Choosing what type of mountain bike to go for often comes down to how experienced you are, the type of trails you enjoy and what type of suspension you need. The main two types of mountain bikes are hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes. Hardtail bikes are the simplest form of mountain bike because the suspension is only on the front wheel, using a suspension fork. The back wheel is securely attached to the mountain bike frame. If you decide to go for a full suspension bike, you will have the suspension fork on the front and the suspension on the rear wheel. We discuss the different things that you need to consider when deciding the type of suspension you want to go for.
The type of trail you enjoy will heavily influence the style of mountain bike that you will purchase. If you are quite new to mountain biking, you will likely prefer smooth tracks to start with. A hardtail mountain bike is ideal for first-time mountain bike riders because it is ideally suited to smooth terrains and easier trails. The back wheel will not track the trail, so it makes for a more responsive ride on smooth trails.
If you are a bit of a thrill seeker and like to choose rougher terrain, then you can explore more routes with a full-suspension bike. This is because the back wheel tracks the terrains instead of bouncing off them, giving you more control on rough ground and allowing you to go faster on hills.
Comfort and Traction
As you might expect, a full suspension mountain bike frame offers better comfort because it is more responsive to the ground. This means you don’t bounce around as much and offer a better grip. The back wheel conforms to the trail and offers a smoother ride, if you want to expand the types of trails you try, a full suspension mountain bike will make you more confident.
However, this isn’t to say that a hardtail mountain bike can’t offer great riding experiences. On smooth terrain, a hardtail bike will give you sufficient grip because there is plenty of compliance in the tyre.
Due to the lack of back wheel suspension, hardtail mountain bikes are about one kilo lighter than their full suspension counterpart. This makes it easier to manoeuvre and the number of components also impacts the price of the bike. Full suspension bikes have more components and are, therefore, heavier than their hardtail counterparts. This slightly impacts manoeuvrability, but it improves many other aspects of your ride.
Although hardtail bikes aren’t as fast as full suspension on rough terrain, they are faster on smooth tracks because they are more responsive. This makes for a fun ride and a great gateway into mountain biking. Full suspension mountain bike frames will feel more comfortable on rough terrain, and because it tracks the ground, will go faster. Full suspension bikes are particularly fun on downhills for this reason.
Maintenance on both types of mountain bikes is relatively simple, but with a hardtail bike you only have to wipe the mud off your bike and then you are good to go riding again. On a full suspension mountain bike, you will find that bearings and bushings will need replacing more often due to the nature of the tracks they go on. It’s important to remember that with any bike you always need to maintain the wheels and suspension fork.
As with weight, you will find that hardtail mountain bikes are cheaper because of the less advanced suspension and fewer parts. This is another reason they are ideal for first-time riders. Full suspension mountain bikes have added components, so they also have a higher price point. However, there is still a wide range of bikes to choose from, so you can find a full-suspension bike within your budget.
To explore our collection of hardtail and full suspension bikes in person, visit one of our bike shops in Bournemouth or Poole. We have a great range of some of the best mountain bikes to choose from including women’s mountain bikes.