Full Suspension VS Hardtail

At Westbrook Cycles, we advise many customers about whether or not to choose a full suspension mountain bike, or a hardtail mountain bike. A lot of the time, there is no right or wrong answer, but many considerations such as budget and planned riding can sway the decision in favour of one type of mountain bike or the other.  

In layman's terms, the difference between full suspension mountain bikes and hardtail mountain bikes is really simple - full suspension mountain bikes have rear suspension in the form of a shock absorber - whilst hardtails have a ‘harder tail’ without any rear suspension. Hardtail and Full Suspension mountain bikes usually have a suspension fork at the front of the bike. 

Although this may not sound like the biggest difference in the world, this difference underpins most of a mountain bikes design, and subsequent performance and functionality making them suitable for some types of riding, but not others.  

Below, we run through a few considerations which we know to be important to our customers - when choosing between a hardtail and full suspension mountain bike.


A full suspension is usually always heavier than a hardtail mountain bike, the addition of rear suspension and it’s housing adds weight. Of course, the more you spend, the lighter the bike becomes, and carbon fibre full suspension bikes can and do weigh less than hardtail mountain bikes. Weight is one of the most important considerations for many customers, with heavier bikes being harder to ride uphills and cross country.


Another key consideration for many customers is the price of a mountain bike, and it’s usually the case that hardtail backs come in cheaper than full suspension bikes, unless you are comparing a super lightweight racing hardtail bike, with an entry level full suspension bike. Budget varies so much, it’s really down to the importance and specification of components and suspension on your chosen bike.

Terrain & Riding

This is the most important group of reasons for choosing either a full suspension bike or hardtail mountain bike - those looking for a comfortable cross country bike would prefer a full suspension setup, whilst those looking to cover maximum distance in the shortest possible time frame would benefit from a hardtail setup. 

It goes without saying that those riding downhill trails will favour full suspension bikes, not only because of their increased comfort - but because of their more dynamic handling qualities, which allow the rider to shred trails with ease. 


For some customers, it’s all about how the bike looks! Some prefer the look and style of a full suspension bike, whilst others prefer the cleaner lines of a hardtail - for these customers the choice is easy!

Any Questions?

At Westbrook Cycles, we are a business owned and run by bike lovers - covering all kinds of mountain biking disciplines and riding styles. If you have any questions at all about the right bike for your requirements, please do get in touch and we will be more than happy to help where we can.