Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes 2020 Review

Need a lightweight, versatile bicycle for your next adventure? There’s a certain type of mountain bike you should consider without the need to spend a lot of money. We’re talking about the ever-reliable hardtail.

Hardtail bikes are super-versatile because they can be used on any terrain. They don’t have rear shocks, but they have front suspensions or stiff forks. They’re known to be more affordable and lightweight than bikes with full suspensions.

And, the cherry on top, hardtail MTBs are highly recommended for both beginners and pros. Whether you’re already experienced or still training to become an expert rider, we’re introducing some of the best hardtail mountain bikes to help you as a buyer.

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Review

These are the high-quality hardtail MTBs we recommend for your outdoor escapades:

Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain BikeDiamondback Overdrive Hardtail

If you’re looking for a dynamic and lightweight hardtail mountain bike without breaking the bank, the Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike is a good option. It’s an entry-level hardtail that’s great for racing and riding downhill at high speeds, though you may find it difficult to go on uphill trails.

The frame of this bike is made of aluminum alloy, so it’s lightweight and durable. The frame has butted tubing, so it has great stiffness. And, since rough trails may be bumpy, adding to this bike is the four-inch Suntour suspension fork to improve its shock absorption. It also has thru-axles and Boost 148 spacing at the rear.

Another feature is the 24-speed drivetrain, which is a highly responsive gear shifter. This bike also has mechanical disc brakes with 160-millimeter rotors, thus giving you great stopping power and peace of mind when riding downhill at high speeds.

Meanwhile, the 27.5-inch wheels allow the rider to smoothly maneuver at corners and have better control downhill while picking up speed. The Blanchard 25 wheelset is also usable for tubeless tires.

Pros:

  • Great for off-road riding
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Versatile for different terrains and riding styles
  • Reliable gear shifting
  • Outstanding braking power

Cons:

  • May require many adjustments
  • Bent chainring
  • Tangling chain
  • Not comfortable enough because of the hard seat

Royce Union Men’s Gravel Bike 27.5″ or 700c WheelsRoyce Union Mens Gravel 27.5 or 700c Wheels

One of the best gravel bikes in the market, the Royce Union Men’s Gravel Bike is what you can enjoy riding on or off the road. This bike is loaded with a lot of features and will work well on paved trails, smooth dirt, or rough terrain.

The frame is made of aluminum, making the bike lighter and low-maintenance. It can perform well on bumpy trails or paved roads. It also has a steel fork that’s rigid. Meanwhile, the wheelbase is longer for greater stability when riding fast.

Riding uphill may be less strenuous with the 16-speed drivetrain and Shimano EZ Fire shifters for quicker gear shifting. Going downhill won’t be a problem as well with its 27.5-inch wheels for higher speeds and mechanical disc brakes that provide adequate stopping power when needed.

Pros:

  • Best for commuting
  • Versatile for any off-road terrain
  • Handles uphill rides fairly well
  • Great for downhill rides
  • Comfortable and easy to adjust

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for beginners due to its rigid fork
  • Pedals may be too small for taller riders

Aluminum Fat Bikes with Powerful Disc Brakes Gravity MonsterAluminum Fat with Powerful Disc Brakes Gravity Monster

The quote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” is on point with this fat bike. The Gravity Monster is a great combination of old-school and trendy features with its vintage-looking hardtail frame and its trendsetting fat tires.

Furthermore, the wheels’ rims are made of aluminum alloy and the high-traction 26” x 4” tires can handle practically any type of terrain, be it sand, mud, mountain, or snow. In addition, the front-wheel is connected to a rigid fork. The wheels also have a quick-release feature so they’ll be handy during storage and maintenance.

Meanwhile, the heavy-duty and lightweight frame is made of aluminum alloy and available in sizes from 14 up to 22 inches, depending on what’s suitable for the height of the rider. The overall weight of the bike is 35 pounds, which is pretty light for a fat bike.

Lastly, this bike is equipped with a 16-speed SRAM drivetrain, front and rear derailleurs, and SRAM trigger shifters for quick and efficient shifting. It’s also built with mechanical disc brakes.

Pros:

  • Best value for an entry-level fat bike
  • Versatile for virtually any type of terrain
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Variation in frame sizes to cater to different riders
  • Capable to move on deep sand and snow

Cons:

  • May be heavy for some riders
  • Adjustments needed on the tires
  • Extensive tuning required before riding
  • Needs more power from the mechanical disc brakes due to the bike’s weight
  • Hard to assemble for some beginners

Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike, Summit Ridge 24-26 Inch 21-SpeedHuffy

Bringing style and efficiency on the trail, the Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike surely is a looker. One of its selling points is its variety of colors. It also has options for different genders and ages so you can ride with your family.

For adults, there are two sizes to choose from: a 24-inch wheel with a 14-inch frame and a 26-inch wheel with a 17-inch frame. And, for kids: a 20-inch wheel plus a 13-inch frame with two colors to choose from.

As for the 21-speed gear set, it can help you handle any type of terrain, including uphill and downhill rides, and give you plenty of room for adjustments. Another feature is the Kolo 1200 front suspension fork. It absorbs vibrations from trails for smoother riding.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly despite being stylish and efficient
  • Sturdy
  • Versatile on any type of terrain
  • Good for uphill rides
  • Less strenuous for long rides

Cons:

  • Heavy overall weight due to the material used for the frame
  • Uncomfortable seat
  • Limited stopping power because of the rim brakes
  • Loose handlebar
  • Chain goes off when shifting

Diamondback Bicycles  Hardtail Mountain Bike

Diamondback Hook 27.5

If you’re looking for a great entry-level hardtail, the Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike may be the perfect one for you. It combines the low, slack frame geometry with the uphill efficiency of a hardtail. It can handle different kinds of terrains.

This hardtail is constructed with a butted aluminum alloy frame, with slack and low-slung geometry. The result is a sturdy, durable, and lightweight hardtail and, at the same time, entry-level mountain bike.

This bike is also equipped with a 120-millimeter travel front suspension fork. It can absorb pretty much every bump you encounter on rough trails. It’s also fitted with mechanical disc brakes at both wheels with 160–millimeter rotors, reliable enough when cruising fast. And, with a 27.5-inch wheelset, you can go mad at any trail at high speeds with great maneuverability.

Another feature is the SRAM eight-speed drivetrain with smooth shifters, a great gear set for an entry-level hardtail with less maintenance needed. It’s pretty impressive for uphill rides.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive but has great components similar to expensive hardtails
  • Sturdy and lightweight with sizes to choose from, depending on your height
  • Effective for entry-level riders
  • Reliable stopping power
  • Easy to assemble since most of the parts are already pre-assembled

Cons:

  • Issues on the crank and pedals
  • Tune-up needed before use
  • Tire deflating easily
  • Not the best for uphill rides because of fewer gears
  • Tubeless tires not compatible with the wheelset

Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike with 26-Inch WheelsMongoose Malus Fat Tire with 26-Inch Wheels & Steel Frame

Fat tires are gaining traction in the world of mountain biking nowadays. What sets the Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike from other similar options is its low and slack geometric design on the frame. The brand is also known for building strong frames, and this bike is proof.

The frame is made of hi-ten steel, so strength is never a question. Even though it has a cruiser frame design, it still has enough room vertically to handle rough terrains.

The most important feature of this bike, of course, is the tires. The knobby tires can handle any terrain, especially the snowy, muddy, or sandy ones.

Unfortunately, fat bikes are made to be heavy. This one, with its steel frame, might be too heavy for you so it’s better to only use it for recreational use rather than long rides.

Pros:

  • Stable on paved roads and rough terrains
  • Adequate stopping power
  • Straightforward assembly
  • Low price
  • Fun to upgrade

Cons:

  • A bit heavy
  • Slippery shifters
  • Only has a few gears
  • Plastic brake levers break easily
  • Uncomfortable saddle

Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Men’s Mountain BikeMongoose Dolomite Fat Tire

If you opt to change to fat bikes, the Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Men’s Mountain Bike is one of the best entry-level options out there, not to mention one of the cheapest.

The bike’s most highlighted feature is its wheels. Its knobby tires are incredibly robust and stable even on the harshest terrains. Cruising through mud and snow will be smoother. A front suspension fork isn’t really crucial with this bike for the wheels can absorb any bump that may be encountered along the way.

About the frame, it’s cruiser-style, meaning it’s slack and low to add comfort to the rider. The geometry allows the rider to go uphill easier. You may be surprised that the frame itself is lightweight and durable because it uses steel alloy.

This bike also comes with a seven-speed drivetrain and twist-style shifters for efficient shifting. It’s also equipped with reliable mechanical disc brakes so you can ride downhill at high speeds without a problem.

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable fat-tire bikes
  • Can handle any terrain including uphill and downhill surfaces
  • Ideal on snowy or muddy roads
  • Effective stopping power
  • Quick and easy to change gears

Cons:

  • Slightly heavy
  • 7-speed drivetrain may not be enough for intermediate riders
  • Crank and pedal issues
  • Faulty brakes

Diamondback Bikes Line Hardtail Mountain BikeDiamondback Line

Exploring diverse terrains won’t be a problem anymore with the Diamondback Line Hardtail Mountain Bike. The hardtail’s frame is slack, which gives the rider great maneuverability on any type of terrain. The frame is also low-slung, which lowers the center of gravity and gives the rider a stable and comfortable ride. It’s made of sturdy and lightweight aluminum alloy.

The wheels are also durable. Each one is 27.5 inches, so cruising at high speeds won’t be a problem. The tires are tough as well and can withstand rough terrains without wearing off easily.

And, since this is a mountain bike, fitting it with hydraulic disc brakes will give the rider peace of mind when going downhill. It specifically features a Tektro hydraulic system, which provides smooth and effective stopping power. In addition, the Suntour XCR fork will minimize the vibrations you may get when the ride gets rougher.

For uphill rides, SRAM nine-speed drivetrain with fast shifters should be added to the slack and low frame. Going uphill is going to be more effortless.

Pros:

  • Built for uphill rides
  • Versatile for most terrains
  • Highly responsive
  • Comfortable saddle
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Cranks feel a bit cheap
  • Overly wide handlebars for some riders
  • Small chainring which causes the chains to slip off
  • Wheelset not tubeless-ready
  • Gear set not okay enough for some intermediate riders

Cyrusher XF660 1000W Electric Bike 264 inch Snow Beach Fat TireCyrusher XF660 1000W 64 inch Snow Beach Fat Tire

Fat tires are made to increase the friction strength on the surface. Terrains that are difficult for an ordinary mountain bike can be much easier with thicker tires. As a plus, adding e-bike components to a fat bike adds spice to the whole experience.

The Cyrusher XF660 1000W Electric Bike is truly a modern bike featuring the slack and low frame geometry. The frame is made of aluminum alloy for lightness and durability. The front lockout suspension is also composed of aluminum alloy to save some weight for additional components.

Another important feature is the wheels. The wheels can handle a variety of terrains, most especially the snowy and muddy ones. This bike is fitted with hydraulic dual disc brakes for flawlessly efficient stopping power. It also has a seven-speed drivetrain.

Another thing that makes this bike sophisticated is the electric motor with a 1000-watt battery and a 3.7-inch LCD screen. The battery is removable so it can be recharged at home while you’re using this e-bike as a normal bike. The LCD screen displays the battery level, speedometer, odometer, distance, and the pedal assist level.

The throttle comes in three types: twist throttle, pedal-assist, and pedal only. Additional features include the headlight, horn, fenders on both wheels, and adjustable handlebar.

Pros:

  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Can handle a variety of terrains, especially those with lots of bumps
  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Enhanced shock absorption
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Quite heavy at 55 pounds
  • Longer charging time for the battery
  • Difficult to repair

Steppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race/Pro/LTD Team LTD Hardtail 29er MTBSteppenwolf Tundra Carbon Race Pro LTD Team LTD Hardtail 29er

This is definitely one of the best hardtail bikes for entry-level and experts alike. The  Steppenwolf Hardtail 29er is German-made so the quality isn’t questionable. And, it has four varieties to choose from: Tundra Race, Tundra Pro, Tundra LTD, and Tundra Team LTD. Sizes also vary.

All frames are made of ultra-lightweight carbon fiber and have low slack geometry. Their rear section is short for better agility. The RockShox 100-millimeter travel suspension fork and the Avid Elixir mechanical disc brakes with 160-millimeter rotors are also the common denominators for the four bikes.

As for the specifics, the Tundra Race features a SRAM 20-speed drivetrain with SRAM XO shifters, chain, and front and rear derailleurs while the Tundra Pro has a Shimano 30-speed drivetrain with Shimano XT shifters, chain, and derailleurs.

Meanwhile, the Tundra LTD is fitted with a Shimano 30-speed gear set, Shimano SLX shifters, Shimano XT chain, and front derailleurs while the Tundra Team LTD features a SRAM 20-speed drivetrain with SRAM XX shifters, front and rear derailleurs, and a Shimano XT chain.

Pros:

  • Highly reliable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Very fast for cross-country and marathons
  • Smooth gear shifting
  • Promotes better handling

Cons:

  • Quite expensive for budget-conscious buyers
  • Saddle may be uncomfortable

SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike 27.5″/29″ Complete Hard TailSAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber

The frame geometry of the SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike is slack and low. It’s made of lightweight and uniquely strong carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has a lot of shock absorption power to offer.

Another great feature of this bike is its tires. There are three variations: 26-inch CST, 27.5-inch Michelin, and 29-inch Continental–each one showcasing the highest quality possible. As for the rims, they’re lightweight and durable.

The suspension fork has 100 millimeters of travel, which adds more comfort to your ride as well as better control on any terrain. This hardtail is also fitted with a 3×10 Shimano drivetrain with Shimano shifters and derailleur system for smooth shifting. Lastly, the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes have a very reliable and efficient stopping power.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and strong
  • Agile due to frame material and geometry
  • Comes with tire size options
  • Fun to use on virtually any terrain
  • Efficient stopping power

Cons:

  • Expensive

Diamondback Bicycles Lux Women’s Hardtail Mountain BikeDiamondback Lux Women's Hardtail

A great entry-level hardtail for women with a realistic price point, the Diamondback Bicycles Lux Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike features an ultra-lightweight and durable frame made of aluminum alloy. The frame geometry is low-slung, giving ample room for ladies to stand over and enhancing the maneuverability of the bike.

This bike also features a great wheelset with double-walled alloy rims and 27.5-inch Kenda Nevegal Lite tires. Its hydraulic disc brakes are powerful and reliable to minimize incidents. We’re also highlighting the Suntour XCM-HLO suspension fork and the woman-fitted saddle which add comfort for the rider and better control on different terrains.

Another awesome feature of this bike is the Shimano 18-speed gear set with Shimano Speed Rapidfire shifters and derailleur system. This set makes sure that shifting will be quick and smooth.

Pros:

  • Best for trails
  • Efficient stopping power
  • Quick and accurate gear shifting
  • Can be upgraded
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable saddle
  • Clunky front-suspension
  • Extensive tuning needed on the gears
  • No kickstand and bottle holder

Tommaso Gran Sasso 29er Mountain Bike Hydraulic Disc HardtailTommaso Gran Sasso 29er Hydraulic Disc

This is one of the most affordable bikes here, but don’t underestimate its quality. The Tommaso Gran Sasso 29er Mountain Bike is performance-packed. It sports a full Shimano 24-speed drivetrain for versatility on any terrain. It also features a Shimano Acera shifter, which provides effortless and speedy shifting.

The frame is made of sturdy, lightweight aluminum alloy and its geometry is slack and low-slung, contributing to the agility and amazing maneuverability of this bike. It comes in different sizes to fit different riders.

We also have the 100-millimeter suspension fork which effectively absorbs shock on rough terrains and gives more comfort for your entire riding experience. And, when you encounter some tricky terrains, the hydraulic disc brake system by Shimano can give you smooth, reliable stoppage.

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Exceptional geometry
  • Versatile on any terrain
  • Efficient stopping power
  • Eases uphill and downhill movements

Cons:

  • Might be heavy for some riders
  • Issues on the cranks
  • Pedals falling off
  • Tuning required before anything else

Diamondback Bikes Sync’r 27.5 Hardtail Mountain BikeDiamondback Sync'r 27.5

The Diamondback Bikes Sync’r Mountain Bike is a hardtail with a frame made of lightweight and sturdy aluminum alloy. The frame geometry is slack and low-slung, which gives the rider maximum maneuverability. It also comes in different sizes to fit people standing 5’4” to 6’4” tall.

This bike includes a Rockshox Recon RL Solo Air suspension front fork with a 130-millimeter travel which works wonders on bumpy and rough terrains. A better suspension means better support for the demands of hill climbing.

We should also discuss the product’s powerful hydraulic disc brakes. The brakes are efficient and reliable for stopping cruising speeds.

Since the available sizes are targeted to specific groups of people height-wise, not everybody can use this bike.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Can handle any terrain
  • Can be used for uphill and downhill riding
  • Almost fully assembled
  • Tubeless-compatible wheels

Cons:

  • Not recommended for riders who are shorter than 5’4”

How to Choose Good Hardtail Mountain Bikes

A lot of people tend to get confused when they hear the term “hardtail.” Hardtail bikes are usually compared to full-suspension bikes because they only have a single fork. As for the latter, they have a shock at the rear in addition to the suspension fork up front.

Shape, material, suspension, brakes, and wheels are just some of the factors you need to consider before buying a hardtail mountain bike.

Geometry

Slack, low, and long are the adjectives you usually hear whenever frame shape or geometry comes to mind. Of course, there are other considerations like the length and height of some crucial sections around the bike.

Slack

Slack refers to the angle of the head tube. A slack angle greatly contributes to downhill rides. However, a slacker angle at the head tube can significantly affect your performance on other activities like hill climbing.

Low

The concept of lowered bikes doesn’t necessarily mean that they have smaller wheels, but it indicates that the bracket at the bottom is lower than or level with the axles. This is the preferred type of frame geometry for technical riders.

Long

Long bikes show that the gap between the wheel axles is longer. Simply put, the length of the wheelbase is increased. This greatly contributes to the stability of the bike at high speeds. A longer wheelbase also gives better control on steep trails.

Other Factors

Additional aspects to consider when thinking about the frame are the length of the chainstay and the standover height.

The frame’s component between the rear wheel axle and where the crankset sits is the chainstay. The length of the chainstay contributes to the bike’s overall stability when moving. A longer chainstay means better stability.

Meanwhile, the space between your crotch and the top tube is the standover height. This space is essential to allow the rider to move around on the bike while riding.

Material

Steel, carbon fiber, and aluminum alloy are the materials commonly found on hardtail MTBs.

Steel

This material was already used for the earliest groups of mountain bikes massively produced for people around the globe. Mobility may be affected due to its weight, but it has more strength than the rest. Shock absorption is tested and proven with steel bikes. Being reparable through welding is also a huge plus.

Carbon Fiber

Despite being the lightest among the frame materials, carbon fiber is extremely sturdy for rough trails. Carbon fiber sheets are flexible and stiff, so it can be strategically layered onto different parts of the frame to cater to the needs of the rider. However, more stiffness on the frame also means it’s less likely to dampen vibrations.

Aluminum Alloy

The first substitute for steel bikes, aluminum alloy is lighter and cheaper. Aluminum is as durable as steel and also less stiff than carbon, meaning it can handle rougher trails. Even though steel usually lasts longer than aluminum, proper upkeep is already enough to keep the latter in tiptop shape.

Fork

Here are the things you need to know when it comes to suspension forks:

Short-travel suspension

Used for cross-country and trail mountain bikes, the short-travel suspension has a travel length of 120 millimeters or less. This type of suspension fork is designed for all-around riding. They’re also best for hill climbing and pretty decent for downhill rides.

Long-travel suspension

With suspension travel of 120 to 200 millimeters, this type of fork is designed to go down on rough trails at higher speeds with excellent control and also perform decently on uphill trails. Having a longer front travel means better performance for downhill riding.

Diameter of the Seat Tube

The size of the seat tube contributes greatly to comfort, especially during long rides. The best seat tube diameter is about 27.2 millimeters. It’s the perfect size for versatility in terms of terrain. It’s obviously lighter as well.

On the other hand, some riders who love the thrill of downhill riding prefer 30.9 or 31.6 millimeters for comfort. A large diameter means more weight, but it can also accommodate an adjustable dropper seat post.

Brakes

When it comes to brakes, it’s important to understand the major types and the ideal rotor size for your needs.

Types

There are three types of brakes: coaster, rim, and disc. Coaster brakes are the old-school type which relies on back-pedaling to clasp the rear wheel.

Meanwhile, rim brakes have two pads near the wheel in order to hold the rim and slow down the rider. However, it’s not exactly recommended for most users because of its minimal stopping power.

Lastly, disc brakes come in two types: hydraulic and mechanical. Mechanical disc brakes are operated by cable, similar to rim brakes, and are cheaper and easier to maintain. Meanwhile, hydraulic systems use brake fluid to transmit the stopping power to the caliper. They’re more expensive but more efficient.

Rotor Size

The stopping power of brakes isn’t just about the system used but also the size of their rotors. Rotors have four diameters to choose from: 160, 180, 200, or 203 millimeters.

The larger the rotor, the stronger the brake is. It also lessens the possibility of overheating. Bigger rotors, however, are heavier and may affect your mobility.

Wheels

Size and material are the most important factors when checking a mountain bike’s set of wheels.

Size

Nowadays, mountain bikes have two wheel sizes to choose from: 27.5 and 29 inches. The basis, mostly, for choosing the wheel size is the size of the rider. The taller the rider, the larger the wheels should be.

A 29-inch wheel is great for riding tough downhill trails at maximum speed but not exactly the more responsive and flexible one. Meanwhile, 27.5-inch wheels are ideal for sharp corners since they’re more flexible than 29ers.

Material

The material used for the rims is another factor in choosing wheels. The two common types of rims available in the market are aluminum and carbon.

Carbon rims are stronger, stiffer, and lighter than aluminum. The stiffness of carbon rims contributes to faster acceleration but can be bad for rough downhill riding as the material isn’t really effective for shock absorption. Cracks on carbon rims are irreparable.

Aluminum rims, on the other hand, have better shock absorption and a higher chance to just get dented rather than crack. They’re heavier and cheaper than carbon rims but better at dealing with bumps.

Conclusion

Among the high-quality hardtail MTBs we’ve discussed, the Diamondback Bikes Sync’r Mountain Bike has caught our attention the most. It’s comfortable, versatile, and convenient, unlike most bikes that perform perfectly but have poorly designed seats and are a hassle to set up. Despite not being the best option for shorter riders, it can be used on various terrains no matter your riding style. It’s also pre-assembled and compatible with tubeless wheels.

If you’re planning to search for more options, keep in mind these factors: geometry, frame material, suspension, type of brakes, rotor size, and wheels. Aside from making sure that the geometry of the bike ultimately leads to a hardtail, check the durability and versatility of the frame, the level of shock absorption from the suspension, the efficiency of the brakes, and the maneuverability of the wheels.