How to Choose the Best Hardtail Mountain Bike (An Easy Guide)

So, you have decided that you want to get yourself either a new hardtail mountain bike or more excitingly, your first one. The problem is that there are so many options to choose from and also so many things that you need to consider. So, we decided to help you choose the best hardtail mountain bike.

Firstly, you need to buy one that is the best within your budget. You need to get one that is the right frame size for you as well. Then you need to consider what kind of trails that you are going to be riding on. Finally, you need to check the distance between the seat and the handlebars.

In this article, we are going to talk about the best hardtail mountain bikes within certain price points. From there we are going to give you five essential tips that you need to know when choosing your hardtail. Finally, we are going to discuss the difference between a hardtail mountain bike and a full suspension one. So, keep reading.

Are Hardtail Mountain Bikes Worth It?

This question can be subjective. Remember, it depends on what you use the bike for. In my experience, a hardtail mountain bike will give you great value for money. In fact, it could be the best value for money. However, there is a catch.

Different mountain bikes are better for different situations. A hardtail mountain bike is better if you are riding on smooth trails whereas a full suspension mountain bike will be better if you are riding on technical trails with a lot of obstacles.

At the end of the day, if you are on a budget but you want the best value for your money then yes, a hardtail mountain bike is absolutely worth it.

 

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $600

When buying a hardtail mountain bike for under $600, unfortunately, you will not be getting the best. I’m pretty sure that is obvious. However, with all of that being said, you will still be getting a bike that can do the job.

I would say that getting a hardtail mountain bike under $600 is perfect for beginners especially those that are on a budget. You will still be able to take the bike on almost any trail and you will still be able to overcome most obstacles.

The main difference between this bike and a premium one is maybe the amount of maintenance you will have to do. Also, even though you will still be able to ride most trails, it won’t be as comfortable as a premium bike would feel. Finally, getting through obstacles won’t be as efficient.

Bobcat bike

Marin Bikes Bobcat Trail 3: $629.00

The Bobcat Trail 3 uses something known as “Trail Geometry”. There are a few things that this offers. One of the most important things is Predictable handling. On any trail, handling is vital to your success and enjoyment. The low standover and long-ish reach also add extra control and comfort.

The Bobcat trail 3 comes in three sizes and these are small, medium, large, extra-large. You can also choose from two color combinations. The bike comes in either pink and blue or black and blue. 

The Series 2 hydroformed Aluminum frame is one of the best frames that you will find on any entry-level bike. It makes the bike strong and lightweight. All of this makes riding easier and prolongs the life of the bike.

You can choose between two sizes when it comes to the wheels. These are 27.5” or 29”. 

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $1000

Getting a hardtail mountain bike at $1000 still means that you are not getting the best. However, $1000 is the most common price point you will see when looking at other riders. 

Most trail riders who do the activity as more of a casual hobby will often use hardtail mountain bikes that fall into the $1000 price point. Now, let’s take a look at what type of mountain bike you can expect to get for $1000 and which one is the best.

MY21Talon1_ColorABlack

2021 Giant Bicycles Talon 1: $880.00

Giant bicycles are known for making some of the best bikes on the market and the Talon 1 is one of the best cross country bikes in my experience.

The Aluxx aluminum frame is lightweight, stable, and strong. Again, this frame is one of the best frames that can be used on entry-level bikes. It is the same frame used in the Bobcat series. However, it is customized according to Giant Bicycles.

When it comes to the wheels, you can choose between 29-inch or 27-inch alloy wheels.

On any bike, the suspension is important, and with the Talon 1, you can choose between 80mm and 100mm suspension setups. We will discuss the importance of this later on in the article, so, keep reading.

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $1500

If you can afford a hardtail mountain bike at around this price point, you will be getting a hardtail bike that will last you a long time and give you a great experience while riding on smooth trails.

It is at this point where you see people who are starting to take their mountain biking a little bit more seriously. These bikes are built with parts that you could say are premium. Here is our choice for the best hardtail mountain bike under $1500

2021-fluid-ht-a2-red-green

Norco Fluid HT 2: $1300.00 – $1400.00

This bike comes in 4 sizes with 2 wheel size combinations. The extra-small, small, and medium can come with 27.5-inch alloy wheels. The medium, large, and extra-large come with 29-inch alloy wheels. So, if you go for the medium frame size, you can choose what size wheels you want. For the rest, you are stuck with those combinations.

You can choose between red and green or black and charcoal. Basically, both colors give off a rugged feel.

The bike is best suited to singletrack adventures with its progressive aluminum frame. The frame is lightweight and durable which adds to the overall feel of the bike while riding. To add to this, the bike is fitted with a 120mm SR Suntour XCM32 LOR DS suspension fork.

 

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $2000

A lot of New riders might be surprised to learn that hardtail mountain bikes at this price point still aren’t necessarily the top of the range. To best explain what you will be getting from a bike like this, here is what I can say.

A hardtail mountain bike that is around the $2000 price point is known as the entry point for premium bikes. So, they are still premium however, for people that have the budget, there is a lot more money to be spent on bikes.

With that out of the way, here is our pick for the best hardtail mountain bike under $2000.

Stache5_19_23107_A_Primary

Trek Bikes Stache 5: $1800.00 – $2000.00

The wheels of this bike offer some of the best traction that you can get. This is because they are 3-inches fat. The suspension is also something that stands out with this bike. The Manitou Machete suspension setup is one of the best and it has 120mm of travel for those bumpy routes.

The Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame offers some of the best durability we have seen. It also makes the bike fairly lightweight especially when you consider the fat tires. The handlebars are almost perfect with their 750mm width.

The bike comes in 5 sizes ranging from small to extra-large. They also have a medium/large size that is perfect for people who are between 165.5cm to 179cm tall. In terms of color, it seems that you are restricted to a beautiful matte black.

 

XX Tips For Choosing A Hardtail Mountain Bike

Now that we have gone through the best hardtail mountain bikes at certain price points, I think we can carry on with the article and talk about the best way for you to choose a hardtail mountain bike.

 

The Right Frame Size

The best way to start this section would be to show you a table that highlights what frame size is right for you depending on your height. It is important to remember that a small, medium, or large frame from one company might be different from a small, medium, or large from another one. The values in this table represent averages. However, we cannot account for all the differences that manufacturers have.

Best Frame size for your height
Your Height Recommended frame size
5’0 to 5’5  Small
5’3.5 to 5’8 Medium
5’8 to 6’0 Large
5’11.5 to 6’4 Extra-large

That table should help you determine what size bike you should get. Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can keep the table as a reference. 

If you get a frame that is too small you will be putting extra strain on the bike. If you get one that is too big it might be quite dangerous at some point in your trails. This is because you will have less control of the bike.

 

Handlebars

When it comes to any bike let alone hardtail mountain bikes, there are various setups that you can get. Because everybody is different, some setups may suit you better than others.

One of the best sizes for a handlebar is 750mm wide. This is almost standard at this point although there are bikes that do things differently.

We cannot tell you what handlebar style is the best because this is subjective. Everybody is different. However, standard handlebars are the best if you are a beginner. Once you become more experienced, you can start to look at different styles.

Saddle Height And Distance

When choosing a hardtail mountain bike you want to make sure that the seat isn’t going to be too high or too low. Luckily most saddles are adjustable. 

One of the best things that you can do is to check the distance between the seat and the handlebars. Then you want to try and imitate what it would be like to sit on the bike and then measure your reach.

Your elbow should never be locked straight when you are on the bike. Your elbows should always be slightly bent so when you are taking measurements you need to take this into account.

The Right Suspension

Again, all bikes have different types of suspension setups. You must remember one thing when it comes to the suspension of your hardtail mountain bike.

A good quality suspension setup is the first thing that you need to look out for. It can make the ultimate difference when riding on the trail as to whether or not you can clear some obstacles.

It also determines how much wear-and-tear and how much strain is put on your mountain bike. If your suspension is too stiff you can be damaging the frame of your bike. At the same time, if it is too loose it will not be very efficient at handling some trails.

If you are riding on smooth trails you can get away with 80mm of suspension travel. However, the bumpier the trail gets the more travel your suspension will need to avoid an uncomfortable and bumpy ride. Also, you are trying to avoid as much wear and tear on the bike as possible. So, for bumpy trails, you should look at 120mm of travel distance.

The Right Wheels

In this section, we are not really going to talk about the different types of wheels in terms of grip. This is because the terrain of a trail can often depend on the weather. If it has been raining you will be on a muddy trail and if it is dry then you will be riding on sand and dust.

What is very important about the wheels is that you get the right size. There are two common sizes that you get on hardtail mountain bikes. These are 27.5-inch and 29-inch.

A larger wheel will give you a better chance of clearing larger obstacles on the trail while a smaller wheel will give you better control of the bike.

In terms of width, this depends on the train. If you ride around muddy trails you want to get fat tires. If you are riding around dry trails you might be better off with normal tires. 

Most bikes are sold as complete setups. So, you will not really be able to choose your wheels outside of what the manufacturer offers. 

So while the wheels are essential and had to be included in this article, it is something that you shouldn’t put too much effort into thinking about. This is because if you are a beginner or even an intermediate rider, you are probably going to buy a full setup anyways.

 

Hardtail Vs Full Suspension Mountain bike: What Is The Difference?

A full-suspension mountain bike has a suspension fork in the front and it also has shocks in the back. The hardtail mountain bike does not have those shocks at the back hence the name, “hardtail”.

Full suspension mountain bikes are better for very technical trails and trails that have a lot of obstacles such as bumps. The hardtail is better suited to smooth trails.

Finally, one major difference between the two is that hardtail mountain bikes are often a lot more budget-friendly than full-suspension mountain bikes.

Conclusion

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are a lot of options out there. Hopefully, we have narrowed down your choices. You must get the bike that suits you but if you follow our recommendations, you can’t go wrong.

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