Hardtails offer low maintenance, edge-of-you-seat thrills for a fraction of the cost of a full suss, they are also great for honing your trail skills as a second or winter bike.
Here’s our selection of the best hardtails to look out for in 2016:
To celebrate it’s 20th anniversary DMR has re-launched the Trailstar. The original hooligan hardtail could turn its hand to just about anything – dirt jumping, trail riding, you name it – and the new bike is just as adaptable.
It’s still made from 4130 Cromoly steel but it now gets 27.5in wheels, up-to-date geometry and a ton of contemporary frame features.
The Trailstar uses a modular dropout system called Swopout. Standard dropouts are designed for 27.5in wheels but by fitting a set of the longer 8mm dropouts (a £19.99 up charge) it has enough clearance for plus size tyres.
The frame is corrected for 140m to 150mm travel suspension fork and gets internal routing for a dropper post and is designed around a 1x drivetrain – there are even ISCG tabs if you want to fit a chain device for added chain security.
At £499 for the frame only this is so much bike for some little money – you could build an awesome winter ripper for as little as a grand. Go to dmrbikes.com for more info.
Like the DMR Trailstar, Orange’s re-launched P7 is also made from butted steel tubing and features 27.5in wheels, internal dropper post routing, ISCG 05 tabs to mount a chain device and is corrected for a 140mm travel fork.
The key difference is the P7 has the facility to mount a front derailleur, which is handy if you want a wider gearing range or you’re considering buying a frame and building it up with an older drievtrain.
Orange will be offering the P7 at £1,450 and it will share the same basic spec as an Orange Crush S.
Nukeproof’s Scout hardtail is now available in 27.5in and 29in wheel sizes – called predictably the 275 and 290. There are Race and Comp versions of each, both using the same frame. The 29er bikes do seem like the ones to go for though because the larger wheels will reduces some of the aluminium frame’s harshness, improving comfort and control, especially on longer all-day rides.
The 290 bike have 10mm less fork travel (130mm travel instead of 140mmm) but you get a Nukeproof OKLO internally routed dropper post and 1x drivetrain as standard. The geometry is spot on too with a low bottom bracket height, slack head angle and tons of stand over clearance.
The Comp build sells for £1599, the Pro £1999. For a detailed specification and more info go to nukeproof.com.
Norco ‘s mid-range Charger hardtails have been redesigned for 2016. They too are available in both wheels sizes but the Canadian company is now using what it calls size scale tubing – this means the small frame sizes have smaller diameter tubes profiles, so they’re 200g lighter and have a slightly more forgiving ride quality.
There are also tweaks to the geometry with more top-tube length across all the frame sizes and Norco has also introduced something called stack and reach plus. Instead of measuring the reach to the head tube, Norco now measures to the bars and the upshot is Norco can spec a 70mm stem across all frame sizes for identical handling and steering response without compromising the fit.
There are four Charger models starting at £649 and topping out at £1099. There’s also a women’s version called the Charger Forma for £750 and not a pink paint job in sight. For detail on the full range and UK availability go to evanscycles.com.
BMC Teamelite TE01
To add a bit of comfort to a rigid aluminium frame BMB has come up with an innovative solution. The new BMC’s Teamelite 01 features Micro Travel Technology, which is essentially a small bumper that sits between the seat tube and seat stays.
This provides 15mm of rear-end compliance but adds minimal weight, doesn’t take up any space and is just as stiff as a normal design when stomping on the pedals up a climb.
This softail technology doesn’t come cheap though and with only the Teamelite TE01 bikes equipped with MTT you’re looking at £3499 for a Shimano XT build, £4699 for SRAM XX1 and top £7000 for a Shimano Di2 equipped bike. More info at evanscycles.com.