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Old 03-16-06, 11:12 AM   #1
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Newbie Needs Advice on Bike Purchase! (80s Specialized Rockhopper)

Hi Everyone!
I'm new to the Bike Forums and have been perusing a lot of these messages for a while and most everyone here seem very knowledgable and helpful so I thought I'd ask about a bike before I bought it. I'm thinking of getting an 80s Specialized Rockhopper (that looks practically identical to this here: - a 20" rockhopper).

It has a 17" frame and 24" wheels. It even has those biopace oval chainrings. I live in Portland, Oregon and plan on using it as my main mode of transportation and on average would be riding it for abou 10 miles a day, give or take. I'm a shorty at 5'1" and the frame has *just* enough give so that I can stand over it and have about an 1" (I don't think I'll need anymore considering that I won't be doing any crazy stunts on it).

This bike is being sold at the Community Cycling Center and has been fixed up to a great condition with a new front tire and some other new components that I can't remember. They're asking $195 for it. Is this reasonable for this bike? I test rode it yesterday and liked it a lot. I'm thinking of going back this afternoon and buying it because I've been jonseing for a bike forever! This search has been long and tedious, especially since I'm so short!

What do ya'll think?
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Old 03-16-06, 12:29 PM   #2
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1- disclose intended use
2- disclose frame material
3- disclose # of gears
4- disclose general shape

I would not buy a bike without 700c wheels - never ever ever again.

1980's the year? - 200 dollars for a 40 pound bike is too much

If you would live near me I would sell you a 2000's hybrid for the same money, with modern wheels and tires

There are plenty better bikes to be had for the money ... or perhaps a few dollars more.
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Old 03-16-06, 01:03 PM   #3
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1- For commuting, roughly 10 miles a day. Give or take a few miles. I don't plan on going off-road or anything aside from the occasionally having to hop off a street curb or something.

2- I don't know what the frame is made of.

3- It's an 18-speed.

4- It looks to be in very good condition. The bikes are basically refurbished at the community center and ready to ride.

It's actually not a 40-lb bike. It's really rather light, as I don't have any problems picking it up. I know it's lighter than my roomate's 16.5" frame Ralieigh M-80. It seems like a solid bike that has been tuned up and ready to ride with some sturdy components. Just wondering what everyone else thought...
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Old 03-16-06, 05:53 PM   #4
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Bike values are measured more in the components that are on them than the actual bike/frame (unless you go high-high end). Personally, I think $200 is a lot of money for this bike. Only a little more than that will get you a new Trek 820 that will come with a year or more of free maintenance. I have ridden all kinds of bikes and own bikes ranging from many thousand dollars to only $3 and have found that the inexpensive ones can work as well or better than the expensive ones for some purposes (such as commuting) as long as they are taken care of. The key is how good of shape the parts are in and in how well they are assembled. I could see a bike shop asking maybe $150 for that bike if it was assembled by them and the parts were somewhat covered. I would not spend $200 on that bike. I have 3 thrift store 12 speeds that I absolutely love and only paid $3 each for. I was also able to get my favorite beater jamis mtb on ebay + delivered for $90 with full STX parts in almost new condition. BUT....I know how to fix them myself (that is a big deal).

It can be very confusing to buy a used bike if you are new to the equipment. Personally, unless you have a good friend who really knows the parts and how to work on them (or you are handy with a wrench and can access park, I would probably buy the Trek 820. My buddie in Tempe did just that a year ago and uses it in the same manner you will be. He is thrilled with his purchase, has a sexy new bike, has someone who will work on it for free and teach him things (the bikeshop he bought it from) and only spend $50 more than you would be buying this bike.

How much
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Old 03-16-06, 07:50 PM   #5
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I wouldn't pay that much for a 20 year old bike. Follow the other guy's advice and go to your LBS. Heck for that matter, i could find hundreds of better deals on ebay for that age and money.
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Old 03-16-06, 08:38 PM   #6
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I see it completely differently. I don't agree that a low end aluminum Trek is a better bike than a classic steel Rockhopper. I think the price is a bit high, though. I think $125 would be a fair price if it's in excellent condition. Since you're in Portland, you need to inspect it carefully for rust.

I have a small collection of lugged steel bikes and an early Rockhopper is one of the bikes I'd like to add to my collection. It really is a classic.
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Old 03-17-06, 03:55 PM   #7
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If you are new to biking and do not know much about cycling activites, I would recommend that you take a trusted friend along when you are serious about a particular bike or stick to a good bike shop because in the end, you will need to have your bike maintained properly. Then read up on bike repairs or have the mechanic demostrate proper repair techique. Or turn your bike over to him/her and study the results and how he/she approuched it.

I have a used bike I purchased for 25 dollars several years ago. I since added alot of components and accessories to it (which added greatly to it's true price) and will not sell it for anything. Just remember that there are two price methods in this world. The actual money value, and the emotional value (what the item in question means to you beyond monetary meausements). Try not to mix the two up.
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Old 03-17-06, 06:12 PM   #8
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Pound for pound, my '84 Rockhopper remains my best bike purchase ever. Very tough, versatile and comfy, with high quality hubs and cranks that still work fine. A great intro, first to off road racing, then backcountry touring, commuting and most other tasks. Unpretentious and sweet handling.
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Old 03-17-06, 06:36 PM   #9
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If you have a friend that is "bike savvy" have them go w/you to check the bike over. check out the components--what type of brakes, rear derailleur, shifters, etc. is the frame rust free?

I believe your frame is made of a double butted chromoly steel (this is why it is light-weight). I have an old Kona that is made of this material. Love this bike, will never part w/it.

Are the folks at the Community Cycling Center helpful? Did they watch you ride the bike to make sure it fits? I am also a shorty, aside from the standover height--you also want to make sure the stem is the right length (in other words, you are not so stretched out to reach the handlebars that you can't control the bike as well as you should be able to + it causes back pain).
The price does sound a little high to me, but I don't know if the frame is in great shape and they put on new/good components.
Is there a warranty?

just some questions to consider.
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Old 03-18-06, 05:06 AM   #10
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An 84 Rockhopper is a sweet bike BUT 17" is too big for you.
MTBs are designed to have 3-6" of standover clearance. If you get one that is too big it will probably be too long for you and it will be cumbersome to handle.

Look for a much smaller bike in a similar style.

The debate of 26" (MTB) wheels against larger 700c (road racing) wheels is pretty irrelevant to you. The smaller 26" size fits neatly into small frames and with narrow (1.5") high pressure slicks, it is a fast and efficient as any commuter bike needs to be. They are a favourite with professional city couriers.
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