Specialized Hardrock 1994


Senior Retro Guru
I wasn't sure if I would ever post up a build thread for this but given some recent posts about the lack of cheap bikes on here, and the fact that someone else is working on one of these, made me think that perhaps there might be a bit of interest in an old Hardrock. So, here goes.

I bought this, about two-and-a-half years ago, because it was cheap (£25) and less than a mile away (and it had a nice LX-hubbed wheel on the rear that I thought I would keep). Aside from that, I thought I might sell off some of the attached tat, or just bin the rest. The beast looked like this when it was advertised:

Those in the know will see that this was Specialized's lowest in 1994 - not the Hardrock Ultra, not the Sport, just the bog standard, bottom of the range Hardrock Nothing. Not even deserving of a second name. :(

And what's more, it was even worse than it appeared in the advert.

The paint was scratched and chipped:

The forks:

The chainstays:

The top tube:

The bottom bracket was especially nasty:

The grips and shifters were just vile :facepalm: :

And the seatpost was a model of ugliness :shock: :

Overall, then, it was a sad-looking old lump. But its salvation came from a very unlikely source . . .


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Gold Trader
MacRetro Rider

Looking forward to this...

Nothing wrong with the cheaper bikes, I've had plenty of them myself, just as interesting as boutique brands imo.


Senior Retro Guru
Specialized Hardrock 1994 (The story continues)

I got the bike running safely, after a fashion, and gave it a short test ride. It looked like this:

It was okay. The poorly functioning brakes gave it a slightly disturbing ride quality and then it sat in the garden, awaiting dismantling. It was simply not worth the time and effort it would take to make it a nice ride. Or so I thought. Mrs Ace asked me what I was going to do with it and I told her that I was going to get rid of it; whereupon, she responded, 'No. You can't do that. It's a nice bike.' :shock: :shock: :shock: I never thought I would hear those words. And I still thought it would take far more time and money than it was worth. However, I set to work. It was completely dismantled and I stripped the paint:

The forks:

The joy of paint stripping:

And more paint stripping:

And even more paint stripping:

And you get the picture. Paint stripping is boring. Sanding is boring. And then we get to the respraying, which is also fairly boring, but with the added unpleasantness of smelling bad too!

Here's the frame with primer on:

And here are the forks - finished:

That was the state of play about two years ago. I'm a pretty busy person and other bikes came and went but, except for a few tweaks, this was finished this year.


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Senior Retro Guru
Specialized Hardrock 1994 (A few notes)

Respraying continued, as and when I had time:

The original paint was stripped using Wilkinson's paint stripper. It was fine. I just followed the instructions and used a shave hook to take off most of the paint. The undercoat was left but that came off easily enough with wet and dry.

I thought that I would do the respraying myself, just for the heck of it. It began with the grey primer (about two or three coats); then red primer (two coats) because the red spray I was going to use required it; then the red. Now, after a bit of head scratching the colour I went for is none other than good old Rover Nightfire Red, mainly for sentimental reasons. It's a pearlescent paint and requires a good covering of lacquer to look its best. Many fine coats of the red were needed and then a fair few coats of lacquer (about five or six coats of the red and about four or five coats of lacquer). All the paints were from Halfords and the overall cost was about £60-£70 for respraying. Powdercoating is no more expensive in some areas but not near me.


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Senior Retro Guru

The same, but mine is 18" and yours looks like 20". The good news is it turned out to be a surprisingly nice ride; however, on mine, the only original component other than the frame and forks is the seatpost clamp.


Senior Retro Guru
Re: Re:

CassidyAce":3fhxx0jg said:
The same, but mine is 18" and yours looks like 20". The good news is it turned out to be a surprisingly nice ride; however, on mine, the only original component other than the frame and forks is the seatpost clamp.
Yes, I was very surprised how good a ride it is thats why ive decided to sort it out & keep it, for a while anyway!

Like the colour you have chosen for yours, have you got new decals sorted out yet?


Senior Retro Guru
Specialized Hardrock 1994 (Complete Bike)

No, I never intended to get any replacement decals for it, partly because I originally thought I might use it for commuting and I figured that Specialized decals might make it more attractive to thieves, but mainly because I wasn't very keen on the decals in the first place. Moreover, this was never going to be a go-back-to-the-original build for nostalgia's sake; this was always a try-to-make-it-a-bike-I-enjoy-riding build.

Back to the build. 2018 saw the frame get a fair amount of spraying in the summer months - nearly finished but not quite. Spring 2019 saw some final coats of lacquer and then I'd had enough and decided to put it all together.

Here it is on its test ride, nearly two years after its first test ride:

And here it is, posing for a photo opportunity on the seafront:

The remaining original component:


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Senior Retro Guru
Specialized Hardrock 1994 (Notes on components and ride quality)

I'll conclude this with a few notes on components and ride quality.

Components: I suppose my general approach was one of modest upgrading: I wasn't going to kit the bike out in Shimano XTR but, equally, I wanted a lighter, dependable bike. The frame was about 2.2 kg and the forks about 1kg. Incidentally, those figures are the same as for a 1990 StumpJumper in the same size - perhaps that's progress.

The bottom bracket was replaced with a Neco one: these are cheaper and spin better than Shimano UN55. The seatpost is 26.0 (which is as Sheldon's database suggests, not 26.2 as this thread suggests: http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewto ... mp;t=48803). The seatpost and handlebars were replaced with lighter alloy ones. There was nothing wrong with the stem, either in terms of weight or anything else, but it didn't fit my colour scheme, so it was replaced with an alloy Uno one. I thought that I might run some STX cantilevers and use some 21 speed STX shifters and levers I've got. I even got as far as buying a fork-mounted cable hanger but in the end I just couldn't be bothered with the faff and stuck on some Tektro V brakes and suitable STI's from my stock of parts. Likewise, I was going to use an STX drive train but I became concerned about how the weight was increasing and so I used LX mechs and chainset instead: about 300g lighter. I'm particularly pleased with the Shimano Pro grips: good feel and comfy. I wanted to save weight where it counts, on the wheels, so I used Maxxis Ultralight inner tubes and fairly lightweight Schwalbe City Jet tyres. The overall bike weighs a tad over 12kg as it stands today. The paint, by the way, has not chipped yet, although this is going to have a fairly gentle life.

Ride Quality: After spending a lot of time working on the bike, wondering whether it would be worth it, I was very pleased with the ride quality. As far as I can tell with the flick test, only the top tube and down tube are cro-mo, and all that carbon steel gives the bike a very solid feel: pretty much as stiff as alloy but with a different feel. This isn't the springiest of bikes, and it lacks a bit of that lively, springy, cro-mo feel but that was to be expected. On the other hand, it feels tough and, bless its cotton socks, there's virtually no lateral flex around the bottom bracket (which is a very good thing in my book). Now, I like a bit of cro-mo springiness and it's a bit lacking on that front but the geometry is superb. If you're quite long in the leg but not so long in the arm (further removed from the orangutan than some of our long and low loving brethren, dare I say :twisted: ) then the geometry is just great: really comfortable and with a more upright position than I'm used to, which is a very welcome change. It climbs well (better than my lighter Marin, strangely enough) but seafront cruising is where it really shines.

That's about it. Would I want this as my only bike? No. Am I pleased with it? Yes, because it offers something different from my other bikes. I spent about £200-£250 on it and for that I could have got a Stumpjumper but it doesn't really matter: I like it and Mrs Ace got to hear the three little words she loves to hear: 'You were right.'

However, within a month I went out and got a Rockhopper as well: that's had an equally radical overhaul and it's just about finished too. Next year, a Stumpjumper might be on the agenda.


Gold Trader
MacRetro Rider

Sounds like you specialize in Specializeds :LOL:
Bike looks good, and perhaps slightly more modern with the v brakes and no decals, it's definately given the frame a "cleaner " look.