There are many reasons to own and of course ride a hardtail.
As a second bike (assuming your first is a full suspension MTB of some description) it makes perfect sense. We all know the N+1 rule – so why not get a hardtail as your second bike?
They are very fashionable at the moment and in the UK in particular we have a particular taste for them and often in steel. Maybe its the simplicity, maybe its our riding style or maybe its the marketing!
There are a bunch of UK manufacturers making a tidy living out of hardtails – Bird Cycleworks, BTR fabrications, Stanton, Charge, On One etc all have a great line in hardtails and do well in the UK. I think the profile of XC racing and the 2012 Olympics has also raised the awareness of how capable a 29er hardtail can be and us cyclists do like a new bike.
Hardtail geometry is changing too. Longer and slacker bikes are turning what was once a tame trail machine into an aggressive trail machine and with right set up a half decent all mountain or trail centre rig. 650b wheels and 140mm forks and I think you have a very capable all year round steed that can cope with most you can throw it at.
So the landscape is changing and hard tails are getting a new lease of life – but that’s not really what I was here to discuss. But it does mean that the list of reasons to ride or even advantages of riding a hardtail is now getting longer.
- Cheaper – With no rear shock, suspension linkage, bearings etc the set up become simpler and less costly.
- Lighter – For the same reasons above the bike is simpler and therefore lighter.
- Quicker – Yes they can be quicker. Shedding the weight and having a direct drive to the rear wheel with no suspension bobbing, acceleration and speed can be increased. They is a point where the benefits of suspension can be a drag – sucking you into berms, absorbing jumps for instance. Take a hardtail to a trail centre and watch those personal best times pop up on your popular training app – oh alright Strava!
- Easier to maintain – Now we are getting close to the winter angle I was leading with. With less frame complexities you have less bearings and frame to clean and maintain.
- 1 by x – The growing popularity on 1x set ups combined with a hard tail means the simplicity and weight reductions just keep on coming. No front derailleur, one less cable and shifter results in less weight and a few less items you need to look after.
Combine all these benefits with Winter riding and you have a winner!
So as the UK trails get wetter and muddier you want a bike that’s easier to clean and maintain then you should consider riding a hard tail.
Mine took almost an hour to clean after Sunday’s ride around the soggy, claggy soil of Wiltshire.