XC Hardtail vs Full Suspension for a Beginner?

If you’re new to the world of mountain biking, then it’s imperative that you find out as much as possible before investing in your first mountain bike. Since this sport can take you across all kinds of different terrains and environments, you have to understand the various elements that can make your bike as beneficial as possible.


Today we’re going to be discussing two of the primary options for mountain bikes – hardtail or full suspension.


Hardtail Definition

If you’re not familiar with the terms, a hardtail bicycle is one that has a suspension fork in the front, but it’s rigid in the back.

Full-Suspension Definition

As you can imagine, a full-suspension model will have it on both ends, which allows you to maneuver over more difficult ground with ease.


As a beginner, it’s essential that you know the intricacies of these bike models so that you can figure out which one will be best suited to your kind of riding. Let’s break them down and see which option comes out on top.

Benefits of a Hardtail Mountain Bike

One primary consideration that you have to make when starting out in the world of mountain biking is how much money you want to invest in the sport. If you’re doing it casually for fun on whenever you get a chance, then it probably won’t make sense to buy a model that will set you back significantly.


One crucial advantage that hardtails bikes is that they are much more affordable than full suspension rigs. In fact, they can be as little as half the price, making them a reasonable entry to the sport.


However, because performance and handling also matter, let’s look at the other advantages that you get when you ride an XC hardtail mountain bike.



Although riding is what you’ll be doing the most, there will also be plenty of times when you have to carry your bike. Whether it’s putting it on your car or lifting it over some nasty obstacles, the size and weight of your ride will matter.


In general, hardtails are always going to be lighter than full-suspension models because they don’t have the extra gear on the back. You can save quite a few pounds overall, which will ensure a smoother experience when carrying it.


More Efficient

For the most part, full-suspension bikes are built to get over rough terrain. That means that they are not as great on flat surfaces. Hardtails are better at handling smoother ground because the back stays rigid. As you may have guessed, more movement can increase your overall drag, which makes you have to work harder to cover the same distance.


Essentially, more of the power you produce from your legs is driven into the wheel because there isn’t extra suspension to absorb it. Best of all, you get this advantage when going uphill as well.


The Downside of a Hardtail

More than anything else, hardtail mountain bikes are just not equipped to deal with a lot of bumps and dips. If you find yourself on a trail that seems wilder than anything, you will feel it when the rear wheel crashes into everything. Whether it’s rocks, roots, or other obstacles, hardtails will make the ride uncomfortable.


Benefits of a Full-Suspension Mountain Bike

So, if you’re thinking about upgrading to a full suspension, then what can you expect when you hit the trail? Yes, these bikes are more expensive, but is the higher price tag worth it? Let’s see how they handle.


More Versatile

Simply put, when riding on a full suspension, you can take on any trail with ease. Even if you aren’t planning on hitting some snags along your route, you never know where the road can take you. These mountain bikes are designed to blaze new trails without looking back.


More Comfortable

If you’ve hit a bumpy road in a hardtail, you’ll understand where they get their name. To put it mildly, you will have to practically stand on your bike while riding to protect you nether region from the shock.


With a full-suspension, that extra gear absorbs most of the impacts, allowing you to roll over almost anything without regret or soreness afterward.


Better at Downhill

What goes up must come down, and that’s true for gravity as well as riding along steep paths. While a hardtail can make the ascent a bit easier, coming back down can be a literal pain. With a full-suspension bike, you can sit back and relax more because you will be able to handle your descent with more poise and control.


Downsides of a Full-Suspension

Obviously, the price can be prohibitive for a lot of new riders, but there are a few other limitations that come with full-suspension rides.


Heavier: The lightest one of these bikes is still going to outweigh most hardtails, which means that you will be feeling it both on the road and when you have to carry it.

Hard on Inclines: The reduced efficiency of a full suspension means that climbing a hill or any steep terrain will be more exhausting, although you will be more comfortable along the way.


Which is Best for Beginners?

In the end, it depends on the kind of mountain biking you plan on doing the most. If you’re not sure, then I suggest starting with a hardtail and seeing how it performs. Unless you know for a fact that you’ll be encountering some rough trails, these bikes are more than sufficient for most skill levels, particularly those just starting out.


Hopefully, you found this information educational, and I wish you the best on all of your travels. Happy riding!