Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes

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Whether you love the rush of singletrack riding on steep mountain trails, competitive racing, biketracking with friends, or leisurely riding through gravel paths, you need to choose the right bike if you want to make the most of your adventures. We have put together a complete list of the best hardtail mountain bikes currently available. They feature some radical geometries, optimized designs, and different materials to help you find the perfect fit for your riding style and choice of terrain. Here you’ll find specialized bikes that shine in specific settings as well as all-rounders and easily customizable frames that let you do your own thing. Read on to find your new favorite ride in our curated selection of best hardtail mountain bikes.

 

DV9 from Ibis Cycles

Lightweight and versatile, created with racing in mind.

The best hardtail mountain bikes take you on thrilling backcountry adventures but can also handle singletracks and different types of terrain with ease. DV9 from Ibis Cycles is one of them. Inspired by CEO Hans Heim’s high school XC-racing daughter Lili, the bike is specially designed with versatility and accessibility in mind. It’s also more affordable than other carbon frame monocoque bikes on the market, with a frame-only option costing $999. However, Ibis offers plenty of options for the DV9, including choosing a build with the Shimano SLX group or with the Shimano XT kit. Other features of this bike include the head tube angle of 67.4° with the 120mm fork or 68.5° with the 100mm fork, 72° or 73° seat tube angles, and a reach between 384mm to 462mm, depending on the fork option.

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Chameleon from Santa Cruz Bicycles

A bike that easily adapts to different needs thanks to swappable dropouts.

Keeping true to its name, Chameleon can easily adapt to different terrain surfaces and riding styles. The bike features either an aluminum or Carbon C frame; both of them feature a 67.3° head tube angle and a 72.8° seat tube angle. Standing out from the crowd, Chameleon comes with swappable dropouts that allow the use of 29″ or 27.5″ plus wheels that can fit 2.5 and 3.0 tires, respectively. However, the user can also adjust the chainstays to fit 2.6 tires. Geared builds feature 148mm Boost spacing while the single-speed options come with 142mm spacing for matching hubs. Depending on the model, the bike features 130 or 120mm forks, but Chameleon also suits a maximum of 140mm. Prices start at $1949 for the aluminum frame and $2699 for the Carbon C option.

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Specialized’s Fuse Expert 29

Designed for technical trails.

If you’re looking for the best hardtail mountain bikes that can easily handle more technical trails, the Fuse Expert 29 bike from Specialized may be the perfect choice. It features a specially designed geometry with a low-slung top tube for clearance on tight trails and a wide down tube for extra stiffness. The bike also features a steep seat angle of 74° and a slack head tube angle of 66.5° for extra confidence on steep climbs or intense descents, respectively. Other features include the lightweight but incredibly sturdy M4 aluminum chassis, the 130mm Fox Float 34 Rhythm fork, the Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain, and the 29 x 2.6 tires. This bike’s frame is also compatible with 27.5+ wheels and tires.

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Twostroke 01 Four from BMC

A radical geometry to master the most challenging slopes.

Made by BMC Switzerland, Twostroke 01 Four is one of the best hardtail mountain bikes you can find if you love to take on challenging trails. That’s because this bike has an innovative geometry with radical angles to ensure perfect weight distribution and stability. It features a 67˚ head tube angle and a 75° seat angle as well as a long front-end. The Twostroke 01 Premium Carbon frame with Tuned Compliance Concept XC balances comfort and performance while never sacrificing speed. The bike also boasts a clean, minimalist design with internal cable routing, chainstay with molded covers, a built-in chain suck plate, and a downtube with helicopter tape. Other features include the wide tire clearance (this bike is compatible with wide XC tires), an integrated fork stopper, and custom shim that allows the user to install a 27.2 mm dropper post with hidden cable routing.

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Sentier 29 VRX from Vitus Bikes

An award-winning bike designed with a long, slack geometry.

Taking on the steepest slopes is easy and fun with the Sentier 29 VRX bike from Vitus Bikes. An award-winning design, the bike features a long and slack geometry to give you confidence during aggressive trail riding. Made with a 6061-T6 Double Butted Aluminium frame, Sentier 29 VRX comes with Fox Float 34 Rhythm 130mm boost forks, 29’’ wheels, Shimano XT M8100 brakes, a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain, and a Brand-X dropper post that allows the rider to adjust the seat height while on the move. Geometry specs include a 66.5° headtube angle and a 73°  seat tube angle as well as a 73mm BSA bottom bracket. The reach varies between 428mm for the M bike size and 468mm for the XL option.

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Roscoe 8 from Trek Bikes

Extra stability and precision for extra fun.

The best hardtail mountain bikes should also make your adventures more fun. Like Roscoe 8 from Trek Bikes. Designed with a longer travel fork for more control and a geometry that puts a focus on stability and easy handling, the bike is ideal for novices and veterans in equal measure. The Alpha Gold Aluminum frame features a tapered head tube and a Boost 141 rear hub for more confident and precise handling at the front and at the rear, respectively. Plus, the extra-wide 27.5 + mid-fat tires offer excellent grip and traction even on rougher trails. Roscoe 8 also comes with a wide-range 1×12 drivetrain, 120mm suspension fork, Tubeless Ready rims and tires, dropper posts that allow the user to adjust the saddle while riding, and a fork lockout feature that provides an easy way to lock the suspension temporarily for more efficient riding on flat terrain.

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Cannondale Trail 1

A smart bike that is perfect for leisure riding on gravel trails.

While the Cannondale Trail 1 is ideal for low-impact trails and gravel, that doesn’t mean it sacrifices performance or high-end features. Like the very best hardtail mountain bikes, it comes with a tapered 1-1/8″ to 1.5″ head tube, Boost spacing and short chainstays at the rear wheel for optimized traction and agility, a 68° headtube angle for more stability on descents, and a choice between 27.5’’ or 29’’ wheels. Other premium features include the SmartForm C2 Alloy frame with a RockShox Reba RL 120mm fork, the SRAM NX/SX Eagle 12- speed drivetrain, dropper seatpost, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Trail 1 is also a smart bike, as it comes with the Cannondale integrated wheel sensor that helps track the user’s activity with a dedicated app. A mount for a SP-Connect compatible case provides a convenient way to use your smartphone as a dashboard display.

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Surly Bikes’ Karate Monkey

A singletrack shredder as well as a canvas for custom builds.

Made by Surly Bikes, Karate Monkey is perfect for singletrack riding. It features a 44mm head tube with a 69.0° angle, a 73.0° seat tube angle, a reach between 377mm (XS) and 472mm (XL), a 140mm suspension fork, dropper post compatibility, Gnot-Boost rear spacing, thru-axles, and clearance for 29” x 2.5” or 27.5” x 3” tires. This bike is also compatible with most standard mountain bike standard components, which means that it offers a blank canvas to create a custom build to suit your needs. With hundreds of possible configurations, creating the perfect Karate Monkey bike is easy. However, if building your own bike or changing some parts is not your thing, Surly Bikes offers a range of builds to choose from with prices starting at $1550.

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Kingdom Bike 2020 X2 Vendetta 275/29

A titanium frame for superior impact resistance and natural dampening.

The best hardtail mountain bikes make you feel on top of the world. Kingdom Bike’s 2020 X2 Vendetta 275/29 offers that, but with a twist. The bike features a titanium frame that feels completely different to ride compared to steel or carbon. That’s because titanium has some pretty amazing advantages, including superior toughness and impact resistance as well as natural dampening properties, all in a lightweight material. The combination of strength and low elastic modulus of titanium create a spring-like effect while riding. Kingdom Bike’s 2020 X2 Vendetta 275/29 features Ti-3Al-2.5V aircraft grade Titanium tubing with simplified detailing for a more affordable price. It also comes with a 44 head tube, a 64.5° head tube angle and a 75.0° seat tube angle, tab brake mounts with Breezer style dropouts, and an ISCG05 chainguide mount. Available as a frame-only option, the 2020 X2 Vendetta 275/29 is compatible with 120-140mm forks.

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Unit X from Kona Bikes

A practical but fun bike designed with bikepacking in mind.

Our list of best hardtail mountain bikes includes a wide range of designs that cover all the bases. If you love bikepacking and riding on different types of terrain on the same trip, this may be THE bike for you. Unit X is one of the most popular options from Kona Bikes’ lineup and it’s easy to see why. It’s crafted to last with a Reynolds 520 Butted Cromoly frame that provides stability as well as flexibility in a lightweight build. Unit X comes with a SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain but you can also run it as a single speed thanks to the modular dropouts. Other features include the rigid Kona Plus Fork, 44mm oversized heatubes for tapered steerer forks to enhance overall performance, internal headset, tubeless rims, 29’’ wheels, and a 12×148 real axle. Plus, this bike comes with a lifetime limited warranty for the frame.

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