Hardtails are a magical thing. A unicorn if u must 😀 It’s safe to bet that 99% of us started our own MTB life journeys on a hardtail. For those who started out on a full susser, you are a minority. There’s a magic to hardtails not everyone can appreciate and watching a really good rider slay a difficult trail on that rigid frame is awe-inspiring.
What are hardtails? It’s a bike with a front suspension fork and no rear suspension.
With hardtails, the frame material is key. Steel, Titanium, Carbon, Aluminium, custom-made or even bamboo, there’s a frame material to suit everyone’s palatte. There are a few important skills that will allow you to ride a hardtail better, and make you a better rider – you need to pay attention to cornering, traction, off-camber sections and line choice. Often it’s more about feeling the trail, scoping for lines and how you actually ride over roots, rocks and obstacles, rather than attacking and hoping the bike will get you through the other side.
The best thing about hardtails is that you have to learn to ride properly, and you can take those skills to full suspension and it instantly makes you a better rider, but it doesn’t work the other way round.
There is no arguing that hardtails are very simple machines. All of those pivots and linkages on a full-sus bike will eventually need servicing, and the rear shock will need new seals after a while. Movements from the suspension pivot causes cables to rub on the frame, and the chain growth can lead to premature chain wear. It’s something that you’re not afraid to throw around (unless it’s a SGD$3000 Lynskey frame) and just have fun.
And personally, I’ve found myself swapping in between my enduro bike and my steel hardtail more and more just to shake up my ride every now and then. What used to be a straight line in BeeTee is no longer true whenever you’re on a hardtail, and it gives me huge grins wrangling my hardtail to make it through.
In my honest opinion, full suspension bikes do make for a more comfortable ride, but as soon as you find your regular trails no longer challenging, pick up a hardtail and try to ride the same line as hard as you can. And if you don’t crash and successfully made it through, you’ll realise how much fun hardtails can be.
So do you ride a hardtail?