Hardtail vs Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

Whether you are buying your very first beginner’s mountain bike or replacing your old gear, all mountain bikers face the same challenge – hardtail or full suspension. It seems like you see a lot more full suspension mtbs out there, which can leave some bikers wondering what are hardtail mountain bikes good for anyways?

Well, I can help clear up any questions you might have, like what are hardtail mountain bikes used for? And which is the better option for me? So, let’s dig right into it and let me tell you the key differences between full suspension and hardtail mtbs, as well as which types of riding are best for each type.

Hardtail vs Full Suspension MTB Comparison

Hardtail vs Full Suspension MTB Comparison

If you look at a good hardtail mountain bike, then you will notice that it features a solid frame. Normally, you’ll find a suspension fork in the front of the frame with this type of mtb.

Now, if you also look at a good full suspension mountain bike like the Diamondback Recoil 29, then you will see that the frame on a FS bike has two pieces that are joined by pivots. The two pieces are a rear triangle and front triangle. Note that the FS mtb does also have the front suspension fork. The cool thing about the full suspension mtb is that those two pieces of the bike frame move independently, and a shock absorber controls that rate of movement.

The important thing to know about these two types of mountain bikes is that neither of them is the single best type of mtb. Instead, the best type depends on your style of riding, the type of terrain that you ride on and your basic personal preference.


If you prefer to keep your butt on the seat while climbing, then a FS bike is the better choice for you. Hardtail bikes are better for getting over obstacles on technical terrain, plus they tend to get great traction so there’s no worries about spin-outs.


FS bikes are great for downhill technical trails that have a lot of bumps along the way. Hardtails do okay, but it is a different ride due to the design of the bike. The main difference is that you get tired a lot faster riding downhill on a hardtail.

Bike Maintenance

As you probably already know, FS bikes require considerable more maintenance than hardtails. If you do not want to have to spend more time on maintenance, or money on the upkeep, then a hardtail bike is better choice for you.

Bike Weight

While hardtail bike frames have traditional been the more lightweight option, there are now some great lightweight FS bike models available for serious mountain bikers. Overall, you can get a fairly lightweight bike in either style.

Bike Cost

If you are on a budget, then you are probably going to end up with a hardtail. Why? Because the basic design has been around for quite a while and that results in the costs being lower than FS bikes. Full Suspension bikes are pretty much always more expensive as they are a newer style and that means higher costs for consumers like you and me.

Bottom Line

Each type of mountain bike offers its benefits and neither one is singularly better than the other. If you are shopping based on your budget, then stick with a hardtail and it will be a great choice. However, if you have the money to spare, or just want a smoother ride (if you frequent rougher terrain), then spend the extra for a full suspension bike and you will be happy with it. And if you’re really flush with cash, get one of each and switch up what you ride based on terrain!

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