Team rider Eric Porter has ridden all types of mountain bikes in his career, from cross-country race bikes to downhill beasts. Recently he's been taking a step back, in order to see the big picture. Turns out that "step back" can be a step forward. Here are some thoughts from Eric on riding hardtails:
A number of years ago, I remember saying to myself I will never go back to a hardtail for trail riding. As it usually goes when you make a “never again” statement, you usually end up eating your words in the future. I recently started riding one of the new Diamondback Sync’r trail bikes, and it made me realize how much I had been depending on full suspension to get me down the trail smoothly. Growing up mountain biking in the 90’s, front suspension was pretty new, and full suspension was only for the factory pros or the rich. Since I was a 16-year-old kid not belonging to either of those groups, I learned how to ride trails without the benefit of a rear shock. Without knowing it at the time, I think this was one of the best things that could have happened to my riding. I’ve listed below seven reasons why you should consider going back to riding a hardtail, even part of the time. There is no doubt that it will make you a better rider!
- It will make you smoother - If you don’t learn how to float your bike over roots and rocks, a hardtail will either bounce you off the trail or rattle your teeth out. You're forced to create some flow.
- It makes your same old trails more interesting - If you can’t travel and you are bored of riding the same old trails, try riding them on a hardtail! I promise it will change everything, and make it feel like a completely different experience.
- It’s more playful, manualing and bunnyhopping - this will bring the terms snappy and responsive to the front of your mind. The bike reacts instantly to your input. Also, due to the lack of rear suspension, bunnyhops are quicker, it’s easier to pick up the front wheel, and the bike is generally lighter and nimbler.
- It keeps you in check - Getting cocky riding the tough sections at your local spot? Hop on a hardtail and get put back in your place -in a good way. It will keep you humble and make you tone down your riding a bit. You don’t have to go as fast to get the same feeling of hauling ass, compared to an all mountain bike.
- It’s simple - There’s something inherently nice about the simplicity of a hardtail, especially when combined with today’s 1x drivetrains and dialed components.
- It’s efficient on climbs - You want to climb for hours? Nothing more efficient than a nice light hardtail trail bike. No suspension bob, all power to the wheel!
- It’s lighter - getting rid of pivots and a rear shock will drop at least a couple pounds off a bike. This is a big benefit for everything from climbing to bunnyhopping, and everything in between.
And a bonus number 7.5: It’s more affordable - you will probably get much more bang for your buck with a hardtail, which translates to a better drivetrain and suspension fork for your money.
So take Porter's advice and go without that rear squish for a ride or two: if you do decide to return to a full suspension bike, you'll most likely be bringing some new skills back with you!