1988 Specialized Rockhopper

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

The bike that properly kick-started things for me. A classic, re-imagined as a multi surface bikepacking rig.

At the start of lockdown I knew I needed a project, and I'd had my eye on some off-road touring routes for a while. I wanted a rigid MTB as a base, and was fortunate enough to come across a very well used '88 Rockhopper.


Everything was stripped, cleaned and then I started to build it up with a mental aim of 'period correct, with some flair'. New Brooks B17, Nitto Bullmoose and some modern flat pedals from HT compliment classic biopace oval chainrings and canvas saddlebags from Carradice, with a front rack painted to match.


New rubber was also a must. Given that the Table Tops are technically a dirt jump tyre, they're surprisingly capable on the rough stuff until it gets really sloppy.


The gearing I've kept as original, with new thumbie shifters; indexed at the rear, friction up front. It meant sourcing a very hard to find uniglide freehub body, but it's absolutely bombproof and reassuringly quiet and should be good for another 30yrs.


The final touch before painting and rebuild was to get extra bosses added to the original forks for extra water capacity for riding in remote areas.


For the paint I used Battersea for the logos and Chalk Farm for the body. Understated, shows up mud and dust nicely, but with a subtle nod to the bright blues of the 80s.


Everytime I throw my leg over it makes me feel lighter, like I used to bombing round the woods as a child.


It was also featured on bikepacking.com recently, which was a nice treat.