For biking enthusiasts, there is an ongoing debate on the use of hardtail mountain bikes versus the use of full-suspension bikes. There is a growing number of bikers and experts who prefer riding full suspension bikes; so does this mean hardtail bikes have no use?
Differentiating Hardtail Bikes from Full-Suspension Bikes
Hardtail mountain bikes are equipped with solid frames and front suspension forks. Suspension bikes also have the same front forks, but the frames consist of two pieces (front triangle and rear triangle) joined by pivots. The suspension bike design allows the sections of the frame to move independently, with the rate of movement controlled by a shock absorber, making the ride smoother and less stressful. The design is recommended for those who are beginners and those up for harder trails.
Which One is Better?
The best answer to this question is neither. The better or the best bike depends on the rider, and it boils down to the rider’s style, preference, terrain, and other factors as well. To help you determine what are these other factors, consider the following:
Let’s put comfort first on the list; if you are not comfortable with your bike, your riding experience and even your performance would be greatly affected. If you are into a comfortable, enjoyable and fun ride, then choosing full-suspension bikes would be the best choice for you. Why? Because full-suspension bikes can be easily controlled compared to hardtail bikes, and the full-suspension bike features also help you get through rough terrains. However, if comfort is not a priority on your list and if you want to experience biking the rough, hard way, then hardtail bikes would be a perfect option for you.
The advancements in full-suspension bikes come with a price, and that price translates literally to added finances. Full-suspension bikes can be more costly than hardtail bikes. This is due to the simple reason that hardtail bike designs have existed for more than 100 years, and full-suspension bikes are new bike design innovations. Simply put, if you work within a budget, then hardtail bikes would be a more suitable choice.
On the one hand, when it comes to climbing, hardtail bikes offer rear-wheel pedaling efficiently; they would give you more acceleration and allow you to sustain speed for a longer period of time. When the terrain surface becomes technical, the rear suspension would allow the wheel to articulate over the obstacles. This feature helps maintain traction and eliminates the possibility of spinning out. A full-suspension bike, on the other hand, allows the rider to stay seated even if the terrain is angled up a hill.
Full-suspension bikes have a clear take on this. On bumpy, downhill trails, suspension bikes would not put much physical stress on you. But let us not forget hardtrail bikes. The problem with a suspension design is that it can tire your legs faster, but if you are conditioned for such endurance, then it would not be much of a problem. Hardtail models such as the Eureka hardtail mountain bikes would offer an advantage when you are going downhill on a hardtrail, as it can train you to become a better rider.
Both designs can actually accomodate the biker’s “weight needs.” Some hardtail bikes are now built with a lightweight frame which at times is lighter than that of full-suspension bikes. There are full-suspension bikes that are lightweight as well. The weight would then depend on the riderr’s comfort and preference; if the weight is reasonable, then the design is not much of a trouble.
If you’re in for something that is low maintenance, then there is no debate: a hardtrail bike is all you need. Hardtrail bikes need less maintenance compared to full-suspension bikes which need regular maintenance on the rear shocks (new seals), frames, and chains.
Consider Your Health as Well
It’s not only the terrain, the maintenance, and the price that you should only consider when choosing the right bike for you. Your health, above all, should be the number-one priority. If you have an existing back problem, then taking a hardtail bike is not a good idea. This is due to the simple reason that hardtail bikes do not offer enough support for an already injured back. When you encounter hard terrains, the slightest bump and the mildest impact can affect and even worsen a back problem. Bikers who suffer from an already existing back problem or those who are recovering from a serious back injury usually trade in their hardtail bikes for full-suspension bikes.
The Thing is
If you would like to venture the world of mountain biking, the first and essential step is to assess yourself: your health, your capabilities, endurance, and even your weaknesses. Know these first, and then find the right equipment or bike that can fit these needs. If you are a beginner and on a limited budget, consider having a hardtrail bike first. Hardtrail bikes can give you just the right riding experience you need; of course as a beginner, technical routes and tough rides would not be the things with which to toil. As you become more advanced and feel the need to challenge yourself with rough trails, you can switch your hardtail bike to a full-suspension bike. Remember that rough trails can put you into significant physical stress, so you might as well prepare yourself by acquiring the right equipment.
This article is contributed by Amarendra, an avid enthusiast for outdoor activities and lifestyle. He writes numerous articles on outdoor activities such as mountain biking and biking equipment like Eureka hardtail mountain bikes.