in today’s world.
The Rockhopper is a perfect choice for new riders and those whose rides don’t take them down the steepest of descents and who don’t want the complications that come with more complex full suspension bikes. A great choice for someone who simply wants a solid mountain bike that they can maintain and ride for a long time to come. If your skills do improve to the point that this bike won’t cut it anymore, it’s a very upgradeable frame if you so choose to stay with a hardtail.…
RockShox Tora 318 Fork Review
RockShox 318 Fork
We’re looking at the 2008 Tora 318 U-Turn in this review, which checks in right around the $350 MSRP mark and can be bought mail order in the $300 range. You can get an air-sprung model for about $60-$70 dollars more if that is more your preference. The RockShox Tora 318 U-turn reminds me of just how far we have come on the equipment side of the mountain bike world.
It wasn’t very many years ago that suspension forks in the price range of the RockShox Tora 318 were absolutely inferior products compared to the more spendy products. The design was inferior, the durability was inferior and the ride feel was inferior in almost every way. These days, that has all changed and the RockShox Tora 318 U-Turn is a great example of that.
RockShox Tora 318 Features
The left leg of the Tora sports a coil spring and RockShox’s famous “U-Turn” travel adjust system that can be adjusted from 85 to 130mm of fork travel. The right leg of the RockShox Tora contains the “Motion Control” damping that has previously been found only on RockShox’s more expensive forks.
The only difference that we noted was that the Tora 318 does not offer an adjustable Floodgate blow-off valve. This valve is designed to prevent fork damage if you take a big impact while the shock is in lockout mode. The valve will allow the Fork to give way, without it the shock either takes the impact and survives or it doesn’t. Again, this is only in lockout mode, so you aren’t likely to be taking many big impacts in lockout mode anyway.
Speaking of Lockout this has become a very popular feature on suspension forks as of late and yes the RockShox Tora 318 offers to lock out. The Motion Control still gives a very small amount of travel in lockout mode, which makes for a much better ride, but it is minimal. I’d say around 10mm maybe? You also have some control over the rebound damping as well with an adjuster is located at the bottom of the right side fork leg.
So to summarize, the RockShox Tora 318 offers adjustable travel, adjustable rebound, adjustable compression and a lock-out feature. All of this functionality is wrapped up in a solid chassis with 32mm stanchions made from 4130 Chromoly steel. This gives a very stout fork, at an economical price point, just what we all like.
RockShox Tora 318 Ride Quality
So far we know it’s a feature-laden fork that sounds good, but how does it ride? Honestly, if we didn’t know how inexpensive this fork was, we would have thought it was much pricier. It looks solid and rides nice. The RockShox Tora doesn’t feel unstable in the technical and maintains it’s composure when you are hard on the brakes. The suspension handles the bumps great and soaks them up nicely for a fork in this travel class. For us, we say it’s a great bang for the buck no question at all.
As for the cons of the RockShox Tora, there aren’t many that we could find. It’s a touch on the heavy side compared to some of the featherweight forks available but they are not in this price range either. Our Tora weighed in at a whisker under 5lbs certainly not portly and definitely comparable to forks in this price range. I’d compare the RockShox Tora 318 to Marzocchi’s MX Comp Air, which is a bit lighter but only offers a rider 105mm of travel and much less adjustment than the Tora.
RockShox Tora 318 U-Turn Suspension Fork Specs:
Weight 4 lbs. 14 oz.
Travel 85 – 130 millimeters
Steer tube diameter 1-1/8 inches
Shimano XTR Pedal
Shimano has long been a class leader in the bicycle industry so it is no surprise that these Shimano XTR bike pedals are good. We’re going to review the top of the category from Shimano, the Shimano XTR Mountain bike pedal.
The first thing I noted when I took a look at these Shimano XTR bike pedals is that they are not particularly lightweight, especially considering these are billed as a racing pedal. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t exactly a pig of a pedal but at 327 grams they are not the lightest offering in the bunch. To me personally, that’s just fine. I beat the snot out of my equipment and I’d rather sacrifice a touch of weight to get a pedal that is strong like bull and the Shimano XTR is just that.
A hallmark of a quality mountain pedal is not only how strong it is, not how durable it is but also how functional it is. A key requirement for a good mountain bike pedal is the ability to shed mud and the latest incarnation from Shimano does a great job of that. Considering the design I would have to say it isn’t quite as good as something like a Crank Brothers Eggbeater when it comes to shedding mud but it does a good job of it.
While the Shimano XTR mountain bike pedal may not shed mud as well as some of the others, what it does offer is hands down, industry leading entry/exit manners and these pedals are a breeze to clip in or out of and that is extremely comforting to most mountain bike riders. Hands down the Shimano XTR beats Crank Brothers or Time and even Look pedals when it comes to getting in and out. It works like a breeze.
So let’s recap what the Shimano XTR pedal has to offer, extremely durable and hardcore pedal that will probably work even when sunk in a bog or subjected to rock strike after rock strike. It’s a great looking pedal that looks good, works great and is guaranteed to last a long time…what exactly more could you look for in a mountain bike pedal.
If you are like me and you expect your gear to work when you need it to work, then the Shimano XTR SPD mountain bike pedal is the one for you. Hands down.
Colors: Blue or Gray
Float: 5 degrees
Alloy: Cromoly/alloy steel…
RockShox Reba Review
Reba Features and BenefitsWe recently were offered the opportunity to put a RockShox Reba through its paces and we jumped at the chance to review an icon in the XC suspension fork world. The RockShox Reba has an outstanding reputation in the mountain bike world and we were more than happy to put that reputation to the test. Nobody likes a show-off so we expected to find all kinds of reasons to poke holes in the Reba. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the features of the RockShox Reba.
The Rockshox Reba utilizes a Dual Air chamber on the left leg of the fork, which if you are not familiar with how that works, here is how it works. The positive chamber, responsible for the down force, adds compression to the chamber making it more difficult to compress. On the flip side, the negative chamber (bottom) controls the damping and basically makes it more difficult for the shock to decompress.
So it’s like two forces working against each other, one pushing and one pulling and you can fine tune the ride via the pressure you set each too. To summarize, it’s a tuneable fork that uses a very simple and low maintenance system to control the ride. We like it already, simply is good.
You can set the RockShox Reba from very firm to very plush and soft, depending on the type of terrain that you ride and your personal preferences. Me, I like soft and plush, I guess I am getting old or soft maybe both. Recommended pressure for the RockShox Reba is about 140ish psi for my 200lb frame but I have it set to around 120psi and find that this works best for me. It’s up to you and it’s nice that the Reba gives you the option.
RockShox Reba Pop-Lock
The Pop-Lock cures all that. The Pop-Lock is a neat little device that allows you to “lock out” the front fork and turn your bike into a much more efficient climbing machine. With the front fork locked, most of the power on every stroke will find it’s way to the rear wheel instead of being swallowed up by the squish of the front fork.When you need to get out of the saddle and climb or grind, lock it out and pound.
When you need to get out of the saddle and climb or grind, lock it out and pound. When you want to be back into full on push mode, another quick flip and you are back to boingy mode. Pretty cool!If you are an experienced suspension fork rider or you have been riding since before the Pop-Lock was invented, then you know the frustration and wasted energy that a bouncy front fork can cause when you are out of the saddle or really grinding the pedals hard. Front forks can soak up a lot of the energy that would otherwise be transmitted to the pedals and that can be very frustrating.
RockShox Reba Summary
Ok, we put the RockShox Reba through its paces for a couple of weeks and were really hoping to hate it. I will admit that I sometimes favor off brand or out of the norm products as I think sometimes the corporate brands take their dominance for granted but it wasn’t the case with the RockShox Reba.
To summarize, I loved this fork. It works great, can be adjusted from relatively stiff to nice and plush very easily, requires little to no maintenance and simply worked great. What’s not to like? It even sports an attractive anodized finish that looks great and even the knobs and adjusters are aluminum instead of plastic, which makes it feel the much higher quality.
If you are in the market for a moderate travel XC Mountain bike fork then you will have to look pretty hard to find a better all around bargain than a RockShox Reba.
Name: Reba Race
Built by: RockShox
Crown to Axle Length: 480 mm
Stanchion Diameter: 32 mm
Weight (g): 1608 g
Available Colours: Black/White/Silver
Spring Type: Air
Max. Fork Travel: 100mm