Can You Mountain Bike Without Suspension? – FAQs

The question that often gets resonated among the mountain bike community is that “Can You mountain bike without suspension?”

While there are many explorable answers to this question, one concise answer is, “Yes you can! Rigid bikes with no front or rear suspension could work well especially on less bumpy trails and could be used for mountain biking.”

However, that does not mean you can completely ignore suspension in mountain bicycles. A proper suspension system will easily help you get across highly bumped trails easily.

That said, we are here today to talk about mountain biking with or without suspension in detail.

So, if you are here to find out complete knowledge, we welcome you with both hands.

Do You Need a Mountain Bike With Suspension?

Starting with another major question that whether you need mountain bike suspension

The answer is, “Yes! Having partial or full suspension not only ensures comfort and relaxation, but it also offers shock absorption that would keep bikers away from any problem.”

According to Brian25 from Bike Forums, “Right before the 90s, everyone was okay with no-suspension bikes and the rides even felt comfortable. Everything has changed since the 90s and now you won’t see a biker riding a rigid bicycle on bumpy and rough terrains.”

What Brain wants to say is that although rigid bikes were used before for mountain biking, they have been replaced now with proper suspension systems.

The concept is simple in this aspect!

If you want to hit some casual trails with fewer bumps while riding uphill, a rigid bike will do well as it’s lighter and offers the feel of a trail you ride.

On the contrary, if you want to ride across a harsher trail with all the roughness, mud, and bumps, then you, my friend, will need a suspension bike.

Not to mention, both rigid and suspension mountain bikes have got their own pros and cons.

It also comes down to the rider’s biking skills as well as the type of trail a biker chooses as his next venture.

Worry not!

We will explain everything that you need to know about certain types of bikes. You can then make your own opinion about whether to go mountain biking with or without suspension.

Keep following us:

What Bike Suspension Type will Work Best for You on Uphill Trails?

Based on the type of suspension system installed in them, we study three different types of mountain bikes.

Mind you! Each type of bike will work in specific conditions and under specific circumstances.

So, it will be up to your preferences that what kind of MTB you choose for riding on dirt trails.

Rigid Mountain Bikes

Also known as “Old School” or “Classic Mountain Bikes”, this type lacks any suspension system. Plus, they are usually called single-speed bikes as well. 

It simply means the rider will have to absorb all the abuse of the bumps while biking on a rigid bicycle.

Rigid mountain bikes were quite popular in the 90s and professional cyclists even used them for mountain biking.

However, with the introduction of full-suspension mountain bikes, their popularity has taken a bump for sure.

Anyways, a rigid mountain bike suits the requirements of cyclists who want to cycle either through basic trails or the ones having moderate bumps.

These are not ideal at all for extreme mountain biking as there’s no suspension included in them. So, the rider has to take all the abuse of the terrain, which will eventually make the journey full of discomfort.

Some of the pros and cons of rigid mountain bikes include:

Pros:

  • Lighter than full-suspension bikes.
  • Suitable for carrying extra bike gear.
  • An ideal option for smooth and less bumpy trails.

Cons of Bikes:

  • Not recommended for extreme mountain biking.
  • No suspension system means more shock abuse to the rider.
  • Makes the bumpy trail journey uncomfortable.
  • Riders could lose handling and control of the bike at higher speeds.
  • Single-speed bikes offer limited gear adjustment. 

Hardtail Mountain Bikes/Shock Fork Mountain Bikes

More of a hybrid between rigid and full-suspension bikes, hardtail bicycles feature suspension on the front only.

The fork of the bike contains suspension that allows the biker to enjoy a more comfy ride on bumpy terrain as that of a rigid bike.

Moreover, hardtail bikes are also perfect for riding on smooth and non-bumpy trails. It all comes down to how a user intends to use such a bike type.

But, we should also mention that this partial suspension does not mean a biker will enjoy all the comfort in the world.

Although hardtails could work ideally while riding uphill, the absence of rear suspension will surely become a headache for the riders.

Here are some of the pros and cons that you need to know about hardtail bikes.

Pros:

  • Hardtail bikes offer a comfortable experience on smooth uphill trails at moderate speed.
  • Compared to rigid bikes, cyclists could enjoy a more comfortable ride with confidence.
  • Due to the absence of no rear suspension, these bikes are also lighter than full-suspension ones.

Cons:

  • Riders would still need to absorb the rear pressure and shocks during uphill trails.
  • As usual, the bike frame is not as stiff as it’s meant to be causing more problems for mountain bikers.
  • Hardtail bikes are also not meant for extreme trails with harsh bumps.
  • One of the difficult bikes to control on a rough trail. 

Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes

As the name suggests, such types of bikes have got both rear and front suspension systems installed in them.

Mostly known as the most advanced mountain bikes available in the market, professional cyclists now use this type for riding extremely bump uphill or downhill trails.

The presence of both rear and front suspension enables the bike to absorb all the shock and extra stress from the trail.

As a result, riders will feel more comfortable and they will have complete control over their bike during rocky trail riding.

Here are some pros and cons you need to know about full-suspension mountain bikes:

Pros

  • The presence of a full-suspension system allows the bike to absorb all the pressure.
  • Fewer chances of low tire pressure while riding bumpy terrains.
  • Fat tires as well as wider tires help riders to maintain their control while cruising downhill.
  • Full-suspension bicycles offer a more comfortable experience compared to the other two types.
  • Riders can easily cycle more without getting tired as all the shock is absorbed by the suspension system.
  • Full-suspension bikes offer improved traction, which means riders can handle their bikes at full pace while cycling downhill.

Cons

  • Full-suspension bikes are mostly expensive than hardtail and rigid bikes.
  • The bikes are heavier than rigid and hardtail cycles.
  • Attaching extra gear to the bike will make it bulkier.

Summary of the Mountain Bike Suspension Types!

From the discussion above, one thing is confirmed that rigid bikes were used for mountain biking up until the 90s.

Then came hardtail bikes with front suspension, which made it easier and convenient for cyclists to enjoy their off-roading ventures.

Finally, one of the modern suspension bikes, came that allowed the riders to enjoy independence and comfort while riding uphill.

Also Read: How To Adjust Suspension Of Your MTB

How to Make a Rigid Mountain Bike More Comfortable in 2021?

Although using a rigid mountain bike for extreme uphill riding is not endorsed, it can still be made more comfortable.

With more comfort, riders can have a chance of completing an uphill track without any worries.

Hence, some DIY hacks for a rigid bike rider include: 

Using Longer Wheelbase Bike Frames!

Choosing a longer wheelbase frame helps in distributing extra weight, which means the shock will not hit the riders as it’s supposed to be.

Better weight distribution also ensures more comfort and improved handling.

So, you can choose a long-wheelbase frame to eliminate excessive shock as well as to make your ride as comfortable as possible.

Increasing Traction!

Many riders face losing control problems while cycling on classic bikes. It happens mostly because the traction and grip of the tires are not optimum enough.

To eliminate this problem, use fat bike tires with a wide structure to improve traction and grip on rough and muddy trails.

Not only will wider tires increase the grip on uphill trails, but they can also offer dampening from bumps to reduce the extra shock.

Low Tire Pressure!

While using a rigid mountain bike, we recommend keeping a low tire pressure to avoid instant punctures and flat tire problems.

The low air pressure also means an increased surface area that can help improve the grip on harsh terrains easily.

Go Tubeless!

Tires of rigid mountain bikes can easily go flat or have punctures because the additional weight of the rider is causing more pressure on them.

To avoid getting rattled with punctures and flat tires, go tubeless!

Read more about this concept and get yourself tubeless-ready tires, wheels, and tubeless sealant, if you want to take a rigid bike for mountain biking.

Wear Gloves and a Helmet!

Handling a classic mountain bike is often a worry for many riders.

We suggest using bike gloves to keep a firm grip on the handlebar. It will help you control the bike’s speed during a downhill ride.

Helmet wearing is always endorsed as the chances of tripping or falling off from a rigid bike during uphill or downhill cruising are much more than other bike types.

The BEST SOLUTION!

Well, the best solution is simply not to use a mountain bike without suspension on bumpy trails.

For a flawless, comfortable, and fully-controlled ride, it’s better to get a full-suspension bike or least of all, a hardtail bike.

While choosing a full-suspension MTB, here are some key factors that you must consider before making the final decision:

How to Differentiate Between Good and Bad Suspension?

If you have decided to select a full-suspension mountain bike, then you must know what kind of suspension is good and what’s bad.

For instance;

A good quality mountain bike suspension means it should support a rider’s weight rather than get compressed fully. If it does get compressed fully, it will not be able to absorb extra shock.

Make sure that the suspension system properly compresses and returns back to its original state after you come across a bump on your way.

Choose a bike with a lightweight suspension to avoid riding on a heavier bike, especially during uphill cruising.

Having a lockout mechanism in the quality mountain bike suspension system helps cyclists fix it according to their preferences. Keep an eye on this feature as well.

The suspension system must follow an identical wheel path to keep the bike in control of the rider at any cost.

Types of Terrains Each Mountain Bike Type Can Handle?

If you are wondering about the compatibility of a fully rigid mountain bike, a hardtail bike, and a full-suspension mountain bike with different terrains, then we have your back!

Follow us to know what kind of terrain is suitable for each bike type:

Fully Rigid MTB Without Suspension!

Rigid bikes are more suitable for less bumpy and smooth trails.

Such bikes can also handle terrains with moderate bumps, gravels, asphalt terrains, and grassy trails easily.

Hardtail Bike with Front Suspension!

Shock Fork mountain bikes can handle forests, gravels, and trails with moderate bumps easily.

The front bike suspension system can easily handle extra shock from rough and harsher terrains while keeping the rider as comfortable as possible.

Full-Suspension Mountain Bike!

Meant for hardcore trails, you can enjoy uphill and downhill rides on these bikes with complete control and handling.

Both front and rear suspension systems in these bikes help the cyclists enjoy a comfy and relaxing drive on bumpy, muddy, and extremely harsh trails.

However, one thing to keep in mind regarding full-suspension MTN bikes is that they are not suited for long journeys.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are rigid mountain bikes good?

Rigid mountain bikes are more than good when we talk about moderate trails and smooth roads. More or less, they also offer a comfortable ride on off-roads as far as the terrain is not extremely bumpy. Their lightweight design and old-school shape keep many professional cyclists attracted to them.

Do you need suspension on a mountain bike?

According to a senior member of Bike Forums, Brian25, “We used to mountain bike using cycles without any suspension.” So, the suspension is not a necessity in a mountain bike as far as you ride a not-so rocky trail. Suspension, however, is now needed more than ever, especially when riders are exploring new mountainous areas across the globe.

What is a mountain bike without suspension called?

An MTN bike without suspension is called a fully rigid mountain bike. It also goes by the name of a classic mountain bike or old-fashioned bike mostly because this type was quite popular up until the 90s.

Final Takeaways

Generally speaking, mountain biking without using any bike suspension system is a possibility if you are a skilled rider and can absorb the shocks easily.

However, what’s the point of going through all this hardship when you can enjoy a comfortable ride with improved bike suspension?

This is where we discuss utilizing full-suspension MTB bikes for uphill and downhill riding.

The last thing we’d want to say is that if you still want to take your rigid bike for mountain biking, ensure that it has a longer wheelbase combined with fat tires. Keep wearing a helmet and gloves to avoid any injury or losing control.

Happy Mountain Biking!

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 10+ trails across the globe, for Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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