If you are looking for something cheap but something that can perform as good as any other mountain bikes, then hardtail bikes are your best bet. There are some big differences between these bikes and others. They only have a front suspension and don’t have the rear suspension. The exclusion of rear suspensions brings about a lot of advantages to these hardtail bikes.
They have a simple design that weighs less and is much cheaper than the normal models. And above all that they have a much stronger frame that could keep your bike alive for longer. Getting the best hardtail mountain bikes will be like getting the king that rules the jungle. You will be covered in almost every area. Out of every hardtail bikes we have seen, the carbon hardtail bikes tend to be the best performers.
If you are among the people who love top long rides on the bike, then hardtail bikes will be the best choice for you. In simple words, they can be called the best adventure bikes. They offer the same comfort as a full suspension bike would give you. Hardtail bikes are built with forks that have a good suspension journey and with huge sized tires.
These will give you the full-on experience as great mountain bike without sacrificing any kind of comfort. Whether it is riding on the rough mountain terrains or your local roads, you won’t lose a bit of fun riding with them. The popularity of hardtails bikes is mainly because of their simple design. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy to pick up the best one out of them. We will guide you in selecting the best hardtail mountain bikes 2021. All you have to do is check for the features that we mention and you will be good to go.
Top 3 Hardtail Mountain Bike 2021
Type of a Hardtail Rider
People are in love with this category of bikes for their simple design but not all the hardtail bike lovers are looking for the same ride. Their taste will vary and they need different features to satisfy your desires. The kind of rider you are determines a lot in your bike choice. There is a group of people who loves moving across a long distance in the least time.
They are the cross country racers. And there are completely different people who love doing trick on their bikes. What they need is something light and that can perform well on single track. So, to begin with we need to figure out what kind of a rider you are. This is necessary for finding out the best bike for you.
1. Trail hardtails: Trail hardtails are designed in a way that has a much lower effort for riding on the tracks. They are designed with a lower geometry which reduces the effort required for rides. Because of this, trail hardtails tend to have much stability on the roads so they can be your optimum choice in cases where you need to move at really high speeds on steep mountain roads.
They are equipped with suspension forks with suspension travel of up to 120mm for extra comfort on rough terrains. They also have more than average sized tires in this category. The greater width of the tires increases the traction the bike will have on the road and make your ride comfortable with the advanced cushioning effect of these tires.
The hardtail bikes also have the advantage of having a single drive train that is coupled with a really wide handlebar. This will give you extra control while riding the bike. Hardtails usually come with a drop seat facility which can be lowered whenever you want to. So, you don’t need to worry about it when you are riding on steep paths.
In simple words, we can call it the best choice for people who are new into riding, who want something that helps them accomplish their small adventure task rather than riding for miles over the road. The same is true for people who are into riding for years. You would love these rides if you are not into long rides.
2. Cross country hardtails: Cross country hardtails are for people who prefer long rides. It is designed with ease of usage given maximum preference. The suspension forks of cross country bikes have suspension travel of around 100mm which is enough to give you a proper cushioning on bumpy roads and terrains.
Cross country rides give much importance to riding speed so the wheel sizes opted for are aimed at giving maximum speed. The wheel size where you will get the fastest pace is the 29″ sized wheels fitted on 17.5″ inch sizes. And this goes on decreasing proportionally with the 27.5″ sized wheels on a 15.5″ size.
Cross country bikes have a drive train that has the dimension 2×10 or 2x 11 so they will stay well equipped throughout all your journeys. The geometry of the bike is modified to decrease the weight to the minimum like including narrower handlebars. In a nutshell, cross country hardtails will be your choice of bikes if love taking your bike at top speeds and cover a long distance in every ride.
Is a Hardtail Mountain Bike Right for You?
If you want to get into mountain biking business, then know that this it is in no way a cheap sport. You will have to spend a lot of cash to have a good enough riding experience. And this era of advanced technology, every single bike is fixed with advanced equipment. The price of these bikes goes on increasing with these additions. If you are a bit concerned about pricing, then this is where you should put your eye on.
They are comparatively cheaper than other mountain bike models. And this is, of course, the reason for its insane popularity in the biking arena. They don’t have a rear suspension and this is why they stay way cheaper than all other models. And the maintenance of this bike is also much easier.
If you are getting into riding, then this is the best place to start with. With hardtail bikes, your body will easily get used to the rough terrains and you won’t feel it difficult to advance your skills. Even if you own a full suspension bike it will be a good choice for you to have a hardtail bike in your garage. Hardtail bikes are ideal for terrains with wet and sloppy regions.
It is true that they have a narrower trail but it won’t affect the performance of the bike by that much. You will still have a comfortable ride on them. The trail surface is more attached to your body so you will feel a lot of the roughness of the terrain on your body. If you go for a starter full suspension bike, then you will be spending around $2,000.
If you take the well-equipped version of the same bike, then you will be spending around $3,000. These bikes are really expensive to maintain. You will always need to check the health of the bearings and the picots for a good ride. You will be shelling out a few hundred dollars every year on keeping your ride in the perfect condition.
If you consider the quality, then full suspension bikes are far more superior to hardtail bikes in that category. They have much better performance than the cheaper hardtail bikes. They give better climbing traction and also better control on descents. Throughout the journey, you will be getting a better riding experience from them.
If you are too serious about mountain riding and are ready to spend any amount of cash to make your mountain biking better, then it will be a good option for you to go for full suspension bikes. You will get good value for the price you pay.
Buying Guide for Buying the Best Hardtail Mountain Bike 2021
At this point, you might be confused about which bike you should choose. There is a simple answer to that; you need to choose the bike that well suits your kind of riding. Mountain bikes are more designed specifically for different purposes. If you are not a hardcore rider and only want to use your bike as a distraction from the busy schedule, then you are simply a light rider.
You will only have short trips and will be riding on a little rough terrain. If you find yourself in this category, then hardtails must be your choice. You can also pick up hardtails if you are a complete beginner and want something to start with. But if you are a hardcore rider, then hardtails will limit your skills and desire.
You must have already got the taste of the full suspension bikes by now and you if you know how good they can be then it will be better for you to avoid this choice. Just invest in the best full suspension bike of your choice. For a dedicated rider that is the best ride to go for.
Mountain bikes are a lot costlier than the traditional bikes but if you find its way across your budget then just reject that option. Getting the best value out of everything you buy is significant for being satisfied with the product. For a person new into this segment, it will be a bit difficult to sort out the best ones.
To make it easier for you, our experts have checked and compared the hardtail bikes and have arranged them in the order of their value for the price. You can purchase the best hardtail mountain bike under $1000. You can check out this graph and gain insight into how good each of these bikes performs and the price you will have to pay for it.
There are some bikes that are way overpriced and some that fall into a great deal for the money you pay. For example, we found Marin Pine Mountain 1 2018 and Specialized Fuse Comp 6Fattie 2018 to be giving great value for the price you pay. Yes! These are the best affordable mountain bikes. So, if you want the best performance for every penny you pay to go for bikes like these.
You will be able to choose from 4 different wheel size choices. The choice between them will be significant as some of them will give you an upper hand in a particular riding while a lower performance in others. So, make the selection between them wisely.
- 27.5: This is the smallest wheel size you can choose. There are many people preferring this in the biking field as a starter wheel size. It is ideal for light rides in paths that aren’t much challenging. Remember for the smaller size, you will be losing the rolling speed and the momentum. This means that you will need to take extra effort to travel a short distance. But the shorter wheel size will give you an edge when are taking on corners and will have a bit more enjoyable experience.
- 29: This will give you a much faster riding experience than the 27.5-inch wheel sized tire. They will also give a much smoother riding experience. It has greater rolling speed and momentum so it is a bit hard to reduce the momentum of these wheels. But the agility of the bike is reduced with this so you need to have a bit more in control of the bike for a safer ride. The effort required to ride long distances will be reduced a lot with them.
- 27.5+ — 27.5+: The tires with these wheel sizes usually have a width of around 2.8 inch or 3 inches. Because of the extra rubber width of the tire, they might even look a 29-inch tire. The advantage of this kind of tire is contributed by the extra rubber width they provide. The traction provided by this tire is much superior to all the other types. Moreover, you won’t feel discomfort on your bike. For a better overall experience, this tire size will be optimum for hardtail bikes.
- 29 +: This is the largest wheel size you can get for hardtail bikes. They are huge and aren’t much common in the mountain biking segment. They have a tire width of around 3 inches. The rolling speed provided by this kind of tires is the greatest. The stability of this tire is also much greater than other varieties. Because of their larger size, the tiny obstacles you might find on the road might not feel give much impact on your bike.
Now you might think then why avoid it? All these performance enhancements come at the cost of stability and safety. You will find it really hard to control it in corners. Maybe they are good for long rides but it is quite a bit of a strain and you may not always have the best riding experience.
Note: The width of the tire is as important as the tire size you choose. The performance enhancement offered by them is greater than what you might expect. Even if the wheel sizes are the same the performance from them will vary.
Take for example the tire with a wheel size of 29 inches will be having a different performance range when the width is 2.3 inch and 2.6 inches. The more the width of the tire the more the aggressiveness and the dampening effect of the tire will be.
Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum vs. Steel
The durability of the bike a lot depends upon the material of the bike. There are many materials you can choose which will make your bike stand out in different ways. Based on the performance they provide and the advantages they have, these frames can put your bike in different price categories.
Most of the times the choice of your frame material is decided by the budget you choose to go with. Anyway, to give you a clearer understanding of the materials you can choose from we have listed them below.
- Carbon Fiber: Quality wise carbon fiber lies in the top category. It is the lightest material available in the market right now. Despite the lightness, they are also the strongest material you can get. Carbon fiber material helps in increasing the efficiency of your bike rides. The energy you exert on the bike will easily get transferred to the bike. Since the material is stiff the bikes stay much responsive while riding. Since they are light riding them can be a delight.
Unlike the other materials that degrade with years of usage, carbon fiber stays strong throughout the bike life. Even though they are strong they won’t be in good shape if you crash them into the rocks. Most of the materials used for building the bikes are recyclable but don’t include carbon fiber in that category. They won’t degrade fast and cannot be recycled. You can buy the best hardtail mountain bike under $2000.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is much commonly used than other materials in bikes. They are much cheaper than carbon fiber but they will degrade in quality with many years of usage. So, if you want something that will last for decades, then avoid this material. As we told aluminum is not much strong but it performs much better to impacts of the rocks because of their ability to flex. This will increase the riding comfort a bit better on rough tracks.
Hardtail bikes don’t have the rear suspension so chances of getting a rough ride are more. If aluminum is used for manufacturing, then it can reduce the impact to a greater extent. Above all this material can easily be recycled so if you care about the environment then you must go for it.
- Steel: Steel is not so commonly used for manufacturing hardtail bikes. We have only found small manufacturers using it for manufacturing. The stiffness of steel is much less than that of carbon fiber and aluminum so the flexing of the steel frame is much more than them both. Because of this, you will get a good cushioning effect on rough terrains. Moreover, it is much easier to repair steel frames so you can easily repair it when damaged.
Adventure is taken to a whole new level when you start riding on the mountains. Every second you will be challenged by the mountain paths and you will be pacing down with your top speed. To make yourself safe and the bike from damages, you will need to have sufficient braking capacity on your bikes.
Having good brakes installed will give you the extra guarantee in riding at top speeds because you know that you will be able to stop whenever you want to. If you install powerful brakes, then you will able to stop really fast. This can be useful in emergencies and will help you avoid danger the moment you see it. The best braking system you can get on bikes is the hydraulic braking system.
Avoid any bike that doesn’t have hydraulic bikes because you are not dealing with normal speeds in here and a powerful brake can be a lifesaver at times. Even the cheapest version of the hydraulic brakes can be better performers than the mechanical brakes available. But don’t mistake the braking power merely with the type of braking system used on the bike.
The size of the rotor also matters when it comes to giving good braking powers. The rotor of the bike can be seen attached to the hub and they generally come at diameters like 160mm, 180mm, 200mm, and 203mm. When the diameter of the braking rotor is greater, you will be getting a much better braking capacity. It can also help in reducing the heat generated while using the brake.
A problem with large rotors is that they will be heavier than the smaller versions. The XC bikes have 160mm rotors. In the case of hardtail bikes, the best bikes will be best with a 160mm rotor on the rear side and a 180mm rotor in the front. Above all, you should always take a trial run with your bike. If you don’t like the braking capacity, then immediately change it. It is not safe to stay contented with bad brakes.
The rotor capacity can be increased but it should be compatible with the fork and the frame size. Don’t think that the quality of the brakes is completely dependent on the power of the brakes. In steeped paths, you will be braking for a longer period to slow the bike down and this will make the brake pads to heat and reduce the performance of the brakes. So, make sure to also take that into concern while evaluating the quality of the brakes. You can easily get the best hardtail mountain bike under $1500.
What we mentioned till now are the basic components that are a must requirement for a good hardtail bike. There are things that can add on to your bikes to make them better performers and for giving you a comfortable ride.
- For example, there are bikes that come with a dropper post installed with them. This can be a big help if love to try out different tracks and when you ride across many steep paths and high cliffs. But in the case of XC racers, they avoid the dropper post as it will increase the overall weight of the bike. They can be a good addition but they are a lot expensive and will increase the overall price of your bikes. If you don’t see them in some models, then understand that they are avoided for reducing the overall price.
- The next set of components that you need to look out for is the handlebars, stem and the saddle. Almost all of the reputed brands manufacture their own parts for their hardtail bikes. So, they will be well suited for the bike. But you need to recheck them again to ensure that they are of the best quality.
- Tires are the most important component of the hardtail bikes but sadly it is nowadays really difficult to get your bikes to get coupled with the best tires during the purchase. Sometimes they will be good for you and sometimes they may not be. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to get cheaper and low-quality tires with lower priced bikes. For your safety, we will seriously advise you to choose better tires later. The best aggressive hardtail bikes that come at a higher cost will always have the best tires coupled with them.
- Sometimes even the best tires you get with the premium bikes won’t be a good fit for your rides. Manufacturers usually couple the bikes with tires that have overall good performance but if you are an extreme user, then you will be riding through rough terrains or in many challenging situations. Don’t be a miser when it comes to selecting the tires. Remember tires are the only thing that stays between you and the ground. If they are bad, then you will surely suffer for that. Find out the best tires and invest your money on them.
It is a general trend among the hardtail bikes to have one or more chainrings in the front part and around 8 or 12 cogs at the back. You can identify the number by the two number and the x listed in the bike specifications. The number that comes first indicates the number of chainrings present and the second number indicates the number of cogs present.
We found 1×11 and 1×12 to be the new standard so it will be good for you to get bikes that have gears in that range. In some bikes when they need to reduce the weight, we have seen the tendency of using just one chainring and not using any front derailleur or gear shifter. But those bikes will be equipped with a lot of cogs and this will give the benefit if using a lot of gears to climb mountains and ride faster.
The 1×12 is the latest gear model available now so they will be a bit more expensive than the old ones. We would suggest you get the 1×11 because that will be enough for most of the cases.
Maintenance and Durability
If you want your bike to last long, then be ready to take care of it. It is a machine but it can die on you when you need it the most if not given proper care. As a common rule, go for the simplest design which has the least number of parts. This literally means that only a few parts could get a complaint. Always make sure that the bike you get is fixed with the best of the parts.
This way you can stay away from repairs for a long period of time. If you want the durability of the hardtail bikes to be the maximum, then it is a good idea to avoid the suspension at both ends of the bikes. This should be a bold step you are taking because you will save a lot on your bike’s maintenance but sometimes you might spend more on your lower back.
The hardtail bikes tend to be much more responsive bikes than the bikes will full suspension on both sides. The pedaling gets more comfortable when you don’t have a suspension at the back. The effort you put into rotating the pedal will be mostly spent on the riding of the bike. You will have great acceleration on hardtail bikes and you will notice every force you put into the bike immediately with the faster response rate.
This can be quite useful when you are attempting to climb mountains. The traction provided by the bike will be reduced as it doesn’t have a rear suspension. Even then if you want the most efficient ride, don’t look anywhere else just go for the best hardtail bike.
Mountain biking involves a lot of tough rides so it is good to have a good suspension to save our back. Since the hardtail bikes are lacking the rear suspension the whole comfort will be based on the suspension provided by the front suspension. Generally, the hardtail bikes have a suspension fork with suspension travel of around 100mm to 140mm. XC bikes also have similar suspension travel at around 100mm to 120mm.
The suspension travel of the suspension fork tends to increase with the aggressiveness demanded by the bikes. The maximum suspension travel is found in the full suspension bikes but this is not at all possible in hardtail bikes. If the suspension travel becomes more than 120mm then the difference between the back and the front suspension will be too much and this will cause instability during the rides.
A longer suspension journey may look like offering better rides in all conditions and that they can be good companions in rough terrains that will otherwise break your back. But the reality is far away from that. If the suspension travel is less, then you will be having better knowledge about the track from the feedback you receive through the handles.
This will help you guide your bike well even in these conditions. With longer travel, you will ride into a much worse road being ignorant because of the cushioning effect of the suspension. In the bikes with a rear suspension, this won’t be much of a problem. Whichever bike you buy, make sure that you maintain them well. Otherwise, the performance you expect from them won’t be delivered. Always clean up and service the parts whenever necessary.
Many think that mountain biking is a men-only sport but that’s not the case. There are bikes specifically dedicated to women. If you want the best full suspension bike for women, then select one from them. You will love the selection we have here. Some of the things that you have to check in the best hardtail mountain bikes for women are listed below.
- Shock Tune: Generally, women with exactly the same height as men will be 30 pounds or lighter than men. And this is somewhat proved by the researchers conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. So, despite the similar height, the suspension of the women bikes must be having a lighter suspension tuning than that of men.
If you keep them lighter, then the hardtails bikes will be much responsive to women on them. This will give them a much better riding experience. It won’t be a major drawback but there is no point in choosing something so stiff that you feel the entire bump on your body. And the comfort point for a person might not be the same as that of another person so finding the ideal spot is crucial. So, if you want to get the best hardtail for women, then go in search of female-friendly fork tunes. This is quite difficult to find if your budget is below $3000.
- Contact Points: The bikes made for women have features that will make it comfortable for women in all cases. For instance, the contact point in a bike is crucial in having a comfortable ride on a bike. You can go for a women-specific saddle for added comfort for women but sadly the ones that come by default on these bikes are in no way comfortable.
To get the best riding experience, you will have to spend some time into getting the one that is well suited for you. It is also a good option to go for narrow bars and small grips as it can improve the comfort in holding the handles. Fortunately, adding them later won’t incur a lot of cash.
- Women’s Specific Geometry: Design of women bikes is not that different because in most of the cases the demands for a man rider and woman rider is the same. What we have seen in women-specific designs is that they have an affinity towards the cross country style and have a straighter seating position. This will be of advantage if you are just planning to ride on light tracks. But normally that’s not the case. And the woman who wants to push their limits will find this as a hindrance.
FAQ About Hardtail Mountain Bikes
How can we define a hardtail bike?
In simple words, a hardtail is a cheap mountain bike that only has suspension in the front and has a stronger frame.
Does having better suspension means a better ride?
If you want the name of the best suspension bike, then full suspension bikes will be taking that spot but in many cases, hardtail bikes show their advantages. Hardtail bikes are comparatively lighter than them so it is easy to use the hardtails to climb mountains.
With the less amount of suspension, you will get take a little bit of the impact every time you hit the bump. This way you will be getting the direct experience of riding the bike right at your hand.
Is it possible to ride at fast speeds using the hardtails?
You will be able to reach higher top speeds on hardtails but is much easier to reach top speed with full suspension bikes. Rear suspension can make pedaling less efficient so the lack of it puts hardtail at an advantage. You will be able to learn more techniques and this will, in the end, give you a better overall riding experience.
And that’s it for the day. If you are on a tight budget but still want to get the best out of the mountain biking experience, then hardtail bikes are for you. Even if you own a full suspension bike, having this bike as well will be a worthy investment in your garage. This is not a bike for a specific category so the beginners and the experts will be able to enjoy the ride on them.
If you want a good suggestion for an overall good ride, then Specialized Fuse can take that title. Other worthy bikes include the Santa Cruz Chameleon, Trek Stache 9.7. They all are capable of carrying you for a long distance with the total feel of riding a good bike. If what you crave for is ultimate speed, then choose the Commencal Meta AM HT, it is the one you are looking for. Whichever bike you like, get it really fast and let your adrenaline rush.