The Rock Rat

Jul 16, 2019
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My Hardrock was never really a build. It just got ridden hard. When things broke, they got replaced. I believe I was the second or third owner, got it when it was a little more than a year old, waaaaaaay back in 93 or 94. It had a Specialized FutureShock on it, which I've never seen on another HR, not even in catalogues. Here's the old dog pretty close to how it sits now:
IMG_20190618_122116335_HDR.jpg

I've got it on 2.25" slicks now. Those bars ends, which were in it when I got it, had been trimmed down a few inches by me, now have been removed so I can take advantage of the full width of the massive 620mm bar.
 
Jul 16, 2019
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Trust me, it looks like a mountain bike, but it is a rat. Neglect has led to many issues, and I think it's time for a big overhaul. The front derailleur is cracked, the fork is pretty flat (and nearly impossible to find any information on), both of the Rapidfires are gummed up and misaligned (I took em apart without taking pictures), and so on. I am a little ashamed of myself, but in nearly 25 years of ownership, with rough, dirty, dusty, muddy riding, I've never serviced the bearings once. I think I lubed the chain once about fifteen years ago. So I checked the headset, and found something underneath that shocked the heck outta me:
IMG_20191016_104341071.jpg

No cover of any type! My balls are exposed!
 
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So anyhow,my favorite, my daily rider, my therapy bike is now off the road. I need ideas and suggestions. If I can fix the Rapidfires, I'd like to keep at least the seven gears out back, as back in the day, I had to scrimp and save for months for the shifters and derailleur, but sometimes I think about single speed too. Here are some options been thinking about:
1. City/dirt road bomber. I have a threaded headset, but also have a threadless headset that might fit with a little grinding. It'd be neato bazeeto if I could get a more modern fork in there, maybe upsize to 27.5 with a disk out front and a vbrake out back on the 26. Does anyone know of a 27.5 shock that isn't tapered?
2. Drop bar grinder: just something I'm curious about, I haven't tried a drop bar since the 80s. I could go rigid fork, or keep the Spesh fork, get a better 3x crank, and some skinnies. This seems easiest.
3.Back to basics klunker tribute: somewhere between 1 and 2. Maybe 7 speeds, maybe single speed. Rigid fork and some rough road fatties with upgraded brakes. Since Specialized ripped off Tom and Gary and Charlie's frame, it seems fitting to do a tribute to them with a big "S" on it.
4. Gentleman's cruiser: tall bars, comfortable seat, smooth tires, maybe IGH. Problem is, I ain't no gentleman, and I don't think my Rat is ready for that kind of retirement yet. Can you sense my enthusiasm for this option?
I am not interested in building a bike that I won't ride, and it will NEVER BE PUT UP FOR SALE!! I told my wife she can bury it with me. Matti will roll in the afterlife!
 
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May 20, 2009
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Don’t think I’ve seen ‘loose ball’ bearings in a MTB of that vintage.
I think you could go a few ways with it.
Path/gravel racer
Strandie
Commuter
etc..
It’s a good base frame, have fun with it


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I would convert the fork to rigid treadless. I would keep the crank if it's not worn out but replace the chainrings. I would make it a 2 by with the smallest chain ring that will fit on the BCD. The bigger sprocket could be maybe 10 or 12 teeth max larger than the smallest one. The spot where the big chain ring is now could be used for a bash guard. For the rear cogs (it's probably a thread on cassette?) I would consider a mega range 7 speed. I would put new derailleurs and a chain on it. If their not tacoed out I would keep the wheels and install urban puncture resistant (or some equivalent) 1.75 tires. 1.5 tires probably won't fit your mountain bike rims very well but I have a set of 1.5 x 26 on an old middleweight cruiser and they work great but are hard to install. I wonder if a carbon treadless fork would fit? Most are tapered and won't fit but I have seen straight ones. If one does you might be able to use a front mechanical disc brakes which are very light and inexpensive. If you have extensive washboard gravel then you will miss the fork. I usually ride on the side or just put up with washboard on my rigid gravel bikes. Washboards are also bad with a suspension fork. If a carbon fork fits I would then use carbon bars and stem. For the extensive gravel roads in the North Country this combo would work very well. It is pretty bad in sand with 1.75 tires and if you have a lot of sand then you need the widest tires that will fit the frame. Rain can also turn gravel to mush and in this case wider tires are better but for long distance gravel with rolling man made grades this will work.
 
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm still in the early planning stage.

I'm sorta scared to rock skinny tires. A lot of the trails I ride get and stay pretty muddy, long after the rain. I don't want to separate this fork from the frame, they've been together longer than me and my wife! If I can rebuild it, I'd like to keep it. If I can't get it to a reasonable state where it actually works, then I think rigid is the way, and then I'll upgrade to discs.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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I would say that such frames are not really suitable for comfort cruising because of the seat tube angle. They should be ridden hard. I'd do this one as a SS grinder - unless it has those tricky vertical dropouts, then multi-speed might be a better choice.
The seat is fugly imo, but very nice grips and pedals. :)
 
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I think the pedals are Wellgo. I found em in the garbage. I dislike that they aren't two sided, the bottom isn't flat for some reason. The seat may be fugly, but it fits my bum bumps. I wish I hadn't tossed the original Spesh seat when it got ripped.
 
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm still in the early planning stage.

I'm sorta scared to rock skinny tires. A lot of the trails I ride get and stay pretty muddy, long after the rain. I don't want to separate this fork from the frame, they've been together longer than me and my wife! If I can rebuild it, I'd like to keep it. If I can't get it to a reasonable state where it actually works, then I think rigid is the way, and then I'll upgrade to discs.
Wide tires with knobbies then are what you need. My ideas were for gravel roads. I'm looking for a small European frame from the 60s - 70s to convert to a gravel bike. I would keep the center pull rear brakes and rims (or replace 27s with 700c) and put on as wide a tire as would fit. I would go with a carbon cyclocross fork and cantilever front brakes and semi drop bars with the old schools suicide brake levers and bar end shifters, like Schwinn used on their 70s road bikes. I would use as much carbon and titanium as possible except the wheels and crank. It would be a single speed with the idea to race it cross country or in gravel events. If I can't find a donor with high quality lightweight tubing then I will skip the carbon parts. I have a 80s Peugeot but the BB is not really what I want so I'll have to see what else comes up.
 
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That fork looks a whole lot like the RockShox Indy XC on my Kona. If it has the same guts, it's about the simplest fork there is. No rebound valve. Just two springs on top of two elastomers with a preload adjustment up top.

My fork was missing one of the elastomers. You can buy polyurethane rod pretty cheap to make new ones. But I have considered, and will probably try cutting the one elastomer in half and filling the rest of the gap with some bamboo or wooden dowel on the bottom of each side.

My springs have yellow paint, which indicates medium. I really need the heavier spring. Might cut a coil off to increase the spring rate and make the dowel/bamboo a bit longer to fill the void. Then it just takes a little oil.
I don't need a ton of travel. And I kind of like the way the forks look with the rubber boots.

I wouldn't mind trying some carbon forks. And it's not like I couldn't scrape together the $75 or so for some China carbon. And this is a pretty ratty solution to making my forks work the way I want them to without buying anything. But it just feels like something I'd like to try.
But I might buy some rattle-can undercoating or bedliner to repaint the lowers, because mine are pretty rough and missing some of the black coating in a few places.

Good luck with your ratstoration!
 
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Nope, no elastomers or springs. It's air/oil. I think it's similar to Rockshok rc51. I'm really all over the place on the plans for this one. I think that the uses parts I can find will help push me into some definite direction.
I have two bike with spring shocks. Pretty bad, like pogo sticks. The air oil is worth saving, even if it doesn't have a lot of travel by modern standards. You don't need much travel for gravel.
 
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Do you have other mountain bikes or this the main one? To me that would kind of decide what to do with it.

I'd lean towards 1 or 3. The dropbar idea isn't bad either. I'd image you are going to want a taller stem though and you are going to probably end up using bar end shifters.
 
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I'm really all over the place on the plans for this one. I think that the used parts I can find will help push me into some definite direction.
Definitely. I bought this whole bike for twenty bucks at a pawn shop.
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They had it marked down because the shifters were toast and one of the v-brakes was disconnected. And a broken spoke nipple.

It doesn't fit me, but a newish cheap suspension fork(RST Capa CL) with caliper mounts, good Tektro v-brakes and levers, decent wheelset and tires, and a host of other useable parts.
 
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Do you have other mountain bikes or this the main one? To me that would kind of decide what to do with it.
.
It's my ONLY one, the old faithful, never let me down in twenty years. At least this happened at the end of the season. I'm shopping for a newer one, I guess I'm also shopping for a parts bike too.
 
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If you're getting a newer one, then I'd vote to ss the older one. At least until you accumulate all the parts to restore it to multi-speed, if that's the plan.
 
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Single speed may be the best way, unless I can figure out these shifters of mine. This guy is all messed up.
IMG_20191018_122933272_HDR.jpg

They were not ratcheting properly, so I opened them up and cleaned out all the gummed up lube in there. Relubed them, and they click and shift like new. Sort of. Now, I only have a five speed. Won't go onto the two smallest cogs of the cartridge. No matter what I do to the derailers' adjusting screws, no deal, so I assume something moved out of alignment in there when I had it open. If anyone has any experience, I need help!
 
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I also lost function of the gear indicator, but that doesn't surprise me. I think I snapped the little plastic pin that moves the left hand one, and I doubt I got the right hand one anywhere near the tiny little hole it's supposed to be in.