If you are not into mountain biking at all, the title of this blog might confuse you a bit. So, let’s define what we are talking about. A hardtail mountain bike has a front set of shocks, whereas a softail has shocks on both the front and rear wheel. The question I want to ask is; which is better. Unfortunately the answer is not simple and will vary from rider to rider.
For the purpose of this article I am assuming that you have over R 16 000 to spend on a bike. Any less than that and you will not get a quality softail. If you have less, you need to go for the best possible hardtail that you can get for your hard earned money.
Benefits of a hardtail
Hardtails are lighter. That means that they climb better and will handle less technical paths and district roads with ease.
They are more power efficient in that energy through to the back wheel is not dissipated as the rear shock moves up and down.
There is less that can go wrong. Without a rear pivot system and shock, the bike is less likely to break, and thus cheaper to maintain.
A carbon fibre hardtail will have a level of flex through the chain and seat stay.
A 29er wheel does tend to remove a fair amount of road shock.
Benefits of a softail.
These bikes do well on the rough stuff. They will give you higher levels of comfort and better levels of control for less experienced riders.
Cyclists might just find themselves fresher after a number of hours in the saddle on a softail.
So a comparison list looks like this –
|Maintainance||Stuff can go very wrong|
|Reliability||Stuff can go very wrong|
|Comfort||Comfortable||Chuck rides a hardtail|
|Efficiency||Standing on pedals not pretty||Pure power efficiency|
|Twitchy paths||Wins||You need strong quads|
|Faster paths/district roads||Watch the hardtail riders go past||Wins|
Two important health considerations.
If you suffer from lower back issues, get a softail- also make sure from your Doctor that you can endure the rigors of off road riding.
If you have knee issues such as Chrondomalacia Patella, get a softail. Your knees will love you for it.
At R 20 000 you will get a full carbon fibre hardtail with really good shocks and components.
At R 20 000 you will get an Aluminium softail with midrange components.
Hopefully that helps with your choice.
Remember to always get a proper bike setup. You can read more about our approach here – http://sbrsport.me/2012/07/14/our-approach-to-bike-setup/