What is a Hardtail Mountain Bike?

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You may have heard people talking about hardtail mountain bikes. As you might guess, hardtail mountain bikes are different from standard mountain bikes. The difference in terms of visuals is not that significant, but that slight difference is essential for performance.

This article discusses hardtail mountain bikes, the differences between them and other bikes, and their benefits.

Standard Mountain Bike vs. Hardtail Mountain Bike

The primary difference between a normal and a hardtail mountain bike concerns the suspension. Generally speaking, this is the only notable difference, besides a few other things resulting from this significant difference.

A standard mountain bike is also known as a full-suspension mountain bike. It generally features two suspension areas – a front suspension fork and a rear shock –  designed to absorb large amounts of impact.

On the other hand, a hardtail mountain bike has only a front suspension fork, which may even be pretty small. This type of mountain bike is not really designed to absorb much impact.

Therefore, the main difference is that full suspension mountain bikes are designed to absorb a lot of impact and deal with extremely rough terrain. On the other hand, hardtail mountain bikes are still designed for rough terrain but not nearly as rough as full suspension mountain bikes.

The Main Differences

Now that we know the fundamental difference between a full suspension and a hardtail mountain bike, let’s look at additional details.

The Ideal Terrain

Hardtail mountain bikes are not ideal for all terrain types. Sure, a hardtail mountain bike is perfect for riding downhill, on light trails, and even paved city streets.

However, they aren’t the best for extremely rough terrain because they only have a front suspension fork and no rear suspension. If you are riding over rocks, roots, bumps, and other such obstacles, a hardtail bike might not be your best option.

If you are riding over extremely rough terrain, you probably want to go with a full suspension mountain bike that can absorb the impacts that you will encounter when riding over extreme turf.

That said, a full suspension mountain bike will not be quite as speedy as a hardtail mountain bike when riding downhill over reasonably smooth terrain. This is because while a hardtail mountain bike can absorb a bit of impact with its front suspension fork, it can’t absorb all that much, and therefore the most impact is absorbed by your legs and arms.

Using a hardtail mountain bike to ride over extremely rough terrain will result in painful knees and elbows at the end of the day. However, if you just ride smooth trails and you want a speedy ride with a little bit of impact absorption, then a hardtail bike is the way to go.

What is a Hardtail Mountain Bike


Moving parts are prone to breaking and require maintenance regularly. However, a hardtail bike has fewer moving parts than a full suspension mountain bike due to not having a rear shock. It is, therefore, less prone to breaking and will require maintenance less often than a full suspension mountain bike.


The rear shock on a full suspension mountain bike is going to add a bit of weight. However, that amount of weight is not going to be huge, but there is a difference.

Generally speaking, hardtail mountain bikes will be a bit lighter than full suspension mountain bikes and may therefore be more enjoyable for some people to ride. If anything, it’s going to take less energy to produce forward momentum with a lighter bike.


The other difference that you need to think about here is that hardtail mountain bikes tend to cost a little bit less than full suspension mountain bikes.

Full suspension mountain bikes have extra components and a slightly more complicated build, adding to the overall price. However, you can find some reasonably expensive hardtail mountain bikes as well.


The bottom line is that if you were planning on riding trails and down mountainsides that aren’t too rough, a hardtail mountain bike is the way to go.

However, if you are hitting jumps or dealing with highly rugged terrain, you probably want the shock-absorbing capabilities of a full suspension mountain bike.

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