Advantages of a Hard Tail Mountain Bike
There’s something of a small-scale war between those who ride hard-tail mountain bikes and those who ride full-suspension. As with most wars small- or large-scale, most of the fighters want to talk about the weaknesses of the other guys’ position. So let’s talk instead of four advantages of hard-tail mountain bikes.
1. Less expensive.
Yes, you can buy a multi-thousand dollar hard-tail bike; but what you lose in rear suspension you make up for in component packages and lighter weight. $1,500 buys you a very nice, lightweight hard-tail, while that same amount just gets you into most full-suspension bikes.
2. Less maintenance.
Any full suspension bike with more than an inch of travel has, at a minimum, six more bearings than a hard-tail – not to mention it has the shock itself. That’s six more places for things to go wrong, and one big place that recommends maintenance usually every 50 hours of riding. So not only is the bar for entry higher on full-suspension than hard-tail, it’s also higher to maintain.
3. They make you a better rider.
Suspension is, up to a certain point, more like mistake-forgiveness. Miss the line you wanted? That’s okay, it’s got some travel to soak up that rock. Miss it on a hard-tail? You remember for a long time afterward: it breaks your butt and sometimes the wheel. Smaller obstacles can throw off your rear wheel, forcing you to become more balanced, or end up on the ground.
4. They can be faster.
I say “can” intentionally, for reasons I discuss here. A poorly made full-suspension bike zaps energy as the suspension bobs with your pedals strokes – a problem completely gone from hard-tails. Lean and rigid, hard-tails send more of your energy from the pedals to the wheel, giving you a nice rocket feel.
Hard-tails take a couple steps backward from their over-produced, over-engineered brothers, offering you awesome bike without being pretentious. It’s also far harder to become a lazy, unfocused rider who just bashes his way to that one obstacle he suddenly can’t surmount, while you dance over it shaking your head.
Bike used in photo: Specialized Rockhopper Comp