|Plus: Decent hydraulic brakes, cassette sprockets, comfortable saddle, nice frame, protection|
|Minus: BB and crankset weight, uncomfortable sit, modest fork, small rotor for the front wheel|
At first sight, you might be tempted to say that the Rockrider 8.0 is the smaller sibling of the Rockrider 8.1, and to some extent you would be right. After all, they share the same frame, so from this point of view the 8.0 has a first strong point. The colour scheme is also attractive, but what do you get for this lower-priced model? Do the 27 gears, disc brakes and 100mm travel fork represent a good reason to save roughly about 100 euros, the difference between the 8.1 and 8.0?
Frame/On the trail
Eventhough the two models are spec’d with the same frame, the similarities mostly end here. The challenge of the off-road trails are the ones that set apart capable mountain bikes from recreational ones, and this is the point where you start to feel the difference between the 8.1 and 8.0.
The Rockrider 8.0 lacks some basic prerequisites for off-road performance. Firstly, it’s the 110mm stem, which is simply too long for its purpose and makes you lean forward without any advantage, also blowing away any chance of a decent control in corners. The 71 degrees of the head tube angle limit the losses, but it doesn’t receive any support from the 640mm handlebar neither. As in the case of the 8.1, a 680mm handlebar would have done the trick much better.
When climbing, the sit on the bike doesn’t help you in any way, and with the extra kilo made up by the rest of the specifications, this part can become difficult. Particulary, the wheelset weighs a lot, 5.241 grams with all parts mounted on them, so you can say goodbye to responsiveness when accelerating. As for the other features of the frame, tubing is solid and stiffness measures 84.3 Nm/degree, while the stiffness-to-weight ratio is slightly lower, of 42 Nm/degree/kg, due to the extra 20 grams probably added by the paintjob. A small bonus is consisted of a protection situated on the lower part of the down tube, that prevents rocks and other things thrown by the front wheel from ruining that part.
Judging by the components fitted on the Rockrider 8.0, it is clear that the bike is meant for recreational rides. Difficult mountain trails will soon prove too much if you take it for such a ride, the main problems being raised by the fork’s modest performance on bumpy trails, or lacking performance on serious tracks. The Suntour XCT can’t handle successive drops, nor can it provide tight cornering, but at least it has a preload and a lock-out function.
The drivetrain is composed out of a Suntour XCT crankset, not exactly the most carefully crafted one, yet having the possibility to replace the chainrings and weighing as much as entry-level models of Shimano’s same components. The derailleurs however are neither the best mix, the Sram X5 rear one and Shimano C050 front one falling short to offer that edge needed in rough conditions. Functioning is both noisy and slow, but at least you have 27 gears from which to choose from.
For keeping the bike in the designated price range, the manufacturer turned to the Tektro Auriga Comp brakes, which aren’t too far off from the Draco model. Hence the unimpressive performance. 160mm rotors are not enough to make do on long descents, but then again having hydraulic brakes is a decent perk.
Counterbalancing the large weight of the wheelset is their durability provided by the double wall rims, accompanied by the protection offered by the Kenda Nevegal tires. Finally, the saddle is quite comfortable, a thing that I couldn’t say about the grips, given your sit on the bike.
Keeping in mind its destination, the Rockrider 8.0 managed pleasing on the trails chosen for test, without delivering any impressive performance. Yes, the model can be a good choice if you are new in this segment, but the Rockrider 8.1 may prove a finer option, if we compare head-to-head the price-specification ratio.
Rockrider 8.0 data
Total weight: 14.14 kg (including 414 gram pedals)
Frame weight: 1.982 grams
Wheelset weight: 5.241 grams (tires, sprockets and quick release included)
Fork weight: 2.161 grams
Crankset weight: 1.366 grams (BB included)
Handlebar width: 640 mm
Headtube stiffness: 84.3 Nm/grad
Stiffness to weight ratio: 42