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How Much Abuse Can A Hardtail Really Take? (Helpful example)

Hardtail mountain bikes are amazing for beginners and experienced riders alike because they are lighter and cheaper. But, then again, the lack of a rear suspension might make you wonder if they can last as long as full-suspension bikes. That said, how much abuse can a hardtail really take?

Hardtail mountain bikes can take a lot of punishment because these bikes are designed for rough trails. However, you have to make sure that you choose a reputable hardtail bike because these are the ones that tend to be more durable than the cheaper ones on the market.

Regardless of what you are doing with your hardtail, you have to understand that these bikes are meant to take on plenty of abuse. As such, as long as you know for a fact that your hardtail bike isn’t very cheap, you shouldn’t be too worried about how much abuse it can take. 

How Much Can You Push a Hardtail Without Breaking?

Hardtail abuse

When it comes to trail mountain biking, one of the things you are probably worried about is the bike itself because let’s face it, trails aren’t the most forgiving terrain for any bike. This means that you need to use a durable bike when you are out biking on a hard trail.

In relation to that, hardtail bikes are some of the most popular choices for different trail riders out there because they are light and more affordable. On top of that, hardtails have been tried and tested over time because old and new riders have enjoyed the experience of riding on hardtails.

With that said, how much can you push a hardtail without it breaking? How much abuse can your hardtail really take?

The first thing you need to know about hardtail bikes is that these bikes were designed and manufactured to be sturdy and durable bikes that can stand the test of punishment.

In relation to that, hardtail bikes have frames that are made to be quite durable considering that they need to be sturdy, or else the frame will end up breaking on impact due to the lack of a rear suspension.

So, am I trying to say here that hardtail bikes can take as much abuse as any other type of mountain bike out there? They are specifically designed for that purpose and are capable of absorbing a lot of punishment when you are out there on the trail.

The truth is that you shouldn’t be worried about whether you have a hardtail or a full-suspension bike because what matters is your riding style. You should be more concerned about how much punishment you are actually dishing out on your bike rather than how much abuse it can take.

Of course, the rougher of a rider you are, the more punishment your bike will take. In that sense, your priority is to make sure that you don’t take your hardtail out on rough trails quite often because any bike won’t be able to take on the abuse of such trails for a long time.

You should also be concerned about your weight as well. The heavier you are, the more abuse your hardtail will take. Of course, the lighter you are, the less likely your hardtail will suffer a lot of punishment regardless of whether or not you are out on a rough trail.

Hardtails are designed to take on rough trails but they can only take so much punishment if you push tend to push them to their limit quite frequently.

Example

My first mountain bike was a 500$ hardtail and I had no problems with it, my weight was in the range of 200 pounds, but I wasn’t a very aggressive rider.

After 2 years I sold the bike to a younger guy and we ended up going on a couple of rides together afterward, I was amazed that he arrived home in one piece, he was a daredevil.

After the first ride I went home with the impression that he will destroy the bike within one or two months, he used it to perform big jumps and oftentimes for tough downhill rides.

The front coil suspension was buttoned out more times than I can count, he crashed the bike many times, it is like he wanted to see how tough it is and how lucky he can be.

He still has the bike, after 5 years have passed, and it is still functional but some components were changed.

So this is why I know that hardtails are tough and can take a beating!

Can a $500 Hardtail Take the Same Abuse as a $1500 One?

So, while we did say that hardtail bikes are meant to take abuse and are quite durable to the point that they can last longer as long as you don’t always push them to their limit, the price of the bike is also a factor that you need to take into consideration.

By default, hardtails are supposed to be durable and are actually capable of taking punishment. Then again, these bikes will also depend on the quality of the materials they are built from. And the quality of bike parts and materials tends to be directly related to price.

In a sense, the more expensive a bike is, the better its materials and parts are. Of course, in the same way, a cheaper bike is more likely to have materials and parts that are not on par in terms of quality.

What am I trying to say here is that a cheaper $500 hardtail bike isn’t designed to take on the same punishment as a $1500 one. That’s because the cheaper variant is expectedly made from materials that are not really the best.

Of course, these cheaper bikes may have been assembled by department store employees who don’t have the same level of experience as the bike mechanics trusted to handle the more expensive bikes.

On the other hand, the more expensive hardtails are made from durable high-quality materials and parts that were designed to last very long and to take on punishing trails. Expensive bikes are also handled and assembled by personnel who know a thing or two about bikes.

But be aware that hardtails over the 1000$ mark usually have frames made from carbon, the other components are far more durable than cheaper hardtails but carbon frames tend to easily break on impact.

I have many friends who fell on the trails and ended up with a cracked carbon frame that needs to be changed, none of my friends with aluminum hardtails encountered this problem (and neither did I).

If you ride aggressively I recommend you stick with cheaper hardtails with aluminum frames. Buy the most expensive aluminum hardtail, it will have the best and the most durable components and a durable frame.

Can a Hardtail Take More Abuse as a Full Suspension?

Now that we have established that hardtails are made to be able to endure punishment as long as they come from reputable names and manufacturers, how do they compare to full-suspension mountain bikes?

Remember that full-suspension bikes also come with a rear suspension that is made to absorb impact. That means that the bike frame and its materials are less likely to suffer the same kind of abuse that hardtails take on a regular basis.

However, as mentioned, hardtails are more likely to have frames that are very durable. In fact, most hardtails have frames that are more durable than their full-suspension counterparts. That’s because hardtails need to have sturdy frames or else they would end up breaking easily.

In comparison, full-suspension mountain bikes don’t really need the same sturdy frames that hardtails have because their suspensions absorb the brunt of the impact and punishment that these bikes take on a regular basis.

So, in that sense, it is safe to assume that hardtails are capable of absorbing as much punishment as full-suspension bikes can because of the fact that they have sturdy frames that make up for their lack of a rear suspension.

However, the general belief is that full-suspension bikes are still capable of taking on more abuse than hardtails can. But the gap really isn’t as wide as some people may think it is.

Again, at the end of the day, it still boils down to your riding style. Not even the best full-suspension bikes can last much longer than hardtails when subjected to a lot of punishment in the hands of a, particularly rough rider.

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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.