Mountain biking has benefited from huge advances in high-tech materials, with brands taking inspiration from the aerospace industry and Formula One to develop increasingly high-performing bikes.
The freedom for creativity that carbon fibre brings has meant the last few years have seen the arrival of some of the best-looking frames yet, incorporating strength, function plus comfort- and grip-enhancing compliance (engineered flex).
While engineers developing mountain bikes for high-level competition continue to sweat over the details of complex aerodynamics, stress analysis and developing super-light tubes, they’re also using this knowledge to build the rest of us bikes that deliver top-flight performance. Frames aren’t only lighter, faster and more capable, but also affordable and well-specced.
Many XC racers are opting for short-travel full-suspension bikes these days, as race courses incorporate increasingly technical descents and climbs. However, there are huge gains in speed and pedalling efficiency to be had from a lightweight hardtail , and they’re cheaper, too.
If they’re good enough for the likes of Evie Richards and Tom Pidcock, they’ll be great for the rest of us.
If you’re in the market for a fast-riding hardtail, weight and efficiency are the top concerns, but what else should you look for and how do you choose the right model and spec?
Frame geometry is crucial; the angles and proportions of the bike will influence how it rides, and can spell the difference between hair-raising and high-speed descending.Frame stiffness is equally important; a lightweight bike is great, but if it’s too rigid it’ll beat you up over long […]
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