Hardtail Vs Full Suspension Mountain Bike – Which One Is Right for You?

When buying a mountain bike, you need to choose between a hardtail and a full-suspension mountain bike. Which one is best for you? To answer this question, you need to understand each of these types in detail to make the best choice.

The suspension you choose affects various things like comfort, traction, and control. Several things will determine the type of mountain bike to choose from.

You need to consider the terrain and your budget. To help you ease the decision-making process, we have prepared a simple guide for you. Let's get right into it.

Hardtail Vs Full Suspension Mountain Bike

What Is A Full Suspension Mountain Bike?

A full-suspension mountain bike, also known as a dual-suspension mountain bike, has a rear shock and a suspension fork upfront. This means that it has shock absorbers on both the front and rear wheels. Both tires will easily move up or down and comfortably absorb the shock from any obstacle. This unique feature gives the bike a ride smoother than normal.

What Is Hardtail Mountain Bike?

A hardtail mountain bike is a bike that has only the suspension fork on the front wheel. Its rear wheels are rigid and not suspended. This means that only the front wheels can absorb any shock during movement.

Differences Between A Full Suspension Mountain Bike And A Hardtail Mountain Bike?

Full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes differ in various aspects. You do not have to scratch your head so hard. Here are some of the outstanding differences between the two.

Suspension And Components:

The most obvious distinction between the two is the suspension. A hardtail only has one suspension fork on the fore wheel while a full suspension has two shock absorbers: the suspension fork in the fore wheel and a rare shock in the rear wheel. The full-suspension bike is more versatile and has more capabilities compared to a hardtail.

The Terrain:

Is the terrain smooth or technical? Hardtail bikes are best for smoother terrains, while full suspension bikes are good for difficult terrains. A hardtail only has one suspension fork on the fore wheels. You will, therefore, have a difficult time riding it on a terrain full of obstacles. It will be more fun using it on simple bumps that can be soaked easily.

On the other hand, a full-suspension bike will allow you to ride on the difficult terrains comfortably. The shock absorbers on both wheels absorb the force from obstacles on the terrain. Rocks and roots cannot stop you from enjoying your bike.


A big difference between the full suspension mountain bike and a hardtail is the price. A full-suspension mountain bike will be quite costly with the added features compared to a hardtail mountain bike. The full-suspension mountain bike is of a higher quality compared to the hardtail mountain bike. This means to get a full-suspension mountain bike, and you will need to spend more.


You can tell the difference between the bikes by just looking at the two of them. The two have designs that stand out. A hardtail mountain bike has a simpler yet elegant design that is appealing to almost everyone. A full-suspension mountain bike has a more complex design. This design makes it look aggressive and powerful.


One of the distinct features of the two bikes is their weight. With fewer components, the hardtail bike is lighter as opposed to the full-suspension mountain bike. The full suspension has the extra tubes, pivots, and rear shocks hence the increased weight. On the other hand, hardtail bikes have frames that are cheaper to produce and, consequently, lighter.

Fun Of Riding:

This depends on the terrain. Mountain bike lovers will tell you that there is fun in tackling that difficult terrain using a simple hardtail bike. This though, is not the sentiment of all of them. Riding on a smoother terrain is more fun when using a hardtail than a heavier full suspension.


This factor is one of the most attractive elements of a mountain bike. A full-suspension mountain bike gives you the thrill of speed. You can ride downhill faster since obstacles are absorbed more. If you are climbing a hilly area, you need a lighter bike. The hardtail bike weight will allow you to pedal upwards compared to the full-suspension mountain bike quickly.


Just like flatter tires, suspension in bikes gives it and its wheels better traction on the trails. With this, you will, therefore, ride on descents, steep climbs, and corners easily. You will also have more control over the bike in rocky or muddy areas. A full-suspension mountain bike, therefore, is way easier to handle than a hardtail.


A full-suspension mountain bike is more comfortable to ride on technical terrains. Since it absorbs shocks on rough areas, the ride is more comfortable. However, the full-suspension bike is quite heavy, so your lower body muscles may get tired, quickly ruining comfort. This makes the lighter hardtail more comfortable to ride over longer distances.


Maintaining your mountain bike will determine if it will last a longer period or not. A hardtail bike simpler to maintain since it has fewer components. On the other hand, a full-suspension mountain bike takes more time and skill to maintain. It has extra parts that make maintaining it quite a process and costly. This should not stop you from regularly maintaining it. You do not want to spend all that money on a bike and let it spoil over a short time.

When Is A Hardtail Good For You?

Are you a beginner? If yes, then a hardtail will help you learn riding faster. It has fewer components hence allowing a beginner to master the riding skills much faster.

Budget: Is your budget fixed? If it is, then a hardtail bike the cheaper option. These bikes have a simple design, and their price is affordable.

Lightweight: It will suit you if you are going for a cross country race. This is because it is light and comfortable to ride on smoother grounds. It also has more efficiency when pedaling a lot.

Low maintenance- Since the bikes have few parts, maintenance is easy and simple compared to full suspension bikes.

When Is A Full Suspension Good For You?

Rough terrain: Is your terrain rough? If so, then a full-suspension mountain bike will work for you. It is purposefully designed to tackle the rough terrain.

Comfort: If you are looking for more comfort in a mountain bike, a full-suspension mountain bike will give you just that. You won't keep feeling the impact of obstacles as they wheels quickly and efficiently absorb the shocks.

Speed: If you are up for speed, then a full-suspension mountain bike is right for you. The front and rear suspension work well in giving you smooth rides; hence you can ride faster than using a hardtail mountain bike.

Higher price: Riders willing to spend more can invest in full-suspension mountain bikes. With a budget of 1500 bucksyou can get an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike.

Frequently Asked Questions -FAQs

Q: Are hardtail mountain bikes good for downhill?
Not really. If the descent is deep, then stay away from the hardtail. If it is somewhat moderate, then you can attempt. I advise you to be extra careful if you chose to use a hardtail on a downhill.

Q: Which is faster, hardtail, or full suspension?
Speed depends on the terrain. A full-suspension bike is faster on the rough terrains, while a hardtail will give you speed when riding up a hilly area.

Q: Are Hardtails good for jumps?
They are better for jumps since you do not need to use a lot of energy or force it off the ground.

Q: Is full suspension mountain bike best?
A full-suspension mountain bike has its advantages over other bikes. However, you need to know the purpose of the bike before saying its best for you.

Q: Why are full suspension bikes so expensive?
The bike has more advanced components and features that will improve your riding experience. The materials used to make it are also of high quality hence the high price.

Q: How do you turn a hardtail into a full suspension?
Doing this requires a lot of technical skills and risk-taking. If you do not do it properly, you can destroy your bike. You can change the frame or add a new shocker. Either way, you need to have a clear guide.

Q: Do I need a full-suspension mountain bike?
You need this bike if you will be riding on the rough and technical terrains. If you are a lover of downhill rides, then this bike is necessary.

Q: Can you ride a full-suspension mountain bike on the road?
Yes, you can. You can ride it anywhere. You will feel its effects more on rough rocky terrains.

Q: Why are Hardtails better?
They are way lighter, cheaper, and easy to maintain compared to other bikes.

Q: Are Hardtails more fun?
Fun depends on the rider. If you love riding on smooth terrains then, a hardtail is more fun.


Now that you know the difference between a hardtail and full-suspension mountain bike, you can easily decide which one will work for you. As much as they have distinct differences, the two bikes are all amazing. They will all serve you well as long as they are used properly.

You can use these bikes for fun outdoor activities or racing. Before choosing the right bike, identify your interests first. If you are financially capable, go ahead and purchase both of them. Go ahead and have some fun using either the hardtail or full-suspension mountain bikes.

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