Hardtail or Full Suspension for a beginner (With 10 aspects to consider)

When you’re a beginner looking to purchase a new bike you’ve got a lot of questions. And hopefully, after you’ve read this post, most of those questions you should have answers for.

Don’t worry I’m not going to ram affiliate links down your throat.

We’re gonna get too cold hard facts. So you can make the right choice as a beginner.

If you’re looking to purchase a bike, take my recommendation and go to your local bike shop. Even though more bikes are being purchased online every day.

Going to your local bike shop will give you the opportunity to sit on and test each bike as well as making you choose the right size bike. Seeing alternatives with your eyes is far better than a small image on a screen.

AND the staff will be able to help set up the bike so that everything is at the right heights and working correctly.

Both Hardtail’s and Full Suspension bikes are perfect for beginners. Each has its own pros and cons but ultimately it boils down to the price.

hardtail or full suspension
Riding on dirt trails


Choosing a Hardtail Bike

A hardtail comes in at a cheaper price.  Mainly down to the fact that you don’t have the added cost of the suspension kit.  Many cycling enthusiasts will tell you that a hardtail is more fun to ride on smooth hard surfaces such as paved and single-track roads.

They’re also lighter due to the fewer components and require less maintenance.

But aren’t as comfortable.

Don’t have the same traction as a full suspension.

So it can be down to preference.  I’ve ridden many hardtail bikes in my life and can say that although scientifically they don’t have as much traction.  Unless you’re planning on riding on a lot of dirt trails with roots and rocks sticking out.  You won’t notice too much of a difference.

hardtail bikes
Hardtail Bike


Choosing a Full Suspension Bike

Let’s take the opposites.  Although you can get fairly cheap full suspension bikes.  You’ll find the suspension is hard on bikes under the $1000 price range.

But it definitely does give you a more ‘fun’ riding experience if you’re on the more difficult trails.  And having the traction and comfort that comes with a full-suspension bike definitely feels worth the price.

Like with wide tire bikes the full suspension gives you more control and are easier to handle.  But like I’ve mentioned if you are not planning on riding on difficult trails and sticking to paved and single-track roads then you won’t necessarily notice too much of a difference.

full suspension bikes
Full Suspension Bikes


Which would I Choose

If your budget is less than $800 and you’re mainly going to be riding the bike on paved surfaces and single-track roads then I’d suggest looking at a hardtail with high-quality components.  

A hardtail would suit you in this situation because you’ll get a good amount of traction to make handling easy on flat surfaces.  But you’ll be able to get a good looking hardtail that is a lightweight, low budget, and can get to good speeds.

If you’re looking to take your bike on the dirt trails with roots and rocks but are looking at less than $800 then you can go for and probably should opt for the full-suspension bike.  But take into consideration that the suspension will be hard, and you’ll be getting lower quality components to stay under the $800 mark.


Alternatively, if you’re looking to spend over $800 then I’d definitely choose a full suspension.  This way you’ve got a bike that once you’ve ridden it a few times you can take it on the more difficult dirt trails and have the incredible traction that a standard hardtail wouldn’t have.

Both hardtail and full-suspension above this price will give you good handling.  High-quality components such as disc brakes, mid-level Shimano drive trains.


10 Aspects to consider

Handling: Handling is important especially for a beginner.  Having rear suspension definitely does improve the overall handling on a bike.  But it does depend on the types of terrains that you’ll be riding on.  Full-suspension will make it easier to climb steep inclines and ride over rocks and roots on dirt trails.

Comfort: Once again, having a full-suspension bike is going to be more comfortable.  You’ll have the cushion of the rear suspension to absorb some of the shocks when riding over rough terrains.  If you’re looking for more long-distance riding then a full-suspension would suit you better than a hardtail.

Speed: Although speed isn’t in the back of everyone’s mind.  Having a rear suspension mechanism will allow you to push the bike to higher speeds and still feel in control especially when riding downhill.

Hills: If you live in a hilly area, then a full-suspension bike would be the better choice.  These bikes will give you a lot better handling and give you more control of the bike when riding up and down steeper inclines.

Aesthetics: If you’re going to choose your bike based on looks.  Then a hardtail will probably look a lot better unless you’ve got over $1000 to spend on some high-end full-suspension bike.

Terrain:  The terrain you plan on riding on will probably be one of the most sensible things to consider when choosing your bike.  If you only plan on paved surfaces and single-track roads a hardtail would be fine.  But if you want to go on dirt trails or think you might in the future just not yet…  Then a full-suspension bike would be the better choice.

Components: Hardtails obviously have fewer components due to not having the rear suspension mechanism.  And fewer components normally mean lower costs and less maintenance.

Budget:  If you’re low on budget then you can get some really good hardtail bikes for under $400.  Whereas you’d struggle to look for a good full-suspension bike at this price.

Weight: Hardtails tend to weigh a lot less, because of the fewer components.  Although if you plan on spending over $800 you may find some full-suspension bikes that are lighter than some of the standard hardtails.  Ultimately you tend to pay more for lighter bikes.  Lightweight bikes are a lot better for riding up and downhills.

FUN:  As a beginner, you want to enjoy cycling.  So make sure you go to your local bike shop and test a few different bikes.  

Make the right choice now and you’ll enjoy endless years of cycling.