The Specialized Rockhopper is a bike steeped in history, one that will have been the first port of call for many first time riders. We check out the new hardtail ahead of the launch as the brand combines the Pitch and Rockhopper ranges as one super-range of hardtail, budget mountain bikes.
The 2021 Rockhopper combines the Pitch range of bikes with the Rockhopper, making one super-range of hardtail aimed at the first time bike buyers and those just getting into mountain biking.
The new iteration of the bike gets updated geometry, internal cable routing, rack and stand mounts, plus different wheel sizes according to bike size. We'll give you a quick rundown of the updates here, an overview of the complete range, plus a more detailed look at the Rockhopper Expert 29er further down the page.
The neat frame gets internal cable routing for both 1x and 2x setups with routing there for a dropper post should you wish to fit one. There are rack mounts at the rear for fitting paniers and the like, plus there's a kick stand mount too.
The new geometry sees the bike get over degree slacker at the head tube with a 68.5 degree head angle. The reach is also stretch out a little but its a marginal change of 4mm, from 441mm to 445mm on this large model. These changes, plus a longer effective top tube and front centre lengthens the wheelbase from 1138mm to 1152mm on the Large bike. The seat tube length of this bike is shortened by 20mm to 450mm whilst the chainstays remain 440mm long.
The Rockhopper range now consists of five bikes, available in sized XXS to XL and with prices ranging from £379 to £899. The smallest bike (XXS) uses 26" wheels, the XS gets 27/5" wheels and the sizes Small to XL get a choice between 27.5 and 29er wheels.
The base spec model gets a 2 x 8 Shimano Altus/Tourney drivetrain, a Suntour XCE fork and Radius CX7 mechanical disc brakes.
The next model up in the range gets a 2 x9 spd Shimano direvtain, this time using Altus gear. The bike gets hydro brakes in the form of Tektro HD-M275's. This bike uses a Suntour XCM fork which has 30mm stanchions rather than the 28mm ones seen on the XCE on the base spec Rockhopper.
Rockhopper Comp 2x
One hundred pounds more gets you the Rockhopper Comp 2x, a bike which 2x9 drivetrain uses a mix of Acera/Alivio/Atlus kit. It also gets Shimano MT200 hydro brakes.
The Rockhopper Elite is the first 1x bike in the range, the 1x10 drivetrain is a mix of Shimano and Sunrace kit, using Deore cranks and rear mech with a SunRace 11-42t cassette. This bike also features a Rockshox Judy TK fork.
This is the bike we have here to take a first look at and subsequently test. The Expert bike gets the same Rockshox Judt TK fork as the Elite, but this bike has a 1x12 spd drivetrain in the form of SRAM SX Eagle kit.
The SX Eagle comes with a Powerspline bottom bracket rather than the lighter and more expensive DUB version and using SX Eagle means riders can take advantage of the 11-50T range of the rear cassette coupled with a 30T chainring for easier winching and spinning up hills.
The bike features the same Shimano MT200 brakes as on the two bikes below it in price. It's fitted with a 180mm rotor on the from and 160mm on the rear.
Elsewhere the Rockshox Judy TK fork has the brands Solo Air spring allowing riders to fine-tune the support with the use of air. The "TK" in the name stands for 'turnkey' which is a form of lockout located on the upper stanchion of the right-hand leg. The fork also features rebound damping adjustment on the lower end of this same leg.
The rest of the spec is dominated by Specialized own brand 'Stout' parts. There are 25mm internal width rims, a Stout bar and stem, a fixed seat post with quick release clamp and a Specialized Bridge Sport saddle. This is the same saddle as we have on a Levo SL e-bike that is on test and it's super comfy! Lastly, there are two 29 x 2.3" Ground Control tyres which should be good for riders wanting a faster rolling tyre with little rolling resistance.
With regards to the frame detail, the bike uses QR axles front and rear (spacing 9x100mm at the front, rear is 9x135mm) Specialized says they did this as this type of axle is easier for new riders to understand, it's easier for them to take wheels on and off if needed and it's also easier for to find replacement parts at a cheaper cost. This is all fair enough but if you want to upgrade your fork on this bike, you'll likely got to one with a thru-axle and will therefore need to swap front hub/wheel too. Also if you are looking for a wheel upgrade, you'll be limited to option that feature QR hubs too. It's just food for thought and we suspect that any riders looking for an upgradeable bike in the Spesh range might opt for the trail ready Fuse, like this one we tested here.
We weighed this bike (Rockhopper Expert Large 29er without pedals) at 29.5lbs / 134kg which we thought was fair given the £900 price tag.
We'll be testing this bike over the coming weeks and will get back to you with a full review soon. In the meantime make sure you check out the video at the top of the page as our Rach gives you a full rundown on this new bike.
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