Best Hard Tail Mountain Bikes [Review] in 2021

Last Updated on September 27, 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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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.

Vitus Nucleus 24

This is one of my all-time favorites

 The Vitus Nucleus 24 is a hardtail aimed at youth riders and juniors breaking into the sport of MTB riding. Its design takes inspiration and is based on the award-winning adult Nucleus model and features a long, low, and slack geometry, confidence inspiring components and is ideal for XC, trail, and bike park riding.

It’s built around a lightweight aluminum frame and an age-appropriate wheel size but featuring many of the performance-focused components found on the adults’ bikes. 

Now check this out.

 Vitus has upgraded this bike for 2021 with the excellent BOX Four 8 groupset, featuring a clutch-activated rear mech, and a 1X chainring. This 1 x 8-speed system paired with the 30T ring and 11-34 cassette is ideal for tearing down trails

While upfront the suspension is taken care of by an SR Suntour XCR 65mm travel air suspension fork with a lockout that will adjust to your weight.

Then there are the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with a 160mm rotor’s which offers great stopping power and adjustable-reach levers. 

So what are you waiting for? Click on the orange button for the latest prices.

Pros
R
Ideal for all types of riding
R
Lightweight aluminum frame
R
SR Suntour SXR suspension
Cons
Q
Better suited to younger, smaller riders

Latest deal: Vitus Nucleus 24

3.

Ribble HT 725 SRAM SX Eagle

You’re going to love this one.

The HT 725 is a seriously capable hardcore hardtail that combines the awesome durability and compliance of a Reynolds steel frame with a slack head angle and long tube so you can travel smoothly but maintain those high speeds.

This bike is fully equipped with the single ring simplicity of SRAM’s SX Eagle groupset which offers a seriously low gear range that’s optimized to handle the steepest of climbs.

 It doesn’t stop here though.

The RockShox Recon Silver RL forks for 150mm of trail-smoothing suspension and smooth-rolling LEVEL 35 alloy wheels fitted with the ever-aggressive Maxxis Minion tires.

You really can’t go wrong with this one. While the price may seem off-putting at first you’ll soon realize that this hard tail bike is an absolute steal as it provides a riding experience few others can achieve unless you want to start spending the big bucks.

 

Buy it now!

Pros
R
Smooth but fast ride
R
Great at handling all terrains and inclines
R
RockShox suspension
Cons
Q
Not a wide variety of color

Latest deal: Ribble HT 725 SRAM SX Eagle

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.

Ribble HT Ti - Enthusiast

 

Coming in hot at number 5 is the HT Ti Enthusiast!

 Providing trail-shredding performance and durability, SRAM’s lightweight and smooth-shifting GX Eagle combines with the Titanium frame to produce a trail experience like no other.

This bike comes with a completely re-tuned Charger 2 damper, low friction SKF wiper and damper cartridge seals and a DebonAir air spring. on top of all that, the Pike Select+ offers unmatched trail control and lasting performance.

Better yet.

The tires are from the most respected wheel builders in mountain biking. Built on the reliable Pro 4 Hub with rims that are perfect for hardcore trail use and wide tires.

If you’re willing to invest a little extra then this bike will deliver and have you bolting around trails effortlessly.

Click on the link to find out the latest price!

Pros
R
Lots of customization
R
Charger 2 damper
R
Durable titanium frame
Cons
Q
Slightly pricier

Latest deal: Ribble HT Ti – Enthusiast

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. However, if you’re thinking about opting for a full-suspension mountain bike, which is by no means a bad choice, then check out our guide here on the best full-suspension mountain bikes under $2000

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. If you’re looking for a bargain, however, check out our guide to the best mountain bikes under $500

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.

Good luck with your search!

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.