1998 Specialized Rockhopper 13"


Devout Dirtbag
After seeing how much fun I was having with my Giant AC Team my partner decided that she'd rather like a bike too.

Now, the sensible, easy and cheap way to do this would be to do a little research, get a budget and find a complete modern bike for her to ride. While that would, admittedly, mean she'd have something to enjoy immediately, it would also mean I'd have to spend time looking at a 2000s bike with Alivo (at best) components and awful graphics.

I figured what with the English winter having arrived the chances of us riding at all together over the next few months were pretty slim, and with work slowing down it seemed like the perfect opportunity to build her something special.

After finding a few amazing looking Rockhoppers, I narrowed down my favourite era (graphics wise) to 1997-98. Then a frame appeared on eBay, and I promptly won it. The geometry looked to me like the old On-One Gimp or DMR Rhythm DJ bikes of my teens and I figured it would be fun to have a bike that not only could my partner ride, but maybe I could find a nearby pump track and have some fun on.

eBay listing image:

I'm very limited currently by my lack of a workshop and any serious tools, so I won't be able to strip the frame down and rebuild it (I'd prefer it in metallic black, and some of the decals could do with replacing) but I will at least be able to spec it with parts that I always wanted (finally, a CK headset!), even if they end up being worth far more than the frame.


Devout Dirtbag
The frame arrived a few weeks later. I tried removing the bottom bracket but my lack of a workshop with a vice proved that this would not be possible. I used a load of penetrating oil but to no avail. The bb runs smooth enough for now so I'll leave it be.

I had amassed a few parts for the build and fitted them immediately (had to get the LBS to fit the headset/remove the old one, again due to a lack of tools). I discovered once fitted that the chainrings were not straight, and that replacing the rings on those LX M569 cranks is prohibitively expensive due to the unique spider they use, so I'll just have to see how it rides for now and possibly change out the crankset in the future (M730 is on the wishlist) if I'm unable to straighten them.

Build in progress:


Devout Dirtbag
Awesome. I always wanted one of those.

Well the way I see it, if half the bikes taking up space are 'hers' then it'll be less of an issue, right?


Old School Hero

Haha, my wife has 3 bikes now that I’ve built and I’ve just got the one functioning one BUT a got some plans....


Devout Dirtbag
Shifters, saddle, post, front mech and inner tubes installed... getting pretty excited about this bike now. The geometry looks pretty much exactly how I wanted it, still no idea how it'll feel, or if my partner will like it. Oh well. It's keeping me occupied, that's the main thing.

Oh, if anyone has a Chris King headset top cap in black or silver they want to sell, please let me know as I currently have a generic black Halfords one in there and it's not exactly doing the headset justice.



Devout Dirtbag
More things arrived this afternoon:


Got the brake cables on and all sorted out, which led me to realise that the wheels weren't exactly as true as I'd have liked. Guess it's time to invest in a jig and start messing around with nipples. Sounds like fun.

Just waiting on a chain and rear derailleur now...



Senior Retro Guru
Looks great! :cool:
Love tiny Specialized frames, they’re a lot of fun. I’ve got one myself that has seen many different builds, this one had 700c wheels and a friction shifter (the chain was lengthened after the photo!)


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