Mountain bikes come in all shapes and sizes these days. You can buy bikes with frames made of aluminum alloys, bamboo, and even carbon fiber. You can get bikes with suspension and without. There are so many options that it is hard to keep up. This particular post addresses the carbon fiber hardtail, a specific kind of bike for a specific kind of rider.
Perhaps you don’t know your hardtail from your full suspension mountain bike. That’s fine. You will understand what’s what by the time you finish this post. So, without further delay, let us answer the question of why a mountain biker might want a carbon fiber hardtail.
A hardtail is a type of mountain bike that has no suspension. Its frame and wheels absorb all the shock of the ride. On particularly bumpy rides, you feel the bumps all the way up in the seat and handlebars. On the opposite side of the coin is a bike with full suspension.
A full suspension mountain bike offer suspension for both front and rear wheels. Just like in your car, the suspension absorbs some of the shock that naturally occurs in the mountain biking environment. Dual shock absorbers soften the ride and offer a bit more control.
Carbon Fiber Basics
Hardtail bikes are not just made of aluminum alloys. Again, you can buy frames made from bamboo and carbon fiber. Rock West Composites, a Salt Lake City company that manufactures carbon fiber tubing for bike frames, explains why their customers like carbon fiber.
Rock West says the biggest factor is weight. In a mountain biking scenario, lower weight means more control on both inclines and declines. But as any cyclist can tell you, it is not wise to sacrifice strength just to do better on weight. They don’t have to with carbon fiber. Even though carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, it is also many times stronger. Thus, it is the perfect replacement for aluminum in mountain bike construction.
Combining Hardtail and Carbon Fiber
So, what are the benefits of combining the hardtail and carbon fiber concepts? For the most avid mountain bikers, there are five of them:
- Greater Efficiency – The hardtail design is a more efficient design in terms of peddling. Without suspension, more of the energy produced by the rider goes directly to propelling the bike forward. No energy is lost in overcoming suspension.
- Faster Climbs – Lighter carbon fiber makes climbs easier. Less effort, combined with not having to overcome suspension, means you climb faster in most cases.
- Less Maintenance – Both hardtail and carbon fiber designs require less maintenance. Hardtails require less because there is no suspension to maintain. Carbon fiber requires less because it is not affected by temperature, moisture, etc.
- Easier for Beginners – On light terrain, a carbon fiber hardtail is easier for beginners to master. It is easier to control and requires less effort to move. However, things change as trails become more advanced. A carbon fiber hardtail could end up being harder to control on the most difficult trails.
- Great for Cross Country – Finally, a carbon fiber hardtail is an ideal choice for cross-country racing that relies heavily on paved roads and less advanced trails. Greater efficiency makes for a less grueling race while the strength of carbon fiber ensures the bike will handle the punishment.
Now you know why some mountain bikers prefer hardtails with carbon fiber frames. A carbon fiber hardtail might not be the best choice for every situation, but it is the right choice for many of them.