Great components package and a good fork, all with an XC focus

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 7


Specialized Rockhopper review


Price as reviewed:


The entry-level Specialized Rockhopper gets a lightweight A1 aluminium frame with sculpted tubes and a similar profile to the company’s high-end race bikes. It even sports a tapered head tube for improved steering precision, but the budget doesn’t stretch to the corresponding fork steerer — but you could upgrade it later.

The Specialized felt like an efficient mile-muncher. The stretched riding position, lightweight 29er wheels and stiff frame means climbs are dispatched efficiently and boring stretches disappear beneath your wheels.

It’s a very different story on descents. The Specialized Rockhopper felt nervous and sketchy, which we could handle from a climb-focused XC race bike if it didn’t also feel laboured and sluggish. We couldn’t put our finger on what was making the Rockhopper feel so slow. It didn’t carry speed or inspire confidence like the Lapierre or VooDoo. In fact, it felt like we were descending into a headwind; we even stopped mid-run to check that the Tektro disc brakes weren’t dragging (they weren’t).

Also, the brake levers do not have reach adjustment, so if you have small hands you’ll struggle. They are plenty powerful enough, though, even if they lack the lever feel and modulation of the Shimano units.

>>> Click here to find out more about geometry with our handy guide

Specialized Rockhopper review 2013

Lightweight 29er wheels are ideal for getting through the miles

This review appeared as part of MBR’s Hardtail of the Year test in June 2013‘s issue.

On test in our Hardtail of the Year competition:

£600 category
Commencal El Camino 3 29
Fuji Nevada 1.5
KTM Ultra Fun
Lapierre Raid 329
Saracen Mantra Pro
Specialized Rockhopper
Trek 4500 Disc
VooDoo Bizango 29er 

£1000 category
Cannondale Trail SL 29er 2
Canyon Yellowstone AL 6.9
Cube LTD Pro
Giant Talon 29er 1
Marin Palisades Trail 29er
Merida Big Nine TFS 900
Scott Scale 960
Pinnacle Ramin 3

Women’s specific
Boardman Fi MTB Comp
Scott Contessa Scale 920
Specialized Myka Elite Disc
Trek Cali S


Specialized always puts together a competitive package. The components are all first rate, and the fork works really well, but we felt the attitude and possibly the sizing are too XC race focused, robbing the Rockhopper of fun factor.


Frame :A1 premium aluminium
Fork :Suntour XCM LO 29
Wheels :Specialized HiLo hubs, Rockhopper Disc rims, Ground Control Sport tyres
Drivetrain :SR Suntour Octalink chainset, Shimano Acera 9-apeed shifters/f-mech, Alivio r-mech
Brakes :Tektro HDC 300
Weight :14.45kg (31.86lb)
Sizes :15.5, 17.5, 19, 21, 23in
Size tested :19in