Buying a mountain bike isn’t something you should rush into. There are lots of things to consider to help you find that perfect trail companion. If you’re considering investing on a mountain bike, you’ll inevitably be facing a big choice: hardtail vs full suspension mountain bike.
Whether you’re a road rider looking for the thrills of hitting the dirt and going off-road or a new cyclist looking to buy his first mountain bike, we urge you to read on. This guide will help you find the right bike that suits your needs, budget, riding style, and will keep you satisfied for the years to come.
Hardtail vs Full Suspension Mountain Bike
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Hardtail is the name given to bikes with rigid frames and feature front suspension, but no rear suspension. Impact-absorbing suspension is only fitted to the front of the bike, while the rear end is fixed.
Full suspension bikes feature both front and rear shocks. Because of this feature, these bikes absorb much more impact, making them more appropriate for technical trails.
There is a huge variance in price in hardtail vs full suspension mountain bike. Typically, hardtail mountain bikes are more affordable. This is largely because full suspension comes with a rear shock and a pivoting rear, which is far more costly and complicated to design and manufacture.
If you’re new to mountain biking and you’re looking for an affordable mountain bike for light riding, you can get more bike for your buck with a hardtail. In fact, you can get durable, reliable, and better spec’ed hardtail bike for the same price as a lower end full suspension bike. Full suspension bikes aren’t cheap. Expect to pay around $3,000 for a good full suspension bike. If you have the budget, then go for it.
When buying a bike, make sure that you include cycling gears such as helmet, glasses, gloves, and apparels into your budget. You may also want to a backpack and a hydration pack. Don’t spend all your money on the bike alone. Keep some budget back for your cycling paraphernalia.
A full suspension bike is generally 1 kg heavier than a hardtail bike. This is mainly because of the rear shock plus the extra tubes and pivots that add to the bike’s weight. But if you have the budget, you can buy a full suspension bike that is as light as a hardtail bike. Typically, the more you are willing to pay, the lighter the bike will be.
The best bike for you will largely depend on the type of riding you do. If you prefer an all-around bike, then you’d be more comfortable with a heavier full suspension bike. But if you usually ride uphill, a hardtail bike will make the climb easier.
Full suspension gets the vote when it comes to comfort. As mentioned, full suspension bikes are equipped with both shock-absorbing front and rear systems. The combination of bump absorption and extra traction helps dampen rough terrain. That means, your body doesn’t get pounded as hard by the trail.
Full suspension will give you the confidence and handling a hardtail never could. That rock garden that had you terrified on a hardtail now becomes a fun feature to barrel over. With full suspension, you’ll have a more comfortable ride, especially over longer, technical distances.
Hardtails are a great choice if you spend majority of your time on fairly smooth trails. Without a safety net of a rear shock to help you along, riding the trails is a lot less comfortable on a hardtail. It gets you planning and thinking about your line a little further advance.
Fewer moving parts means there is a lesser chance that you’ll need to deal with repairs. Hardtail mountain bikes are mechanically simpler. There are no rear shocks, extra mounts or pivots to worry about. Meaning, it requires fewer replacement parts and less maintenance. With a hardtail bike, you’ll have more time riding and less time on repair and maintenance. A full suspension bike has more components and may cost more to maintain over time.
As a cyclist, you want your bike to be dependable, durable, and comfortable. But let’s face it. You also care about bike aesthetics.
Some people like the simple looks for a hardtail mtb, while others prefer the more aggressive aesthetics of full suspension mountain bike. When it comes to hardtail vs full suspension mountain bike aesthetics, it all boils down to your personal preference.
When traversing steep descents, full suspension bikes have a clear advantage. The rear suspension works well when bombing downhill. A descent on the rocks changes from a continuous shaking to a smooth descent with a slight swing up and down. If you are a full-on downhill junkie, a full suspension bike will be your only choice.
Which one will work better for you?
These bikes are built for different purposes. To help you decide between hardtail vs full suspension mountain bike, you need to take into account your riding style, the terrain you like to ride , how much you’re willing to spend, and what you want to get out of it.
If you are just starting out and you don’t fancy hemorrhaging your bank account just yet, stick with hardtail mountain bike. You’ll get better frame and components for your money with a hardtail. Plus, hardtails make for a great adventure ride for bikepacking and other long-ride shenanigans.
If you’re an older rider who just want a smoother ride or a cyclist who enjoy rough, technical trails, a full suspension mountain bike is likely to be your choice. The combination of front and rear suspension creates a smoother ride, which translates to more fun on rough terrain.