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WatersPark

2018 Rockhopper Comp upgrade advice

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Looking for some advice - we got a 2018 Rockhopper Comp last year for my daughter who is going to school in Golden Colorado. Her previous bike was an 2003 era Gary Fisher (vbrakes era) that she had pretty much outgrown.

We thought the Rockhopper was a Pro since it was set up 1X, but I found out is it a Comp by contacting Specialized with the S/N.  Here is the link to the specs.  https://www.specialized.com/us/en/mens-rockhopper-comp/p/128930

(note hers is has been upgraded to 1x11 (Deore XT) and Ardent tires, not sure if wheels are OEM either)

She is progressing pretty rapidly, hitting the bike park and local trails often and is wanting to upgrade the fork and maybe add a dropper post.  I probably should have researched more before we bought it, but we were running out of time before she left for school.  I'm not a suspension savvy person, having ridden full rigid until I sprung for a Dback Carbon Comp 29er a couple of years ago, which I am very pleased with.  (One of the reasons I avoided suspension was the added weight; carbon negated that concern, keeping it low tech to reduce maintenance is another).  I did notice the Rockhopper seemed front heavy when I rode it and from what I have been able to find the Suntour XCM is a heavy fork around 2800 grams (6.2 lb) 

My Dback came with a Recon Gold RL 100 mm fork, which is around $300 and is very satisfactory for my riding.  Rockshox does not have show the weight, but I found a German website that lists 1814 g. 

Any recommendations in that price range ($300? ) or thoughts on the following?

Recon RL (Silver) 100 mm is (2025 g per the Germans) is around $250

Suntour RAIDON XC-LO-R retails for $299 (2025 g) and seems comparable, internally adjustable travel and they are offering a 25% discount which would end up being $240.  

Any of these would drop the fork weight about 2 lb. 

Dropper post selection seems kind of limited for 34.9 mm.  I have no experience with these.  Any recommendations for best value?

Appreciate any advice.  

 

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My wife's experience with the Suntour Raidon has been good. And as I think you discovered, Suntour offers trade-in discounts on their older forks (just provide proof of purchase and the serial number of the old fork... And you get to keep the old fork which means you can sell it to recover a few more bucks).

Also, online feedback on the Raidon that I've seen has also been good. And a cool thing about the Raidon is its adjustability... Very easy from 80mm to 100mm to 120mm. And Suntour carry a bunch of replacement and upgrade parts.



 

Edited by RidingAgain

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11 minutes ago, WatersPark said:

Looking for some advice - we got a 2018 Rockhopper Comp last year for my daughter who is going to school in Golden Colorado. Her previous bike was an 2003 era Gary Fisher (vbrakes era) that she had pretty much outgrown.

We thought the Rockhopper was a Pro since it was set up 1X, but I found out is it a Comp by contacting Specialized with the S/N.  Here is the link to the specs.  https://www.specialized.com/us/en/mens-rockhopper-comp/p/128930

(note hers is has been upgraded to 1x11 (Deore XT) and Ardent tires, not sure if wheels are OEM either)

She is progressing pretty rapidly, hitting the bike park and local trails often and is wanting to upgrade the fork and maybe add a dropper post.  I probably should have researched more before we bought it, but we were running out of time before she left for school.  I'm not a suspension savvy person, having ridden full rigid until I sprung for a Dback Carbon Comp 29er a couple of years ago, which I am very pleased with.  (One of the reasons I avoided suspension was the added weight; carbon negated that concern, keeping it low tech to reduce maintenance is another).  I did notice the Rockhopper seemed front heavy when I rode it and from what I have been able to find the Suntour XCM is a heavy fork around 2800 grams (6.2 lb) 

My Dback came with a Recon Gold RL 100 mm fork, which is around $300 and is very satisfactory for my riding.  Rockshox does not have show the weight, but I found a German website that lists 1814 g. 

Any recommendations in that price range ($300? ) or thoughts on the following?

Recon RL (Silver) 100 mm is (2025 g per the Germans) is around $250

Suntour RAIDON XC-LO-R retails for $299 (2025 g) and seems comparable, internally adjustable travel and they are offering a 25% discount which would end up being $240.  

Any of these would drop the fork weight about 2 lb. 

Dropper post selection seems kind of limited for 34.9 mm.  I have no experience with these.  Any recommendations for best value?

Appreciate any advice.  

 

I can't tell, but is that a straight 1 1/8" steerer?  (i.e. not tapered)?  If so, it may be worth just selling it and going a different way just for this reason.  Your fork choices will be severely limited.

Your seat tube is 30.9 not 34.9.  PNW dropper is the best bang for the buck.  I have an older Fox DOSS and I got my wife a PNW.  The PNW is heavier but it's so much smoother and better designed.

What size bike does she ride?

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According to what I've found on the web it is 1 1/8" steerer, yes I am finding out that it would have been much better if it was a Pro as we were told.  My fault for not checking it out.  I will have her send me a photo as I'm finding out not everything I'm reading is correct.  One forum says it is internal routing compatible, but Specialized support says it is not.

I thought it was 34.9 seat tube per the specs but I just realized I misread it - thanks for catching that.    I saw the PNW and it looked like a good deal!

She rides a medium but is a kind of on the break point for a small size - She is 5'7".  

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I think the question you need to ask before you start replacing things is whether it makes sense to sink money into this bike.  And if so, how much before it doesn't make financial sense. 

If she's riding around campus and hitting the occasional trail, these things might do the trick.  But if your daughter is, in fact, getting serious about riding, even the upgrades you mentioned aren't going to appease her for long.

No matter what options you go with in terms of a fork and dropper, you're probably looking at spending at least $500 once you pay for shipping and installation.  That's a pretty hefty upgrade for a bike that retailed for just over $700. 

Does the frame have the ability to internally route a dropper cable?  If not, your options will be somewhat limited and you'll have the added clutter of another cable running along the frame and up the seat tube.

As mentioned above, does the frame have a tapered head tube (wider at the bottom than at the top)?  Most decent forks these days have tapered steerer tubes, so you may be limited in what you can find that will fit this frame.  Also, many forks these days do not use the 9mm quick release axles that are on this bike's wheels.  Be sure to check the fork specs before you purchase.

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, just throwing out things to consider.  I know I have been down this road myself and there's nothing worse than realizing the time and money you spent on a recent upgrade didn't really solve anything...

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15 minutes ago, RidingAgain said:

My wife's experience with the Suntour Raidon has been good. And as I think you discovered, Suntour offers trade-in discounts on their older forks (just provide proof of purchase and the serial number of the old fork... And you get to keep the old fork which means you can sell it to recover a few more bucks).

Also, online feedback on the Raidon that I've seen has also been good.And a cool thing about the Raidon is its adjustability... Very easy from 80mm to 100mm to 120mm. And Suntour carry a bunch of replacement and upgrade parts.



 

Thanks for the feedback - it does seem like the best deal at this point and the adjustable travel is intriguing.  She was wanting more travel, but I think a better (air) fork will get her there.  She only weighs around 110 so she shouldn't be bottoming any forks!  

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Based on her weight, I'd go with a dropper first. Antonio is right, PNW is definitely the best bang for the buck and awesome service. Basically a dropper will do as much for a bike (or more) than a fork will do, so if I could only do one upgrade, I'd go dropper because it is cheaper. I would not be putting any money into a 1-1/8" steerer fork because whatever you get in the future will have a 1.5" (which is muuuuuuch better.)

 

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The only plus side of using a straight steerer and QR axles is that you may be able to find a gently used one for really cheap on Craigslist or eBay. At 110 lbs, she may never bottom out a cheap coil fork, but a decent air fork can be tuned to give her all the travel available. 

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38 minutes ago, olddbrider said:

I think the question you need to ask before you start replacing things is whether it makes sense to sink money into this bike.  And if so, how much before it doesn't make financial sense. 

If she's riding around campus and hitting the occasional trail, these things might do the trick.  But if your daughter is, in fact, getting serious about riding, even the upgrades you mentioned aren't going to appease her for long.

No matter what options you go with in terms of a fork and dropper, you're probably looking at spending at least $500 once you pay for shipping and installation.  That's a pretty hefty upgrade for a bike that retailed for just over $700. 

Does the frame have the ability to internally route a dropper cable?  If not, your options will be somewhat limited and you'll have the added clutter of another cable running along the frame and up the seat tube.

As mentioned above, does the frame have a tapered head tube (wider at the bottom than at the top)?  Most decent forks these days have tapered steerer tubes, so you may be limited in what you can find that will fit this frame.  Also, many forks these days do not use the 9mm quick release axles that are on this bike's wheels.  Be sure to check the fork specs before you purchase.

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, just throwing out things to consider.  I know I have been down this road myself and there's nothing worse than realizing the time and money you spent on a recent upgrade didn't really solve anything...

Thanks, I am on the fence on whether the upgrades make sense.  I was hoping for a modest investment we could make this bike a bridge until the next one, but as I'm discovering it's getting complicated.

I don't mind spending the money if it will make the bike better.  Even if she gets a better bike later, she would have a spare bike if one is sidelined for maintenance, or for a friend to ride or her Dad when he visits 🙂

I keep my old bikes for the same reasons -  I took my old Redline to leave up there last summer, but I brought it back since we were going to ride the Caprock trail on the way home.  

Installation is something I haven't factored in.  She is studying Mech Engineeering and between her and her friends they can probably figure it out.  

Dropper routing is something I need to chase down.  I found info on the forum saying it was internal routing compatible, but Specialized support told me it was not.  

Appreciate all the advice!

Edited by WatersPark

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Dropper post installation is pretty straightforward, but I'd advise against trying to swap the fork out unless you have the right tools.  It will likely involve cutting the steerer tube to the proper length, installing a star nut in the steerer tube, removing the crown race from the old fork, and installing the crown race on the new fork.  It's definitely not rocket science, but without the proper tools each of those things I mentioned is difficult and could potentially damage the new fork.

 

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33 minutes ago, notyal said:

The only plus side of using a straight steerer and QR axles is that you may be able to find a gently used one for really cheap on Craigslist or eBay. At 110 lbs, she may never bottom out a cheap coil fork, but a decent air fork can be tuned to give her all the travel available. 

this x2

been through that trying to upgrade a entry level bike for my kid and it was a process of diminishing returns. 

If she's not being hindered by the fork, id leave it unless you find a really, really, really  good deal on a used fork. Do not buy new

As others have said, Id go dropper. It'll help build her skillset more than any other upgrade for the money. Brand X from chain reaction has some of the most reliable droppers for the money, and offer external routing. At 30.9 you can use it in something else later

 

P.S. Is she in NICA?

Edited by ATXZJ

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I always swore no one needed a dropper, until I had one.

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9 minutes ago, ATXZJ said:

this x2

been through that trying to upgrade a entry level bike for my kid and it was a point of diminishing returns. 

If she's not being hindered by the fork, id leave it unless you find a really, really, really  good deal on a used fork. Do not buy new

As others have said, Id go dropper. It'll help build her skillset more than any other upgrade for the money. Brand X from chain reaction has some of the most reliable droppers for the money, and offer external routing. At 30.9 you can use it in something else later

 

P.S. Is she in NICA?

Thanks for the feedback.  I was thinking just do the dropper since it is an easier swap, but when i saw the fork weight I was kind of appalled, and it seemed like a logical upgrade.  

I need to talk to her more about what she is experiencing with the fork.  I am also just remembering when I rented a Spec. RH in Breckenridge a few years back and wished I had my rigid fork Redline.  Of course now that I have the Dback I am on board with front suspension.  

I'm not familiar with NICA, but I think she and her roomate just joined the Mtn Bike club at their school (Colorado School of Mines)

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9 minutes ago, WatersPark said:

Thanks for the feedback.  I was thinking just do the dropper since it is an easier swap, but when i saw the fork weight I was kind of appalled, and it seemed like a logical upgrade.  

I need to talk to her more about what she is experiencing with the fork.  I am also just remembering when I rented a Spec. RH in Breckenridge a few years back and wished I had my rigid fork Redline.  Of course now that I have the Dback I am on board with front suspension.  

I'm not familiar with NICA, but I think she and her roomate just joined the Mtn Bike club at their school (Colorado School of Mines)

https://www.nationalmtb.org/

I thinks she's too old if she's in college. No worries

Yes, the fork weight is awful. I had two of those things at one point........steel steerer tube and all

You might check her current saddle height to see if the 125mm will fit

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/brand-x-ascend-ii-105-125-150mm-dropper-seatpost/rp-prod159176

Edited by ATXZJ

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8 minutes ago, TheX said:

I always swore no one needed a dropper, until I had one.

I'm open to a dropper, just haven't tried one and I don't have problems getting behind my seat.  The only time I endo'd since I was a kid was when I decided to go to SPDs about 7 years ago.   I decided I was too old to relearn how to stop and bail. I still use pedal straps by the way. 

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Pretty sure that the bike probably does not support internal routing. That spec at that price probably precludes such fanciness. The best way to find out is to check for cable ports near the head tube that go inside the frame. If you have no internal routing for anything, you'll need an externally routed dropper. External routing is not a bad thing - they are cheaper and easier to work on.

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21 minutes ago, WatersPark said:

I'm open to a dropper, just haven't tried one and I don't have problems getting behind my seat.  The only time I endo'd since I was a kid was when I decided to go to SPDs about 7 years ago.   I decided I was too old to relearn how to stop and bail. I still use pedal straps by the way. 

I used to stop, and put the seat down. It never bothered me. I ride flats on mountain/XC bikes, Time pedals on gravel bikes.

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24 minutes ago, WatersPark said:

I'm open to a dropper, just haven't tried one and I don't have problems getting behind my seat. 

I said the same thing for a long time.  Then I got a dropper.  Now I can't imagine riding without one...

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I'm in agreement with folks here... Given the price of your daughter's bike it might be best to go with a newer upgrade. With all that's happening in the mtb world there are some really great 2nd hand buys available. Also, you might find something with a slightly lower top tube design that will help with her confidence and comfort. 

Given the XT upgrade, you might be able to get $300+ for her bike. And if you add in the $300 you were thinking of spending for the fork upgrade, you'll be at around $600+. Add another $600 and you'll be well within a good 2nd bike range — even full suspension if you search well. It won't be whizz bang stuff, but it will be a very capable bike for her.

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23 minutes ago, WatersPark said:

I'm open to a dropper, just haven't tried one and I don't have problems getting behind my seat.  The only time I endo'd since I was a kid was when I decided to go to SPDs about 7 years ago.   I decided I was too old to relearn how to stop and bail. I still use pedal straps by the way. 

A dropper is soooo much more than simply getting behind the seat for a big drop. It gets you weight low and allows you to maneuver your body anytime you are descending. 

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3 minutes ago, notyal said:

A dropper is soooo much more than simply getting behind the seat for a big drop. It gets you weight low and allows you to maneuver your body anytime you are descending. 

Totally agree. 

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