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Dilemma: Specialized Rockhopper or Specialized Crosstrail?

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Dilemma: Specialized Rockhopper or Specialized Crosstrail?

Old 03-26-07, 10:08 PM
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ohmyggg
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Dilemma: Specialized Rockhopper or Specialized Crosstrail?

So I'm hoping you guys can shed some light on my situation. I'm currently in the market for a new bike. I originally wanted a mountain bike, but a few of the bike shops, in addition to some of the research I was doing myself, opened my eyes to other alternatives, like 29ers, or a hybrid style bike.

Most of my riding will be done on pavement (I'd say 80/20 on/offroad). I'm going on 27, am almost 6'2" and weigh about 245 lbs., but my goal is to get below 215 within the next few months. I come from a BMX/freestyle riding childhood and my only experience with mountain bikes is a 2006 Trek 6700 I owned for a short period of time, but got rid of because I ended up not using it (due to laziness and lack of motivation). I'd like to get back into riding, but like I said, most of my time will be spent on pavement, so nothing hardcore. HOWEVER, I find that I can not ride like a civilized person (haha), probably due to my BMX background. Wheelies, bunny hops, grasshoppers (are they still called that?), etc... I have a natural tendency to want to do these things. If there's a curb, I want to jump it. If there's something I can spring off of, I'll try it. I can't ride in a straight line because I always find myself maneuvering and if there's a choice of pavement or rocky gravel off to the side, I'll choose the gravel for the excitement factor. I like to stand on my pedals a lot and also like sprinting. Basically, I want something that CAN take a beating if need be, but my skills are pretty low-level so it's not like I'll be doing any 5 foot drops or fancy tricks. I've never had friends who mountain biked and never lived by any trails, so I don't have any experience off-road, but it's DEFINITELY something I'd like to give a shot.

Stumpjumpers have always been my favorite mountain bikes (based on looks and reviews, not experience), but I've come to realize it's more of a race oriented XC bike, and after test riding one, I didn't feel all that comfortable on it. It's also out of my price range right now.

After riding a Rockhopper though, I immediately felt comfortable on the bike and confident that the bike could take a bit of a beating.

Then, after visiting one of my LBS and explaining where and how I'd be riding, they recommended the Specialized Crosstrail. I have to say, I wasn't too crazy about this bike at first (or the idea of 29" wheels), but after riding it, I really REALLY enjoyed it. The larger wheels really get that bike rolling and the semi-slicks make for a comfortable, fast ride on the pavement, while the beefiness and treading on the sides give you a little bit of traction for the rough stuff. I think it's got a larger outer chain ring, (higher gearing? correct me if I'm wrong) so it can sustain higher speeds than the Rockhopper, which I like because I enjoy going fast and have the leg power to really push it.

I know that the Crosstrail is not a true mountain bike (more of a cross between a mtb and road bike) and some people argue that a hybrid is the worst of both worlds, but for my skill level, and anticipated riding style, I've got to say, I felt like the bike suited me perfectly.

Only problem being, FIT. On the Rockhopper, I ride a 21" frame comfortably. On the Crosstrail, I'm at a 19.5" (I don't think I'd have any stand-over clearance on a 21.5"). So after riding the Crosstrail for about 15 minutes, I noticed my arms and shoulders were supporting a lot of my weight. It started to feel like I had been doing a pushup the whole time. I didn't notice this right away, but after a while, my palms felt a lot of pressure from the handlebars (even though the grips are really soft and comfortable) and I feel like it might make my shoulders and back hurt on a long ride. The guy at the LBS (who was extremely helpful) adjusted seat height, seat fore-aft position, seat angle, and even switched out the stem for something longer with a higher rise angle. All of these adjustments helped a tad, but didn't cure the problem completely I don't think.

Q: Are there any other adjustments (or changing of parts) that can be made to alleviate this problem, or could it be that my body geometry just does not agree with the bike's geometry? On the other hand, is this a problem people learn to live with?

The Crosstrail is $700 (upper end of my budget) at my LBS and has a pretty respectable componentry spec. LX rear derailer, Avid BB5 mech disc brakes, RST Vogue Comp fork (which I never heard of but actually feels pretty nice and has a great lockout). The Rockhopper on the end (base model, which I believe is a better value than the entry Disc), has nothing, and is selling for $470, which is substantially cheaper. Given my experience level and conditioning though, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to start low end and upgrade as I come into more of a defined riding style and am able to better pinpoint my needs.

I visited the Clydesdale section and noticed lots of people recommending Rockhoppers for heavier riders.
Q: Do you guys think the Crosstrail will be suitable for heavy riders as well? Again, I probably won't be venturing into any hardcore trails anytime soon, but then again, I'm not a completely civilized pavement rider.

Crosstrail Expert Pros: smooth and fast on pavement, handles well at slower cruising speeds, can be used for light off road.
Crosstrail Expert Cons: higher price point, issue with leaning over handlebars too much, questionable fork durability.

Rockhopper (base) Pros: feel comfortable on bike, can handle true off road, lower price.
Rockhopper (base) Cons: not as forgiving or fast on pavement, low componentry spec.

Like I said, I'd like to venture into mountain biking eventually, but for the near future, my needs are getting/keeping in shape, having fun, going on long rides, and being able to handle some unpaved here and there.

Q: Can any of you experts can shed some light on the fitting issue and possibly give your opinions on a decision? I would seriously appreciate your help.

I'm open to alternatives as well - although Trek hardtails in my price range aren't available here (Portland, OR). I've tried Konas which I liked, but can not find the model I want around here. Tried a couple of Gary Fishers which were ok, and tried a Cannondale or two which I did not like.

Please excuse my "noobness" on this matter. I am just trying to protect my investment by making sure I get something that is fun, will benefit me physically, and will actually get used (as opposed to my 6700). I apologize for the long post, but I wanted to get it all out there and be as detailed as possible. Thanks in advance

Last edited by ohmyggg; 03-26-07 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 03-26-07, 10:32 PM
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Most of my riding is on pavement...

[edit=I changed my mind]

bmx background means you will be naturally reckless (aka have more fun )...get the rockhopper, take the diff between the pricepoints and buy good semi slicks and rock out till...well you know the rest.
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Old 03-26-07, 11:08 PM
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Rockhopper, no questions asked. Like Mael said, throw some slicks on there, maybe a computer and be done with it!
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Old 03-27-07, 12:32 AM
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Semi-slicks on the Rockhopper is a good idea, but what do you guys think about putting knobbies on the Crosstrail?

For more of a pavement oriented/long distance application, which would be more suitable?

Rockhopper w/26" semi-slicks?
or
Crosstrail w29" knobbies?

On the other hand, which would do better on dirt trails?
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Old 03-27-07, 07:41 AM
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FWIW -- fit is everything; you mentioned that you felt good on the RH, but quickly began to have problems on the CT: don't lose that thought - that experience is telling you something. Yes, you can/could probably 'adjust' the front end on the CT to get it right, though have to say they do have a weird-looking geometry (glancing at Spec's website).
That's point one; 2: again, based on your post, sounds like a) you're not a light rider, and b) you do like to bash around a little (a good thing, in my view!), and c) you might get off-road occassionally. The 26" wheels on the RH are, all else being equal, going to be tougher.
3. Road speed: neither bike is a road bike; the difference in speed you felt on your test rides is almost certainly due to having knobbies on the RH, and smooth-center (hybrid) tires on the CT, NOT the difference in wheel size in/of itself. Throw a set of semi-slick or slick road tires on the RH (lots of these available), and most (arguably all) of that apparent difference will be gone.
My advice, given what you want to do with the bike, is to go with the RH, hands down.
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Old 03-27-07, 10:17 AM
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get the rockhopper. i purchased the '07 disc in satin black and its a sweet bike youll be very happy with it. great xc bike, handles well and can take a beating
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Old 03-27-07, 02:03 PM
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Welcome omg,
Thank you for a very detail and specific question. Also, you saved us a lot of energy by test riding the bikes before asking question. well done.

now, I will join the pack and recommend the Rockhopper. I could not find out what type of fork the Crosstrails use. But, the fork on the Rockhopper is pretty nice, it has preload adjustment and lockout. It may make your road/trail ride more comfortable and less energy intensive. Rockhopper's frame and Fork should also be better on the trails and for your BMX stuff, especially if you are a larger rider.

you have mentioned a certain points about the Crosstrails. I am assuming that you liked those features. Lets see if I can address some of those....

29" wheel..... would not make a huge difference compared to the 26"

Slick Tires.....get light weight slick tires for the Rockhopper and this will be as fast as the Crosstrail

Bigger ring for the Crankset.......Rockhoppers crank rings are replacable. so you can take out the larger 42 teeth ring and get a 44/48 teeth ring.....

with the difference (Crosstrail price - base rockhopper price), about $150 you could even get a lighter Crankset and cockpit (stem, handlebar, and seatpost).......this would save you some weight and make your bike more efficient. heck, you could even get a lighter wheelset for that money.....

so, yes....rockhopper is my pick for you.........But, the Crosstrail would be the pick for a lighter rider witout BMX background..... hope this helps...
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Old 03-27-07, 04:25 PM
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Thanks to everyone for their replies! I've got some updates below.

----Sherpa, the difference in the prices I've been quoted is actually more like $230 than $150 (Crosstrail $700 - Rockhopper $470). You make a good point about being able to change things on the Rockhopper and given a larger cost savings than you estimated, I guess I'd be able to afford even more than you mentioned.

So I had the opportunity to take the 21" Rockhopper on a longer, 20 minute, test ride today (previously I had only done a few laps around an indoor track) and to my surprise, I felt the same weight distribution problem on the Rockhopper as I did with the Crosstrail (mentioned in my OP). I even test rode a 21" $1200 Gary Fisher true 29'er mtb (X-Caliber) and I felt most of my weight up front on that bike too.

The LBS and I came to the conclusion that it's probably something I have to get used to if I'm feeling it on every bike. Maybe this is due to the fact that I haven't ridden in years, but it could also be that, mentally, I am paying so much attention to it. My guess now, is that once I strengthen my arms a bit and maybe even wear some gloves, this will alleviate the problem.

Details (thanks for appreciating my details):
  • My test ride began with the 21" Rockhopper (base) which was a pretty good fit for me, except I did feel that weight distribution problem. I rode for 20 minutes in the rain and played around on some gravel a bit too. Overall, it felt ok, but nothing that got me too excited.
  • I then took the Gary Fisher X-Caliber out for 20 minutes because I felt like I lost a lot of momentum and speed with the Rockhopper by dropping to a smaller wheel size. Well, the Gary Fisher had me leaning forward more than the Rockhopper and it also had wider tires with thicker tread. It felt really harsh on the pavement and overall, I was not too crazy with this bike (especially given its price). It was extremely poised on the gravel and grass though. I also felt the weight distribution problem on this bike more than any other bike (so much that my triceps were doing a lot of work to keep me up - man, maybe I just have really weak arms).
  • I then took the 19.5" Crosstrail I had ridden the other day for a scoot around the parking lot so that the LBS (different sales rep) could tell me what they thought of my positioning. He told me he'd really like me to try a larger 21" Crosstrail because he thinks it would spread me out more, and give me a better center of gravity. They didn't have a 21" model available for me, but they will have one built by tomorrow. I was about to leave the shop, but decided to take the 19.5" Crosstrail (that I had enjoyed riding the other day) out for another good test ride, since I had just been on other bikes and would be able to better compare. Right away I felt like this bike rolled easily, went fast, and was extremely comfortable to ride. The weight distribution problem was still present, but after riding the other two bikes, I'd say it was equal or less of a "problem" on this than it was on the other ones (maybe there is really no problem at all then). I only rode it for 10 minutes, but overall, it felt much better than the other two bikes (and man, those high gears are really awesome for speed). The front shock (RST Vogue Comp) felt ok and probably just as good, if not better than the Rockhopper's Dart 3, but not nearly as good as the X-Caliber's REBA.

Unfortunately, that particular bike shop doesn't carry the entry model (Expert) Crosstrail in a 21". They are building me a 21" Pro model which is the mid-level Crosstrail ($1000 I believe). The major differences I was able to notice are Avid Juicy 3 hydros (up from BB5 mechs), XT rear der, LX front der, LX shifters (up from LX rear der, and Deore front der/shifters), Rockshox TORA (up from RST Vogue Comp), and it also adds a carbon seatpost and handlebars (to absorb some road noise I think?). I think the hubs and cranksets are different too.

So even if I go in there tomorrow and the 21" Pro fits me better than the 19.5" Expert, I would have to spring an extra $300 for the Pro model or try to find another LBS that sells the Expert in a 21".

On my walk home... had to walk since I left empty handed ...I began assigning a "fun factor" to all three bikes I rode.
  • The Rockhopper (as it was) probably had a fun factor of 7.5.
  • The X-Caliber had a fun factor of 7.
  • The Crosstrail (in possibly the wrong size) had a fun factor of over 9.

After coming back from the Crosstrail test ride, I said to myself, "Wow, this is my favorite one." The bike put a smile on my face. As much as I wanted to avoid a hybrid at first and originally wanted to stick to a strict mountain bike, I have to admit that I like the Crosstrail better.

Now as Sherpa said, there are changes I could make to the Rockhopper to possibly boost this "fun factor" for me, but will it get me all the way there?

Those of you who are familiar with bike part prices:
  1. How much would good, light, semi-slicks cost?
  2. How much would a larger (and preferably lighter/stronger) outter chain ring cost?
  3. I think I might be able to come close to matching the speed of the Crosstrail with good semi-slicks on the Rockhopper, but a stronger & lighter wheelset might also help out in this department. How much would a stronger & lighter wheelset cost? Since the Rockhopper is the base model, I think I'd eventually want to go with disc brakes down the road, so if I upgraded my wheelset, I think I'd want it to be disc ready.

Well there's a lot of details in this one and also a lot of questions. I appreciate all of you who have a passion for bikes and for helping others get into the sport by assisting them in making the right decision. I apologize if I sound like I'm going overboard on everything here, or being too anal. I just want something that I will enjoy riding everyday. I want it to put a smile on my face everytime I'm out there.
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Old 03-28-07, 08:12 AM
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Just to jump back in here for a second, given your new thoughts I would say this: I stand by what I said above; you can/could easily adjust the RH to give you the higher gears you want, even with slicks. One other point re. that: speed over the road doesn't, for most, come from 'pushing' high gears -- that way lies great potential for knee injury. Rather, teach yourself/learn to spin easier/lower gears at high cadence to develop speed -- it's a skill, like any other cycling skill. OK, enough! Having said that, it sounds to me like the CT is the bike that floats your boat!! If that's true, then that's the bike you should go for. If you do, two things: 1) the extra $300 spent now for the Pro, if you can swing it, will save you $$$$ in the long run, because the componentry -- fork, brakes, drivetrain etc. -- is significantly better, and 2) if you do tend to ride 'rough' a little, make sure that the LBS checks/adjusts the hubs and spoke tension on the wheels before you ride off; Specialized's stock wheels (at all price levels) are notoriously iffy from the factory -- a little TLC before you start banging around will save a lot of frustration. Good luck with your decision
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Old 03-28-07, 08:33 AM
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Thanks again for your reply badger. If it turns out that the hubs/spoke tension on the wheels is not extremely good, what are my options? Is this just for piece of mind (for my own sake), or will a LBS typically swap the wheels out for something stronger (and customer pays difference)?
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Old 03-28-07, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ohmyggg
Thanks again for your reply badger. If it turns out that the hubs/spoke tension on the wheels is not extremely good, what are my options? Is this just for piece of mind (for my own sake), or will a LBS typically swap the wheels out for something stronger (and customer pays difference)?
Hey there. To clarify a bit: nothing wrong with the materials (rims, spokes, hubs) the factory wheels are made of -- properly adjusted, they will prove plenty strong/durable (better wheels are always good, but no need to do that right away). The problem is this: most large-scale mfgs. bulk order machine-made wheels (as opposed to completely hand built) -- it's a cost saving thing. They don't (most of them, Spec. included) put those wheels through a final, hand-tensioning/truing stage. Some, like Cannondale, do -- they machine-build theirs in-house and then do a final go-round by hand. Machines can lace up a wheel, and true/tension the rim/spokes "pretty" well -- but that's the point! What you want is that final, finishing touch: a person (wheelbuilder) to apply final adjustment/tensioning -- your lbs should have someone on staff who is good at that. Takes mere minutes; the result is a wheel that is, in effect, handbuilt, with v. good/perfect roundness and proper (that is, even and sufficient) spoke tension. When wheels fail, it's almost always the result of not enough/too much or uneven spoke tension. If this is done, and checked periodically, you should have wheels that will last a good long time. This is esp. important if you're a bigger, heavier guy who likes to jump curbs etc. a little! By the way, I'll reiterate that if you go with the CT try your d____est to go the Pro -- the fork upgrade alone is (aftermarket) worth every bit of the price difference, especially if you plan to go off-road to any extent.
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Old 03-29-07, 12:27 PM
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Well I ended up getting the Specialized Crosstrail Pro!

I was looking to get the base model (Expert) because it was more in my price range, but the LBS I had been dealing with all along (River City Bicycles, Portland, who are totally awesome) did not have any 21" Experts in stock. The only place that had it in stock really turned me off with their attitude, so I decided not to purchase through them. Instead, I sprung for the Crosstrail Pro at River City and I feel much better paying the extra $$$ there than I would have paying less for the Expert at the a-hole bike shop.

Aside from the greater level of service, knowledge, and attitude at River City, they even offered me 10% off the Crosstrail Pro (seeing as how the Expert, which I really wanted, was completely OOS) making the bike at River City a MUCH better deal IMO.

Crosstrail Expert @ a-hole bike shop: $725
Crosstrail Pro @ River City: $990 (10% off $1100 - oh, and I was wrong about it being $1000 in earlier posts)

Difference in price = $265
  • Much better components (see posts above)
  • Much better bike shop ====>>> much better piece of mind knowing they'll take care of me in the future
Plus, by ordering from River City, we got a better deal on my girlfriend's bike (Specialized Globe Sport) by almost $20!

Here are some pics of my Specialized Crosstrail Pro:



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Old 03-29-07, 12:28 PM
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Some more pics:







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Old 03-29-07, 12:29 PM
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Thanks again for everyone's help on the matter! You guys are priceless.
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Old 03-29-07, 01:57 PM
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VERY nice! And -- smart move to go the Pro, and (just as important) with an LBS you like/trust. Finally, what a nice deal; that $265 price dif. represents a whole lot more (and genuinely more versatile)bike.
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Old 03-29-07, 10:15 PM
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Thank you badger, it's always reassuring when other people agree with your decision. Thanks for your input. Helped a lot
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Old 03-29-07, 10:17 PM
  #17  
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Nice, now go huck that bike.
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Old 10-11-10, 04:37 PM
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I am looking at getting a CrossTrail Pro with Disc breaks and can not decide between the Large and Extra Large. The LBS is great and one guy thinks I should get the XL and another thinks I should get the L.

My situation sounds very much like ohmyggg. I am 42, 6'2", 34 inseam, 235 lbs, and had lower back surgery a few years back.

My issue with the Large is I feel as if I am leaning down on the handle bars. But it is about the same-ish with the XL . With the XL I have just about an inch clearance on the stand over. When I stand flat foot there is just a tiny bit of contact with the stand over bar and my most delicate area.

So, how do I decide between the two?

The Large is 19" and the XL is 21" I think. Specialized site does not say so this is from memory from the store.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 10-11-10, 06:21 PM
  #19  
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Whoa, necropost!

How are you riding this bike? The Crosstrail isn't really a mountain bike won't handle singletrack the way a mountain bike will. It's more of a hybrid, so this might not be the best forum to ask this question on. That said, take both bikes out and test ride them, then decide which one feels better. We can't tell you which one is better for you...that's something you have to decide. Sounds like either one will work for you, but how do you like your bikes to feel? I prefer my bikes on the smaller side, others like their bikes bigger.
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Old 10-12-10, 06:12 PM
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Thanks Z.

When I left the local bike shop the other day I was just undecided between the two sizes. I will mostly road, but poping up and down curbs around town (charleston SC). So the CT fits. I googled CrossTrail right size and this post showed up and there was no close second on the entire Internet! Hence the necropost.

So I did what you suggested. I went back to the lbs today and the owner was there. Great store and people. His first impression was a strong XL, but he spent about a half hour with an L and XL making seat and other adjustments.....after riding for about half hour on both, the choice was clear. I need the XL.

So I ended up going with the XL and for all his work, went with the top of line model. Good service makes all the difference!
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