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What is a hardtail MTB?
A hardtail MTB is a mountain bike with a suspension fork to smooth the trail. There is no rear suspension, which keeps the cost down.
What type of hardtail do I need?
An entry level hardtail (£200 - £500) is a great choice if you want to ride on gravel tracks and rough roads. The tyres tend to have low profile knobs which are rapid rolling on smooth surfaces while still offering a bit of grip on loose surfaces.
Cross country and trail riding
For more adventurous off-roading look for a hardtail with a more capable suspension fork and hydraulic disc brakes. These tend to be found on £500+ models. Bikes with wider tyres will be more capable on rough terrain.
If you want to develop your airborne skills then choose a Jump bike. These tend to have robust components and single speed gearing.
If you want to ride quickly both uphill and down then look for a hardtail with an aggressive geometry and lightweight frame. These will also have lighter and more capable components and start from about £1,000
What wheel size is best for me?
Mountain bikes are available with different wheel sizes, each have specific advantages.
26” wheels - most nimble, great for smaller riders and jump bikes.
27.5” (650b) wheels - strike the ideal balance between fast rolling and nimble handling.
29” wheels - roll fastest over rough ground but are less nimble. Ideal for larger riders.
27.5+ (6fattie) wheels - wider tyres (up to 3”) offer more grip. Ideal for more challenging terrain.
What are the frames made of?
Aluminium – strong and lightweight. More expensive MTBs tend to have lighter ‘butted’ frames.
Steel – heavier but offers a more comfortable ride.
Carbon fibre - strong, lightweight and more comfortable. These start at around £1,500
Do suspension forks vary?
Forks on higher end bikes tend to offer more control. Look for a fork with adjustable rebound and compression damping for more technical riding.
What gearing options are there?
Most hardtails offer a wide range of gears for taking on a variety of terrain. As you go up the price points shifting gets easier with more cogs on the rear cassette and fewer front chainrings.
Which are the best brakes?
Rim brakes - powerful in the dry, less powerful in the wet.
Disc brakes – powerful in all conditions
Hydraulic disc brakes –increased power and braking precision.
Does tyre width make a difference?
Narrower tyres are faster rolling while wider ones offer more grip.
2.0-2.2” – good for recreational riding and light off-roading.
2.2”-2.4” – ideal for trail riding
Plus size 2.8” – 3.0” – best for more challenging terrain
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