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90s Stumpjumper or Rockhopper Resurrection

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90s Stumpjumper or Rockhopper Resurrection

Old 10-23-17, 08:48 PM
  #1  
kyleboyd
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90s Stumpjumper or Rockhopper Resurrection

Two questions:
Is there a significant difference between the early-mid 90s Specialized Rock Hopper and Stumpjumper frame sets? Can you quantify that difference?

Are these frames, say 92-96ish (steel), compatible with modern components? 1 1/8 headset, rear hub spacing, etc.

Backstory:
I would like to get into mountain biking (I rode a bit, as a youngster) and I have an idea to buy an old mountain bike frame, add decent modern parts: disc fork (mullet style) & 1x10 drivetrain mainly, and have a rad and usable single track hardtail. I know there would be some cheaper ways to get started, but this is way more fun for me, and still definitely on the frugal side (I am a pretty cheap b*****d).

I was in love with the Stumpjumpers & Rockhoppers, my buddy had a late 90s Rockhopper, and the Stumpys were the bees knees, so I thought it would be cool to finally consummate my longing. Iíve noticed that there are a ton of Rockhoppers on CL for pretty dirt cheap. Stumpjumpers are harder to find, and usually come at a pretty steep premium. I am planning on taking my time to wait for a diamond in the rough: a slightly beat up Stumpjumper that I can grab for next to nothing. But if that doesnít happen, would I be missing out on a ton of performance by settling for the RH frame? Or is the difference pretty minimal, and more to do with the components, which I would be replacing anyhow (perhaps sacrilege here in the C&V forum, but oh well).

I mainly ride road & commuting, and have been convinced that steel is, indeed, real. In my research, it looks like Specialized made steel mt bikes with 1 1/8 threadless headsets up until about 96. Can anyone confirm this, or offer other insights I should look out for? Is this whole thing possible, or a terrible idea? TIA, and feel free to move this thread to a more appropriate one if this is not the best location.
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Old 10-24-17, 07:22 AM
  #2  
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Don't forget the Hardrock!

(copied and pasted from another forum)

Hardrocks were offered as entry level mountain bikes, typically with low end components, cro-mo frames. Serviceable, but generally nothing special. Aluminum alloy frames were added to the line in 1997. I had a '94 with SR Duotrack 7005 suspension fork. My wife has a '97 AX with alloy frame that was in service until this past year, thru many upgrades. Relatively upright and relaxed geometry for the non-racer.

Rockhoppers were the next up in the line, a mid-range bike with a midrange component mix. Lighter cro-mo frames, and later alloy frames. Rumour had it that sometimes they were the previous year's Stumpjumper frames, but I'd put little stock in that. The geometry was closer to race-like, more agressive than the Hardrocks. Weekend warrior bikes for wannabe and beginner racers.

Stumpjumpers were the mainstream flagship of the line - XC race bikes in trim levels from STX to full XTR. Either very nice butted cro-mo frames or the M2 metal matrix composite frames (special aluminum alloy with ceramic inclusions). Even higher end Stumpjumpers, with butted M2 frames were sold under the S-Works name, hardcore racing bikes. There were occasionally special rare production things like the Stumpjumper Epic carbon lugged frames to drool over too.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:10 AM
  #3  
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Your probably better off buying as newer MTB that has more of the features your looking for.

Unless you get a Stumpjumper or Rockhopper that came with a suspension fork originally, the addition of a suspension fork may cause handling issues by changing the basic geometry of the bike when the front end gets lifter 2-3" higher than normal.

Als if you don't have the space, tools, stand and basic bike mechanical skills to experiment and try things out as you go, it may be a costly project.

I won't even mention that you need to make sure you get a older bike that has a 1 1/8" headtube so a modern fork will fit it.

I have little personal experience with suspension forks but I think for most people they are just extra weight.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:54 AM
  #4  
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It's possible to put new tech on old(er) mountain bikes, and it's fun. I'm working on a couple different Stumpys, and at least one is going to get the modern 1x treatment. That said, I'm able to do it easily because I have stuff in my parts bin, which makes it economically feasible. Otherwise, as Bianchigirll said, it can start getting pretty pricey once you start pulling together parts. New MTB parts aren't cheap, especially ones nice enough to hang on a Stumpy. A mullet build is probably the smartest way to do it, as old sus forks are heavy, need rebuilding, and go for stupid prices on auction sites. But if you don't already have a mis-matched wheelset, then you'll have to consider that as part of the cost. There's also the issue of suspension travel - these early 90s bikes were built for forks with 60-80mm of travel, generally speaking. Reports on forums say that a new 100mm fork doesn't change the geometry all that much, but I'm sure the experience is subjective. Once it all starts coming together, you might find that you can get a new hardtail for the same price. But then you don't get to hunt for parts, agonize over compatibility, and build it yourself. To me, that's almost as fun as riding the bike when it's finished, so I get that. It'll be a money pit, but what good's a hobby that doesn't cost anything?

To your other question: you might have an easier time finding a steel hardtail Rockhopper frame than a steel Stumpy. The switch to alloys was early for Stumpys. If you're replacing all of the components including the fork, I don't see why a Rockhopper frame wouldn't be just as rad. Watch out, though - some Rockhoppers were spec'd with 1" headtubes and threadless headsets, I think somewhere around '92-'93.
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Old 10-24-17, 10:04 AM
  #5  
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Awesome, thanks for the replies!

I definitely understand the potential headache and money pit I am opening up. But thats the fun of it. My current whip is a touring rig that I built up from the bare frame, so while I won't claim to know what I'm doing, I at least have some experience.

I am definitely planning on only going for a frame that had a suspension fork originally. And I have read the reports about going up to 100mm of travel being do-able, that was my plan.

It seems like the sweetspot is 94-96. Before Specialized switched to all aluminum, and after they made the jump to 1 1/8 threadless.

I am assuming that rear spacing would be the same as current hubs? (sans boost of course)
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Old 10-24-17, 10:07 AM
  #6  
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Oh and Uncle Rico, that's some real good info. I was wondering if there was something like that: Rockhopper being old Stumpjumpers with lesser components. But it sounds like that's probably not true?
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Old 10-24-17, 02:10 PM
  #7  
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Great bike, great history but without a frame shock it will kill you if you take it off road--
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Old 10-24-17, 04:34 PM
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Hi McBTC,
I'm not sure I understand? When you say frame shock, do you mean a full suspension? I'm planning on installing a newer front suspension fork.

Are you saying that all hard tails don't work offroad? Or are you saying that something about these "vintage" models will not be suitable to offroad riding?
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Old 10-24-17, 05:21 PM
  #9  
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if you're just going to ride on some off-road trails with no drops, you'll be fine with a rigid stumpjumper. if you're intending on doing any sort of actual mountain biking, you should just buy a new frame. there's not enough slack in the geometry of old mountain bikes to be useful as a "mountain bike;" there's no rear suspension, and the front only has 80mm of travel, which you can bottom out pretty quickly.

i say this as a person who owns five stumpjumpers in varying degrees of completion. modern mountain biking and trails are designed around bicycles with a lot more suspension travel in the front and the back; if you tried it on an old mountain frame, despite new components, you're going to have a very hard if not dangerous time trying to cover even the easiest of terrain.

if you're set on trying to mountain bike, buying a new full-suspension 1x11 would be a lot easier and safer than trying to retrofit modern components onto an old hard tail. even if you did manage to find a steel frame with a 1.125" head tube, the handling with even a limited travel fork would make the bike more XC than anything.

i can elaborate more, but i don't wanna kick you while you're down.
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Old 10-24-17, 06:59 PM
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I may be lucky or ignorant but I have a '97 Rockhopper purchased new in '98. It is steel framed with rigid front fork. Several years later I found a Marzocchi air fork that had just been overhauled. Sure it is a 100 mm travel shock but I can adjust the air to get the geometry right after getting on. A front wheel with disk was found later along with an NOS Avid 7 front caliper. I am not a serious off roader but it is a lot better with the shock than without. The weight increase is about 1 lb and has no impact on commute time either locked or not. I call it my truck because I can haul stuff with it. I also use it for a rain bike.

Commuter configuration:
[IMG]1997 Specialized RockHopper, on Flickr[/IMG]

Conversion for suspension and off roading:
[IMG]RockHopper_ Sprung_2012_018, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 10-24-17, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by kyleboyd View Post
Hi McBTC,
I'm not sure I understand? When you say frame shock, do you mean a full suspension? I'm planning on installing a newer front suspension fork.

Are you saying that all hard tails don't work offroad? Or are you saying that something about these "vintage" models will not be suitable to offroad riding?
Yes... not suitable for anything more than following roads along RxR tracks. It's what nowadays is called a gravel-grinder. Put 100 psi slicks on it and you essentially have a heavy road bike with flat bars and low gears or a super-capable beach cruiser. After many miles I gave my old Stumpjumper to my wife's nephew who destroyed it very easily. We've still got my wife's Rockhopper, hanging from the ceiling (hasn't been used in >20 years but... looks great).
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Old 10-24-17, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
Yes... not suitable for anything more than following roads along RxR tracks. It's what nowadays is called a gravel-grinder. Put 100 psi slicks on it and you essentially have a heavy road bike with flat bars and low gears or a super-capable beach cruiser. After many miles I gave my old Stumpjumper to my wife's nephew who destroyed it very easily. We've still got my wife's Rockhopper, hanging from the ceiling (hasn't been used in >20 years but... looks great).
I have no quarrel if you want to push the OP to get a new MTB; things have moved on and improved for offroad riding.

100 psi slick on a MTB? Why in the world would you want to run skinny high pressure tires on a MTB? Get some decent 26 x 1.75-2.0 tires; those are obviously not run at 100 psi.

Easy bike to destroy? No. Any bike can be destroyed with sufficient abuse. But I've picked up my share of used vintage MTBs and they held up pretty well for obvious reasons. They're stout machines and frankly most weren't used for offroad use.

Heavy road bike with flat bars? A top end mtb isn't that bad weight wise. Both my Bridgestone MB 1 and Specialized Stumpjumper weigh in at 25 lbs; that ain't bad when running fat tires.

Bottom line is that old MTBs are relatively cheap and very capable machines for most any use. They can and do make fine touring machines, fine commuters, fine all around beaters, and fine gravel bikes.

Last edited by bikemig; 10-24-17 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 10-24-17, 08:06 PM
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This discussion has got me thinking: are old, rigid MTBs not adequate for mountain biking or has newer tech changed the rider? For example, no serious road-racer would ride a vintage steel bike, but that does not mean that one cannot ride or race just as well, or almost, on one.

I'm looking to get a late 80s, early 90s MTB without suspension (probably a Rockhopper), but some posts here seem to suggest that that would not work on today's mountain trails. I'm not a mountain biker, but would enjoy going out on a trail every now and then. The bike would mostly serve the purpose of having a rack, which my road bike can't have.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:14 PM
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Wow...

92-94 ish stump jumpers are some of the nicest steel mtbís you can get. They are different from rockhoppers in steel and country of origin. The high end stumpyís were made in Japan. Rockhoppers Taiwan. Stump jumpers were lighter frames too with what was popular racing geometry which tended to be more spread out or longer from the saddle to the handlebars. To compensate some people sized down from what they normally rode.

Some of the specialized steel bikes had a quirk in that you couldnít get rear tires bigger than 2.1ish inches due to narrow chain stays.

Great nimble feeling bike.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:22 PM
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Now Iíll insert my opinion...

Modern mountain bikes have moved on in geometry and suspension style that I would say is more forgiving to the rider and allows for you to probably go faster downhill...BUT

Itís horse manure to say old mountain bikes are unfit for trail usage. Again the geometry back then was more geared toward maneuvering, climbing, and nimbleness. They are totally offroadable, safe for use, and fun. Itís just different than what is used today.

Iíd love for someone like FTW to weigh in on mountain bikes past and present.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mechanicmatt View Post
Modern mountain bikes have moved on in geometry and suspension style that I would say is more forgiving to the rider and allows for you to probably go faster downhill...BUT

Itís horse manure to say old mountain bikes are unfit for trail usage. Again the geometry back then was more geared toward maneuvering, climbing, and nimbleness. They are totally offroadable, safe for use, and fun. Itís just different than what is used today.

Iíd love for someone like FTW to weigh in on mountain bikes past and present.
+ 1. It's nonsense to say you can't ride an old MTB offroad. There are a lot of people who rode a lot of single track on those bikes. I know I have.
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Old 10-24-17, 09:25 PM
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Did you see this thread?

My 1994 Specialized Stumpjumper
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Old 10-24-17, 09:55 PM
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For the sort of multitrack trail use I give it, my no-suspension Schwinn works admirably.
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Old 10-24-17, 11:04 PM
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As an owner for decades of various Specialized mtb's, I'd say stick to what you want. Steel hardtail will work, even a full rigid will still be fine. Most of my bikes are steel rigid mtb's and I still take them on trails once in awhile. They work for me. Although I also do enjoy my 2011 Hardrock Disc, aluminum and all, there's no replacement for steel to me.
Just do your homework, take your time and don't rush buying. @mechanicmatt- thanks for linking my bike.
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Old 10-25-17, 08:51 AM
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Dang, all this vintage MTB hate has got me riled up!

Sure, if you want to go for easy big air or crazy Redbull-inspired technical downhills, you're gonna want a new bike, no doubt. But to say that a vintage Stumpy isn't worth anything more than a beater... Pros who raced on these bikes back in the day have gone on record as saying they wouldn't go back to old tech, but the fact remains that these bikes were raced back in the day, and what was rad then is still rad now.

I'm real new to riding in the woods, but I love it, and I love riding on my old Stumpy. It feels both nimble and bomb-proof. I'm confident that the front-squish '95 Stumpy I'm building up will be just as gnarly. And by the time I'm done with it, I'd like to think I'll appreciate the suspension "upgrade" because I've built skills as a rider on a full-rigid to take advantage of it.

Haters gonna hate, I guess. More vintage MTBs for the rest of us!

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Old 10-25-17, 10:21 AM
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kyleboyd, Only if one is professionaly racing would a modern mountain bike be necessary. I've had my '98 Trek 7000ZX on some of the nastiest single track in my area. Lots of fun with only (TIC) 86 mm of travel in the Judy XL I swapped in.

Have fun with your proposed build.

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Old 10-25-17, 11:14 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
Yes... not suitable for anything more than following roads along RxR tracks. It's what nowadays is called a gravel-grinder. Put 100 psi slicks on it and you essentially have a heavy road bike with flat bars and low gears or a super-capable beach cruiser. After many miles I gave my old Stumpjumper to my wife's nephew who destroyed it very easily. We've still got my wife's Rockhopper, hanging from the ceiling (hasn't been used in >20 years but... looks great).
I respectfully disagree. Hardtail mountain bikes are still sold and ridden hard. There are even hardtails nowadays with slack angles for rowdier riding (see the Niner RDO You may end up wanting a full susser down the road, and but tons of folks start out, even today, on hardtail mountain bikes. Your local terrain may influence this too. I have a hardtail up here in the Pacific NW and sometimes I want a full suspension, but a hardtail works for the the small amount of mountain biking I get to do.
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Old 10-25-17, 12:36 PM
  #23  
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Wow - lots of awesome discussion. Not what I was anticipating, but welcome! Thanks for all the feedback.

It seems there is somewhat of a discrepancy about the definition of “actual mountain biking.” For my purposes, I am envisioning a bit more than gravel grinding, but not much more. Single track with some roots and rocks, creek crossings, but no hucking off huge drops or getting sick air or whatever the cools dudes do…brah. As I understand it: XC biking. Which, I might add, seems to fall within the range of “actual mountain biking.”

To that end, it seems there is support that an early 90s, steel, front suspension, totally rad Stumpjumper or Rockhopper (or even Hard Rock) with some updated components would not fall apart from underneath me as I ride some local fire roads or trails.

But I appreciate more input and opinions, especially from the “haters.” I definitely don’t want to open up the money pit, work really hard on the money pit, only for the frame of the money pit to spontaneously combust on my first ride.

At the very least, I figure the only real monetary risk is on the frame. Ostensibly, if I buy everything off fleabay or my local used shop, I would be able to sell most of it or swap it on to a modern frame with little loss of money if something goes wrong.
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Old 10-25-17, 12:37 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
Yes... not suitable for anything more than following roads along RxR tracks. It's what nowadays is called a gravel-grinder. Put 100 psi slicks on it and you essentially have a heavy road bike with flat bars and low gears or a super-capable beach cruiser. After many miles I gave my old Stumpjumper to my wife's nephew who destroyed it very easily. We've still got my wife's Rockhopper, hanging from the ceiling (hasn't been used in >20 years but... looks great).
As a budding Jan Heine disciple, I am not convinced that modern = better. Nor am I convinced that 100 psi = faster for that matter, but thats a different discussion.

But I think the question remains whether there is something fundamentally different about todayís trails that make an old bike totally unusable. Frankly, I'm not convinced.
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Old 10-25-17, 12:41 PM
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kyleboyd
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Bikes: 1984 Centurion Pro Tour | 1988 Specialized Rockhopper

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Originally Posted by mechanicmatt View Post
Did you see this thread?
I did see that thread, soon after posting mine. My inspiration has been something like this:
[link redacted till I reach 10 posts - doh]

but that thread is now inspiration as well. Almost an identical idea (hopefully someone will drop a free stump jumper frame in my lap sometime soon)

Thanks all for some cool pictures. Keep em coming
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