BIKING

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike: Cycling in Style and Comfort

Riding a Hardtail Mountain Bike
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

A mountain bike is a great way to have fun and stay fit. Whether you are looking for a great all-around bike that can take on just about anything, or looking for a bike to hit the local trails with, be sure to check out the best hardtail mountain bike.

Mountain bike frames have come a long way in the last twenty years, and the components no doubt have kept pace. When you go shopping for a mountain bike these days, you are faced with a huge range of options, and they are all pretty good.

Exotic frame materials like aluminum and carbon-fiber are now commonplace, and sub 20-pound mountain bikes are not unheard of. The components have come a long way as well, and there are bikes that feature disc brakes that are well under the 500 dollar line.

20 pound mountain bike with disk brakes

A hardtail mountain bike is going to give you the most efficient transfer of power, as the frame is solid, and won’t absorb the force from your legs like a softtail frame. This will give you the most power possible, so you can ride hard with a firm connection to the ground.

You are going to get a lot for your money no matter what kind of frame and component set you choose, so take a minute and learn about all of your options.

Frame

For a very long time, bikes were made from steel and that was that. In recent times, this has changed dramatically, and now you can choose a frame material that is perfectly suited to your needs and budget.

Steel

Most mountain bike frames that you encounter these days are going to be made from chromoly, which is a steel that has been alloyed with chrome and molybdenum. Chromoly steel is wonderful, and, if cared for, will last a very long time. The downside to steel is that it is the heaviest material on the list, and people usually want light bikes.

steel frame mountain bike

This preference is really a mixed-bag as a steel frame, while heavier, is going to be extremely strong and durable. For larger riders, a chromoly frame makes a lot of sense. One other thing to consider is that steel will corrode, and if you live near the ocean or somewhere the roads are salted, keep this in mind.

Aluminum

For those of you that are looking for a light mountain bike, and don’t want to take out a second mortgage to pay for it, an aluminum frame may be a good way to go. Aluminum was the first material to challenge steel for building bike frames, and for a long time it sold at a premium to steel frame bicycles.

That price gap has all but evaporated, and now if you want to get into a light frame that will last a long time, aluminum is a great choice. Aluminum frames are very stiff, and unlike steel and carbon-fiber, they will transfer all the shock and vibration of the road to you, and this could represent a rather significant downside, especially if you intend to use your bike to tour.

Aluminium frame mountain bike

There are also mixed opinions about how long an aluminum frame will last, as many people contend that it, unlike steel, will only last a certain amount of time even if cared for properly. Regardless of this debate, modern aluminum frames are sure to last a decade or more, and that is a lot of riding for what you pay to get one.

Titanium

A titanium frame is something of a rarity, and unlike aluminum frames, still sell at a huge premium. They are extremely light, and because of the cost of working with titanium, generally feature excellent workmanship.

Titanium frame mountain bike

There is really not much that can be said against titanium as a frame building material, other than that it is wildly expensive. The frames do last a very long time, and if you make the investment, your titanium frame will be there for you to use for years to come.

Carbon-Fiber

Carbon-fiber, like aluminum, started out as a very expensive competitor to the steel mountain bike frames, and has fallen in price with time. Carbon-fiber offers some unique advantages as a bike frame material, but also has some drawbacks as well.
First off, carbon-fiber is really light, and it can be formed into almost any shape.

carbon fiber mountain bike

This has given frame designers a lot of leeway to experiment with novel frame designs, and some of the modern frames are really amazing. One of the really big downsides to carbon-fiber is that if you get into an accident, it is likely to shear, and make some really nasty, jagged edges. Also, like aluminum, there is a debate as to how long a carbon-fiber frame will last.

Brakes

When it comes to brakes, there are two major types, and a lot of variations within those two main groups. Disc brakes can be really useful if you are doing a lot of riding in muck or on trails that might bang-up your rim. On the other hand, rim brakes are perfectly effective, and much cheaper and easier to maintain and service.

Think about what kind of riding you are going to be doing, and buy accordingly. Check out the ups and downs of both types, and think about what is right for you.

Disc-Brakes

Disc-brakes work by using a small metal rotor that is attached to to hub of the wheel and a caliper that attaches to the fork or frame. When you use the break lever, the cable or hydraulic fluid makes a piston press a brake pad against the metal rotor, and then the bike stops.

Disk brakes

They are easy to spot, because when you look at at the wheel, there will be a little metal rotor right next to the hub at the center of the wheel. Most people think they look really cool and high-tech, and being a somewhat recent addition to biking technology, disc brakes are certainly state of the art.

Pros

  • Will work fine even if rim is warped or damaged
  • Very strong braking action
  • Not effected much by water or muck
  • Do not wear on the rim
  • Pads last for a very long time

Cons

  • Parts and service can be more difficult to find
  • If exposed to oil they don’t work
  • Frame has to be made to take the added stress of braking at the hub
  • Wheels and hubs have to be specially designed for disc-brakes

Rim Brakes

Rim brakes are the braking system that most people are familiar with, and they are still the most common form of brake in bicycling. Basically, there is a small caliper that holds two rubber pads on either side of the wheel’s rim, and when you pull on the break leaver, the caliper closes, the rubber pads connect with the rim, and you slow down.

rim brakes mountain bike

There are of course varying qualities of rim-brakes, and getting the adjustment right is very important. They are easy to see on the bicycle, if you look at the top of the fork, or where the rear triangle of the frame meets the seat-post, there will be two little levers on either side of the wheel.

Pros

  • Much cheaper and use standard parts
  • When adjusted correctly they work well
  • Less stress on wheel and hub
  • Easy to service or work on when on the road

Cons

  • Water and mud can make them useless
  • Can damage tire if poorly adjusted
  • Wear on rim

Suspension Fork

Pretty much every mountain bike is going to come with a suspension fork as standard equipment these days. Most forks that are made with an air-dampening system, and are really going to help you when you are blasting over roots or curbs.

suspension fork mountain bike

One feature to look for on your new mountain bike is a suspension fork that has the ability to be “locked out”, which just means that it won’t move. When you are on pavement, you can save a lot of energy by making your whole frame rigid.

Wheels

Traditionally mountain bike wheels were set at a standard 26 inches. But like many things in biking technology, in recent years many new options have entered the market. Now you can find some larger wheel sizes, like 27.5 inches and 29 inches.

  • 26-inch wheels were the standard size of mountain bike wheel forever. Because they are smaller, they are going to be stronger, because the spokes are shorter. They are also going to be lighter, so if weight makes a big difference to you, go for a 26 inch wheel.
  • The 27.5-inch wheels are a newcomer to the mountain bike market, and are a compromise between the 26- and 29-inch wheels. They will give you a little bit more “roll over” ability, meaning because the wheel is bigger, you will have a little bit easier time getting over larger objects.
  • 29-inch wheels will for sure give you a greater ability to go over larger impediments, and because they are bigger, they have greater angular momentum. This means that because they have a greater ability to continue to roll, they may help you get through dirt or muck more easily.The big downsides to a 29 inch wheel are lack of stiffness, weight and strength, and there is just no way for these issues to ever be resolved. Also some people who are of shorter height have a problem getting on a bike that is equipped with 29 inch wheels.

different size wheels

There is a lot of debate about these new wheel sizes, and it is impossible to say much more than everyone seems to have a very different view on what is the best.

Great Times on the Trail

There is a mountain bike that is perfect for any and every rider. Be sure to pay attention to the sizing of the frame, and make sure that you get a frame that is the right size for your body.

Manufacturers will give you a hand so that you can measure your body for the design of their frames. It is usually just a matter of measuring your height, or at most your inseam.

Diamondback Overdrive 29 inch Mountain Bike

Diamondback Overdrive 29 inch Mountain Bike

Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum

Price: $555.73 – $643.98

Features: High quality aircraft aluminum frame, 29 inch wheels with Tektro disc brakes. 3 x 8 Shimano drivetrain, 24 speeds. SR Suntour suspension fork.

The Overdrive 29 inch Mountain Bike  is a very nice aluminum frame mountain bike with a great mix of quality and price. The frame is made of high-grade butted aluminum, and features Tektro disc brakes front and rear. The rest of the components are solid. Both Shimano and Suntour are industry standards, and with regular maintenance, should last you for years.

The derailleur hanger is replaceable, so if you get a little rough on this frame, its no big deal. One huge advantage of this specific bike is that it comes almost ready to ride. All you have to do is put on the pedals, seat and front wheel. Just pump the tires up and get out there!

Check the price on Amazon

Diamondback Sorrento Hard Tail

Diamondback Sorrento Hard Tail

Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum

Price: $320.95 – $381.89

Features: Aluminum frame with Trail XC suspension fork and replaceable derailleur hanger. Tektro rim brakes, 3 x 7 drivetrain, 21 speeds and SRAM trigger shifters.

The Sorrento Hard Tail is a somewhat more budget-minded offering from Diamondback. It features a heat-treated aluminum frame, and a suspension fork that will be fine for most trail riding. The component set is right in line with what you can expect from a bike in this price range, and SRAM and Shimano both make quality products.

This bike delivers a lower price by using rim-brakes, and 26-inch rims. While this is not a state of the art mountain bike, it delivers a lot of performance for a very affordable price. Especially for a weekend biker, or someone who is going to be doing a lot of park riding, this is an ideal option.

Check the price on Amazon

Merax 26-inch Mountain Bike

Merax 26-inch Mountain Bike

Material: Steel

Price: $129.95 – $139.99

Features: Strong steel frame and suspension fork, dual disc-brakes. Aluminum rims, 3 x 7 gearing, 21 speeds. Kickstand.

The Merax 26-inch Mountain Bike is clearly a very budget friendly mountain bike, and if you don’t have much to spend, it may be worth a look. It certainly delivers an impressive spec sheet for the asking price, and it is amazing to see a bike that offers disc-brakes for less than 150 dollars. The frame is made from steel, and will probably last a very long time.

The components are all entry-level, and may or may not hold up to regular use. If you are just getting into mountain biking, this is not a bad option, and you can always put better components on it later. Overall, this is a lot of bike for not much money, and for a new rider, this is a great option. And hey, it comes with a kickstand.

Check the price on Amazon

Navi RS500 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Navi RS500 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum

Price: $219.95 – $234.85

Features: Aluminum frame with Suntour suspension fork with lockout. Shimano 3 x 8 gearing, 24 speeds. Shimano disc-brakes and 27.5 inch aluminum rims with Kenda tires.

The RS500 Hardtail Mountain Bike from Navi is well-equipped and priced right. It features a solid aluminum frame with a great component set, especially for the price. It has Shimano disc-brakes, and a Suntour fork that can be locked out. It is shipped with 27.5 inch wheels, and these is a relatively new introduction to the world of mountain biking.

If you want to get a really well outfitted mountain bike with 27.5 inch tires, this model from Navi is a great option. It comes mostly assembled, but if you are not a professional bike mechanic, be sure to have someone lined up to finish the assembly and tune it up.

Check the price on Amazon

Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike

Schwinn High Timber Men's Mountain Bike

Material: Steel

Price: $195.95 – $209.96

Features: Solid steel frame with Schwinn suspension fork. Shimano twist shifters and 3 x 7 gearing, 21 speeds. Steel rim-brakes, Shimano derailleurs. 27.5 inch wheels.

The High Timber Men’s Mountain Bike is a great entry-level bike from a well-known manufacturer. Schwinn has been around forever, and this model is a great example of why they are still making bikes. This bike features a no-frills steel frame and suspension fork, with an entry-level component set that is both simple and made to be used.

The twist shifters are going to be more reliable than an inexpensive rapid-fire shifter, and the steel V-brakes are going to offer a lot of stopping power under most conditions. This bike doesn’t have a lot of latest generation technology built into it, but you are getting a lot of tried and true tech that is easy to service or upgrade.

The one point that does stand out as being recent is the 27.5 inch wheels that come on this Schwinn, and this would be a great way to get into a larger-wheel mountain bike without spending a lot. The price for this model is extremely fair, and the frame will last you a very long time.

Check the price on Amazon

Polygon Bikes Premier 4 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Polygon Bikes Premier 4 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Material: Aluminum

Price: $425.95 – $439.99

Features: Hydroformed Aluminum Alloy frame, with SR Suntour suspension fork. Full Shimano Altus component set with 3 x 8 gearing, 24 speeds. Tektro disc-brakes and 27.5 inch wheels.

The Premier 4 Hardtail Mountain Bike from Polygon is a really nice mix of performance and value. The frame itself is very well made, and is constructed from an aluminum alloy that will be stiff and tough. They used an Altus component set from Shimano, with Tektro disc-brakes and it is hard to find much to complain about there. This bike has 27.5 inch wheels, and will be extremely capable on the trail.

Many of the cheaper components will need to be replaced after a year or two, especially if you are riding a lot. The Altus group that is on this bike will hold up to regular use, and will be able to be kept running strong even after a few years of hard trail riding. If you plan on being out on your bike a lot, consider spending the extra money on a bike like this. It will end up being cheaper in the long run.

Check the price on Amazon

Piranha Arsenal 1.7 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Piranha Arsenal 1.7 Hardtail Mountain Bike

Material: Steel Alloy

Price: $225.24 – $299.99

Features: Steel alloy frame with steel suspension fork. Mixed Shimano components, with front disc and rear V-brake. Shimano E-Z fire trigger shifters 3 x 7 gearing, 21 speeds. Threadless stem and headset with riser handlebars.

The Piranha Arsenal 1.7 Hardtail Mountain Bike has a steel alloy frame with a nice component set. It features Shimano E-Z fire trigger shifting and 3 x 7 gearing. The stainless suspension fork will help to smooth out a rough trail, and the 29-inch wheels will help you to roll over just about anything. While not a top of the line bike, this model offers a fair value for most riders, and the tough steel frame is sure to last you a very long time.

The braking setup is a little different, and this bike uses a front disc brake and a rear V-brake. This set-up will give you some braking options, but must be used carefully, as braking hard on the front without the rear activated can lead to an accident. Most riders will have no problem adjusting to this, but it is something to keep in mind.

Check the price on Amazon

BEIOU Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike

BEIOU Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike

Material: Carbon Fiber

Price: $1145.95 – $1169.99

Features: Full carbon-fiber frame, UDING suspension fork. Full Shimano M610 Deore component group with Shimano M355 disc-brakes. 3 x 10 gearing, 30 speeds.

The BEIOU Mountain Bike is a very capable carbon-fiber mountain bike that is built to ride as much as you want. In addition to being built with latest generation carbon technology, this bike features a very good group of M610 components that are made to be ridden daily and will last a long time even under heavy use.

It comes equipped with 26-inch wheels, and is going to be very quick and competent in just about any riding situation. The only downside to a bike like this is the cost, but if you plan on riding a lot, and want something that is going to be light, fast and durable, this bike is a great way to go.

Check the price on Amazon

Have a look around and get a great hardtail mountain bike you love

A hardtail mountain bike offers you some advantages that you won’t find on any other kind of mountain bike. If you want to get the most out of your power, and love to ride the trail, a hardtail is for you. With so many options, you are sure to find the perfect bike for you.

Best hardtail mountain bike

Your experiences with your new bike can really be a big help to other people who are looking, so please leave comments and stories below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Carl Anderson

    Overdrive 29 inch mountain bike is the first one I bought and it is really great. Our whole family is into biking so I purchased this one because of the good reviews. It is definitely worth the price given its high quality. Give it a try and you will not regret it I am sure.

  • Jon Morgan

    My personal pick is RS500 Hardtail Mountain Bike. It was everything I expected and more. It is also comparable to the bike of my friend which actually costs thrice the price of this one. Just by looking at the bike, you will know right away that it is a great buy.

  • Mark Foster

    We could not agree more!

  • Mark Foster

    That is definitely a great bike! We would love to try!

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