The best $700 bike for mountains, trails, roads, AND commuting? Does it exist?

I’m at that age where I feel like I still have some of the fearless fire I had when I was riding in my twenties, but also know my body has gone through a lot and that I need to be a little more cautious. That raised multiple questions when I decided to get back into biking.

Road biking? I used to enjoy that a lot and would often cycle 25+ miles on country and city roads. These days? Whether drivers have gotten worse or I have just become more nervous, I like to stick to quiet neighborhood roads when biking.

Mountain biking? As a kid, I had BMX and mountain bikes. Wheelies, jumps, bunny-hops. I loved them all. I’m now no longer brave enough to tackle downhill rock-gardens or super fast berms.

Hybrid biking? I did once own a hybrid/commuter bike, but it was kind of like vanilla ice cream. Even when I added some sprinkles, I was still bored riding it.

So, fast forward to 2020 and I decided it was time for me to find a bike that I could ride on neighborhood streets, kick some dirt on a trail, or get some exercise on a paved greenway.

After 3 weeks of research, I found the perfect bike: The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x.

Let me tell you, the 2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x is about as close as you can get to an all-in-one bike that you can buy for just over $700.

 

Here are my top reasons why this bike is the perfect choice for anyone looking for one bike that does it all:

29″ wheels

The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x has 29″ wheels. Mountain bikes used to favor the 26″ wheel size, making them great for trails, but a little small and inefficient for the roads. These days 29″ rims are heating up the mountain bike community so I was thrilled to see a wheel size that made more sense for any road or greenway riding.

Front suspension lockout

A road bike has a hard enough time on city streets and (unless you look at a “Gravel” bike) you have no chance of having fun off-road and a 100% chance of getting a flat tire. Hybrid bikes have the tires, but you don’t get the suspension. Top of the line mountain bikes come with both front and rear suspension, but that can be tiring outside of trail riding. With the Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x you get front suspension so you can tackle just about any trail. But, what I really like about the Specialized Rockhopper’s front suspension is that you can “lock” it out–meaning the front fork becomes more like a hybrid/road bike and won’t move up and down. Perfect for when I hit the roads or greenways!

1x drivetrain

I will admit that my biggest dread of ANY bike was trying to remember how to be efficient with my gears. 3 cogs up-front, plus 7 or more at the rear? I would get confused trying to find the right combination. So, I was thrilled to learn that mountain bikes are moving to a 1x setup. This means you don’t have a front derailleur and anywhere from 8-12 gears on the rear. In other words, I have just one gear shifter to worry about! Bliss!

Disc brakes

It used to be that all bikes used rim brakes. A lot of effort was needed to pull on them and, God forbid you were riding in the rain, your brakes would often not even work. Mountain bikes led the way in innovation and now just about every mountain bike comes with disc brakes of some variety (mechanical or hydraulic). Disc brakes are so much better at stopping your bike, in just about any conditions. Road bikes have mostly stayed away from them as they add weight to the bike and hybrid bikes often go with the same simple (and cheaper) option of rim brakes. Thankfully the Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x has hydraulic disc brakes. While they do require some maintenance (and you have to watch for some gotchas when changing your tires) overall, disc brakes on any bike are very much worth it!

Upgradable

The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x is not 100% perfect, but there are lots of upgrades you can make to it. Want a more cushioned saddle? Check! Want clipless pedals. Sure! Want smoother, less knobbly, tires? Absolutely!

The best of all rides!

The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x is, in my noob rider but advanced midlife thrill-seeker’s opinion, one of the best all-round bikes for someone looking for an affordable bike for the road, trails, greenway, or office commute. Of course, you can go a little cheaper in price, but that Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods bike is not gonna offer the same features or reliability as Specialized. And, you can go a LOT more expensive too–I’m talking $15,000 more expensive–but if you have that kind of money just go ahead and buy a separate road, mountain, and hybrid bike.

If you’re looking for a bike that is the jack-of-all-trades and also the master of quite a few of them, then the Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x is the one to get!

P.S. Maybe you don’t like the color or maybe you’re looking for a more female-friendly style. I get that the Specialized Rockhopper is not going to fit everyone. My advice is to look at the features that I highlighted and add the ones that are the most important to you and then take your time researching the best bike. Don’t rush into your purchase.Β 

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