Variations On a Theme
I finally built up my Specialized RockCombo frame, which I bought from a fellow over in The Netherlands. It takes the place of the Red RockHopper, and is essentially a fat-tired version of the XO-2. Like the XO, the RockCombo is built around 26" mtb wheels, but with road bike geometry for better behavior on the pavement. Both of these bikes hail from a time when the bike industry was still trying to define exactly what a "hybrid" bike is and what it should do.
While the "hybrid" bike came to be commonly represented by mtb geometry and road wheels (exactly opposite these bikes), the XO/RockCombo set-up was actually ahead of its time, rather than being an evolutionary dead-end. Bikes such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker (in the smaller sizes) as well as the Rivendell Atlantis are still being built to this pattern and enjoy a pretty enthusiastic following.
And, in the past, I have built quite a few bikes along these general lines, ranging from fixed-gear "cafe bikes" and the 650b StumpJumper (which ended up with 26" wheels), to the Red Rockhopper (a MockCombo, if you will). But, they all were built on standard mtb frames.
So, I decided that I enjoyed the quicker handling of the XO-2 enough that I wanted the same type of frame for my "everyday" bike. That was when I started looking for a RockCombo. I decided to try to find one of these because, even though it is actually more rare than the XO's it is generally more affordable. The RockCombo doesn't have the same cult following that the XO's do.
Yesterday, I did most of the build on the bike. Today, I cabled it up, and tried to get it set up to suit me.
The drops on the bars are a bit lower than I really would like, I used a Nitto Rando bar, because it looks more like the Specialized Dirt Drop bars that came on the bike than any of the modern off-road drop bars do. I am either going to have to find a slightly taller stem, or just bite the bullet and use a Gary Bar.
This is what the bike looks like without all of the commuting paraphernalia on it. I decided to run with no fenders, even with the rack and bags. The fenders just don't seem to fit the personality of the bike, to me. The rack has a solid deck, so it will prevent the "skunk stripe" on rainy days. And, really, rainy days aren't that common around here, in a typical year.
Brad had these 7-speed Deore drivetrain parts, which he was planning on using on his Bombadil. I traded him some 8-speed XT parts, from the early 90s, for it since I had some 7-speed bar-end shifters. Plus, I figure the swap puts those parts on the most appropriate bikes.
The parts spec is rounded out with a Specialized headset, bottom bracket and seat post clamp, Shimano cantilever brakes (from the Red RH) plus some Specialized-hubbed/Saturae-rimmed wheels (Saturae was Specialized's high-end rim in the late 80s/early 90s). Mark has the wheels, so I am using the wheels from the Red Rockhopper until I get them.
Tomorrow will be the first commute on the Combo. I will be able to more fully compare it to the XO-2, after that, and make a final decision on the stem/handlebar set-up. It seems fine around the neighborhood, but it remains to be seen how the positioning on the bike will treat me on an actual ride.
I do like the looks of it, as it sits, though.