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13 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes of 2023

By Atticus Lee   /  Last updated - February 27, 2023   /  Best-Of-Reviews, Hardtail, Mountain Bikes, Reviews

salsa timberjack on a nice trail

Hardtails are mountain bikes with front suspension only. They’re less complex and cost less than full-suspension mountain bikes, making them popular with a broader range of riders. 

Hardtails also offer other advantages over other mountain bikes. Most importantly, they are more efficient when pedaling, lighter, and durable.

In addition, if you’re a beginner, you can improve your skills and technique faster on a hardtail before upgrading to a more forgiving and capable full-suspension bike. 

This article is a roundup of some of the best hardtail mountain bikes available in 2023. 

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes for Men in 2023

Best PerformanceOrbea Laufey h10
Best for Commuting –  Marin Pine Mountain 1
Best ValueRocky Mountain Fusion 30
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. 

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 2023 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 evo.com Buy from Mikesbikes.com

Co-op Cycles DRT 2.1

co-op cycles drt 2.1 hardtail mountain bike

MSRP $1,599

Hands down one of the most fun aluminum hardtail mountain bikes in its price range. The Co-op Cycles DRT 2.1 is a trail ripper that presents itself as one of the best entry-level hardtail mountain bikes for beginners and intermediate riders on a budget.

The SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain is reliable and has plenty of gearing for steep climbs. A size-specific Suntour SR AIR 120/140mm travel fork gives confidence and helps save energy over rocky terrain. On top of that, the 27.5″ wheels and 2.8″ tires provide extra stability and grip.

Other highlights include tried and true Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes, an X-Fusion Manic dropper post, and a very attractive paint job.

The DRT 2.1 is a fantastic starter for those who want a capable trail bike to learn and grow with.

  • Frame – Aluminum
  • Fork – SR Suntour AIR 120mm or 140mm
  • Drivetrain – SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Brakes – Tektro Auriga hydraulic 
  • Tires – WTB Ranger Comp  2.8″

Buy from REI

Rocky Mountain – Fusion 30

rocky mountain fusion 30 mountain bike

MSRP: $1,069
Jenson USA

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

Rocky Mountain is a well-known MTB brand, and the Fusion 30 is their take on a trail bike built off a 29-inch wheelbase and tubeless-ready rims. 

It comes with a MicroSHIFT Advent X 10-Speed drivetrain that’s notably durable and has reliable shifting. In addition, the bike has a 100mm Suntour XCR32 LOR Air fork for suspension.

The Rocky Mountain also has a set of WTB Ranger Comp 29 x 2.4″ tires, a great all-rounder with a durable casing. 

  • Number of gears – 10
  • Frame material – Aluminium
  • Fork – Suntour XCR 32
  • Shifters – MicroSHIFT Advent X
  • Brakes – Clarks M2 2-Piston hydraulic, 160mm rotors

Buy on Jenson USA

Marin – San Quentin 1

marin san quentin 1 hardtail mountain bike


MSRP: $999
Jenson USA

Marin San Quentin 1 is one of the most affordable MTBs with huge fork travel, a dirt-jump-inspired frame, and Vee Tire Co. Flow Snap 27.5×2.6″ tires.

The suspension fork is an SR Suntour XCM34 Boost 130mm and promises good fun on local singletrack. The lightweight, responsive Series 2 frame also sports sleek internal cable routing.

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

  • Frame – Series 2 Aluminum
  • Fork – Suntour XCM34 130mm
  • Brakes – Tektro M275 Hydraulic
  • Shifter – MicroSHIFT SL-M9195-R 9-speed

Buy on Jenson USA

Diamondback – Sync’R

Diamondback Sync'R Mountain Bike

MSRP: $1,500

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 SX Eagle 12-speed and RockShox Recon RL 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 – Aluminum
  • Fork – RockShox Recon RL 140mm Travel
  • Shifters – SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Crankset – SRAM SX
  • Brakes – Shimano MT500 Hydraulic

Buy from Backcountry

Marin – Pine Mountain 1

Marin Pine Mountain 1 29 Bike 2023

MSRP: $1,499
Jenson USA

Marin Pine Mountain 1 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 Recon RL fork 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 the 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 Recon RL, 120mm travel
  • Brakes – Shimano MT420 hydraulic disc brakes w/ 180/160mm rotors
  • Shimano Deore 11-speed
  • Vee Tire Flow Snap 29×2.6″ tires

Buy on JensonUSA.com

Niner – AIR 2-Star

niner air 2-star mountain bike

MSRP: $1,999
Jenson USA

The Niner AIR 2-Star is a light, responsive hardtail on a hydroformed aluminum frame with extra tire clearance and Niner’s Trail Country geometry.

Niner has been putting out bikes for serious XC racers for quite a while now, and this bike is no exception. An SRAM SX Eagle groupset shifts reliably and smoothly between gears. Tubeless-ready rims and tires make for a more durable and comfortable ride, with clearance for a 29 x 2.4″ or 27.5 x 3.0″ setup.

The Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail 120mm fork suspension provides plenty of absorption for rolling XC trails, and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6″ and 2.35″ tires balance traction and fast rolling. . If you’re a new mountain biker looking to experience the trails, the AIR 2-Star build is a great contender.

  • 6061 Aluminum
  • Trail Country geometry
  • SRAM SX 12-speed
  • Niner Alloy 30mm rims
  • Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail 120mm fork

Buy on JensonUSA.com

Diamondback Line


Diamondback Line

MSRP: $799

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

Why Cycles El Jefe

Why Cycles EL Jefe

MSRP: $5,699

The Why Cycles El Jefe secured its place on our list thanks to a premium titanium frame and excellent components, making this bike a race-ready and bikepacking-friendly XC hardtail. 

With 120mm travel in the front, a slack head tube angle, a Crank Brothers Highline 7 dropper, and modern geometry, El Jefe is about as playful and fast as they come for a 29er hardtail.

Modern trail geometry means you can take drops without a worry, as the RockShox SID Ultimate fork will soak up the impact and keep you rolling. A 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain keeps things light while providing a solid climbing gear ratio from the 10-52t cassette.

SRAM Level TL hydraulic brakes and Industry Nine Trail S tubeless-ready wheels paired with massive Maxxis Dissector/Rekon 29×2.4″ tires also add to the positive overall impression this bike leaves on any rider.

  • Titanium frame
  • SRAM Level TL hydraulic disc brakes
  • RockShox SID Ultimate, 120mm
  • 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle
  • Maxxis Dissector/Rekon 29 x 2.6″ tires

With a high-end build, El Jefe is an excellent choice for cyclists who want a lot of fun and trail readiness with a big budget.

Buy from Backcountry

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

Scott – Scale 940

Scott Scale 940 Mountain Bike


MSRP: $2,299

The Scott Scale 940 is a demonstration of the brand’s keen eye for design and commitment to impeccable quality. Here you will find solid components for the price and a premium carbon frame designed to maximize strength and performance while minimizing weight.

A sleek carbon frame that balances stiffness, comfort, and impact resistance has been coupled with a decent RockShox Judy Silver TK 100mm fork, creating a frameset that is simply unmatchable at this price. If your future plans include destroying your PRs, taking on your first XC race, or just owning a beautiful bike, then this is the choice for you.

  • Carbon frame
  • RockShox Judy Silver TK air fork 100mm
  • SRAM SX Eagle 11-50t
  • Shimano MT200 hydro disc
  •  Syncros seatpost
  • Schwalbe Rapid Rob | Active Line 2.25″

Buy on Evo.com

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