Hardtail or Softtail Mountain Bike?

November 5, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Bike types

Our 50kg, racing snake, cycling friends could probably do without a bit of rear suspension, opting for the lightweight, responsive – rigidity of the hardtail, but when the ‘fullness of time’ fills us out a bit, some ‘additional’ cushioning under our ‘seat’ does make riding a little more comfortable, but this comes at a price. 

This pretty much sums up (a) the difference and (b) the application of the hard and soft tail mountain bike, and I guess we all wish it were that simple, but there are those enquiring minds who would prefer a slightly more detailed differential explanation between these two mountain bike frames.

The hard tail is generally;

1.      Lighter – making fast district roads and single tracks a pleasure.

2.      Efficient – no excess pedal power is absorbed in the rear suspension.

3.      Maintenance – slightly less required.

The softtail mountain bike is generally;

1.      Comfortable – bicycle absorbs roughest terrain, and is at home on technical and demanding routes.

2.      Not so efficient – an amount of effort and energy during pedaling is absorbed by the suspension (and yes most rear shocks can be locked out to avoid compression, particularly on climbs and easy going terrain)

3.      Maintenance – occasional attention is required to maintain compression levels.

Very often the decision between the hard tail and soft tail is determined by ones budget, and at the outset, it is worth knowing that a good soft tail will require an investment upward of R20,000. And naturally there are more affordable options, and these are generally made possible through the inclusion of less reliable and durable components. In short it may well be worth-while considering a better hard tail than a cheaper soft tail.

There is a buoyant ‘used mtb market’, and the rate at which the value of new mountain bikes depreciates, makes it possible for a lot of bicycle to be purchased at relatively modest prices.