Testing Time: Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er 2014

Logan recently headed out on a four-day MTB road trip in the central North Island with Andy and decided to put the Hardrock 29er through its paces.

Terrain: We rode Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, Craters of the Moon and the W2K track in Taupo, and then tackled the 85km Pureora Timber Trail over two days.

First impressions: Immediately I notice the HR Sport Disc 29ner has a modern cockpit; short stem, relatively wide handlebars and comfortable grips. When it comes to MTB handlebars the wider the better. They offer more control, easier breathing and better positioning for balance.

Getting grippy with it: Handlebar grips are two of the five attachment points between your body and the bike – and I’d say they’re the most important. The Hardrock’s grips come from Specialized’s own R&D division and feature quality rubber and technical design ribbing for greater grip. After wrapping the finger around the grip, the palm naturally rests on the flared wing – a unique feature of the Specialized Body Geometry XCT grips.

Trigger-happy gear shifts: The bike’s Shimano trigger shifters allowed me to fly through the gears, mainly going uphill trying to catch Andy! I really like the Shimano setup, where unlike the SRAM you use your pointer finger and your thumb to up-shift / downshift instead of using your thumb for both. Once again, well positioned for easy reach shifting and ergonomically pleasing.

Responsive brakes: The Tecktro HD-M330 hydraulic disc brakes were a standout: highly responsive and enabled me to stop aggressively. A confidence booster for cornering and downhill, once again chasing after Andy!

Tricky tires: Not having ridden the 29ner a lot, I found the wheels ran over everything with ease. However it was the tires that let the bike down. They gave minimal grip in the mud, although they were perfect for hardpack riding and would suit many of the New Zealand Cycle Trails, such as the Timber Trail, Alps to Ocean or West Coast Wilderness trail.

Faultless forks: The forks are Suntour SF13-XCT-MLO 29” and feature hydraulic damping, oversized stanchions with lockout and 80mm travel. They’re durable and chattering is no obstacle. The Preload is a nice feature that allows the rider to achieve the proper sag and ride feel.

In conclusion: Okay. ….with such a short travel this is not a bike to take on serious downhill. It’s designed with the recreational rider in mind and is perfect for tackling easier single tracks, cycle trails around New Zealand and gravel road cycle touring such as the Molesworth. Combining practicality and performance the Hardrock Sport is versatile and comfortable, with everything you need right at your fingertips.


Frame: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum 29er, fully butted, 6061 alloy
Fork: SR Suntour SF13-XCT-MLO 29″, coil spring, mechanical lock out w/ preload adj., 80mm travel
Brakes: Tektro HDC 300, hydraulic disc, dual piston, Lightwave style rotor, 160mm
Shifters: Shimano Altus, 8-speed Rapidfire plus, SL type w/ optical display
Derailleurs: Shimano Altus front, Shimano Acera rear
Cassette: Sunrace, 8-speed cassette, 11-34
Crankset: SR Suntour XCT, 8-speed, 42/32/22 chainrings
Tyres: Specialized Fast Trak Sport, 29″x2.0″, wire bead, 40TPI
Seat: Specialized Body Geometry Hardrock, steel rails, 143mm width


  • Hydraulic brakes are great
  • Tyres no good in mud but perfect for gravel and hardpack summer riding
  • Fast rolling due to wheelsize and tyres, stable cornering
  • Comfy seat but needs lock on grips
  • Suspension not up to rougher trails

Thinking about renting this bike? Click here to view pricing details. Don’t forget: we’re currently offering 10% discount on December bike hire (7 day hire or longer only).