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The Differences Between A Hardtail & Full Suspension Mountain Bike

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October 7, 2021

dual suspension versus hardtail mountain bike

Mountain biking has become a popular sport in recent years, with many people choosing to test their limits on hardtail or full suspension bikes. If you are considering buying either of these bike types, the hardtail vs full suspension mountain bikes article will help you understand the differences between them and which one is right for you!

What Is A Full Suspension Or Dual Suspension MTB?

A full suspension mountain bike has shocks, or springs, built into the frame of the bike that will absorb some of the shock from riding over rough terrain. This allows for more control when navigating tougher trails and can be especially useful on downhill sections where speed needs to be kept under control.

Full suspension bikes are heavier than hardtails, however they are also capable of tackling tougher trails.

Suspension frames are more comfortable to ride and perform better on rough terrain. They also absorb some of the shock from bumps, which can decrease fatigue and make for a more comfortable riding experience.

Full suspension mountain bikes are heavier than hardtail ones; this is because they have additional components such as front and rear shocks, swing arms etc.

Where Does A Full Suspension Mountain Bike Perform Well?

The full suspension mountain bike excels on tough trails and downhill sections.

Some people think that hardtails are better for climbing hills because they have a lighter weight and don’t sway as much. However, this is not actually true. With almost all full suspension mountain bikes now being made with lightweight materials, it would be hard to argue against their design for climbing.

dual suspension mtb frame

What Is A Hardtail Mountain Bike?

A hardtail mountain bike is a bicycle that has front suspension fork but no rear shock or rear suspension. There is no rear shock in the back like on a full suspension mountain bike, and may feel more jarring when hitting bumps or rocks at higher speeds.

With hardtails, you get the advantage of a lighter frame and better rear shock absorption for trail riding. They are also easy to manoeuvre on trails that aren’t as rough or steep. A hardtail without rear suspension is easier to keep straight on climbs, as we’ll see below.

Where Does A Hardtail Mountain Bike Excel?

A hardtail mountain bike excels on hardpacked single-track trails, as well as for dirt jumping. It is also a great choice if you are an avid trail rider but want to save money because hardtails tend to be much cheaper than full suspension bikes.

Hardtails Are Great For Learning

Hardtails are great for learning how to ride a mountain bike because they are lighter and less expensive than full suspension models. That said, hardtails can be just as fun to ride on the trails if you keep in mind where they excel most (not steep hills or jumps). They are perfect for the smoother trials and will result in a smoother ride.

hardtail mtb frame

What Are The Popular Hardtail Mountain Bike Brands?

There are several hardtail mountain bike brands that deserve mention.

Giant bikes have models with only front suspension, although the rear only has shock absorbers for comfort and stability on trails with bumps or rocks. Most models of these hardtails may also come equipped with disc brakes. Other brands include the Cannondale, Diamondback and the GT hardtail mountain bikes. In Australia, the most popular hardtail bikes come form brands such as Polygon, Marin, Trek, and Fluid.

Trek hardtails are known for their lightweight high-quality aluminum frames which also come with front suspension systems that make riding over bumps or rocks much more comfortable.

A full-suspension bike is right for you if you want to tackle hard-packed trails with some bumps, go fast on downhill sections of the trail, and also climb hills. A hardtail is right for you if you are an avid mountain biker who wants to save money or learn how to ride a bike more easily.

Trek

Trek Hardtail mountain bikes are popular with beginners and casual riders. They are known for their simplicity, durability, and affordability which is why they are perfect for beginning mountain bikers to hone skills on the trails before moving up to a full suspension bike.

Trek full suspension mtbs are lighter and more responsive, making it easier for riders to navigate on trails with more obstacles. They also offer the adjustable suspension which is great for mountain bikers who want a smoother ride off-road.

Polygon

Polygon has a range of mountain bikes including full suspension and hardtails. The popular Polygon bike models are the Siskiu T7, Xtrada, E-Sommet. The full suspension bike has a 120mm travel front fork with Suntour Aion shock while the hardtail model comes standard with a Rockshox Recon Silver TK Solo Air 100mm fork.

Marin

Marin is also another popular bike brand that sells both hardtail and a full suspension bike range. Models include the Nail Trail, Hawk Hill and Bobcat. Although less well-known than other brands on this list, Marin offers a more budget friendly option with similar qualities to some of their higher end counterparts.

One great thing about the Marin bikes are that they offer complete customization features for each model. Therefore you have the opportunity to choose your own specifications.

Fluid has a range of hardtail mtbs, and are great for beginners or casual bikers. The Fluid Nitro is a hardtail mountain bike with a 27.five inch wheelbase making it perfect for both riders who are shorter or taller than average heights due to its adjustability design. The frame of the Nitro is made out of 6061 aluminum alloy which makes this mountain bike lightweight, yet durable enough to handle anything you can throw at it on your outdoor adventures!

The Fluid Momentum hardtail mtb is another great bike with a very affordable price tag making it an excellent choice for new riders, or those who want to start mountain biking on the weekends. The Momentum comes in three different sizes small-medium-large so no matter what your height you can find one that fits correctly!

Other Things to Know When Choosing A Hardtail Or Suspension Bike

There are many different kinds of hardtail mountain bikes and suspension mountain bikes. Make sure to do a little research before you buy anything. This way, you know what type is the best fit for you.

If it’s your first time buying a bike or if this will be used in racing competitions, make sure that there is enough support and that you will be able to find replacement parts.

If the terrain is tough, then a suspension bike might suit your needs better than a hardtail mountain bike. This way, it’s more forgiving on longer rides with steep inclines or declines compared to its counterpart.

A hardtail mountain bike may be better for straight paths or trails where there are less obstacles.

Don’t worry about the frame size until after you’ve tried out both kinds of mountain bikes to see which one feels best with your body type. Some people might feel more comfortable on a larger frame while others would rather have something smaller that allows them better control over their bike.

Tyres & Traction

Your bikes traction is affected by the type of tires you put on your bike. A full suspension bike generally used tyres that are less knobby. A hardtail mtb generally will have tyres with a lot more knobbies. Knobby tyres tend to help grip when riding on loose surfaces such as sand or mud but they also have less rolling momentum which means the mountain bike will be harder to pedal uphill with them fitted.

Bike Weight

Hardtails have a frame weight which is lighter than a full suspension mountain bike. Their weight can range from 20 to 30 pounds, while full suspension bikes can weigh 50 or more. A lighter frame means faster speeds and easier climbing, but the rider must do all of the work with little assistance from shocks.

Full Suspension Mountain Bikes are heavier than hardtails by about 20 to 40 lbs. The added weight gives them a smoother ride over bumps.

Which is faster?

Full suspension bikes are faster than hardtails because the shocks absorb some of the impact from bumps. Some riders find this makes it more difficult to pedal and climb, but their speed makes up for that disadvantage.

Hardtail Or Dual Suspension For Downhill

A full suspension is the obvious choice for most people when it comes to downhill. They are great at absorbing shocks and can be made with top of the line components so they will last you a long time if properly maintained. However, their weight makes them less nimble than hardtails which can make turning difficult in some situations. Additionally, riders

Hardtail Or Dual Suspension For Climbing?

This is a tricky one, and certainly depends on the trail or the climb itself. If the climb is not overly rough or bumpy, the a hardtail might be the best option, as less energy is wasted and more traction put to the ground. There are also easier to keep straight. However if the terrain become overly rough or bumpy, you’ll find it easier to keep traction to the ground as the suspension riders the bumps. Due to the geometry of a full suspension bike, you might also find yourself fighting to keep the bike straight and waster more energy that needed.

What Do Mountain Bike Competitors Use?

Racers can use either kind of mountain bike, but many opt for hardtails to shave off weight. They are also easier to manoeuvre through obstacles at speed when compared with full suspension bikes. Obviously thought it will depends on the course and terrain.

The Verdict – Should You Get a Hardtail Or MTB With Rear Suspension?

As mentioned above, it’s going to depend on your riding style, the technical terrain, if you’re riding the same trails all the time and if you’re only riding for leisure or fitness, or competition such as cross country racing.

A dual suspension mountain bike certainly may be suitable if you’re doing a lot of downhill or really tough, rough climbing terrain. A full suspension mtb will certainly be a good option if this is the case.

If you mainly ride smooth trails, less rough ground, a bike with rear shock makes this style of bike be not so suitable. Rear suspension in this case probably is overkill and not needed, and actually may end up with you wasting energy to the ground. Dual suspension bikes, as opposed to a hardtail bike with a rigid rear end and only front suspension is going to be your best option.

As MTBs have evolved, so has modern mountain biking, with both hardtail and full suspension frame bike equally popular. Choose your new mountain bike with all this in mind, and you can’t go wrong.

Prices are certainly going to differ, but generally speaking a hardtail will be slightly cheaper than a full suspension mountain bike. This is because the hardtail only has front suspension which means that less components are needed to create it. Additionally, they usually have no rear shock so again this saves money over a full suspension bike with both types of shocks.

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About the author 

Beastie Bikes Pete

Hi I'm Pete. I'm a passionate mountain biker in Australia. I enjoy writing about biking as much as doing it......almost!

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