Hardtail and full suspension bikes make a great choice when looking to tackle trail riding, touring, downhill, cross country or enduro disciplines.
Both these types of bikes have adjustable suspension options, easily set up to suit each specific track or course, as well as all important hydraulic braking systems that provide precise control and impressive braking ability.
Large wheels ranging from 27,5 to 29 inch also ensure any rolling momentum achieved is maintained, while a range of gearing options are available for each specific section of the track. Top manufacturers including Giant, Charge, Merida and Specialized.
Giant Stance 2
This full suspension model from Giant offers real value. With an aluminium frame, 27,5 inch wheels and 120 millimetres of suspension travel in the front Rock Shox Solo Air fork, the Stance 2 gives a receptive ride regardless of the conditions. A Flex Point 120mm full shock absorber delivers exceptional traction and handling to the rear end. This system has less pivots than previous versions, making it far easier to service.
A 27 gear Shimano system in conjunction with a FSA Dynadrive chainset (including a 24/32/42 crank set) helps to give more than a fair shot at hills of the highest gradients. Slightly sluggish gear changes are the order of the day however. Shimano hydraulic disk brakes provide decent stopping power on all surfaces as well as finger tip precision, useful in technical trail sections.
The Stance 2 comes packaged with a very long stem, making the seating position very far over the front of the bike. Some riders might want to change to a shorter stem for a more neutral seating position.
The fully adjustable suspension setup is perfect when tackling any endurance or downhill trails allowing for exceptional traction aided by the Maxxiss Ardent tyres. Take note, pedals are not supplied and must be bought separately.
The Giant Stance 2 is a product of the USA.
Charge Cooker 2
This retro styled hardtail is ideal for riders returning to the sport or looking to upgrade from an older model.
The Charge Cooker has an aluminium frame, 29 inch wheels and a Rock Shox XC30 TK front fork with 100 millimetres of suspension travel. This fork can be locked out when travelling on tarmac in urban areas or on ascents. The larger 29 inch wheels help to provide a comfortable ride, including plenty of all round grip, but they take some effort to get up to speed. Momentum however is easily maintained once reached. The hardtail setup means no rear suspension but it still allows for reasonable agility on downhill runs. A lengthened rear end and long stem also give great stability at high speeds although this means a less nimble machine in technical, twisty trails.
A 20 gear Shimano system including a Shimano Deore chainset (with a 38/24 crank set) come standard. Tektro hydraulic brakes come factory fitted and provide sufficient braking in all situations. The bike has WTB SX19 doublewall rims and Maxxis Ikon tyres which do not perform very well in wet conditions.
The Charge Cooker 2 is a product of the United Kingdom.
Merida Big Nine Alloy 500
An incredible looking hardtail model, the Merida Big Nine Alloy 500 is extremely competitively priced. The Big Nine loves trail riding although it is a great all rounder, performing equally as well on hills or downhill.
The Merida Big Nine has an aluminium tubing frame, 29 inch wheels and a Rock Shoxfront fork with 100 millimetres of suspension travel. The fork can be locked out during urban cycling or on climbs.
30 gears provided by a Shimano drive train as well as a Shimano M522 chainset (including a 42-32-24 crank set), gives the Merida Big Nine an extended range to suit every terrain type. The extra gearing options are especially useful when climbing. Shimano hydraulic brakes are standard and provide satisfactory braking performance. Jalco rims and Merida Race-Lite tyres provide adequate grip together with a fairly comfortable ride, although a tyre upgrade might be the first thing riders perform on the Big Nine.
The Big Nine performs well on normal trails while still producing superb handling and traction on downhill's. The Merida Big Nine is a product of Taiwan.
Specialized Rockhopper Sport 29
The Rockhopper is a hardtail model with decent handling characteristics despite some extra weight.
It features a lightweight A1 premium aluminium frame with varying tube thickness. This frame is the real standout feature on this model. 29 inch wheels and Specialized Ground Control Sport tyres help to provide sufficient grip as well as maintaining momentum. Front suspension travel of 80 millimetres is provided by a SR Suntour XCM fork. The fork has adjustable custom damper settings but does not include a rebound adjuster.
A Shimano gearing system provides 12 gears, less than most other models, but enough for downhill runs, exactly where this model excels. Stopping power is provided by a set of superb Tektro Auriga hydraulic brakes.
The Rockhopper is manufactured in the USA.
The Giant Reign is a brilliant full suspension all rounder.
It features a ALUXX aluminium frame, 27,5 inch wheels and a Rock Shox Pike RC Solo Air Fork with 160 millimetres of travel. Internal cabling only add to the Reign's already impressive looks.
Gearing is provided by a 20 gear Shimano drive train system and a Shimano Deore chainset (including a 24/38 crank set). This delivers seamless shifting in all trail conditions. Braking is also provided by Shimano in the form of excellent hydraulic brakes, 200 millimetres at the front and 180 millimetres at the rear. Braking is reliable and crisp, allowing for pinpoint accuracy and control, especially when descending.
A Maestro 160 millimetres full suspension setup ensures that a rider can dial in the exact setting as required. Together with the Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyres, this setup gives exceptional traction and control. Take note, the Giant Reign does not include pedals when purchased online, these will have to be bought separately.
The Giant Reign is a product of the USA.