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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
New to the forum so I apologize if I make any mistakes!

I've been riding bikes for a while, and recently I've decided to step it up and get into mainly trail riding and amatuer downhill riding, as well as a little bit of cross country and commuting. I've been looking at the Trek X-Caliber 7 and the Specialized Rockhopper 29, whilst also considering a Specialized Hardrock or X-Caliber 5 but they're lower options and I'm not sure if they're a good choice. The X Caliber and Rockhopper both look quite similar in specs, and they both look like great bikes to me, but as I am new to the sport I wasn't sure if they are any good from an experienced point of view. I'm also on a <$1000 budget, and $900 is pretty much my max. I was also attracted to Trek and Specialized as they're big brands and would be easy to get in my area.
Cheers,
Booker
 

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I hear Trek is running a 15% off sale in April. If you can hold out until then you may be able to get a higher end model for under 1000.
 

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Yes, the parts spec looks pretty similar on both bikes. However, I would definitely choose the Trek X-cal with Shimano brakes over the lower end Tektros that come on the Specialized.
 

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Trek, but I would go with the Xcal 8 for $949. It's worth the increase in budget. I actually just bought the Xcal 9 a week ago and I am in love. Such a difference riding a 29er makes over tree roots

For what it is worth I was going to buy the Xcal 8 myself, but I decided to up my budget, the second I did I ended up upgrading pedals, grips, saddle, fenders, I am pretty close to about 2 grand in now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The X-Caliber 8 is really pushing my budget (It's over $1000 in Aus). I've been looking at the Specialized Hardrock Sport disk 29 and the specs look fairly decent, and the big benefit is the price. Anyone know anything about this bike, and how it compares to the Rockhopper and X-caliber 7?
 

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I just bought Hardrock Sport disc 29er and love it. The rockhopper is a step up but the Hardrock is still a great bike. All specialized frames are great and components can always be upgraded. If your looking to spend less in the beginning and upgrade over time you can turn the hardrock into a better bike than the rockhopper. It's a good place to start.
 

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I've been riding a Rockhopper Pro 29er for a bit and really loved the way it climbed and descended. The geometry on those is very well thought out and can't be overlooked.

I would recommend checking out pink bike or kijiji there are a lot of good gently used bikes on there this time of year and you can get a great deal for your budget on something even a bit higher up. Either the Trek or Specialized is a good choice but if you go used you can usually land a good deal. Also look into Giant as they make some good 29ers for your price range as well
 

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I ride an X-cal 8. I tested the rockhopper, but hated the geometry. And if you really can get a trek for 15% off, you get a rock shox XC32 on the X-cal 8 over the Suntour fork on the specialized for the same price.
 

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IMG-20140212-00514.jpg

I ride a '13 HRSport, had it for a year now..all I had was $700USbucks and this bike came with Hydro brakes, Tektro works fine, easy to service and they work..I knew any bike with a real air fork was out of my budjet so my plan, (not the most cost affective way but I wanted all new parts..tierd of used stuff), was to up-grade the front end in one years time ^^^^^^DONE^^^ Father Time is kick it in HIGH gear cuz that was a quick year!!

I am SO glad I had the opertunity to buy low and upgrade later. I was able to custom build my bike for me..Love it!
Aftermarket parts are EVERYWERE and tons of options.
Plus after the up-grade..it's like my bike riding battery was re-charged!!
I ride almost every day now...min 4 miles but still..I dream about Forest Singel Track..during the day and night :)

Just get a bike and RIDE!! They are all great at $700US and above!!
 

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Everyone has been making excellent suggestions here, but one major aspect many have not mentioned is the frame material/technology/quality of the bikes. I'm not saying one is junky and one is not, but I am saying there's a big difference in quality.

The Hardrock is definitely lowest on the list, it has the heaviest frame (A1 with ORE downtube) and is not compatible with modern tapered forks (which can be a major hindrance in the future for upgrades) The geometry is also very 'recreational'. It has a shorter top tube, and seat/head tube angles closer to that of a hybrid. That basically means it's better suited to very light trail use, and cursing the neighborhood.

The Rockhopper is next on the list. I had a rockhopper for a long while, great bike, can be built into a decently light XC rig. The frame has the same material as the Hardrock, A1 aluminum, but has a tapered head tube(big plus), and the geometry is a relaxed XC setup. It's not quite 'aggressive' XC, but you can definitely tell it's cut out for trail riding when you're on it. Slightly longer top tube to put you closer to an attack position, and angles that get closer to a dedicated XC bike.

Lastly the X-Cal; This frame has Trek's "Alpha Gold" aluminum. I believe this will be close to specialized A1 aluminum, but the real deal here is in the geometry. The X-Cal uses their G2 geometry, which essentially lengthens the trail of the front hub. This allows the frame to have a somewhat aggressive XC geometry, but still remain stable in the rough stuff. I warn you, though, G2 is not for everybody. It's an acquired taste. The X-Cal also has a nifty internally routed front der. cable!


IMHO, if you're seriously wanting to do trail riding, I would eliminate the Hardrock. It's not that it's a bad bike, it's just one of those "I want a new one a year later" type of bikes, as the frame design and really it's worthiness of upgrades isn't very great. You can quickly realize the limits of that geometry. Ask me how I know....

However, if it's out of the budget, it's out of the budget!

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Pffft Dude I rock my HardRock...it does everything I need...you have a canned reaction to the Hardrock Sport..you do know it's a different frame than the non "sport disk" Hardrock, yes? Oh..dang that Crappy out dated 1-1/8 steer...damn that suck soo small..I WIsh I was just a .25" bigger..Blaahhh
I bet if we rode a trail...we all would have a great day! Even me on my pathway "light trail only" HardRock! Ha! Let's RIDE!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So the Rockhopper would be worth buying for the upgradability? If I ever wanted to put RockShox on it, would I be able to? My LBS has a 2014 Rockhopper in stock so I'm going down tomorrow to test one out.
 

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I have the XCal 7 and absolutely love it. The upgrades on the 8 werent enough for me to justify the additional cost and I loved the orange color the 7 comes in.
Didn't like the Specialized bikes at all when I tried them.
 

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So the Rockhopper would be worth buying for the upgradability? If I ever wanted to put RockShox on it, would I be able to? My LBS has a 2014 Rockhopper in stock so I'm going down tomorrow to test one out.
Yessir. You can really put a Rockshox fork on anything, but the validating question you need to ask yourself is: "is it worth it?" Do you really want to pay $300 to put a new fork in a bike that has an 8 speed drivetrain?

Burt,
I understand what you're saying, I'm not saying the hardrock is a bad bike! I'm just saying it's always best to get the highways level model at the outset than to get a cheaper one and spend on upgrades. The manufacturer gets a WAY better deal in components than we ever will.

For comparison, let's look at the Hardrock and Rockhopper:

Frame:
-Rockhopper has tapered steer tube, XC geometry.
-HardRock has straight steerer, "recreational" geometry

Fork:
-Hardrock has a Suntour XCT with lockout and 28mm stanctions, the thinnest acceptable standard for fork stanctions. When riding XC(which this fork is not recommended for, it has a sticker on the lowers stating "for recreational use only, do not use for trail riding") this fork may feel flexy and not the most confidence inspiring.
-Rockhopper has a Suntour XCM with lockout and 30mm stanctions, it will be a more precise fork than the hardrock, and not flex so much under braking/turning. (The sticker in this one at least says "for light cross-country trail use only")

Drivetrain:
-Hardrock has Shimano Altus, basically the cheapest acceptable drivetrain. It has an 8 speed drivetrain, and can't be upgraded unless you change EVERYTHING to at least a 9 speed setup.
-Rockhopper has a Shimano Alivio/Acera 9 speed drivetrain. This drivetrain, while a little dated, is still quite relevant and totally upgrradeable. You'll also get a lower 34t climbing gear on this one for getting up those climbs.

Wheelset:
-Hardrock has a 36 hole 25mm pin sleeved rim, laced to generic hubs. It is NOT tubeless compatible. (Well, maybe, but don't count on it) Mounted are 40tpi Fast Trak tires. They are a very fast tire, great for super sry conditions, experienced riders, and path cruisers looking for some traction security.
-Rockhopper comes with a 1mm wider pin sleeved rim, in a much more common 32 hole lacing, with probably the same hubs. This wheelset IS tubeless compatible with Stan's tape and valves. Mounted are 60tpi Ground Control tires. These tires have a much more aggressive tread pattern, and are good all around tire for trail riding. The higher tpi means a softer tire casing, and the wire bead means they'll set up tubeless. I , myself, love the control version of these tires.

Brakes:
-pretty much the same between the two, but the Rockhopper does come with a larger 180mm front rotor for more stopping power.

Cockpit:
-Hardrock has oldschool narrow bars and a 25.4mm clamp. This means if you ever upgraded that, chances are high you'll need a new stem as well. Thai setup is very common in recreational path cruiser mountain bikes.
-Rockhopper has a modern "long and low" setup, with wide 700mm bars, and the now standard 31.8mm clamping diameter. This setup is relatively standard amongst single track and XC bikes in this price range.

Wouldn't you say all those extra little things here and there are worth an extra $180..? Changing the fork or drivetrain on the Hardrock would certainly surpass that price in a heartbeat.

Everything else is little stuff I wouldn't bother to list it, as it's really not too relevant.


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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks CenzoBear for that comparison! I most likely won't be going with the Hardrock, as a I plan to do some single track and light down hill in the future and I should probably buy the most capable bike I can afford.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
How do the Rockhopper's shocks compare to the X-Caliber 7's? After doing some research into the individual parts, the Trek X-caliber seems to have the best. Although apparently the 51mm offset of the Trek's forks means it's difficult to buy upgrades for. The brakes seem to be better as well as the shocks. I'm not sure about the drive train though.
 

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Trek X-Caliber has a better geometry and components.
Don't upgrade anything until you are sure of what you don't like first, so buy something with good components.
Tektros are bad (Shimanos are better), and on and on. Tyres are a good upgrade and you could save some money by not having to upgrade brakes.
 

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Trek X-Caliber has a better geometry and components.
Don't upgrade anything until you are sure of what you don't like first, so buy something with good components.
Tektros are bad (Shimanos are better), and on and on. Tyres are a good upgrade and you could save some money by not having to upgrade brakes.
The X-Cal 7 actually has a nearly identical drivetrain to the Rockhopper. It has a lower end front derailleur, and what may be a better crankset, though. The XCR fork on the X-Cal is considered better than the XCM on the Rockhopper, but were talking about small differences here. They still have the same lockout mechanism and the same 30mm stanchions I believe. If yous seriously get into riding, you'll probably end up upgrading to a recon anyways. But keep in mind that upgrading a 'G2' fork is harder than a standard fork, because you need to find that 51mm offset.

You have a point about the brakes though, I will definitely take anything Shimano over Tektro, the set that came on my Rockhopper was nightmare after the first 4 months(in that period they actually weren't too bad). Just keep in mind here that, down the road, you could always upgrade the brakes on all three of these bikes for something significantly better for not a lot of coin. Last year I ordered a set of Shimano Deore M596 brakes for my Rockhopper for $115 shipped!

What OP really needs to do is test ride a Trek, then say, the Rockopper, and compare the two. The bike you want to get is the one you sit on and your brain goes "Yeah, this is it". Trust me, you'll know.
 

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The Kona Kahuna makes a decent bike in that price range, also I second the Giant 29ers. They are not on the higher end but they are pretty solid bikes and easily upgradable down the road.

To the OP, my opinion on buying a bike is stick to something for now that has a very solid frame and mid grade to higher end components. Give up something to get something else. The frame is the best component of a bike and no one makes them better than Trek in my opinion. Unless you are willing to pay out the nose.

As a rider of the Xcal 9 I can vouche for the frame and geometry of the Xcal. I could see buying a Xcal 7, then upgrade your front shocks later. Out of all the bikes you listed I honestly think the Trek is the way to go. I spent a lot of time researching and riding bikes in the 700-1000 range because that was my budget, but ultimately I decided to splurge and buy something a little bit nice. (Thanks to Uncle Sam)


But seriously with the Trek, change the pedals immediatly. Those nylon pedals they come with suck and the saddle is very uncomfortable. At least they were for my fat ass
 
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