Sunday, November 19, 2023

Specialized Hard Rock Ultra - Great Utility, and Then Some!

1993 Specialized Hard Rock Ultra: unique pink and purple fade.
I didn't know I would replace my much loved Trek Antelope so soon! I have always admired 1980-1990s rigid mountain bikes for their relaxed geometry and utility - they make great all around bikes, whether that's commuting, touring, riding with family or, in colder climates are adept as winter beaters - add studded tires and don't worry too much because it's an old bike. Added bonus: frames are upgradeable with new components.

Amazing shape for a 40 year old frame! I feel very lucky.
Our youngest son is a bike mechanic at a shop that accepts bikes and parts donations - they rehab older bikes for resale or to help lower income folks get decent transportation at nominal cost. I happened to mention months ago that if he ever came across a certain model and color in my preferred 20" size, then give a holler, expecting it was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Granola handle bars set a little higher than my seat. Stem is at maximum height. I expect there will be tweaks down the road like a taller stem or bars with more rise, non-traditional fenders, etc.
I got a text and photo while I was just starting a solitary mountain bike weekend. "Hey mom, look what I found." When he said it was in great shape, it didn't take long to give him the green light. I was ecstatic of course, thinking about the possibilities, then, if I'm honest, wondering how I could personally justify this new addition, bringing what I thought was a perfect number of bicycles from 4 back to 5.

From August to November we started collecting parts. I bought the VO Granola bars as an alternative, though aligning width-wise with much loved Soma Oxford and Ritchey Kyote bars. Had the VO Crazy bars been narrower, that would've been my first choice. I also chose a loved saddle - the Terry Topo - at least for starters. 

Between our son's knowhow, sourcing new and used parts, and my industry discount - I work for Terry Bicycles - we saved money, and honestly I wouldn't have considered this project on my own otherwise. 

He put together a 2X assortment of components that would play nice together. The only hiccup was configuring the V-Brake setup, necessitating ordering a top tube clamp to correctly guide the rear brake cable. He also added his signature two colored spoke nipples, bordering the valve, when building wheels.

Immediate riding impression: I felt at home! I've missed this kind of comfort, 2" plush tires, and diamond frame. I immediately transferred the Jack-the-Bike-Rack for needed utility, and more recently, repainted an older, discontinued Blackburn Mountain rack, installing it fairly easily - saved from the Trek Antelope, so that old beauty lives on through this recent reincarnation. And, I have now fulfilled a dream of owning a purple bike!

Rack and my commuter pannier makes this bike more useful.

And I shouldn't have worried about the Hard Rock's place in my collection. Shortly after acquiring the frame, my husband and I rode a rugged Northern Rail Trail where my Rachel, unfortunately in her current setup, wasn't the best choice. I kept thinking how the Hard Rock would be a perfect complement, lending comfort to rough terrain.

For those seeking build details...


  1. Do you have favorite wheels? What does this build use? It’s fun knowing the components. In 1992 i had a Specialized that I rode all over and around Mt Tamalpais when I lived in Mill Valley. I miss that bike! (Stolen out of my truck when I later lived in SF). Nice bike Annie, so glad you got your wish!

    1. I've added several photos to the post. Hopefully this helps. Most components were used, and I think one hub.

  2. Very nice. Extra special in that your son found and built it up.

  3. I am just starting to dream about bike touring and thought I would have to buy a bike, but then thought about this one that someone gave us after our house burned down. I have zero bike building know how, but am inspired, reading about your build of the exact bike we already own, in its original form! Thanks for this read.


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