The ugliest bike ever

The Specialized Hardrock.

Specialized Hardrock

Specialized Hardrock

Now, I just found this bike on kijiji, so if you happen to be selling it, please know that I’m not saying that your Hardrock is the ugliest bike ever. It looks like your bike is rather smartly set up to roll around town, and that’s fine.

In fact, it’s not even really the Hardrock that’s the ugliest bike ever, it’s this style of bike that’s ugly.

Actually, it’s not even this style, it’s the thinking behind it.

I’ll explain.

One of the themes I keep coming back to is how fashion drives mountain biking. In the late 90’s as bikes became more and more extreme, stronger tubesets were needed to underpin the bikes. Easton’s RAD tubeset┬ábecame a very popular option for DH and heavy duty hardtails.

Rocky Mountain Reaper

Rocky Mountain Reaper

It was easily identified by it’s transition from round to square, which gave it a very burly and powerful look.

Rocky Mountain used it on the Reaper, Slayer, Edge, Flow, the RM6, 7, and 9 bikes, and probably on others that I forget right now. Many other builders used it too, like Kona, Cove, Brodie, and Norco.

A lot of Canadian names there…

These bikes were made for severe conditions, and judging by how hard they are to come by now, they were used for them too.

Cove Stiffee

Cove Stiffee

Because this kind of bike was so popular, companies started to make all bikes like this. And that’s where our poor Hardrock comes in. The Hardrock was an entry level bike for Specialized, selling in the $500 range.

Not everyone could afford a $2000 Rocky Mountain Reaper, but at least their bike could look like one. Even if they didn’t ride the kind of trails that the Reaper was designed for. And that’s the trouble. Because the industry decided that this was what everybody wanted, that’s what they made for everyone.

Specialized Rockhopper

Specialized Rockhopper

People that just wanted a mountain bike for weekend rides, got stuck with these RAD tubing knock-offs that were much heavier than they needed to be. Specialized went from the Ritchey Nitanium-tubed Rockhopper, to the silly Hardrock pictured above.

Building a bike for a specific purpose went out the window, and building a bike because it was easy and everyone was doing it, took over. If the Reaper is the bike you need, then you needed to spend more than $500, and avoid the Hardrock. But, if the Rockhopper was the bike you needed, you were stuck with Hardrock.

Because that was the style at the time.

I didn’t have any white onions, because of the war…

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