Best Hard Tail Mountain Bikes [Review] in 2021

Last Updated on June 11, 2021

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On a tight budget but love days out cycling among nature trails and mountain paths?

Maybe a hardtail mountain bike is for you. I’ve spent hours researching the best hardtail mountain bikes that fit your budget and your sense of adventure. After reading through various articles, comparing hundreds of products and reviews, I have finally come up with my list of top best hardtail mountain bikes.

With a variety of mountain bikes out there, some cheap some well-made, some hard tail, and some dual suspension, it can be tough to find the one that suits your needs, and your pocket.

That’s where I come in.

 I’ve uncovered the best hardtail mountain bikes in terms of quality of material, lightweight, value for money and handling, breaks, adjustability, and aerodynamics so you can find your favorite right here.

All of the entries on this list are worth a look, but I can tell you right now that number 3 on this list is one of my favorite bikes ever.

Here’s a tip- if you plan on mostly riding rougher trails and rocky paths, and have a little extra cash to spend, go for a dual-suspension mountain bike instead of a hardtail. They are better for absorbing the shocks along the rougher paths but can be a bit pricier.

Grab a coffee and check out my top recommended hardtail mountain bikes.

We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:

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Reveiws considered
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hours spent finding
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Products compared
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Pedallers Selection of Best Hard Tail Mountain Bikes

1.

Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike

If you need a strong bike that can handle anything, this is the one.

Bonafide by Schwinn is a mountain bike that offers a full aluminum build. As a traditional hardtail bike, it has a front suspension and comes complete with 29-inch wheels as well as a range of 24 speeds. The frame comes in an awesome matt black red color bound to impress.

The frame size is 17 inches which makes it convenient for adults. The bike offers high-profile double-wall alloy rims that are light and strong for extra durability so you’ll be set to go no matter the terrain. The 2.25-inch wide knobby mountain tires will make your ride smooth and reliable.

But there’s more.

Aside from the powerful front suspension fork that absorbs all the bumps along the way, the Schwinn Bonafide has a 24 speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifter for smooth and precise gear changes no matter the terrain. It comes with a front and rear Shimano derailleur.

The bike also has front and rear mechanical disc brakes for ultimate stopping power. It’s easy to see why this is my top recommendation.

Check out the product info on the orange button.

Pros
R
Aluminium frame
R
24 speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger
R
Dual mechanical disc brakes
R
High profile double wall alloy rims
Cons
Q
Not the easiest to put together

Latest deal: Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike

2.

Marlin 8

This is one of my all-time favorites

A unique take on design is always refreshing, especially when you are getting a quality bike. Marlin 8 is ideal for mountain biking, with a smooth RockShox fork, tubeless wheels, and a single-speed drivetrain. It’s perfect even for beginners or those who want to focus on speed.  

The Marlin 8 Mountain Bike has a suspension fork made with RockShox technology and a Solo Air spring that can be adjusted to each rider’s weight. Not only is it weightless, but you will find it much smoother and less bumpy even across those rougher trails so there is nothing holding you back.

Now check this out.

Hate getting flat tires? The Marlin 8 is made with tubeless tires which makes it much less likely to get a flat tire and also reduces the overall weight of the bike, so you can go faster with less worry. Couple that with the single-speed drivetrain, your bike is set with all the gears it needs without you needing to think about changing gears at all.

The Marlin 8 mountain bike has a range of sizes available including XXS to S for smaller riders. These smaller models have been adapted by having a curved top tube and a lower standover height to make it easier for smaller riders or those who prefer a hop-on hop-off style. What more could you want?

Click on the orange button for the latest prices.

Pros
R
Smooth RockShox technology
R
Single speed drivetrain
R
XS and smaller models available
R
Tubeless tires
Cons
Q
Slightly more expensive

Latest deal: Marlin 8

3.

Roscoe 8

You’re going to love this one.

The Roscoe 8 is a hardtail mountain bike that comes in a dark aquatic and gunmetal color, or a matt black with added marigold tones. It’s great for those casual mountain bike trails and made with such high quality, you will be ready for anything.

The bike frame has a 120mm suspension fork to absorb all those bumps along the route. The Roscoe 8 is a stable bike with an alpha gold aluminum construction to make it lightweight and ultra-durable.

It doesn’t stop here.

The Roscoe 8 comes with wide tires that are 27.5 inches wide to give you more confidence and traction out on the trail, it is adapted for a comfortable ride. It has a 1×12 drivetrain to make sure you have covered no matter the type of terrain you ride.

My favorite part is that it has a RockShox solo air spring which can be adjusted specifically to a rider’s weight. The fork also has a lockout feature so you can go on flat stretches with better efficiency. This bike gets the stamp of approval!

Have you checked out the reviews for this one?

Pros
R
Alpha Gold Aluminium frame
R
Wide tires
R
RockShox suspension
R
Suspension fork lockout feature
Cons
Q
NOt a wide variety of color

Latest deal: Roscoe 8

4.

Mongoose Impasse

Hear me out on this one.

Mongoose Impasse brings you a sleek-looking mountain bike, stylish for all to love. The bike has a silver or charcoal color scheme option going on with a lightweight aluminum suspension frame to maximize comfort and performance.

Be prepared for an easy, smooth ride with an element suspension fork to smooth out the bumps and increase control. That means whatever terrain you go on your mountain bike, you don’t have to feel every bump along the way for a better riding experience.

Also.

The Mongoose Impasse has a 21 speed rear derailleur for those smooth and precise gear changes as well as SRAM twist shifters to change gear easily when riding.

The bike has an alloy wheel with a quick-release front, making it quick and easy to perform bike maintenance such as changing a tire. For the money and the details on this bike, it’s clear it’s a winner.

Add this one to your basket, you won’t regret it!

Pros
R
21 speed derailleur
R
Quick release alloy wheel
R
Element suspension fork
R
Aluminium frame
Cons
Q
Requires assembly

Latest deal: Mongoose Impasse

5.

GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail Bike

This is one of the best mountain bikes under 500.

The GT Aggressor Expert features a triple frame built from aluminum and a 24 gear drivetrain. This is a mountain bike designed specifically for trail descents and long rides in the mountain. The bike has Floating Seat Stays and Forged Drop-outs with Disc Brake Mounts and 29″ Wheels for the ultimate ride. You’ll absolutely love it.

Combine the tough aluminum frame with micro-shift gears that promise reliable and quick changes to adapt to any terrain. Plus with a range of 24 gears, you can’t go wrong.

Not only that.

The GT Agressor Expert has Tektro disc brakes for better stopping power even on rough or uneven ground. The wide 29 inch tires also provide great traction that will keep you in safe hands no matter the weather.

This bike comes fully built and tuned by bike mechanics, for a fuss-free purchase. It arrives with a set of plastic pedals, a pedal wrench, and a multi-tool kit for maintenance. It’s easy to see why we love this one!

Click on the link to find out the latest price!

Pros
R
Comes assembled and tuned incl a toolkit
R
Forged Drop-Outs with Disc Brake mounts
R
24 speed drive trian with micro shift gears
R
Tektro disc brakes
Cons
Q
Seat is a bit hard

Latest deal: GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail Bike

6.

Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike

If you need the ultimate hardtail mountain bike, this is the one.

Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail bicycle offers a full aluminum alloy frame. The bike is custom-formed and has butted tubing for better balance. It’s the perfect combination of strength and weight making the bike sturdy and strong for years to come.

The suspension fork adds more control and comfort when out on the trail, by absorbing all the bumps along the route. The Diamondback bike offers a smooth ride wherever you go

But there’s more.

This bike has a 24-speed drivetrain that allows you to adjust to every terrain. It has a Shimano drivetrain that is the mark of quality in a bike like this.

The bike also includes mechanical disc brakes for great stopping power, so you can feel safe. With all of this, we’re confident that you will love it.

Check out the product info on the orange button.

Pros
R
Aluminum alloy frame
R
Suspension fork
R
24 speed drive train
R
Mechanical disc brakes
Cons
Q
Only one color

Latest deal: Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike

Best Hard Tail Mountain Bikes Buyer’s Guide

Hardtail mountain bikes feature a suspension fork and a hard frame at the front. However, they do not have a rear suspension.

They are also referred to as light machines due to their lightweight design. If you are searching for a good bike for challenging and technical rides, hardtail mountain bikes are indeed the best. Making a choice on whether to buy a hard trail or a full suspension bike can be a bit challenging.

What you need to know about full-suspension bikes is that they allow you to climb hills more comfortably and are also very secure to ride.

Benefits of buying a hardtail mountain bike

Stronger– Hardtail mountain bikes are stronger and more reliable due to their unique design.

Speedier– Unlike the full suspension mountain bikes, hardtail MTB allows you to ride at a high speed on challenging terrains without any worries of an accident. Since they are lighter, they can go faster.

Costs less-In terms of price, full-suspension mountain bikes are more expensive.

Lightweight– Hardtail bikes are lighter than double suspension since they only have suspension on the front, the rear is more rigid.

Key things to check when buying a hardtail mountain bike

Frame– This is the most important factor every cyclist must check when buying any type of bike. When it comes to mountain bikes, the frame determines the weight and stability of the bike. For example, steel bikes are very heavy but are more durable.

Aluminum frames are the most preferred because they are not only lightweight but also sturdy. Carbon fiber frames are the lightest and are also easy to handle but most of them are expensive.

Width of the tire – The width of the tires contributes to the stability and traction of your bike when cycling. Wider tires are the best because they distribute pressure over a large area. As a result, they make the bike comfortable to ride in loose surfaces such as on the sand or snow.

Brakes – You need to ensure that the brakes are highly responsive. They should provide excellent stopping power in case of an emergency. In case the ones that come with your bike are not very reliable, you can invest in top-quality brakes from a reputable company.

Tire volume: All mountain bikes and trail bikes have a 2.25” to 2.4” width range. This is so they withstand all the drops and rocks on the path. Increase the rear tire size and add extra air for some suspension in the rear. For bigger tires, you need wider chainstay and seat stay spacing

Wheel size: 27.5-inch wheels, these are perfect for those who like a quick and playful ride. They are the smallest wheels you can get, so are great for smaller riders too. 27.5+ deliver a lot of traction and run at lower tire pressure so they cushion the ride better on hard trails.

29-inch wheels are perfect for fast riding. They are big wheels, so carry a lot of momentum whilst avoiding the holes in the ground.  29+ inch wheels are a bit rarer but offer better stability, and go very fast. They’re very good for longer rides and exploring but can feel a bit too big in some areas.

Fork: This is very important, you can find some suspension forks with 80mm of travel on the cross country bikes but for hardtail bikes, you may have 130mm or more.

Maintenance: Having fewer parts on the bike means less maintenance, and the simple hardtail bikes are exactly that. Since they don’t have a shock rear suspension mechanism these bikes are more durable since there is less maintenance and parts.

Weight: Hardtails are much simpler than other bikes due to no rear suspension, and they have a lower cost of maintenance. They tend to be much lighter and therefore allow you to go faster also.

Frame: Hardtail mountain bikes come in carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel. Carbon fiber is the lightest and strongest option, as well as the most expensive. It is much more durable than aluminum and has a responsive, stiff ride. The downside is you can’t recycle it.

Aluminum is less expensive, it responds well to getting dropped in rocks. It does have a bit of giving in the frame, but this can soften the overall feel. It is still pretty strong and durable, but not as much as Carbon fiber.

Steel is less common, it is very strong but less stiff than both aluminum and carbon fiber so there will be some frame flex. It is more of a damp ride than others and can be easily repaired.

Geometry: Mountain bikes have a rigid rear end and frame geometry. They typically have a traditional geometry style but more modern variations are coming up. They tend to be good at uphill climbs due to having no rear suspension.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a hardtail mountain bike make you a better rider?

Riding a hardtail bike will greatly help you to enhance your cycling skills. It is also fun, easy and efficient when climbing.

Are hardtails more fun to ride?

As compared to the full suspension mountain bikes, hardtail MTBs are more fun due to the increased speed.

Is it worth upgrading a cheap mountain bike?

If you are not satisfied with the performance provided by cheap mountain bikes, it is important you upgrade. You will also find that most cheap mountain bikes may lack some important features.

What is a hardtail mountain bike best for?

These bikes are best for occasional mountain biking, and local rough trails or smoother mountain paths. Since they don’t have a rear suspension system, they won’t be as good at absorbing shock-like dual suspension bikes. However, if you’re looking to go faster on a lightweight bike, then this is an advantage.

When is air shock best for a hardtail mountain bike?

Air forks use a chamber of air in the compression circuit to spring or cushion against shock. They are lightweight and adjustable to rider weight. They are mostly used for cross country, trail, and all-mountain riding.

Final Verdict 

The pursuit of perfection has never been better with all the bikes we looked at today. All brought full-suspension goodness in their own unique ways.

Some went on to providing comfort with plush seats while others focused on providing the best possible braking system with disc brakes. Some brought great shifting experience while others worked on the smoothness to perfect their chain movement.

Some made aluminum frames while others used carbon fiber which made the bikes extremely lightweight and durable. This was a major feature among the best bikes. All manufacturers used bike parts from Shimano which is a well-known brand in the bike world.

It seemed like quality was the priority among all manufacturers and while most of them completely delivered, some failed to do so.

Even then their bikes were worth checking out. All in all, no one did a terrible job and many bikes were amazing for the price tag. Pricing was also a major area. While some manufacturers wowed us with their quality to price ratio, others couldn’t do very well.

One manufacturer even brought the foldable ability of the bike as a feature. Everyone showed great craftsmanship and collectively redefined what making a mountain bike means in modern times.

Which one will you go for?

Alex Bristol

Content Manager at Pedallers

ABOUT

Alex is a cycling expert at Pedallers and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.