Specialized RockCombo

Not a road bike, no MTB, no travel bike, no tourer, no randonneuse.

But today it might go as a 26″ gravel bike


My first MTB back in 1988 was a Specialized RockCombo. I bought it from a guy who worked at a bikeshop. That shop was located in a small village some 30km away from my hometown and only opened in the afternoon and on Saturdays – but it was one of the best places for high end MTBs at that time. Mountainbikes were something quite new at that time in Germany, and they imported some of the fancy stuff like Klein and Rocky Mountain themseves.

I was close to buying a rather cheap Peugeot bike with some Shimano GSXXX at the local bikeshop in my hometown. My wallet did not allow anything more expensive, but my intuition told me, that bike was not going to make me happy. A friend at school told me about that guy selling his high end MTB. The price was fair, but higher than my budget. Anyways – after a test ride the decision was made and 2 weeks later I took it home:

A white steel mountainbike with pink graphics and a pink saddle. The components were the best you could buy – that’s what the vendor told me. I had no clue at that time, but luckily that guy did not fool me. It was Suntour XC9010 indexed shift levers with the XC9000 derailleurs, a Specialized wheelset w/ Suntour hubs and Specialized labelled suntour cranks. The brake levers were Deore XT2 (the short ones – that was important!)


That picture shows me racing maybe in 1990. Note the Specialized helmet and the Tioga Farmer John / Farmer John’s Cousin tire combo.

The bike was a bit too tall for me, but I had a lot of fun and some success in Junior Races. Later I got more modern, more lightweight, better (I thought) bikes – and the RockCombo had to go. It was much later that I learned the RockCombo had been designed for a different  purpose.

Due to our common history, I was looking for a RockCombo for several years. Then finally in 2016 I found a used frame in Poland. The decision to build it up with an off road drop bar – just like the original build – was quickly made. The very nice vendor found the original headset, bottom bracket and cranks.

The surprise when I opened the box: The frame had the same sticker of that bike shop attached as my frame had.

The concept and frame design of the RockCombo have always been subject to rumors. What I know for sure today is: The geometry was designed that way, it’s not a badly built series of RockHoppers. And there were really just about 500 of these bikes build, as they were a huge fail saleswise.

I decided to build the frame with colorful parts just as it might have been the idea of the surfin’ 90ies.

I found the purple saddle in my saddle box and went for a happy color scheme with yellow bartape. The handlebar is a Soma Portola – significantly different shape than the Specialized RockCombo bars. Much more flare, less drop, much wider – that’s more an off road bar than a slightly converted road bar. The stem is a casted tange quill stem – not as steep as the original Specialized, but still made in the very same way.

In the end the RockCombo is still a very versatile bike. Great for the city and for every day cycling. But also fine for long bike travelling. The only thing I miss, are lowrider-bosses.

Daily Cycling:



Many more pics on my Flickr-Album: skywalkers Photos on Flickr


Specialized RockCombo