Reviews

LAST UPDATED: October 25, 2019

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes: Ride Smoothly on Rough Trails

 Increase your stability when you hit the trails with these hardtail mountain bikes

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The Review Team

  • Product Network

    16 Products

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  • Reviews

    13 Reviews

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PUBLISHED ON October 25, 2019

Hardtail bikes give you the authentic experience of mountain biking since they can maneuver through all terrain. These bikes also have a simple yet strong design that can be used by beginners and accomplished riders alike. Our review will help you find the best hardtail bike for off-road riding.

  • Best Overall
    Diamondback Bicycles Hook Hardtail Mountain Bike
    Summary
    Summary

    A lightweight yet stiff hardtail bike that rolls smoothly over obstacles and offers quick handling.

    Pros
    Pros

    It has an attractive, sporty look. It offers a safe ride. Durable wheels. It offers a wide gear range to move you through any kind of terrain. The mechanical disc brakes offer incredible and fast stopping power. Available in frame sizes of 16, 18, 20, and 22 inches.

    Cons
    Cons

    The seat may shift back and forth during inclines and declines. The pedals may come off with heavy pedaling.

  • Best Overall
    Diamondback Bicycles Hook Hardtail Mountain Bike
  • Best Value
    Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike
    Summary
    Summary

    An affordable hardtail bike with a powerful front suspension that absorbs shocks to offer a smooth and fun ride. 

    Pros
    Pros
    Stylish look. Smooth gear changing. Strong and durable alloy rims. Features knobbed tires that can withstand a bumpy terrain. Has an adjustable saddle and handlebar. Compatible with 29-inch wheels. 


    Cons
    Cons

    Poor-quality pedals. It’s hard to find replacement parts. The bike may come with some missing nuts.

  • Best Value
    Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike
  • Honorable Mention
    Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike
    Summary
    Summary
    A high-quality performance 29er with a high-end front suspension and a mechanical disc brake system.
    Pros
    Pros
    The Tektro mechanical disc brake system offers excellent stopping power. The hand-built aluminum frame is lightweight but strong. It requires very little assembling out of the box, thanks to Diamondback Ready Ride.


    Cons
    Cons
    The seat is too small and uncomfortable. Some customers report receiving untrue wheels.


  • Honorable Mention
    Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike

    Hardtail bikes give you the authentic experience of mountain biking since they can maneuver through all terrain. These bikes also have a simple yet strong design that can be used by beginners and accomplished riders alike. Our review will help you find the best hardtail bike for off-road riding.

    Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Reviews & Recommendations 2019

    Best Overall

    The Diamondback Hook is a great hardtail that offers an enjoyable riding experience thanks to its simplicity. The bike is lightweight at 30 pounds and is available in frame sizes of 16, 18, 20, and 22 inches.


    The bike features Tektro mechanical disc brakes that offer great stopping power, and the 120 mm-travel SR Suntour forks provide excellent cushioning on rocky trails. The wide handlebars and 1x8 SRAM drivetrain make for easy and quick handling. There are two locations for storing water bottles. The 27.5-inch wheels are large enough and easily roll over any obstacles. 


    All in all, the Diamondback Hook is a great first trail bike. It’s great for going fast and handles climbing really well. Plus, it has a ton of room for upgrades and modifications based on your preferences and riding style.


    However, there are some downsides. Users report the seat shifting back and forth during inclines and declines, as well as the pedals coming off after heavy pedaling. These issues, however can be easily fixed by tightening the nuts and bolts.

    Best Value

    The Schwinn Bonafide is a hardtail that is built for the trail. The bike is available in a medium frame size of 17 inches. With color-matching end plugs and rims, this 29er looks stylish as it rides.


    It’s not all about the looks, though. The Schwinn Bonafide features a powerful 80 mm-travel OEM suspension that offers an enjoyable ride on the bumpiest of terrains. The 24-speed Shimano Fire triggers and Shimano front and rear derailleurs make for quick and seamless gear changes. The aluminum frame and the double-wall alloy rims are strong, durable, and lightweight. The 2.25-inch wide knobby tires provide great traction and control. The Schwinn Bonfide’s aerodynamic design is well-thought-out, providing a rewarding and satisfying experience to seasoned mountain bikers who love speed. 


    The pedals, however, are not of the best quality, and it’s hard to find replacement parts for the Bonafide. Customers report receiving the bike with some missing nuts.

    Honorable Mention

    With the Overdrive 29, Diamondback proved that you don’t need to shell out big bucks to get excellent performance. The bike features a hand-built aluminum frame that is strong as well as lightweight.


    The Diamondback Overdrive 29 is equipped with Shimano EZ-Fire gear shifters and Shimano front and rear derailleurs, so you know that smooth gear changes are not a problem with this hardtail’s 3x8 drivetrain. The SR Suntour suspension has great adjustability and 80 mm travel forks to smooth out the rocky bits. The Tektro mechanical disc brake system offers excellent stopping power. 


    Overall, the Diamondback Overdrive 29 is best suited for cross-country and light off-road use and is recommended by expert mountain bikers. If you’re looking for a great entry-level hardtail with premium components that at a reasonable price tag, this may be the one for you.


    However, you’ll want to keep a couple of things in mind. Depending on the rider, the stock seat might seem too small and even uncomfortable, so you may have to invest in a new seat. Some customers also report receiving untrue wheels in the package.

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    Benefits of Hardtail Mountain Bikes

    • Simplicity. Hardtail bikes do not have a rear suspension and no rear pivots. Therefore, these bikes make for pleasant, worry-free rides as there is less chance of things going wrong.
    • Maintenance. There is no suspension, there are no bearings, and hence there’s not much you need to service. A quick, clean wipe down is good enough and you’re ready for your next ride.
    • Efficiency. Unlike full suspension bikes, all the energy you make goes into forward motion. Hardtails are, therefore, the fastest bikes on pump tracks.
    • Cheaper. Hardtail mountain bikes offer much better components for the same amount of money as compared to full suspension bikes. Being cheaper, these are great for beginner riders looking for an entry-level bike to start on.

    Types of Hardtail Mountain Bikes

    Cross Country Hardtails

    Cross country hardtails are designed for quick handling. They generally feature suspension forks between 75 and 100 mm of travel. These bikes feature drivetrains with a high gear range that is a great advantage in racing. With narrower tires and bars, they are meant for covering large distances.

    Trail Hardtails

    Trail hardtails feature slacker angles, wider tires, and a longer suspension travel than their XC counterparts. These bikes make for confident trail riding thanks to the added stability. The longer suspension offers more cushioning, and the wider tires provide excellent traction. With simple 1x drivetrains and wider handlebars, the rider feels more in control while tackling a difficult trail.

    Enduro Hardtails

    In enduro racing, you are timed only on your descents. Enduro hardtails are therefore specifically designed with descending in mind. These bikes feature even more suspension travel and a larger frame that inspires more confidence and the feeling of control at high speeds. These bikes are very light and easy to fix—two important aspects when it comes to enduro racing.

    Top Brands

    Diamondback Bicycles

    Diamondback Bicycles is a major bicycle brand based out of Kent, Wash. The brand has been around since 1977 and is credited for pioneering the Knuckle Box Suspension. Diamondback also manufactures fitness equipment like ellipticals, uprights, recumbents, and indoor cycles. The Hook and Overdrive 29 are two great hardtail bikes from the company.  

    Schwinn

    Schwinn is an American company that was founded in 1895. The brand is now an industry leader and makes some of the best mountain bikes, including the Bonafide. Schwinn bikes are trusted by professionals and even by winners of mountain biking national championships. They produce several types of bikes such as cruisers, road, hybrid, urban, and biking accessories.

    Hardtail Mountain Bikes Pricing

    • $400 to $500: Hardtail mountain bikes in this price range provide good performance at an affordable price. Mostly meant for beginner riders, these bikes feature mid-level components and manufacturers aim to provide a fun riding experience.
    • $500 to $900: Hardtail mountain bikes in this price range provide excellent performance as they use mid to high-level components. You will often find features like hydraulic disc brakes, superior drivetrains, and tires with very good traction. Powerful and built to last, these bikes are great for beginners and experts alike.
    • $900 and up: Hardtail mountain bikes in this price bracket use high-level components for hardcore mountain biking. Premium components like carbon fiber frames and top-of-the-line branded suspensions and drivetrains are common. Built for professionals, these bikes are manufactured with no compromises when it comes to performance.

    Key Features

    Frame Material

    When choosing a new bike, you will come across bikes with aluminum, steel, alloy, and carbon frames. A mountain bike’s frame material is the most important factor that decides its weight. Bikes with steel frames are generally quite heavy. You will find a number of aluminum and aluminum alloy bikes, as these are lighter than their steel counterparts. When it comes to weight, carbon fiber is a game-changer. These bikes are the lightest of the lot, and therefore agile and easy to handle.

    Suspension Fork

    The suspension travel in hardtail mountain bikes is generally from 75mm to as high as 140mm. This is because different types of hardtails require different lengths of suspension travel depending on their intended use. See the “Types of Hardtail Mountain Bikes” section above to know which bike is right for you, depending on your riding style.

    Wheel Size

    Unlike a few years ago when 26 inches was the only wheel size available, hardtails now come in three popular wheel sizes: 26, 27.5, and 29 inches. The smaller wheel sizes favor shorter riders and are faster, lighter, and more maneuverable. 29ers are more efficient and offer excellent traction, but are heavier and favor taller riders.

    Other Considerations

    • Brakes: Good brakes are important, and for obvious reasons. Almost every mountain bike on the market comes with disc brakes. The bigger the rotors, the more stopping power the brakes will have. Be sure to buy a bike that sports powerful brakes from a well-known brand, as this can be the difference between riding confidently at high speeds and constantly worrying whether your brakes will hold up at the speed at which you are riding.
    • Tire Width: Tire width is very important in regards to the traction and stability of a hardtail mountain bike. The advantage of wider tires is that the pressure is spread over a large area, making the bike more suitable for riding in loose terrain like sand and even snow. Some hardtail mountain bikes have really wide tires and are known as fat tire mountain bikes or fat bikes. Although fat bikes provide enhanced traction, a high bike-to-rider weight ratio can make it difficult to handle.

    Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Reviews & Recommendations 2019

    Best Overall

    The Diamondback Hook is a great hardtail that offers an enjoyable riding experience thanks to its simplicity. The bike is lightweight at 30 pounds and is available in frame sizes of 16, 18, 20, and 22 inches.


    The bike features Tektro mechanical disc brakes that offer great stopping power, and the 120 mm-travel SR Suntour forks provide excellent cushioning on rocky trails. The wide handlebars and 1x8 SRAM drivetrain make for easy and quick handling. There are two locations for storing water bottles. The 27.5-inch wheels are large enough and easily roll over any obstacles. 


    All in all, the Diamondback Hook is a great first trail bike. It’s great for going fast and handles climbing really well. Plus, it has a ton of room for upgrades and modifications based on your preferences and riding style.


    However, there are some downsides. Users report the seat shifting back and forth during inclines and declines, as well as the pedals coming off after heavy pedaling. These issues, however can be easily fixed by tightening the nuts and bolts.

    Diamondback Bicycles Hook Hardtail Mountain Bike}
    Amazon

    The Diamondback Hook is a great hardtail that offers an enjoyable riding experience thanks to its simplicity. The bike is lightweight at 30 pounds and is available in frame sizes of 16, 18, 20, and 22 inches.


    The bike features Tektro mechanical disc brakes that offer great stopping power, and the 120 mm-travel SR Suntour forks provide excellent cushioning on rocky trails. The wide handlebars and 1x8 SRAM drivetrain make for easy and quick handling. There are two locations for storing water bottles. The 27.5-inch wheels are large enough and easily roll over any obstacles. 


    All in all, the Diamondback Hook is a great first trail bike. It’s great for going fast and handles climbing really well. Plus, it has a ton of room for upgrades and modifications based on your preferences and riding style.


    However, there are some downsides. Users report the seat shifting back and forth during inclines and declines, as well as the pedals coming off after heavy pedaling. These issues, however can be easily fixed by tightening the nuts and bolts.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Best Value

    The Schwinn Bonafide is a hardtail that is built for the trail. The bike is available in a medium frame size of 17 inches. With color-matching end plugs and rims, this 29er looks stylish as it rides.


    It’s not all about the looks, though. The Schwinn Bonafide features a powerful 80 mm-travel OEM suspension that offers an enjoyable ride on the bumpiest of terrains. The 24-speed Shimano Fire triggers and Shimano front and rear derailleurs make for quick and seamless gear changes. The aluminum frame and the double-wall alloy rims are strong, durable, and lightweight. The 2.25-inch wide knobby tires provide great traction and control. The Schwinn Bonfide’s aerodynamic design is well-thought-out, providing a rewarding and satisfying experience to seasoned mountain bikers who love speed. 


    The pedals, however, are not of the best quality, and it’s hard to find replacement parts for the Bonafide. Customers report receiving the bike with some missing nuts.

    Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike}
    Amazon

    The Schwinn Bonafide is a hardtail that is built for the trail. The bike is available in a medium frame size of 17 inches. With color-matching end plugs and rims, this 29er looks stylish as it rides.


    It’s not all about the looks, though. The Schwinn Bonafide features a powerful 80 mm-travel OEM suspension that offers an enjoyable ride on the bumpiest of terrains. The 24-speed Shimano Fire triggers and Shimano front and rear derailleurs make for quick and seamless gear changes. The aluminum frame and the double-wall alloy rims are strong, durable, and lightweight. The 2.25-inch wide knobby tires provide great traction and control. The Schwinn Bonfide’s aerodynamic design is well-thought-out, providing a rewarding and satisfying experience to seasoned mountain bikers who love speed. 


    The pedals, however, are not of the best quality, and it’s hard to find replacement parts for the Bonafide. Customers report receiving the bike with some missing nuts.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Honorable Mention

    With the Overdrive 29, Diamondback proved that you don’t need to shell out big bucks to get excellent performance. The bike features a hand-built aluminum frame that is strong as well as lightweight.


    The Diamondback Overdrive 29 is equipped with Shimano EZ-Fire gear shifters and Shimano front and rear derailleurs, so you know that smooth gear changes are not a problem with this hardtail’s 3x8 drivetrain. The SR Suntour suspension has great adjustability and 80 mm travel forks to smooth out the rocky bits. The Tektro mechanical disc brake system offers excellent stopping power. 


    Overall, the Diamondback Overdrive 29 is best suited for cross-country and light off-road use and is recommended by expert mountain bikers. If you’re looking for a great entry-level hardtail with premium components that at a reasonable price tag, this may be the one for you.


    However, you’ll want to keep a couple of things in mind. Depending on the rider, the stock seat might seem too small and even uncomfortable, so you may have to invest in a new seat. Some customers also report receiving untrue wheels in the package.

    Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike}
    Amazon

    With the Overdrive 29, Diamondback proved that you don’t need to shell out big bucks to get excellent performance. The bike features a hand-built aluminum frame that is strong as well as lightweight.


    The Diamondback Overdrive 29 is equipped with Shimano EZ-Fire gear shifters and Shimano front and rear derailleurs, so you know that smooth gear changes are not a problem with this hardtail’s 3x8 drivetrain. The SR Suntour suspension has great adjustability and 80 mm travel forks to smooth out the rocky bits. The Tektro mechanical disc brake system offers excellent stopping power. 


    Overall, the Diamondback Overdrive 29 is best suited for cross-country and light off-road use and is recommended by expert mountain bikers. If you’re looking for a great entry-level hardtail with premium components that at a reasonable price tag, this may be the one for you.


    However, you’ll want to keep a couple of things in mind. Depending on the rider, the stock seat might seem too small and even uncomfortable, so you may have to invest in a new seat. Some customers also report receiving untrue wheels in the package.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Tips

    • Wear safety gear, including a helmet and knee pads, when mountain biking. Check the weather in advance so that you can dress appropriately for the conditions in the riding zone. 
    • Carry emergency supplies in case you get lost during an off-road ride. Pack emergency food, a flashlight, and a multitool for repairing your bike. 
    • Your foot positioning on the pedal is crucial for a fatigue-free ride. If you have more of your toes or the ball of the foot on the pedal, you will get tired faster and your leg muscles may ache. 

    FAQs

    Q: What's the difference between a hardtail and full-suspension mountain bike?

    A: A full-suspension bike is heavier than a hardtail bike since it has a rear shock and extra pivots that are absent in a hardtail bike. The front and rear shocks make it more comfortable for off-road rides. A hardtail bike only has a front suspension or rigid fork; it's lighter and easier to ride uphill. 

    Q: Will I damage my hardtail bike if I ride through water?

    A: It’s better to carry your bike through the water or go around it. If not, you'll expose the bike's frame and bearings to rust and corrosion. Also, the chain may constantly come off the gears or stop when going uphill. 

    Q: Can I rely on only the rear brake for mountain biking?

    A: It feels pretty cool to make skid marks and kick up dirt with the rear brake, but ignoring the front brake could damage your rear tires. The rear tire and the brakes will wear out faster, and the bike could tip over on a steep slope. Try to press lightly on the rear brake and ease into the front brake for a safe stop. 

    Final Thoughts

    Our top pick for the best hardtail mountain bike is the Diamondback Bicycles Hook Hardtail Mountain Bike. Its lightweight and sturdy design make it a great option for bike packing adventures. 

    If you are working with a budget, consider the Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike. It can handle all kinds of trails and doesn’t break your bank.