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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Rockhopper vs Rockhopper Comp Disc

    I have been doing research on getting my first Mountain bike, and I think I have narrowed it down to the Rockhopper and the Rockhopper Comp Disc.

    I wanted to see if the Comp Disc is worth $130 more. I understand the main difference is the disc brakes. For the average rider, is it beneficial to have disc brakes? What are the pros and cons to disc brakes?

    Other than the disc brakes, are the components any higher quality on the Comp Disc?

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Bearded highlighter
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    its worth the $130 just for the brakes and that looks like the only difference between the two,
    i ride a comp 29er and love it, great bike for a good price. you may be able to beat the component level for the same price but Specialized makes good bikes even if you pay a bit for the name

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    The main difference....

    between the Rockhopper and the RH Disc Comp are as you noted, the disc brakes. The other components are pretty much identical between the two models. However, lets take a look at the cost of upgrading to the disc brakes to see if it's worth it. Keep in mind that the Rockhopper base model doesn't come speced with a disc compatable wheel set so if you were to upgrade you'd have to get wheels (or as a minimum hubs) to go disc.

    Avid BB5 Disc Brake (aftermarket) $56.00 each for a total of $112.00

    Wheels: $89.00 (about the cheapest availalbe disc wheelset)

    Cables: $5.00

    Cable Housing: $6.00

    Total: $212.00

    So is it worth it? Yes from a cost standpoint it certainly is. It is almost always more cost effective to get a bike with the components that you want on it to begin with, than it is to upgarde at a later date.

    Is it worth it from a performance standpoint? For the most part yes. Some really low end disc brakes don't perform as well under normal conditions as a good quality rim brake in terms of power. However the only disc brakes that I've ever seen that don't do better than rim brakes in sloppy, wet, or extremely dry dusty conditions than a rim brake are those that you get on a Walmart bike.

    What are the pros and cons of disc brakes? That can be a long story. But the short version is,

    Pros: Better overall performance in any conditions. Better resistance to heat fade on downhills. Usually longer brake pad life under given conditions than rim brake pads. And a real biggy, a bent rim that would put a rim brake out of commission has no effect on disc brakes. As long as the wheel can pass between the fork legs or the frame seat and chain stays the bike can be ridden out. And the biggest reason to go disc, most disc brakes have better power and will stop better than rim brakes once properly broken in.

    Cons: Discs are a bit more complicated to set up and adjust (takes more time and some are finicky). All disc brakes squeal under the right conditions, or combination of conditions. And it's almost impossible to predict under what circumstances a given model of brake in conjunction with a given frame etc. will do so. Disc brakes do require a break in period before they reach their peak performance. And finally, disc brake pads and rotors are highly sensitive to contamination of the pads and/or rotors by oils or solvents. Even the oil from your finger prints on the rotor or pads can adversely affect brake performance. So extreme care must be taken when lubricating various components of the bike or when handling the rotor or brake pads.

    So is it worth it overall. IMHO yes it is. As long as you are aware of the cons and are willing to put up with them, consider the cost of upgrading later, and consider the better all around performance, the $130 difference is well worth it. The Avid BB5 is not the greatest mechanical disc brake out there, that honor (by popular choice) is pretty much relegated to the BB7. However when properly set up they peform quite well and are a good beginners disc brake.

    Just a couple of suggestions though. If you can get them to do it, see if the shop will upgrade your brakes to BB7's at the time of purchase. Some shops will give you a deal on upgades if done when you buy the bike. It'll cost you a bit more, but is well worth it IMHO. A BB7 is a much better brake than a BB5. And learn everything that you can about the brakes, i.e. go to the Avid website and down load the owner's manual and every bit of technical information that you can find about the brakes, and read it. Having a complete knowledge of the brakes, how they work, how to set them up, how to maintain them, etc. is a good idea. Even if you never get into working on them yourself, knowing everything you can about them will give you a good idea of what any problems might be. This gives you an edge when talking to a shop mechanic about a problem should you have one.

    Bottom line, I'd go for it.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  4. #4
    A wheelist
    Reputation: Mike T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    For the pros and cons of disc brakes go to the Disc Brake FAQ that I wrote and edited for mtbr's Brakes section years ago.
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilders with information and motivation.

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