Are you shopping for your first mountain bike If so, it is important to know the differences between the two different types of mountain bikes: hardtails (with or without front suspension) and full-suspensions. Both of these types of mountain bikes have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, these gaps are getting smaller and smaller. Many full-suspension bikes have the features that allow you to mimic the characteristics of a hardtail with a simple adjustment. However, these featured do not come cheap. In the end, it all boils down to what you want, what you need and how much you can afford.
Hardtails are bikes without any suspension integrated into the frame of the bike. However, most at least all that you would want to buy hardtails come with a suspension fork standard. In general, a hardtail is going to weigh several pounds less than a comparable full-suspension mountain bike. This is a noticeable difference. Another advantage that a hardtail has over most full-suspension bike is that when standing on the pedals on a full-suspension bike you will get a bouncing feeling. This feeling is caused by the force of pedal action compressing the suspension and take energy that is not being put into the trail. Many hardtail frames do have some shock absorbing characteristic due to the improved materials used for the seatstay and chainstay. Many people start out with a hardtail mountain bike and doing this is usually a good choice. You will save on weight, usually save money and in most cases, a good hardtail is more than enough bike. Lastly, hardtails tend to be more durable than full-suspension bikes and usually require lesser maintenance.
Full-suspensions come with both a front fork suspension and rear suspension that is integrated into the bike frame. Many full-suspension mountain bikes look a lot like motorcycles. Full-suspension mountain bikes offer improved riding comfort than hardtail, but weigh more than comparable hardtails. Full-suspension bike have always required significantly more maintenance than hardtails but this gap is coming down because of new technologies. Many top of the line full-suspension bikes come with some way of locking out the rear suspension. This gives a full-suspension bike a stiff rear similar to that of a hardtail. This is advantageous during out of the saddle climbs and sprints.
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