There are a lot of us that have a cross country bike that is a hardtail (has no rear suspension). If you’re like me, at some point you wanted to try downhill riding to see what the hype is all about but I didn’t want to buy another bike.
Can you ride a hardtail downhill? Yes, you absolutely can ride a hardtail downhill. You’ll feel every bump your back tire hits but you can sure do it. In fact, many riders will ride a hardtail bike downhill to force themselves to learn how to pick a better path.
Why Ride a Hardtail Bike Downhill?
There are 2 main reasons why someone would choose to ride a hardtail bike on a downhill course. It’s either due to no choice or it’s done on purpose.
When I say no choice, what I mean is someone is like I was when I just had an XC bike and I wanted to try downhill. I figured out how I needed to ride so I didn’t break anything, and went for it.
The other aspect is more interesting, and it’s when a rider choosing to take a hardtail on a rocky downhill course on purpose.
Why would they do that?
It’s actually for the same reason the average rider cringes just a little thinking about taking a back without a rear suspension on a rocky, rough course. They are training themselves to ride better.
If you can imagine going downhill and everytime you hit a root, a rough rock, or a drop, you feel it. You will naturally try to avoid hitting such harsh obstacles. You will choose a better path.
Trail bikes typically have hefty suspension so they can ride over rough rocks and such and not feel a thing. The bike is absorbing it.
With a hardtail, you are absorbing it. So you can see where riding a hardtail forces a rider to ride a little smarter and just run over everything.
And that’s why someone chooses purposefully to take a hardtail downhill.
Will a Hardtail Bike Break If You Use It For Downhill?
This was my first question too. If you take a hardtail mountain bike on a downhill course, will it break it? How much can you safely do without tearing up your bike?
So the answer is it depends. If you take it easy, you ride a hardtail mountain bike downhill and it’ll be fine. The details are where you find out just well.
Many hardtail bikes are XC bikes so the frames and wheels are not as heavy duty as trail bikes. They will break easier than trail bikes.
When the rear of the bike is taking hits constantly, anything that connects to the rear wheel will take a hit. So make sure your tire chain has the proper slack and that your rear derailleur is adjusted properly so you can get the power to the ground.
The thing is, there are roughly 3-4 things that will break if you push it too far:
You could crack the frame (usually this is big drops or jumps)
You could damage the brakes
You could bend a rim
You could hurt yourself
The general idea is to be a bit less extreme and take a smarter path downhill and have a blast doing it.
Can a Hardtail Bike Handle Jumps and Drops Going Downhill?
Yes, a hardtail bike can handle many jumps and drops on downhill trails just fine.
I am a mountain biker among other things and I enjoy writing about both topics I know but also about new things about mountain bikes that I learn. If you enjoy tackling trails and tracks and everything in between, then this is the blog for you.