A list of Progressive Hardtails in 2023

Over time mountain bikes have changed dramatically in how the different angles of the frame come together. These angles together create the “geometry” of a bike, and have a major impact on how the bike handles on different types of trail. In general, the MTB trend has been for more “slack”, or “progressive” geometry over the past few years. That means shallower head tube angles and steeper seat tube angles. While most full suspension mountain bikes have gone this direction, many hard tails have not. This is sometimes intentional to make XC race bikes that are easier to ride long distances on different trails (e.g. BMC Twostroke, Ibis DV9, Giant Advanced, Scott Sparc), but if you really want to get into riding features and fast downhills, slacker will probably suit you more.

This list is of bikes that we feel most riders wanting to hit actual MTB trails will find preferable. The shallower head tube angle puts the suspension fork in a better position to absorb hits and lengthens the wheelbase adding stability for downhill sections. The seat tube angle puts your weight more over the wheels while you are in your saddle and pedaling uphill.

The Slack Hardtail List

Our criteria to make the Progressive Hardtail list:

  • 66.5 degree or less head tube angle
  • 73 degree or more seat tube angle
  • Front suspension
  • Full bikes only (no bare frames)
MakerModelStandout featureHTASTAWBStarting PricePrice Range
MarinSan QuentinStocked across dealer network64751203$999$999-$1999
MarinEl RoyOld school steel frame with super slack geo63781252$2399$2399
MarinPine MountainSteel frame especially for bikepacking66751177$1500$1500-$2400
NukeproofScoutLong time leader in hardcore hardtail64.5~731183$1600$1600-$3800
TrekMarlin Gen 3Entry level is now more progressive65.573.41163$900$900-$1300
CanyonStoicDirect-to-consumer value brand65751193$1200$1200-$2200
KonaHonzo ESDSteel frame hardcore hardtail6377.51216$3100$3100
KonaHonzo DLLong travel hardcore hardtail65.576.51185$2700$2700
KonaHonzoLess extreme Honzo66.5751176$1900$1900
Rocky MountainGrowler64751210$1400$1400-$2200
VoodooBizango, Bizango Pro, Horde, Braag, Wazoo, SoukriRange of levels on same frame66.574.51172$748$748-$1258
Santa CruzChameleon65741184$2099$2099-$2999
CommencalCommencal Meta HT6474.51202$1650$1650$4200
NorcoNorco Torrent64~761199$1900$900-$3800
GiantGiant Fathom27.5 only66751174$1500$1500$1850
LivLiv LurraWomen’s progressive hardtail66761159$1500$1500$1850
OrbeaOrbea Laufey65.5751174$2000$2000-$3000
SalsaSalsa TimberjackChangeable dropout means the chain stay and wheelbase can be lengthened66751164$2099$2099-$2899
GTGT Zaskar LTClassic old school model with modern geo66751205$1725$1725$2025
IbisDV9Short wheelbase66.5751145$3500$3500-$8700
MotobecaneMotobecane Fantom29Online value brand from Bikesdirect.com66731166$499$499$1999
SagePowerlineHandbuilt titanium66~731173$6051$6051
SageFlowTitanium hardcore ht64761222$5331$5331
SonderSignalAluminum and Titanium version66741149$1700$1700-$5850
GiordanoIntrepidWalmart value66741180$650$650
GhostNirvana Trail Universal6674.61177€1,999€1,999
ChromagRootdownSteel or titanium frame64761202$3277$3277$7093
BirdZero AM27.5 long travel and hard core. Geometry data not published.64£1,937£1,937
RagleyBlue Pigsteel frame, 27.563.75741194£2200£2200-£2500

RagleyMmmbop27.5 long travel63.75741192£1600£1600-£2000
RagleyBig Wig29er long travel64.5741197£2200£2200-£2500
RagleyBig Al29er Marley65.5741197£1400£1400-£1600
RagleyPiglet27.5, 130mm travel65.5731163£2200£2200
NS BikesEccentricSteel and Aluminum options66.5~731157€1350€1350-€2600
OrangeP7Steel Crush65741230$3400$3400
Guerilla GravityPedalheadSteel frame65741218$3000$3000-$4800
JamisDragonSteel frame65761220$2500$2500
LynskeyLive WireTitanium frame66.5741185$4980$4980-$5250
KnollyTyaughtonTitanium or steel frames64.5751221$3000$3000-$6200
Production PrivéeShanSteel frames, short wheelbase65.574.51144€2462€2.462-€4575
RSDMiddle ChildAluminum, steel or titanium frames64.5741205$2650$2650-$4400
RSDRS-291Hardcore HT in titanium or steel63.575.31240$3050$3050$5250
QayronSpyroAluminum and steel framed Czech bikes66731187€1150€1150-€2100
Neuhaus Metal WorksHummingbirdHandbuilt in steel 66.574.11146$5040$5040+++
Neuhaus Metal WorksSolstice 29Handbuilt in steel6575.51198$5030$5030+++
On-OneWrekker / Hello DaveTitanium-or-steel hardcore62771295$1376$1376-$4074
Pace RC627Steel 27.56475.51225£3200£3200-£4240
RibbleHT Trail65741195£999£999-£1999
RibbleHT AL, Ti, 725 (steel)27.5 trail bike64741187£1,299£1,299-£2,199
Crossworx ZERO290Up to XXL size6475.51225€3490€3.490
PreveloZulu (14-26″ kids bikes)6674$469$469-$1100
StifSquatchRadical geo house brand64781208£2,100£2,100-£3700
PoseidonNortonAffordable hardtail with a thru axle65751189$999$999
NorcoFluid HTRare bike that has HT and FS versions of the same model66.574.51166$1100$1100-$1600
  • Notes:
    • Actual (without sag) measurements where possible
    • Price is MSRP in all cases except where bike is always “discounted” (e.g. Motobecane)

If you know of others or have experience to share on one of these, post in the comments.

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