Hardtail mountain bikes are an affordable alternative for casual riders. Manufacturers are able to reduce their cost of production because they have front suspension but not rear suspension. This offers the rider some degree of comfort, but without the cost of rear suspension too.
With a hardtail, people can also enjoy a lighter ride. The lack of rear suspension also has a positive advantage – less mechanical parts that can go wrong and more reliable as a result. The simpler design makes the hardtail a durable, ‘workhorse’ kind of alternative.
Another great thing about the hardtail is their practicality. The true ‘all-rounder’, a carbon fiber option is the perfect road race option. A hardtail can also be built as more of an adventurer. Some extra sized tires and a longer fork make it perfectly suited to off-roading. Tricky terrain through local woodland or nature reserves are no problem with an appropriately designed hardtail – and better still they come at a cost saving of a few hundred dollars compared to dual suspension bikes.
Hardtails are what they say on the tin. They are a practical and cost-effective alternative to ‘get out there’ and ride. They can be custom built to suit different tastes and sizes, and they are a simple but effective alternative.
This article gives some useful background on these rugged, trustworthy bikes.
The first advantage of hardtails is they cost less. With a simpler design featuring less suspension, manufacturers can reduce the final cost of the bike, or add better parts elsewhere. This makes the hardtail the perfect alternative for larger families or people looking for a custom build.
Keeping it trim
Reduced numbers of moving parts have other advantages than simply saving a few bucks. Without rear suspension, hardtails carry less poundage. Without a shock and the other parts that comprise the rear suspension, riders can enjoy steeper climbs or longer road rides without lugging those extra components with them the whole way.
Depending on the riders’ choice and budget, a carbon fiber frame can also shave off a few more pounds – but this comes at a cost. Keeping the frame as light as possible can be a real advantage once on the road or trail, so it is strongly advised if budget permits.
Choosing a specification
The fork is another important consideration when putting a spec together for a hardtail. Making a good choice of fork can absorb some of the rough stuff from mountain trails or off-road circuits. It also makes the ride more stable and smooth.
For the most comfortable ride, look for an option with the lowest possible travel level. For the most comfortable ride look for a travel of around 80mm. There are also slightly higher travel levels, but these come at a slightly higher cost.
Wheel sizes are not in short supply with hardtails. Standard wheel sizes are 29” or 27.5”, and tires up to 2.6”. Plus sized tires can also be fitted to hardtails for more demanding routes.
Another plus point about hardtails is that they can be designed to take different widths of wheel and tire. Riders can swap out different sizes depending on the terrain they will be traversing.
Another example of a hardtail’s flexibility is that they can be designed on a singlespeed basis. This provides a simple and even more durable build. Other features can also be added to alter the wheelbase’s length for different types of terrain. In short, hardtails are a blank canvas in terms of the design and budget they can be built for.
Hardtails are as their name suggests – they are pretty hard and rugged bikes. The fact they carry less moving parts such as rear suspension or shocks means they have less things that can go wrong. This decreases the chances of needing regular maintenance.
A ticket to ride
Despite the slimmed-down repertoire of parts, the ride experience on a hardtail is not negatively impacted. In fact for seasoned riders it can even be more enjoyable because the bike is more responsive than a dual-suspension version.
Without rear suspension, the rider can experience an efficient pedalling and acceleration experience. Hill climbs can also be made easier with this additional responsiveness, although it has to be said that traction can suffer a little without the rear suspension. This can be combatted with some strategic braking to offset it.
Getting a hardtail
The covid-19 pandemic has created a bit of a shortage of some bike parts. But as the situation continues to ease, any supply issues should resolve themselves if they have not done so already.
2020 also saw a major increase in bike sales as people adjusted their lifestyles and needed a safe, healthy way of taking some exercise. Even if hardtails are still in high demand, many manufacturers and bike shops offer the opportunity to pre-order or enter a wait list. This can also be a good option for choosing a specification to suit you with some of the different configurations this article has outlined.
How to choose your hardtail
Hardtails are a great all-round choice for a bike. Even when a selection has been made, the rider can choose different width wheels and tires depending on their planned route for the day.
Whether for road rides or steeper, technical climbs, hardtails can get the job done. With less moving parts to maintain or potentially go wrong, hardtails are cheap to maintain and run less risk of developing a fault mid-ride.
For getting to work or a leisurely ride on a weekend, there are not many more durable bike options than a hardtail. Although there are more specialized bikes available for tougher terrain or faster road rides, the price point and durability of hardtails are difficult to match. Riders also enjoy the ability to configure the bike to their own specifications, and the in-built flexibility it provides with different wheel and tire sizes. All things considered, the hardtail is a great choice.