There are many reasons to choose a hardtail mountain bike, even if you’re tempted to buy a full suspension one. Greater rear end traction without losing too much tire grip due to rear shocks, better component selection and parts at comparable price points, simplicity, ease of use, or just plain old preference. Some competitive mountain bikers stick with hardtail mountain bikes and do just fine with them.
If you’re not doing extreme downhill mountain biking, and if you’re just planning to stick with local trails, cross country and even some all-mountain riding, choose from one of our best hardtail mountain bikes. We made sure to choose the ‘cream of the crop’ hardtail bikes that we know will give you the best performance.
The Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes
1. Raleigh Tokul 3
Not only is the Raleigh Tokul 3 one of the best hardtail mountain bikes, its priced around an affordable $1,000. With a 27.5” wheel set and lightweight aluminum 6061 frame, newbies and enthusiasts alike can come to appreciate this bike. An SR Suntour Raidon 120mm suspension fork with lock out makes climbing and descending easy, not to mention crushing those bumps along the trail. Surprisingly, at this price point Raleigh managed to put Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors and 2-finger brake levers for easy but superior braking power.
The drivetrain is Shimano Deore with 10 speeds. Components include Raleigh seat and seatpost, Joytech Alloy Disc front and rear hub, Wellgo alloy pedals, and Weinmann rims. Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance tires provide unparalleled grip for reliable cornering and quick travelling speeds. Who knew buying one of the best hardtail mountain bikes could be within reach in your budget?
2. Kona Cinder Cone
The Kona Cinder Cone is a fun bike to ride no matter what kind of mountain biking adventure you’re up to. With a Kona Superlight 7046 aluminum frame, 27.5” wheel size, 100mm RockShox 30 Gold RL front suspension, SRAM NX crankset and drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, Maxxis Ardent front tire and Maxxis Crossmark rear, this hardtail is too feature packed to go unnoticed.
The frame geometry provides aggressive handling and sleek movement capabilities for riders of all experiences. The price isn’t too bad either. You can get this bike easily under $2000. Definitely affordable for a Kona performance hardtail mountain bike.
3. Trek Stache 7 29+
Now here’s a 29er we can’t ignore. The Stache 7 29+ means business with wide 3” tires gripping relentlessly for an overall fun ride. Needless to say this gives you the capability of a full suspension bike in a hardtail, especially with an alpha platinum aluminum frame, Manitou Magnum 34 Comp front fork with air spring providing 110mm of travel.
Shifters are SRAM GX1 with 11 speeds, coupled with SRAM rear derailleur, crank, cassette and chain rounding up the drivetrain. Bontrager supplies the saddle, seatpost, handlebar and stem. Tires are Bontrager Chupacabras. Brakes are SRAM DB 5 hydraulic discs. We won’t have to coerce you to get out of your house and ride, especially when your bike looks as sweet as this one and has the guts and soul of an aggressive mountain bike.
4. Santa Cruz Chameleon
Sleek and stealth looking, the Santa Cruz Chameleon is meant for work. Mountain bike work, that is. Thrashing trails, navigating sharp cliffside turns on dirt paths, churning through leg burning uphill ascents, and breezing through bumpy downhill descents. The Chameleon has punched in and is ready to ride. With 27.5” wheels, versatile hardtail frame geometry, Shimano 2×10 drivetrain, SRAM brakes and hubs, Rock Shox Recon Silver TK front suspension fork, SLX derailleur, SRAM DB1 hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano Deore drivetrain, it’s easy to see why this bike will help you get to where you’re going.
Maxxis front and rear tires will keep you on the path you need to go, and even take you to where you want to go for a thrill ride. We love the black and dark grey colour scheme. But don’t ride too late into the night. You might forget that you’re entrenched deep in your off road adventure that nobody might notice you’re missing.
5. Rocky Mountain Vertex
Meant for hardcore mountain bikers, pushing yourself to the limits, whether on the race course or out on your favorite trail, the Vertex is Rocky Mountain’s flagship cross country race hardtail. Astounding climbing traction, smooth rollover performance and aggressive geometry makes this bike a favorite out in the races. The 29” wheel size is perfect for cross country racing giving you the edge you need on the straightaways while capable of handling technical single track and whatever else comes your way.
A smooth wall carbon frame makes this bike easy to handle. RockShox SID RL Remote 29 front suspension gives you 100mm of travel and a remote lockout makes it easier for uphills and smooth travel. Brakes are Shimano XT hydraulics with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors and XT brake levers. The drivetrain is SRAM driven with SRAM X01 Trigger shifters giving 11 speeds of goodness. SRAM rear derailleur, cassette and chain, as well as Race Face cranks round out the drivetrain. Maxxis Ikon Maxx Speed tubeless tires makes sure you get to where you’re going without losing control. An overall fun ride but ultimately meant to win challenging mountain bike races.
We’ve given you our pick of the five best hardtail mountain bikes. Go ahead, explore them, try them out, and see which is the best fit for you. Some final advice when choosing a mountain bike: make sure it’s comfortable for your riding style. Your hardtail mountain bike is an extension of your body, so choose the one with a frame geometry that works for you.
More importantly, the best hardtail bikes aren’t cheap. Spend some time checking out the component selection for the bike you’re most interested in. Confidently pick the ones that will give you the most reliable mountain biking trail experience, especially when you’re spending this kind of money.