Christmas is coming! And every year mountain bikes make for popular presents.
But whenever you buy a mountain bike as a gift for a loved one (or for yourself!), you'll have a significant decision to make: should you buy a bike with full or hardtail suspension?
The difference between the two is a hardtail mountain bike has a front suspension fork, while a full suspension bike has both a front and rear shock absorber. These differing suspension systems have a direct impact on the bike's responsiveness, traction, comfort, and overall fun factor.
When choosing which type of mountain bike to buy, many factors come into play. But the primary ones are how big your budget is and what type of terrain the bike will be ridden on.
In short, a full suspension bike is the best option for riding on technical trails, but they come with a bigger price tag. On the other hand, a hardtail bike is best if you're on a tight budget or if the bike will mostly be ridden on flat or easy terrain. Let’s take a closer look.
Lesser Weight And Lower Expenses
Hardtail bikes are more lightweight than their full-suspension counterparts as they lack rear shock absorbers and suspension links. In addition, the production costs of hardtail mountain bike frames are lower than those of full suspension e-mtb bike frames. This means hardtail bikes typically have better quality components than full suspension bikes in the same price range.
Therefore, if having a lightweight mountain bike that is easy to ride and offers good value for money is particularly important to you, a hardtail bike may be the better option.
Easy Rides Or Harder Going?
The good news is full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes both provide fun rides!
However, full suspension bikes are easier to control on bumpy trails and more challenging routes, while hardtails are noticeably quicker on flatter terrains with few obstacles, due to their reduced weight and closer connection to the ground.
In particular, consider whether the bike will mostly be ridden on the road or off-road. If it will mostly be ridden on the road, then the additional shock absorption offered by a full suspension bike will likely be unnecessary… assuming your local roads are well maintained of course!
Gentler terrain can also be more enjoyable to ride on hardtail bikes due to the greater sensitivity they offer, while full suspension bikes are usually the most fun option when conditions become challenging.
This is because riding over rough terrain is more difficult on a hardtail bike than a full suspension one, which will smooth out the ride and make the route easier to navigate.
Maintaining Your Mountain Bike
The upkeep of hardtails is much less complicated than that of full suspension bikes, as cleaning the grime off a hardtail's frame is pretty much all you will need to do. By contrast, full suspension bikes include complex suspension joints and bearings that make them far more complicated to clean and maintain.
Plus, these extra parts are all components that will wear out and eventually break, leading to additional repair costs for those who choose to buy a full suspension bike over a hardtail one.
Choosing The Correct Option
So in conclusion, if you’re planning to buy a mountain bike for yourself or a loved one, which type should you get?
To summarise: if you plan to ride on technical, more challenging trails, and if you have a bigger budget to work with, then a full suspension bike will likely be the smarter choice. However, if you're on a tighter budget and/or want to stick to roads and gentle trails, buying a hardtail bike will be the better decision.