Max's 1993 Specialized Hardrock build is really something special.
In our latest Bike Check, we're taking a bit of different route and going old school cool. This time we're looking at Max's 1993 Specialized Hardrock. Yep, this bike is older than some of our staff and just as cool. It's probably fair to say that this bike encapsulates Max's personality pretty well. He's a bit of a different kind of fella - fairly old school but appreciates the new school too, and definitely a bit quirky. Max hates waste and enjoys finding ways to use old (but functional) bike parts amongst other things. To that end, he built this bike up as a bit of fun and as a way of using some parts up.
Max found the Hardrock frame at Our Community Bikes on Main in Vancouver (check them out if you haven't already, they're a treasure trove of old bike parts and an invaluable asset to the community) for next to nothing and couldn't say no to it. Everything else you see here was either donated to him or found in a dumpster somewhere (or possibly at OCB). I'd say that what he's built here is super cool, definitely well above the spec that this would have had back in the day, though most is probably period correct-ish, and without a doubt looks amazing.
Max uses this bike as his commuter (though never locking it up), his fun bike, and his mountain bike. I've seen him ride this thing harder than I've seen some modern bikes being ridden on the North Shore trails! So without further ado, let's dive a little deeper to see what makes this thing so special.
Max loves a bit of quirky bike, and this one is no exception.
First thing's first, let's take a look at the drivetrain. The cranks here are some lovely old Shimano XTs, which were graciously donated by one of our other mechanics, Tony. The chainrings are total mix, including notably a 42t Blackspire chainring, made right here in BC.
The XT cranks are a highlight, as is the Blackspire chainring, made here in Vancouver.
At the back end is a Shimano LX derailleur controlled by LX shifters and running on a buttery smooth LX hub. LX is the older version of the newer SLX groupset. It's a solid, no-frills drivetrain that shifts reliably and smoothly with no complaints. It's certainly a notch or two higher than would have originally been specced on this bike.
Shimano's LX groupset was a reliable group that you could count on back in the day
We've looked at what makes the bike go, but how about what makes it stop? The brakes here are cantilever - some of our younger staff have probably never even seen cantis before (poor kids don't know how good they have it). When I asked Max what the calipers were, he had no idea but agreed that they looked cool. He was proud of the LX carriers on the rear though. The front brake is running Kool Stop pads for extra power. Remember those?!
Cantilever brakes. We're not sure of the brand, but we're sure that they look awesome.
Max put some special tires on the bike just for these photos, and I'm glad he did, these things are a total throwback. Check out that old Maxxis Mofo red-stripe tire on the back and the Specialized Ground Control on the front. Tan walls add some extra old-school cool. You might notice that the valve is wonky on the front, this is because the tire slips on the rim when he brakes and makes the tube move.
The Kool Stop pads are obviously too powerful as the tire moves when he brakes!
Remember when I said that max likes some modern parts too? I wasn't lying - The quill adapter here means that you can run the original fork and headset but choose a modern stem and therefore handlebar (a tidy Easton carbon number here) to get your cockpit dialled. A period quill stem would likely have had a 25.4mm or 26mm bar clamp - good luck finding nice handlebars in that diameter these days. The modern stem means he can choose from pretty much any bar diameter he likes, here he's on the common 31.8mm diameter.
A quill stem adapter means Max can run a modern stem and bars.
Easton carbon bars and pink cable housing finish off a very tidy build.
The devil is in the detail, as they say, and no detail has been spared on this build. Along with the modern bars and stem, Max has used pink brake cable housings to really make the frame colours pop, though I would expect that he just had it lying around! The cherry on top here is the Brooks saddle. For those unfamiliar with Brooks, they're a British brand famous for their high quality leather saddles that both last a lifetime and are supremely comfortable. They typically get more comfortable the older they get, and I wouldn't be surprised if this saddle is older than Max. It's probably pretty damn comfy!
The Brooks saddle with hammered copper rivets looks amazing, and is probably very comfy.
It's got to be said that Max knows how to build one hell of a bike. He's been wrenching here at Steed through the peak season for a few years now and we're stoked to have him on board. This bike is testament to his wrenching abilities and just goes to show that everyone has different tastes. Max is a master of making improbable combinations of parts work seamlessly together, something that not everyone wants to do, but who can argue when he builds a bike this cool?
Here's to the humble Hardrock then, a bike that doesn't necessarily command a lot of love, but certainly can hold its own when it has to. I mean, look at that paint job! They don't make them like they used to.
Best paint job ever.