What is a Hardtail Mountain Bike? (Comparison to Full Suspension MTBs)

What is a hardtail mountain bike?

In this article, we will deal in detail with exactly this question.

We’ll tell you the pros and cons of this type of bike and also determine whether a hardtail mountain bike could be right for you.

Let’s go!

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Key Takeaways

What is a Hardtail Mountain Bike? (Comparison to Full Suspension MTBs)
  • A hardtail mountain bike has a rigid rear axle with no suspension.
  • Hardtails are a good choice for riders who ride on flat terrain, frequently ride uphill, and prefer a lighter bike.
  • Compared to full-suspension mountain bikes, hardtails are easier to maintain and ride.
  • A full-suspension mountain bike can offer more control and stability for rougher trails due to its suspension systems.

Definition: What is a Hardtail Mountain Bike?

A hardtail mountain bike is a mountain bike with a rigid (non-suspension) rear axle. There is a suspension system on the front fork.

In most cases, the sturdy frame is made of aluminum or carbon and is available in various sizes and geometries. This is to ensure a perfect fit for women and men and different body sizes.

Compared to the full-suspension mountain bike (rear suspension), a hardtail mountain bike is lighter and more efficient on flat terrain and uphill.

However, the lack of suspension on the rear axle can put more strain on the rider on rough and challenging trails.

That’s about it for the classic definition.

In the next section, we’ll look at the pros and cons of this type of MTB.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hardtail Mountain bike

Hardtail or full suspension?

This question automatically arises if you are considering buying a new mountain bike.

To make an ideal decision for you, we will present the advantages and disadvantages of a hardtail mountain bike in this chapter.

Advantages of a hardtail mountain bike


A hardtail mountain bike is much more stable on flat terrain and uphill due to its rigid rear axle.

Lighter weight

Since hardtail mountain bikes do not have a suspended rear axle, they are usually lighter than full-suspension mountain bikes.

A hardtail mountain bike with a carbon frame is a true flyweight.

Lower maintenance costs

Hardtail mountain bikes have no moving parts on the rear axle that would require regular maintenance.

Therefore, the maintenance intervals are much more relaxed.


Fewer components automatically mean a lower price.

A full-suspension mountain bike with a high-quality suspension system will quickly cost you a lot of money.

Here, hardtail mountain bikes are much more cost-efficient.


Hardtail mountain bikes handle a variety of terrains very well. They make both on the flat roads, as well as on challenging mountain trails, a good figure.

Disadvantages of a hardtail mountain bike

Less comfort

Of course, the lack of suspension on the rear axle has its downsides!

Hardtail mountain bikes are significantly less comfortable in rocky, rough terrain than full-suspension mountain bikes.

Especially if you already have problems with the back, you should think about this point well.

Less control

In addition to less comfort, the lack of rear suspension automatically means less control and stability.

Logical since the suspension reliably absorbs shocks.

Higher fatigue

The lack of rear suspension can mean faster fatigue for the driver.

As you can easily see, a hardtail mountain bike offers many advantages.

However, full-suspension mountain bikes have this edge in adverse terrain conditions.

This fact leads us to the next question: For whom are hardtail mountain bikes suitable?

The answer is in the next chapter!

For whom is a Hardtail Mountain Bike suitable – and for whom not?

The listing of the advantages and disadvantages of a hardtail mountain bike has already made clear that there is no blanket answer to this question.

Rather, it depends on various factors (riding style, preferred terrain conditions) whether you will be happy with a hardtail mountain bike.

As a rule of thumb, we can state:

  • A hardtail mountain bike is ideal for riders who ride mostly on flat terrain and frequently uphill.
  • The hardtail mountain bike is more efficient than a full-suspension mountain bike in these terrain conditions.
  • It is also the right choice for riders who prefer a lighter bike that is also cheaper to purchase.

On the other hand, you should refrain from using a hardtail if you are mainly riding off paved roads. In adverse off-road conditions, full-suspension bikes have the edge.

Two important tips for buying a Hardtail Mountain Bike

Unless you have little to no mountain biking experience, we strongly advise against buying alone.

Beginners often need to make better frame and tire size decisions and therefore decide on a too-big or too-small MTB.

Tip 1: Choose the right frame size

Choosing the right frame size is crucial for the comfort and efficiency of the bike.

If you choose a frame that is too big or too small, you will find yourself in the right, comfortable riding position. As a result, your performance will be extremely compromised.

Tip 2: Choose the right tires

Choosing the right tires is critical to the performance and safety of your bike.

Different types exist for various terrain conditions. Therefore, choosing the ones that match your preferred off-road needs is important.

Wider tires provide more traction and comfort on rough trails, while narrower tires are better suited for flat terrain and roads.

Frequently asked questions about hardtail mountain bikes.

Is a hardtail mountain bike good for beginners?

Yes, a hardtail mountain bike is a good choice for beginners. It requires less maintenance and is, therefore, less expensive. It is also less demanding to ride than a full-suspension mountain bike.

Is a hardtail harder to ride?

This question can only be answered sometimes – it depends largely on the terrain conditions. In general, however, hardtails are no harder to ride than other types of mountain bikes.

Can you ride hardtail mountain bikes on the road?

Yes, you can ride hardtail mountain bikes on the road. Choosing the right tires with a less coarse tread is crucial here.

Are hardtails good for long distances?

For longer distances, a hardtail mountain bike can put more strain on you as a rider due to the lack of suspension on the rear axle. This is especially true on challenging trails. Thus, a full-suspension mountain bike may be a better choice here.


A hardtail mountain bike is a great choice for riders who do a lot of flat terrains, are looking for a lighter bike, and, most importantly, a more affordable mountain bike.

It offers many advantages over a full-suspension MTB. However, various disadvantages also exist that you should be aware of.

In short, choosing the right mountain bike depends on various individual factors. It is, therefore, important to carefully evaluate which bike type best suits your needs and preferences.

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