Opinions on the best hardtail for climbing

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Opinions on the best hardtail for climbing

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    • #609035

      I am looking around for recommendations on what  is the best climbing stock hardtail on the market. More specifically, I am focusing in on an XC or gravel bike platform. I would like to spend under $2k.

      Thanks in advance

    • #609039

      Most of the stock gravel bikes I’ve seen are not really geared for stiff climbs, at least for those of us who do not have the genetics of a tour de France climber. As an example, the Canyon carbon fiber Grizl CF SLX 8 has a front chainring of 40T and a rear cassette of 10-44 giving a lowest gear of about 30 gear inches. This retails for $6500. A Hardtail mountain bike might have a front chainring of 32T and a rear lowest gear cog of 50 T (or higher). I guess one question is what you will be using the bike for.

    • #609089

      The Orbea Alma M50 comes in right at your budget. I have one as my XC bike, and it climbs like a goat. Very fun bike.

    • #609116

      You don’t say exactly how you intend to use this bike. Will you be climbing steep gravel roads or steep difficult singletrack? Are you intending to stay on mostly gravel or mostly singletrack or a mix of both? After you make those climbs, what are the descents like?

      90% of what makes a bike climb well is that it is very lightweight, especially the wheels and tires. Geometry plays into it some, but not as much as you might think. All XC hardtails mostly have fairly old school traditional geo. So there’s not going to be much difference between brands. In my mind an XC hardtail is the worst sort of mountain bike made. They beat you up. Their tires provide lousy traction and they descend poorly.

      However, if you put a set of Gravel tires on an XC hardtail, I think that they make a better Gravelbike than the standard dropbar Gravelbike because I prefer flatbars, mountainbike drivetrains, and suspension even on gravel and pavement. I use a full-sus XC bike with 700×43 gravel tires as my Gravelbike and it performs pretty well up to smoother intermediate singletrack. Ultimately, the tires are overwhelmed when the trails get more difficult.

      If you’re looking to use an XC hardtail as an easy singletack bike and Gravelbike, then I fully endorse it and I don’t think it matters which brand you buy. Just look for something lightweight with the best components for the money. However, if your looking for a singletrack trail ripper, a progressive geo Hardtail with 29×2.6 tires will serve you better.

    • #609277

      I live in a rural area and this bike is intended to ride on rough asphalt and gravel. I have lots of rolling hills around me with grades between 4 and 7 %. Some short and steep and some long, a mile +, and not so steep. It is not uncommon to have 1500 feet of assent and 1500 feet of decent over a a 15 mile ride. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • #609279

      With that type of ride scenario I think you could be in good shape with any of hardtails in that price range from the big brands.  Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc.  all are trustworthy.  I have heard good things about Polygon,  though I have never owned one.   I would say at that price range you should be able to get a 1x drivetrain (which you should want).

      You said rural area and gravel roads,  do you get snow?  If so,  think about a fat bike.  You can get away with a fully rigid fork and the cost is comparable.  Look at Framed,  Wyatt Cycles, Gravity.  They look goofy but they are pretty fun to ride and they absorb a lot of vibration from gravel.  Just get one with good tires.  The tires make all the difference on fat bikes.

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