Can you ride a hardtail downhill? Here’s A Detailed Answer


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Wondering whether you can ride a hardtail bike downhill or not?

Well, the answer is, “Yes, you can use a hardtail bike to ride downhill terrain. One thing is obvious that though, you will feel all sort of bumps and roughness, but it will make you more resilient to drive better in near future.”

Along with that, many bikers also ask whether their hardtail bikes could get damaged while they ride on bumpy downhill terrain. So, we are here to clear all ambiguities about riding a hardtail bike downhill with some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s jump to it.

Why Ride a Hardtail Bike Downhill?

Bikers usually ride a hardtail bike downhill for two major reasons:

  • They have NO OTHER Choice
  • They want to improve their biking skills

Talking about the first reason, it’s a no-brainer that hardtail cross country bikes are cheaper compared to full-suspension bikes.

In the meanwhile, many casual bikers cannot invest in a full-suspension bike as they can do very well with a hardtail bike.

Eventually, what happens is that they choose a hardtail bike having no rear suspension to take on a downhill terrain and enjoy it regardless of the bumps and thuds on the way.

On the other hand, you might have seen many professional mountain bikers using a hardtail bike to cruise downhills. Ever wondered why do they do that?

There’s only one single reason: To improve their biking skills. You see, a hardtail bike lacks rear suspension. Hence, you as a biker are going to feel every single bump or obstacle while you cruise on rough downhill terrain.

What happens then is that you try to avoid those obstacles to feel fewer bumps and in doing so, your biking skills get improved.

Therefore, after you switch to a full-suspension bike, you will have an idea of the terrain and you can ace it quickly while avoiding all the harsh circumstances.

Those were the two primary reasons why bikers choose hardtail bikes to ride downhill.

Also Read: Best Downhill Mountain Bikes

Will a Hardtail Bike Break If You Use It for Downhill?

Another question that needs to be answered in detail! Every biker has got a sense of fear that their hardtail bike will break if they use it on downhill terrain.

Although it depends upon how well you can manage to ride your bike, if you choose a less challenging downhill path, the bike will not break. A hardtail bike with no rear suspension and only front suspension is not too heavyweight compared to a full suspension bike.

That said, you can damage it on a rough downhill terrain, especially if you are not careful about the bumps and obstacles present on the way. The rear of a hardtail bike that lacks suspension is more reluctant to get the hits as you go downhill.

If you do not care enough about the bike and keep on hitting harsh bumps, your bike will suffer the following damage: With a big drop or a jump, you can crack the frame of the bike easily. You can also damage the brakes and the rear wheel when cruising down at high speed.

If you take on a hefty bump, you might bend the rim of your bike’s wheel. Injuries are common when you ride a hardtail mountain bike downhill. To avoid such issues, we recommend choosing a not-so-difficult downhill terrain. Start with smooth trails and improve your biking skills.

Furthermore, focus on adjusting the tire’s chain as well as the rear derailleur system to keep your bike away from damage.

Can a Hardtail Bike Handle Jumps and Drops Going Downhill?

Yes as far as the jumps and drops are not too high, a hardtail bike can easily handle them. It also depends upon the skill level of the biker and how he manages to drive the bike while saving it from harsh drops and jumps.

A sane option would be to avoid getting into high falls when you ride a hardtail bike. That is to say, because the bike you have purchased is not way too cheaper, that you can get dozens of them easily.

More than that, we recommend finding alternative paths to the obstacles and bumps while you go downhill. That will allow you to complete your ride with safety, comfort, and protection. Plus, your bike will not bear much damage this way.

Tips for Riding a Hardtail Bike Downhill

If you are about to take on the challenge of riding a hardtail bike downhill, we suggest you take a look at some of the following tips beforehand:

Don’t rush! Take your time while you ride downhill on a hardtail bike so that you won’t feel the bumps and obstacles much. Lower the seat position to avoid extra rear shock. You may also notice that most trail bikes already have lowered saddle positions.

Keep your legs and arms bent to make sure that you do not injure yourself while riding downhill. Apply the brakes slowly when you see any obstacle to keep them away from any damage. Keep the focus on your path only and try not to look out for extra obstacles in your way.

We will suggest that you do not indulge yourself in high jumps and falls while riding a hardtail bike. A fall or a jump that exceeds 2 ft. height will damage your bike and even cause cracks in the frame.

Replace the tires with wider and thick models to reduce the impact and shocks of the obstacles. Simply pedal on smooth parts of the downhill terrain.

You have to ride smarter to keep yourself and your bike safe from any unwanted accidents or crashes. Find alternate ways to cross the obstacles rather than taking them on as a thrilling challenge.

Will Riding a Hardtail Make You a Better Rider?

When you ride downhill terrain on a hardtail bike, you are actually adapting yourself to harsh and rough obstacles. Not only that, but you learn when to apply brakes, when to take a fall or a jump, and when to find alternate ways around the obstacles.

The absence of a rear suspension system makes you more resilient to the impacts and shocks while you ride a hardtail bike. All in all, you improve your biking skills to avoid multiple obstacles and to make your ride smooth and comfortable at the same time.

Keeping all these things in mind, riding a hardtail obviously makes you a better-skilled rider. Switch to a full-suspension bike and you’ll certainly feel like you have switched to a limousine from an ordinary car. (Pun Intended).

Can You Change a Hardtail to Make Downhill Easier?

You can make some replacements to make your downhill ride easier. The first one is replacing ordinary tires with fat ones and maintaining a pressure of 10 to 12psi in them.

Next, you should lower down the seat of your bike so that it might not hit you when you come across a harsh challenge.

Lastly, going tubeless would be another good option to avoid instant punctures and flat-tire problems while you are downhill riding on a hardtail bike.

Final Takeaways

Riding an XC or a hardtail bike downhill will only make you better in terms of your biking skills. While you take on a rough downhill track, you should only focus on your safety as well as keeping your bike away from any damage.

If you keep these two points in your mind, you can take on bumpy downhill trails using a hardtail bike without any hassle.

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Written By

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ 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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