Wednesday, August 22, 2018

1989 Grove Innovations Hard Core (#7)

I've been a fan of Grove Innovations since I first discovered mountain bikes back in the 80s.  They were never quite in reach when I wanted one, and by the time I could afford one they were no longer available. Living out west for the past 14 years I was lucky to come across a couple of Groves, but in the end there was only one that mattered, the Hard Core. I've written about my personal Hard Core before, but until recently I had relatively little understanding of its development history. I'm working on a more detailed writeup on that subject, but for now I just want to share this bike as it's one of the more rad Groves I've ever had the pleasure of working on.

Chief among the traits of the Grove brand are the outrageous paint jobs and this bike doesn't disappoint. With its five color neon fade with artfully applied splatter this is a head turner no matter which angle you approach it from. This particular Hard Core is the 7th one built (09/89) and still carries most of the traits of the original prototype. While it has the massive 2" down tube and the segmented fork it still uses a modified rear triangle from an Assault and a normal 12.7" bottom bracket height. The later Hard Cores eventually moved to a 13.5" high bottom bracket and had a unique rear triangles design and a larger down tube. In a way these early Hard Cores were a beefier, more aggressive Assault and not yet the rock garden crushing freeride machines they ultimately evolved into.

The sleeved seat tube cluster is a direct carry over from the Assault and was ultimately replaced with a larger seat tube for the main "production" run of the Hard Core.

I've said before to anyone who'll listed, but in my opinion the build construction on Groves is really amazing. Although the features can appear large and vulgar at a distance, if you look closely you can barely see any evidence of construction, it really does feel like the bikes were welded from the inside out. The subtle details such as the scallops on the fork dropouts or the brazing on the horizontal dropouts of frame are a testament to the skills possessed by the craftsmen who built these bikes.

I always thought the chain stays on this bike looked a bit spindly in contrast to the oversize main triangle, but they give the rear end a degree of compliance that enhances the ride. The rather stiff front end results in very precise steering and a imbues the rider with the confidence to approach most obstacles head on, while the inherent flex of the rear end balances things out and actually makes this a capable cross country bike.

This is one of the stiffest bottom bracket junctions in the industry, absolutely zero flex!

This is one of my favorite parts of the bike, mainly due to the color selection and the transition located right at the brake posts, but also the size and shape of the brake bridge and how it mirrors the chainstay bridge.

I haven't measured them in comparison to the later ones, but the Suntour dropouts on this bike appear thicker and chunkier than the ones used on my 91 HC. Also the brazing on the stays where they join the dropouts are a little less refined than on the later bikes.

This has to be one of my favorite grove paint jobs thus far. I could almost see some green worked in there, but as it stands the transitions are amazing and while it's a cliche it's just damn vibrant.

The only thing I don't like about this bike is its size. If it were only one size larger I would be tearing it up but sadly it's just too small for me. It does offer some excellent inspiration for a paint job for my Assault though. 

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