Some of us have an old friend who used to accompany us on all our rides but age has perhaps got the better of them and they do not go out with us anymore.An old photograph might raise a nostalgic smile but we ride with different friends now and only a memory surfaces when we recall a particular incident at a point on the trail. Your friend may ride with someone else or perhaps no longer goes out but hangs forlornly on the garage wall. This was the fate of my old Hardrock ; dismantled and unused but now reborn anew.I started with the purchase of an inexpensive fork but with 130mm rather than the 80mm of the past and although it may invalidate the frame warranty ( long since past ) unless I become addicted to the air ( also unlikely ) it relaxes the head angle and provides something to hide behind. A crankset swap, with the new replacement fitted onto my main bike, and the refitting of some of the original components the skeleton was complete. Some wheel swapping proved irksome as I wanted to fit at least a front disk brake but a Hope insert changed a 20mm thru-axle to a quick release. Hydraulic brakes were expensive so I opted for a cable solution. Unfortunately I could only find a front brake discounted on the internet so the initial build continued with a v-brake on the rear. Old flat pedals, a nice new chain, two borrowed tyres but without something blue.
A shakedown ride was required so a lone pilot from Jill, not Jack, on a dry summer’s evening was the ideal soft test. Not soft though. The 2002 frame has something of a reputation for its ‘direct’ feedback which allows the trail to feed directly to your back and as the short initial climb over the brick proved, age had not dulled this ability. It did feel light and responsive compared to a 34lb Freeride bike and on a dry ridge bridleway acceleration was great. A small amount of stuttering on the rough, a small amount of skipping on the brakes, a small amount of slip on the wet chalk and a large amount of pounding on your body – biking little and large.
A couple of other very short rides has convince me that the advantage of a hardtail’s simplicity is really the weight but my old back needs a cushion . It may be a Thudbuster would fix this so I have not discounted the idea of a 20lb carbon thing that would pedal itself up hills on a warm summer evening but my old friend has been cleaned and fitted with a nice new rear cable brake and is waiting on its new rider to brave the cold.
Hopefully it will have a chance to be ridden regularly again but for me all our rides together are only in the past.