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13 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes of 2022

By Atticus Lee   /  Last updated - June 1, 2022   /  Best-Of-Reviews, Hardtail, Mountain Bikes, Reviews

salsa timberjack on a nice trail

With a constant rise of improvements in the mountain biking industry, where carbon full-suspension bikes dominate the market, there is a solid foundation we have to look back to and appreciate!

What we’re talking about are the hardtail mountain bikes.

Back in the day, hardtail bikes were the setting-stones to the whole bicycle component design and engineering standards due to the fact bikes in the MTB discipline had to withstand extreme stress and harsh environments.

After all of these years, hardtail bikes have only become better. Check out the best models we recommend below!

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes for Men in 2022

Best PerformanceOrbea Laufey h10
Best for Commuting –  Marin Pine Mountain 2
Most ExpensiveNiner Air 9 RDO
Best ValueCo-op Cycles DRT 2.2
27.5″ & 29″ MixSanta Cruz Chameleon

Cannondale – Trail SE 4 Women’s

Cannondale - Trail SE 4 Women's


MSRP: $1.150

The Cannondale Trail series is one of the top MTB ranges due to its great selection across different price ranges and the high-level technology from the brand.

The bike features a well though-out frame design with a SmartForm C2 Alloy frame and proprietary SAVE frame-integrated micro-suspensions. Additionally, slack geometry and large 29″ x 2.3″ wheels and tires offer excellent stability on diverse terrain.

Another great feature is the BOOST rear axle spacing and short chainstays which position the rear wheel perfectly for climbing traction and nimble handling. Finally, the women’s Trail SE 4 has hydraulic disc brakes and a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain, incredible for just $1,150.

  • SmartForm C2 Alloy frame
  • 68° head tube angle with a 120mm fork
  • 1×10-speed Shimano Deore M4100
  • 11-46T cassette
  • Shimano MT200  hydraulic disc brakes
  • WTB STX i25 TCS rims

Buy from REI

Salsa – Rangefinder

salsa rangefinder

MSRP: $1,699

When comparing the specs to the price tag – there must be something we’re missing out on. This is a truly awesome bike at well under the $2,000 price mark and by a well-known bike brand like Salsa Cycles.

Well, sometimes the good deals are there for unknown reasons, which is the case with the Rangefinder. We’re surprised to see the SR Suntour XCR34 Boost coupled with Shimano Deore M6100 drivetrain and MT200 hydraulic discs. Also, the TranzX dropper seat post is a nice addition to the bike.

  • Maxxis Rekon 27.5 x 2.8″
  • SR Suntour XCR34 Boost 120mm travel
  • 6061-T6 frame
  • 11-speed Shimano SLX 10-51t
  • Shimano MT200 hydro brakes
  • TranzX dropper post
  • WTB ST i40 rims

Buy on REI.com

Santa Cruz Bicycles – Chameleon

Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon Mountain Bike

MSRP: from $2,399
Backcountry  /  Mike’s Bikes

The name Chameleon was most likely chosen due to the fact that it can transform into any environment where a hardtail can possibly perform. From a 29er to a 27.5″+, single speed and geared – all thanks to the interchangeable dropout.

With 120mm/130mm travel on the front, available in both aluminum and carbon, the bike is also well-equipped for longer hauls – It’s got two water-bottle mounts and extra eyelets on the bottom of the downtube for added versatility, the build quality is well-suited for the whole capability of the well-designed geometry.

29er and 27.5″ adaptable geometry in one bike

So, which one to choose?

  • The 29er offers speed, better rollover, and is more suitable for taller riders
  • The 27.5″ wheels are better for technical riding, shorter riders, and have faster acceleration
  • The Mullet spec is available on 2022 models

When it comes to mountain bikes, you can rest assured that your hard-earned money will serve you well when it is made by Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Buy from Backcountry Buy from Mikesbikes.com

GHOST Kato Universal 27.5/29 Bike

GHOST Kato Universal 27.5/29 Bike


MSRP from $1,150

Hands down one of the most fun aluminum hardtail mountain bikes in its price range. Ghost Kato Universal is a trail ripper that presents itself as one of the best mid-range hardtail mountain bikes for beginners and intermediate riders.

The Shimano Deore drivetrain is found on many mid-range bikes and produces quick, clean shifting. The SR Suntour XCM 32 boost fork and JD dropper post give confidence and help save energy over rocky terrain. On top of that, the size-specific wheels are a great addition, as this bike rolls on 27.5″ wheels in size XS and 29″ wheels in all other sizes. 

Other highlights include tried and true Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, 2.25-inch Maxxis Rekon tires, and a very attractive red paint job.

Ghost Kato Universal is a fantastic investment for those who want a highly capable trail bike that will last a long time.

  • Frame – Aluminum
  • Fork – SR Suntour XCM 32 boost
  • Shifters – Shimano Deore 1×10
  • Brakes – Shimano MT200
  • Tires – Maxxis Rekon 2.25″

Buy from REI

Co-op Cycles – DRT 2.2

Product Image of color Mesquite

MSRP: $1,899

This bike is great for newer cyclists seeking greater confidence on singletrack trails.

Co-op Cycles is the in-house brand of bikes from the iconic outdoor retailer REI. The DRT 2.2 is their take on a trail bike built off a 27.5-inch wheelbase.

It comes with a 1×12 SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, with state of an art shifting response and gear range. For the front suspension, the bike boasts a RockShox Recon RL fork with 120mm or 140mm. Co-op Cycles also decided to include an X-Fusion Manic dropper post to help on rocky descents.

The DRT 2.2 is the most advanced hardtail by REI’s in-house brand Co-op Cycles:

  • Number of gears – 12
  • Frame material – Aluminium
  • Fork – RockShox Rekon RL
  • Shifters – SRAM NX Eagle
  • Brakes – Shimano MT500 Hydraulic

A great benefit of the DRT 2.2 is unlimited free tune-ups offered by REI in the first year after purchase!

Buy on REI.com

Marin – San Quentin 3

marin san quentin 3

MSRP: $2,399
Jenson USA

The San Quentin is Marin’s most affordable yet high-performance trail MTB with huge fork travel, a dirt-jump-inspired frame, and premium Maxxis Assegai 27.5 x 2.5″ tires.

The suspension fork is a RockShox Revelation RC 130mm and promises good fun on local singletrack. The lightweight, responsive Series 3 frame also sports sleek internal cable routing and a threaded bottom bracket.

With an attractive price tag and tons of options for customization, this bike is a great choice for anyone who puts emphasis on casual fun over competition-optimized carbon frames.

  • Frame – Series 3 Aluminum
  • Fork – RockShox Revelation RC 130mm
  • Brakes – Shimano MT420 4-Piston
  • Shifter – Shimano Deore 12-speed

Buy on Jenson USA Buy on GovVelo.com

Diamondback – Sync’R

Diamondback sync'r

MSRP: $3,650

Here is a more exclusive way into mountain biking – an affordable carbon trail MTB with excellent components.

The Sync’R is in its own league of bike engineering for this price, as Diamondback is one of the more known MTB brands. The SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed and Fox 34 Performance Float fork perform well for their intended use – take it with you on a race, or enjoy those unridden trails, this bike offers excellent ride characteristics on any terrain.

  • Frame – Carbon
  • Fork – Fox 34 Performance Float 140mm Travel
  • Shifters – SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Crankset – SRAM NX
  • Brakes – Shimano MT501 Hydraulic

Buy from Backcountry

Marin – Pine Mountain 2

Marin Pine Mountain 2 with a classic steel frame and large volume 29+ tires.

MSRP: $2,499
Jenson USA

The Pine Mountain 2 clearly stands out due to its slack head tube, and the number of eyelets on its frame.

It is not an easy task to come up with a new concept of a bike, especially in the sub-two-thousand hardtail mountain biking scene. This model features a RockShox FS 35 fork, a dropper seat post, and a lightweight yet durable alloy frame. Marin bikes is no stranger to mountain bikes, and this exact model is designed for long-distance touring with a capability to push the limits on demanding single trails

Best suited for cyclist who are looking for a comfortable bike to explore all mountain bike disciplines in one bike.

  • Fork – RockShox FS 35, 120mm travel
  • Brakes – Shimano hydraulic disc brakes w/ 180mm rotors
  • Shimano SLX 12-speed
  • 29″+ oversized tires

Buy on JensonUSA.com Buy from GovVelo.com

Niner – AIR 9 RDO 5-Star Bike

Orange colored XC hardtail race bike by Niner

Best carbon hardtail race bike


MSRP: $6,500
Jenson USA

If we wanted to go into all the details of what makes the carbon layup process employed in making Niner’s AIR 9 RDO frames, it would take hours to read and a good understanding of mechanical engineering to understand.

The short version is that the AIR 9 RDO is a super light, super bomber frame. Niner has been putting out bikes for serious XC racers for quite a while now, and this bike is no exception. An SRAM XO1 groupset sheds further grams while shifting beautifully between gears. Boost rear spacing makes for a stronger and stiffer wheel. The Fox 32 SC Factory fork comes with a remote lock-off to quickly switch between suspension and rigid modes when transitioning between different trail surfaces.

If you’re a competitive cyclist looking to win tournaments, the AIR 9 RDO 5-Star build is a great contender.

  • Niner RDO Carbon Compaction System
  • Niner’s World Cup tested geometry
  • SRAM’s X01 Eagle components
  • Stan’s NoTubes Arch CB7 wheels
  • A low and wide cockpit

Buy on JensonUSA.com

Diamondback Line


Diamondback Line

MSRP: $900

Whether you’re an aspiring amateur or an experienced XC rider, Diamondback Line packs in a good deal of desirable features for those trying to up their trail game.

The 6061-T6 aluminum frame is lightweight and responsive with a trail-specific design. Other features on the frame include a water bottle mount, low standover height, and comfortable geometry. Diamondback Line comes with tons of modern touches like a 1×9 Aceradrivetrain, grippy tires, quality Shimano hydraulic brakes, and more.

The front fork is a moderate travel SR Suntour XCR with 120 mm travel, rounding out the bike’s performance on downhill sections and drops.

  • Aluminum frame
  • Shimano Acera 9-speed drivetrain
  • 27.5 x 2.35″ tires
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes

Buy from REI

Orbea Laufey H10

Orbea Laufey H10


MSRP: $2,599
Jenson USA

Orbea Laufey H10 secured its place on our list thanks to a lightweight Hydro Triple Butted Aluminum frame and excellent components, all of which comes available at a reasonable price.

With long 140mm travel in the front, a slack head tube angle, and a tucked rear wheel, the Laufey H10 is about as nimble and playful as they come.

Modern trail geometry means you can take drops without a worry, as the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork will soak up the impact and keep you rolling. A 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain also keeps things light while still allowing for a great overall gear ratio.

Shimano’s hydraulic brakes and Orbea’s tubeless-ready wheels paired with massive Maxxis Forekaster 29×2.6″ tires also add to the positive overall impression this bike leaves on any rider.

  • Triple-butted aluminum frame
  • Shimano M6100 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork, 140mm travel
  • Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain
  • Maxxis Forekaster 29 x 2.6″ tires

With an attractive price point and modern geometry, the Orbea Laufey H10 is a great choice for cyclists who want a lot of fun and trail readiness packed into a mid-range budget.

Buy from Jenson USA

BMC – Twostroke 01

bmc twostroke hardtail

MSRP: $3,599
Mike’s Bikes

One of the best 29er hardtail XC bikes

The Twostroke 01 is an aggressive cross-country bike aimed at riders who ride hard on rough terrain.

The carbon frame is built with a proprietary Tuned Compliance Concept to smooth out the trail and increase rear-wheel traction. This frame design has been paired with a 100mm travel RockShox Reba RL fork, giving it a surprisingly plush feel for a hardtail.

Other high-end features like a carbon handlebar, DT Swiss X 1900 tubeless-ready rims, and a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain. The Twostroke also comes with geometry suited to technical riding with a 67˚ head angle and 75° seat angle to rip around corners and down steep descents with confidence.

  • Fork – RockShox Reba RL 100mm
  • 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle

This BMC bike is a great fit for trail fanatics and those who need a high-performance machine to match their skill level.

Buy from Mike's Bikes

Cannondale – F-Si Hi-MOD 1

cannondale F-Si Hi-MOD 1

MSRP: $6,999

Cannondale has been making bikes for elite athletes for 50 years. The FSI HiMod 1 is a reflection of their continued commitment to precision engineering and impeccable quality. Here you will find nothing but the absolute best of components, designed to maximize strength and performance while minimizing weight.

A Hi-MOD BallisTec Carbon frame has been mated with the iconic Lefty Carbon Ocho 100mm fork, creating a frameset that is simply unmatchable by other carbon bikes with traditional fork designs. All across this build, you will find nothing but the finest quality Carbon and Titanium components.

If your future plans include standing on the podium at a World Cup Race, or just owning an unbelievably nice bike, then this is the choice for you.

  • Hi-MOD BallisTec Carbon frame
  • Lefty Ocho Carbon fork 100mm
  • Shimano XTR, 12-speed10-51t
  • Shimano XTR Race hydro disc
  • ENVE Carbon seatpost
  • Schwalbe Racing Ray/Ralph 27.5/29 x 2.25″

Buy on Aventuron.com

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