You could say hardtails are making a comeback, but to a large group of devoted fans, they never went away. When you get down to brass tacks, it’s not hard to see why hardtails still have a passionate following.

1. Hardtails are less expensive

Given identical components, a hardtail version will almost always be cheaper than its full-suspension counterpart. As a result, they make great entry-level bikes, but they can also stretch an advanced rider’s dollar further. Instead of paying for a rear shock and complex linkages (and the patents that protect them), hardtails leave riders with change to spare on carbon wheels, a nicer drivetrain, or a better fork.

2. Hardtails are simple

All those pivot points on a full-suspension model will wear out eventually, and – in theory – you’re supposed to service that rear shock every 100 hours or so. For some riders I know that would amount to a monthly service interval. And riders can forget adjusting that rear shock for high-speed compression, damping, and rebound. Hardtail riders just ride.

3. Hardtails are efficient

You’ll never have to worry about battling pedal bob on long climbs. Hardtails transfer virtually all the power to the wheel. It can be a liberating feeling to stand up and hammer away.

There are other advantages too. Full-suspension bikes smooth out lines, and the rear shock will occasionally enable riders to write speed checks their riding ability can’t quite cash. A hardtail keeps mountain bikers honest, and given the chance, it will teach the rider a lot about mountain biking.

With a nod toward Aaron Chamberlain’s original list of 10 Hardcore Hardtails, here are 10 more bikes that encourage riders to turn the shred dial to 11 without the “inconvenience” of a rear shock.

Chromag Surface

$1,650 frame

Photo: Chromag

No list of hardtails would be complete without an offering from the company that still hasn’t come to grips with the rear shock. All Chromag bikes are beautiful, but the Surface belongs on this list thanks to its ample 150mm fork and 66-degree head tube angle. The bike also has a long wheelbase of 1,218mm for the size large, and the frame can fit plus-sized 27.5” tires or narrower, standard 29er tires.

The Surface costs a pretty penny, and $1,650 doesn’t buy any parts besides the steel frame. If you’re going all-in, $4,250 will have you riding away on GX Eagle, while $5,150 gets you the same bird in X01 along with slightly nicer Guide RSC brakes.

# Comments

  • Legbacon

    You should check out the Pipedream Moxie. I have one and it’s incredible. I am riding it here on Vancouver Island more than my Knolly Endorphin, yes it is that much fun.

  • vapidoscar562

    I have been looking to build a bike up from the frame. Waiting on On*One to get the Deedar back in stock. My only concern is it is very slack (I think 65.5). I know that is steeper than a FS with the same HT angle because only the front will be sagged. But the reality is I live in Ohio and would trade quicker steering for less downhill performance.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a frame with a bit steeper HT angle? Steel with through-axle would be my first choice. Ideal price range is $300-$400. Thanks in advance.

  • Dr Sweets

    @vapidoscar562: The Kona Honzo is one of the OG’s in this category and the 2015 on steel models are likely exactly what you are looking for. You can a used Honzo steel frame for that cost with some research. The ’12-14 models are also good, but the geometry is better on the later models. That said, I don’t think the slacker head angle would be a deal breaker and you might actually really like it. Case in point, Honzo’s come with a 68 degree head angle/120mm travel fork and I immediately threw a 140mm fork on mine. It rides much better and I believe I could run up to a 160mm fork without any issues.

  • GatDog

    The Surface is sweet (and can be had in Ti), but Chromag also do the Rootdown BA and it’s handmade-in-Canada brother the Primer. They’re even more progressive: 29er or 27+ with 65-degree HA and 75-degree SA with a 160mm Lyric, 415mm chainstay – they rip!

  • stumpyfsr

    Cool list. I like to ride hard tail myself, on fast twisty trails or gravel roads. Sometimes on very rough trails. There’s a unique feel when riding hard tail.
    However when terrain becomes seriously rough it’s full-suspension territory. It’s faster, comfier and I feel fresh and ready to ride next day thanks to that rear shock and linkage that was serviced only once 4 years ago.
    Prices on some of these bikes are way too much. $4-5k for steel hard tail?! This is how much full suspension cost.

  • Tspillane1

    One other model that I feel should be considered is the “GT Pantera”. 3 different builds, Modern trail geometry w/tapered head tube, 27.5+ tires, good suspension & either 2 x 9 or a 1x drivetrain. The sport retails at $750 but can be had for much less. I had my sport 27.5+ delivered for under $400. Probably one of best bikes in its price range. It rides great & I am very happy with the performance Igor for the $$$. A bit heavy, but that’s the trade off for lower dollars I guess. Amazing value on a solid bike that I feel is worth upgrading down the road as my skills improve.

  • Sea Loam

    Great list of All Mountain Hardtails again. Hardtails are so damn capable right now. If I cant ride it on a hardtail, then I just cant ride it!

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