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Trek Procaliber 9.7

High Performance and High Value Meet in the Trek Procaliber 9.7

This hardtail is a lightweight and dependable mountain bike with a carbon frame and wheels.

The Takeaway: The Procaliber 9.7 is one of the best hardtail mountain bikes you can buy for less than four grand.

  • OCLV Carbon frame
  • Tubeless-ready carbon wheels
  • Incredibly light

Trek Procaliber 9.7

The tradeoff for a killer carbon frame and carbon wheels on a sub-4K bike is the drivetrain. The SRAM NX Eagle is reliable but doesn’t offer the crisp shifting of pricier component groups like Shimano XT or X01 Eagle. It’s also notably heavier than those groupsets, with most of that weight in the cassette and crankset.

trek procaliber 97

IsoSpeed Decoupler

The IsoSpeed decoupler, unique to Trek, is an interesting feature. It adds vertical compliance by creating a hinge of sorts between the seat tube and the top tube, allowing the former to move independently of the latter. If you’ve never ridden a bike with this decoupler, you might be inclined to think it’s snake oil. Given that we live i n a world flush with companies touting frames with vertical compliance and lateral stiffness (with varying levels of success), I’ll forgive you that assumption. But make no mistake, this is no snake oil. The IsoSpeed adds so much compliance you can actually see the seat tube moving under you if you bounce on the saddle. To be fair, some of that flex comes from the carbon seat post, which further adds to the vertical compliance. Together they make a bike that’s surprisingly comfortable for long, hard hours of trail riding .

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Fast Wheels

Tubeless-ready carbon wheels are a rare find at this price.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Remote Lockout

The RockShox Reba RL fork has a handlebar-mounted remote lockout.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

XR2 Team Issue Tires

These tires are wicked fast on dry trails and hold their own in the mud.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

NX Eagle Drivetrain

An 11-50 cassette and 30t chainring provide all the gearing you need.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Vertical Compliance

The IsoSpeed decoupler makes this bike comfortable over long, rough trail rides.

Initially I was put off by that soft feeling. I tested the Procaliber right on the heels of the very lively Specialized Epic Hardtail Pro . By comparison the Procaliber 9.7 felt subdued, almost boring. In early test rides, I misdiagnosed this bike as dead and lifeless. However, once I became more familiar with the Procaliber 9.7, I realized I was feeling the effect of the decoupler. The claims of vertical compliance were real. The more time I spent banging around the rough and rocky trails of my test track, the more I realized this bike was still just as lively as other hardtails, but the rough edges I was accustomed to were gone.

trek procaliber 97

Procaliber Family

The Procaliber line consists of three bikes, and the 9.7 resides at the top of the list. At $2,600, the 9.6 is laced with the nicer but more expensive Shimano XT drivetrain, but the cost is balanced by cheaper alloy wheels and a RockShox Recon Gold fork (noticeable steps down from the 9.7). This bike is a super deal for anyone who already has a nice set of wheels they really like. If aluminum frames are your jam, the Procaliber 6 warrants consideration.

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Style XC Material Carbon Wheel Size 29-inch Fork 100mm RockShox Reba RL Drivetrain SRAM NX Eagle Cranks Truvativ Stylo 6k Eagle Dub Chainring 30t Cassette 11-50 Brakes Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc Wheels Bontrager Kovee Elite 23 Carbon Tires 2.2-inch Tubeless-ready Bontrager XR2 Team Issue Saddle Bontrager Montrose Comp Seatpost Bontrager Pro OCLV Carbon Handlebar 720mm Bontrager Race Lite Alloy Stem Bontrager Elite

Geometry That Bucks The Trend

On paper, the Procaliber 9.7 thumbs its nose at the current trend of long, low, and slack mountain bikes. A 69.5-degree head angle is as steep as you’ll find on an XC bike, half a degree steeper than the already aggressive Cannondale F-Si and a full degree steeper than Specialized’s Epic Hardtail. A slack 72-degree seat angle also runs against the grain, especially next to the aggressive 74 degrees of the Specialized. It stands in stark contrast to modern XC bikes that are trending towards slacker head angles and steeper seat angles. The reach is short (457mm), stack is low (628mm), and the bottom bracket is high (311mm).

Trek Procaliber 9.7

However, it would be foolish to pass this bike over because it doesn’t conform to a trend. The slack seat angle was apparent before I even looked at the geometry because I had to slide my saddle farther forward than I’m accustomed to, as was the short reach, amplified by the narrow 720mm handlebar. After a few hours, I was comfortable on the bike, accustomed to the sharp steering that required a light touch, and riding as hard and fast around my test track as I’ve done on any other bike.

Trek Procaliber 9.7

Smooth, Steady, And Fast

As I alluded to earlier, I was slow to warm up to this bike. My last tester was the Specialized Epic Hardtail Pro, which I described as lively, wild, and exciting. Compared to the Specialized , this Trek initially appeared dull and uninspiring. Like a fine wine, it took its time to open up to me. Still, there was no spark.

If the Epic Hardtail Pro is the wild affair, the Procaliber 9.7 is the safe bet, the one you invite to Thanksgiving. And costing just under two thousand dollars less, it's also a cheaper date .

Trek Procaliber 9.7

It’s hard to find a fault with this bike. It’s shockingly light—my XL test sample weighed in at only 21.6 pounds. Considering the Epic Hardtail Pro tipped the scales at 21.3 pounds, benefitting from lighter SRAM X01 groupset, carbon cranks, and a carbon handlebar, you’ll see it’s very easy to drop major weight off the Trek if you're a weight weenie. Of course, the NX Eagle drivetrain doesn’t shift as smoothly as SRAM’s higher-level groupsets, but it’s a fair tradeoff for the top-flight frame and carbon hoops. This bike is everything you could ask for from a cross country hardtail: light, fast, responsive, and compliant. At $3,780, it’s not cheap, but it offers incredible value.

procaliber Procaliber 9.7

Procaliber 9.7

.css-1t6om3g:before{width:1.75rem;height:1.75rem;margin:0 0.625rem -0.125rem 0;content:'';display:inline-block;-webkit-background-size:1.25rem;background-size:1.25rem;background-color:#F8D811;color:#000;background-repeat:no-repeat;-webkit-background-position:center;background-position:center;}.loaded .css-1t6om3g:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/bicycling/static/images/chevron-design-element.c42d609.svg);} Bike Reviews

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TREK ROSCOE 9 REVIEW

Review by JP Purdom | Photos by Sam Noble

When it comes to mountain bikes, it’s no secret that a lot of people are on the overbiked end of the spectrum, or perhaps relying on their suspension to get them down a trail instead of their technical ability. Hardcore hardtails offer a solution to this, maintaining the stability required to go fast but giving a little less forgiveness that allows riders to separate out their skills from the ability of the bike and improve their riding. It shaves off the cost of a more complex frame plus a rear shock in the process, bringing this capability to a more budget-conscious demographic. The all-new Roscoe is Trek’s most recent answer to an affordable all-around mountain bike, specifically designed to get more people having fun on the trails. The Roscoe is simplicity driven, featuring dependable components, aggressive geo, and of course, no rear shock. Make no mistakes though; with 29” wheels, 2.6” tires, and 140mm of fork travel, the Roscoe is no slouch when it comes to rugged terrain. We were excited to find out how exactly how capable it was out on the trails around Bend, OR.

• 29 x 2.6″ Tires • HTA: 65° • STA: 73.1° • REACH: 470 (Large)

Price: $2,699/£2,200 Website:   Trekbikes.com

THE LAB Like most modern bikes, the Trek Roscoe follows the trend of long and slack with a relatively steep seat tube. This allows for better handling in the rough and better positioning on the climb. Roscoe’s sizing ranges from XS to XL to suit riders from 137cm to 196cm (4’5”-6’2”), with the XS size equipped with 27.5 wheels to better fit shorter riders. Quite a unique and very welcome addition to the size range is the “ML”, which forms a middle ground between the medium and large that should help to avoid quite so much deliberation between the two for riders who sit awkwardly in that size range. The reach on our Large was 470mm and pairs to a generous 644mm stack. The angles are shared across the size range, with a 65° head angle and a 74.7° effective seat tube angle. These numbers don’t take into account the fact that it’s a hardtail and therefore the angles steepen when on the bike, giving a slightly more upright climbing position but quicker steering than you may expect. A 6.1mm static BB drop (4.5mm on XS) and 430mm chainstays round out the numbers, giving a suitably all-rounded mentality.

Helping to keep the retail price down, the Trek Roscoe is only offered in their Alpha Gold Aluminum. The frame features a tapered head tube, internal cable routing with guides within the frame, ISCG 05 tabs, a threaded BB, and Boost 148 spacing. Trek paid attention to the frame protection, with good coverage on the chainstay and a generous downtube guard. Within the front triangle you can run two bottles thanks to the provided mounts. The Roscoe is offered in 4 different build kits ranging from $1149.99 to $2699.99. Trek says the Roscoe is the perfect choice for the rider who wants to get out and enjoy some gnarly terrain, without the maintenance and cost of a full suspension bike and backs it with their Lifetime frame warranty.

The Roscoe 9 we tested came equipped with some of the industry’s most reliable, robust, and affordable parts. The Fox Rhythm 36 comes equipped with the easy-to-tune GRIP damper, as well as the tried-and-true EVOL air spring. The XT derailleur and SLX shifter provide seamless shifting across the SLX 10-51t 12-speed cassette. E*Thirteen supplies a Helix crank with 30t steel chainring and a discrete upper chainguide to keep the chain firmly in place. The Roscoe 9 features quad piston Shimano M6120 Brakes, which should provide plenty of power, especially when matched with a 203mm rotor up front and a 180mm in the rear. Trek chose the TranzX Dropper post, which ranges from 100-150mm, depending on frame size – a 150mm length for sizes ML and above. The rest of our Roscoe 9 came outfitted with Trek’s own Bontrager components, most notably the grippy XR4 tires and Line 30 wheels.

THE DIRT As a staunch downhill and enduro rider, I was very skeptical of the way an aggressive hardtail would handle the trail. After spending a few weeks on board, the Roscoe, all I can say is, “wow”. The Roscoe’s reasonably slack head angle, healthy reach and 140mm fork make this bike extremely capable of tackling everything from flow trails to rock shoots. There were times when I completely forgot I was riding a hardtail because of how comfortable the body positioning is on this bike. The cornering ability is next level, thanks to the balanced geometry and aggressive 2.6” tires. I never found myself washing around in a turn, even in the dry, dusty conditions here in Bend. In the air, the Roscoe is balanced and predictable, even at high speeds.

It was obvious to me that the Roscoe was much more capable downhill than I would have ever imagined; then, when I finished a lap and turned around to pedal back up, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and efficiency of the Roscoe’s climbing position. The 74.7-degree effective seat tube angle makes the Roscoe a joy to pedal, and with the large size build weighing in at just under 30lbs, it gets up the hill without any issues. The XR4’s does a good job at clawing their way up terrain that seems impossibly loose, finding unexpected traction on a number of occasions.

The spec sheet on the Roscoe 9 was also impeccable. The shifting was perfect throughout, the brakes suitably powerful, the tires offered incredible traction, and the price seems pretty spot on given the quality components all round. For an experienced rider, based on Trek’s build sheet, I probably wouldn’t shoot for the Roscoe 6 (which is designed for beginner riders anyways); however, the 7 level and above offer parts more suited for an experienced rider and are available at extremely reasonable prices.

The only real qualms I had with the Roscoe were the grips and the bars – items riders will often look to swap out anyway to get that customised fit. The angles on the bars put a strain on my wrists, causing them to hurt after a good bit of saddle time. The back-sweep, combined with notoriously stiff 35mm aluminum construction, made a bit of discomfort on my first ride. The grips weren’t a significant complaint for me, but I don’t like to wear gloves when I ride, and the Roscoe grips aren’t necessarily suited for sweaty palms. That said, these are minor details on an otherwise dialled ride.

The Wolf’s Last Word

Price: – $2,699/£2,200 Weight: 29.6 lbs Website:   Trekbikes.com

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS Frame: Alpha Gold Aluminum Fork: Fox Rhythm 36, Float EVOL, GRIP | 140mm

COCKPIT Brakes: Shimano M6120 4-piston Handlebar: Bontrager Line, 35mm, 27.5mm rise, 780mm Stem: Bontrager Elite, 35mm, 0 degree, 45mm length Headset: FSA IS-2 Saddle: Bontrager Arvada Seatpost: TranzX JD-YSP18 | 150mm

WHEELS Rims: Bontrager Line Comp 30 Hubs: Bontrager alloy Tires: Bontrager XR4 Team Issue | 29×2.6″

DRIVETRAIN Bottom Bracket: Shimano SM-BB52 Cassette: Shimano SLX M7100, 10-51, 12 speed Cranks: E*thirteen Helix, 30T | 170mm Shifter: Shimano SLX M7100, 12 speed Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100, long cage

Surprisingly capable Balanced geometry Comfortable climbing position Reasonable price

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Trek X-Caliber 8 hardtail review

Sean White

  • February 14, 2023

There are plenty of plus-points to the Trek X-Caliber 8 hardtail mountain bike, like reliable components and a sure-footed feel

Product Overview

Overall rating:, trek x-caliber 8 2022.

  • Tubeless-ready wheels and tyres
  • Heaviest bike on test

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:.

The Trek X-Caliber 8 is a sure-footed 29er hardtail mountain bike, with plenty of reliable elements that boost its score to impressive levels, but a few missteps that hold it back from quite making it as one of the best hardtail mountain bikes we’ve tested. There’s a whole lot to like though.

Twenty nine inch wheels have long been an integral part of Trek’s mountain bikes, especially the hardtails. And where initially there was uncertainty and hesitation in the industry, Trek pushed on with this larger wheel size and the persistence paid off: with 29in wheels now accepted globally and across all mountain bike categories, not just for the cross country crowd.

trek mountain bike hardtail

Trek’s early 29in wheel bikes were XC hardtails and since then, the X-Caliber has shifted upmarket and now sit between the entry-level Marlin and the carbon Pro-Caliber. All three platforms run 100mm travel forks.

We’ve pulled in the X-Caliber 8 for this review, which is just shy of the Scott Scale 965 in price and shares many of the same components. With all four bikes on test running Shimano brakes and 1×12 transmissions, we were keen to take this consistency a step further and chose models with regular seatposts, rather than droppers. Primarily for comparing the weight of the bikes, but riding dynamics and overall value played a part too as we felt it really levelled the playing field, and maintained the XC hardtail design ethos.

trek mountain bike hardtail

With a steeply sloping top tube and a super-low standover height the X-Caliber is a very striking bike. It’s a silhouette that’s mirrored through all the brand’s hardtails – with the notable exception of the carbon Pro-Caliber – as is the wide size range that Trek is well known for offering. Seven frame sizes are available (with the XS and S rolling on 27.5in wheels to keep proportions in check) with a useful M/L option that’s a great problem solver for riders stuck between the popular M and L options. So hats off to Trek for this level of commitment to getting a good fitting bike.

trek mountain bike hardtail

When it comes to new frame standards, Trek has always been an early adopter, so it’s no surprise to see a tapered head tube and Boost hub spacing on the X-Caliber frame. But it’s Boost with a twist… here, Trek using 141mm rear dropout spacing with a traditional Q/R hub, rather than a 148mm bolt-thru design.

It’s not a deal breaker though, as the fixed rear triangle of a hardtail doesn’t need stiffening up like a full suspension design, and a quick online search reveals plenty of wheel upgrade options from the likes of Hunt, Hope and Bontrager for the 141 standard.

trek mountain bike hardtail

A modern touch that hasn’t been executed as well as on other bikes in test, is the internal frame routing for the cable and rear brake hose – they’re not clamped where they enter the down tube and rattle noisily on rough terrain, just like on the Trek Roscoe in our Hardtail of the Year test.

trek mountain bike hardtail

Trek has equipped the X-Caliber 8 with a RockShox fork and it’s listed as a Judy SL, so we expected to see an upgrade or two. However, all the tech is identical to the regular Judy forks seen on the Cube and Scott – a tapered aluminium steerer, steel upper legs, a Solo Air spring and the brand’s basic TurnKey damper.

trek mountain bike hardtail

The Trek is the only bike in test that doesn’t have a remote lockout lever though, just a simple dial on the top of the fork leg, with an on/off function and no graded adjustment between those points. At least it’s one less cable to maintain and gives more handlebar space for a dropper post remote lever.

And while the X-Caliber frame does not use a bolt-thru rear axle, the 100mm travel Judy fork does have the 15x110mm Boost hub standard – although the website lists the lighter tooled axle as standard, our test bike had the same QR lever operated version as the Scott Scale.

Shimano was slow to filter its 1×12 transmissions down to the lower price points, but it’s there now and proving to be a very popular choice, all four bikes in this test using Shimano drivetrains. The X-Caliber’s specification lists a Shimano chainset, but our bike shipped with a model from FSA, and it’s the only deviation from a complete Shimano drivetrain.

trek mountain bike hardtail

Trek has also gone with a smaller 30t chainring and combined with the Deore 10-51t cassette you get a super-low gear, which is useful on the climbs because at 13.53kg (29.82lb) the Trek is the heaviest bike in test.

Another wise move is the genuine Shimano chain which performs faultlessly in wet filthy conditions and plays well with the steel FSA chainring. The benchmark XT rear mech is good to see, as is the rubber chainstay protector, which is a detail the other three brands seemed to have overlooked.

Performance

The dropped top tube, wider 750mm bar, long wheelbase and slackish 68º head angle (the slackest of the four bikes) give the X-Caliber the look and feel of a trail bike. However, the Trek’s geometry and attitude is not in the same league as the most progressive 100mm trail hardtails such as Kona’s test-winning Mahuna .

trek mountain bike hardtail

Even on this size XL, the frame’s front triangle is very compact, especially when compared to the Giant XTC, but it still sports two sets of bottle cage mounts – essential on an XC bike. In fact, Trek has added plenty of mounts to the X-Caliber, with fittings for a rack and kickstand making it a very capable all-terrain bike.

With one of the lightest wheelsets on test, we expected some zip and liveliness from the X-Caliber but it lacked the immediate urgency of the Scott and Giant and on longer non-stop cross country blasts, its weight was noticeable, certainly towards the end of the ride.

You can’t knock the Trek’s sure-footed nature though – the lengthy wheelbase (for an XC hardtail) and wide bar aid stability, and it was only the Judy fork’s lack of refinement that held us back from diving into more challenging terrain. A slightly shorter stem would no doubt help here too.

trek mountain bike hardtail

Although the compact front end still has a tall 525mm seat tube, the seat stays are dropped, giving a tighter rear triangle. This certainly gives the X-Caliber a chuckable hardtail vibe, but the ride quality was a touch less compliant than the other bikes here.

With that in mind, there’s plenty of frame and fork clearance for higher volume tyres to help smooth the ride further, and Trek helpfully supplies the X-Caliber 8 with rim strips, valves and sealant so you can go tubeless straight from the box and reap the benefits immediately.

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With a sure-footed ride, reliable Shimano components and a sorted tubeless wheelset, it feels like there’s a trail bike hiding under the X-Caliber’s glossy frame finish just waiting to get out, but being held back by the fork and lack of a dropper post. Stepping up a model to the X-Caliber 9 would be our recommendation then, as it gets a dropper post and a more capable and refined fork. Ultimately, the Trek X-Caliber 8’s weight is noticeable and even with the same control tyres fitted to all of the test bikes, the Trek lacks the race-bike urgency of the Scott and Giant.

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Trek Marlin vs. Roscoe vs. X-Caliber vs. Procaliber: Which One Should You Buy?

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Trek’s hardtail mountain bike lineup consists of Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber, and Procaliber . Below, I will explain their differences and advise you on which one to buy.

KEY TAKEAWAY

  • Marlin s are good beginner mountain bikes for most people and those who want to try mountain biking. Browse Trek Marlin bikes here.
  • Roscoe s are the best choice if you are looking for an affordable bike for technical trails, thanks to their long suspension travel. Browse Trek Roscoe bikes here.
  • X-Caliber s are simple yet great cross-country mountain bikes for good money. Browse Trek X-Caliber bikes here.
  • Procaliber s are a carbon version of X-Calibers with IsoSpeed for increased riding comfort. Prepare to pay more for them. Browse Trek Procalibers bikes here.

Keep reading for more information on the differences between them and much more.

Trek Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber vs. Procaliber

Here’s a closer look at these hardtail MTB families and their main features.

Frame & Geometry

Trek Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber, and Procaliber bikes are available in multiple sizes and frame materials. The entry-level bikes are made of aluminum, while the higher-end ones are made from carbon.

Trek Marlin vs. Roscoe vs. X-Caliber vs. Procaliber.

The Marlin, X-Caliber, and Procaliber could be classified as cross-country mountain bikes. That’s because of their XC geometry and shorter travel.

Roscoe bikes have trail geometry and longer suspension travel. So, what is the difference between these two geometries?

Trek Marlin vs. Trek Roscoe geometry compared using the bikeinsights.com tool.

XC bikes have steeper head tube angles and shorter chainstays for speed and efficiency on smooth terrain and climbing.

Trail bikes have slacker head tube angles and longer chainstays for stability and control on technical terrain.

I recommend using the bikeinsights.com tool to compare the geometries.

Wheels and Tires

Wheels and tires are among the main differences between Marlin, Roscoe, X-Calibers, and Procalibers.

All use 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. The wheel size depends mainly on the bike size, as smaller bikes come with 27.5″ wheels.

Cross-country bikes also usually have narrower tires than trail bikes. In this case, the difference is 2.4 inches vs. 2.6 inches.

Wider tires have more volume, so they are more comfortable, absorb larger bumps better, and have better traction. On the other hand, they have higher rolling resistance.

Marlins, X-Calibers, and Procalibers have suspension travel of only 100mm, with even shorter travel for smaller sizes. This limited suspension travel is not as forgiving.

Trek Marlin 4-8 front suspension: SR Suntour XCE 28 (coil spring) 100mm travel, SR Suntour XCM 30 (coil spring) 100mm travel, SR Suntour XCM 30 (coil spring) 100mm travel, RockShox Judy (coil spring) 100mm travel RockShox Judy Silver (Solo Air spring) 100mm travel.

On the other hand, Roscoes have a longer suspension travel of 140mm, which is ideal for trails as it can absorb larger bumps, jumps, or drops and allows for confident riding.

The quality of the suspension forks compared to the competition depends on the specific model. Fortunately, most Trek hardtail mountain bikes have a tapered head tube, so you can upgrade the fork later.

Marlins are the most affordable, while Procalibers are the most expensive due to their carbon frames and IsoSpeed.

There’s an unwritten rule that says the better the frame, the worse the components, and vice versa. This is because a better frame makes up a larger part of the price, leaving less room for components.

Compared to other bike brands, Trek is generally considered more expensive, but they offer attention to detail, a worldwide sales network, and a lifetime warranty in exchange.

However, it ultimately depends on the specific model and price range. Some bikes may be more capable than their competitors.

The Procaliber bikes feature an IsoSpeed decoupler , which absorbs shock and vibrations, making the ride smoother and more comfortable.

Trek Procaliber 9.5 - IsoSpeed decoupler detail.

All bikes from these families (unlike Co-op DRTs , for example) have at least partially integrated cable routing, which improves their overall appearance.

They are also compatible with fenders and racks, thanks to the additional mounting points for fenders and racks.

And lastly, they use lock-on grips that are easier to install.

Trek Marlin Bikes Compared

The following table compares all Trek Marlins. For more info, check out the Trek Marlins comparison .

Trek Roscoe Bikes Compared

The following table compares all Trek Roscoe bikes. For more info, check out the Trek Roscoe comparison .

Trek X-Caliber and Procaliber Bikes Compared

The following table compares all Trek X-Caliber and Procaliber bikes. For more info, check out the Trek X-Caliber and Procaliber comparison .

Should you buy Trek Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber, or Procaliber?

It depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some things to consider:

  • The Marlin is the most affordable option if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Roscoe’s longer suspension travel is better if you want a bike that can handle bigger bumps and jumps.
  • The X-Caliber is a good option if you want to balance affordability and performance .
  • And if you’re a serious rider looking for top-of-the-line-like performance for a reasonable price , the Procaliber is the way to go.

Trek Hardtail Mountain Bikes FAQ

Trek mountain bike frames are made in Asia (mainly in Taiwan and China). Then, they are shipped to Wisconsin, where they are painted and assembled. However, the design and R&D center is still in Wisconsin, US. ( Source )

Project One is Trek’s program for customizing bikes. You can choose specific color options and some components to match your liking and preference.

Some models have women-specific options. However, in recent years, Trek has addressed women’s sizing by listing more bike sizes (e.g., size 44), with the smaller sizes being more suitable for women.

Trek offers a lifetime frame warranty. However, it’s only valid for the first owner. The second (and subsequent) owners have a shorter, 3-year warranty. You can read the Trek warranty page for more info.

IsoSpeed is Trek’s technology for absorbing vibrations from the frame and seatpost that would otherwise be transferred to your body. Learn more about IsoSpeed .

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Trek 4300 Mountain Bike Review: Is it worth it?

trek mountain bike hardtail

Looking for a reliable and affordable mountain bike that can handle rugged terrain? The Trek 4300 might just be the bike for you. 

As a mountain bike, Trek 4300 is built to take on any adventure. Thanks to a durable aluminum frame, wide range of gears, and powerful brakes. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Trek 4300 mountain bike, its features, and what makes it stand out from the competition. 

Read on to find out if the Trek 4300 is the right mountain bike for you.

Trek 4300 Mountain Bike At A Glance 

Trek 4300 is a hardtail mountain bike with a lightweight and sturdy Alpha aluminum frame, which makes it easy to handle. While the Marlin 5 is made for trail riding, it’s also versatile and can double as a commuter bike. 

trek mountain bike hardtail

The Shimano drivetrain and powerful disc brakes offer great versatility on all types of terrain. While the front suspension provides excellent balance and stability on rougher roads or trails, ensuring smooth rides. 

It also comes with double-walled rims and puncture-resistant 26×2.0″ tires, making it a reliable choice for trail riding. 

Trek 4300 is the perfect combination of affordability and quality, which is a great choice for beginner riders looking to hit the trails.

  • Sturdy and lightweight aluminum frame
  • Responsive brakes and smooth shifting
  • Comfortable riding position
  • Adjustable saddle and handlebars
  • Complex 3X drivetrain
  • Small 26-inch wheels

Unfortunately, this bike has been discontinued, but Trek has impressive newer models with better designs which are excellent alternatives to the 4300 Trek mountain bike. 

We recommend Trek Marlin 5 and Schwinn Traxion as great alternatives, you can scroll down to see our brief review of these bikes. 

Trek 4300 Mountain Bike Features

Frame and fork.

First things first, the frame is a crucial component of any bike. In the case of the Trek 4300, it’s made of aluminum, which is a popular choice due to its durability, affordability, and lightweight. 

In fact, the original 4300 model used Trek’s Alpha Aluminum frame that’s tough enough to handle rugged trails with ease. As the model progressed, Trek introduced the Alpha Gold Aluminum material for the frame of the later versions of the 4300. 

This updated version has a more aggressive race geometry for speed, with internal cable routing for durability, and rack mounts for versatility.

You’ll also find that it has a replaceable derailleur hanger. Now, these upgrades made the bike more versatile and allowed it to handle a wider range of terrain.

Moving on to the fork, the Trek 4300 is a classic hardtail mountain bike with a front fork. This means that the front wheel is equipped with a suspension system that can absorb shocks and vibrations, making for a smoother ride on moderate terrain. 

The suspension fork has 70-100 mm travel, depending on the specific model, and it’s designed to handle mountain trails. However, it’s important to note that the suspension fork isn’t long enough to handle descents on rough trails. 

So while it can certainly absorb some bumps, it’s not enough for really difficult trails or downhill riding. But don’t worry, this bike can still take a lot of abuse. After all, it’s a mountain bike, and it’s designed to handle dirt trails.

Gears and Brakes

Gears and brakes are some of the most important components of a mountain bike, especially if you plan on hitting tough trails or climbing hills. 

Let’s take a closer look at the gear and brake systems on the Trek 4300 mountain bike.

In the first few generations of the Trek 4300, you could find a 3x8spd drivetrain with 24 gears.

But if you’re looking for something a bit more efficient, the later models of the Trek 4300 were fitted with the Shimano Acera M390 9-speed drivetrain. This gives you a wider range of gears for better control on hard trails.

Now, let’s talk about brakes. If you carefully look through all the different versions of the Trek 4300, you’ll find that some of them had rim brakes and some others had disc brakes. 

The older models were fitted with rim brakes, while the later models featured the Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes, which gives a much better braking power at a great price. 

Wheels and Tires

Most mountain bikes we see now have 29-inch wheels, but the Trek 4300 had 26-inch wheels and 26×2.20 tires, which actually are very agile and will quickly pick up speed. 

In later models, these tires were improved to be puncture resistant and could withstand increased tire pressure. 

We consider bigger wheels to be better for mountain riding, but small wheels aren’t that bad either because they are more agile, tend to accelerate faster and will easily move around tight corners. And these features are great for technical riding. 

trek mountain bike hardtail

But the bigger 27.5 and 29″ wheels actually provide more stability and comfort, which is why they are now preferred for mountain biking.

Despite the small wheels, the double-walled rims and 32-spoke design of the Trek 4300 are pretty solid and tough enough to withstand years of abuse on the trails.

At the end of the day, the wheels and tires on the Trek 4300 are a great combination for riders who want to tackle technical terrain and need a bike that can handle quick acceleration and tight cornering. 

While the market may be shifting towards larger wheels, the Trek 4300 is still a great option for those who value nimble handling and puncture resistance.

Saddle and Handlebars

The saddle is an important component of any bike, especially when it comes to mountain biking. 

While the standard saddle on the Trek 4300 may not be the most comfortable, the 31.6mm seatpost offers plenty of adjustment for a customized fit. 

You can even upgrade the saddle to one that suits your preferences for maximum comfort.

trek mountain bike hardtail

The handlebars of the Trek 4300 are a different story, though. Made from durable alloy, these handlebars are built to withstand the rigors of off-road riding. 

With a 31.8mm diameter and 15mm rise, the handlebars provide a comfortable and stable grip while you ride.

The stem of the Trek 4300 is also designed for both comfort and control. With a 31.8mm clamp diameter and a 10-degree rise, the stem ensures a comfortable riding position while keeping you in control of the bike. 

When you combine the Bontrager Riser handlebar and the Bontrager Approved stem on the Trek 4300, you get a comfortable and stable ride. 

Size and weight

When it comes to finding the right fit, the Trek 4300 Mountain Bike has got you covered. With a wide range of frame sizes available, from 13″ to 22.5″, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your body type. 

Actually, you may find sizes ranging from 13, 16, 18, 19.5, 21.5, 23.5″. But since these bikes have been discontinued by Trek, finding them in the exact size you want may be a challenge.

One thing to keep in mind is that the bike weighs around 28.2lbs (12.8 kg), which might not make it the lightest bike on the market. I believe this is due to the front fork, which adds weight but also adds extra shock absorption for a more comfortable ride. 

However, this bike is sturdy enough to support riders up to 265 lbs of body weight.

Ride quality and performance

The Trek 4300 Mountain Bike offers fun and confident rides on the trails, whether you’re hitting the trails or cruising around town. 

While it’s considered an entry-level mountain bike, don’t let that fool you. It’s a reliable bike that can be used for commuting, leisurely rides, or for hitting some challenging trails.

trek mountain bike hardtail

The comfortable riding position and triple chainring setup make it easy to tackle steep hills and rough terrain. Plus, the high-quality suspension system keeps things smooth and comfortable, no matter what kind of surface you’re riding on.

Trek 4300 has durable components that are built to last, so you don’t have to worry about things breaking down quickly. 

The responsive brakes and smooth-shifting gears give you complete control and make riding this bike a breeze. And, even in wet or muddy conditions, the disc brakes offer reliable stopping power.

One of the best things about the Trek 4300 is its versatility. While it’s certainly a capable mountain bike, it’s also a great choice for commuting or everyday riding. 

Best Trek 4300 Alternatives

As Trek 4300 mountain bikes are now discontinued, you cannot buy them brand new. However, Trek has a range of trail bikes that offer superior build quality and performance. 

These models are more advanced and come at a higher price point than the budget options available from brands like Schwinn and Mongoose, but the investment is worth it as the quality is unmatched.

In my opinion, the Trek Marlin 5 and Schwinn Traxion are great alternatives for the Trek 4300 mountain bike.

Trek Marlin 5

trek mountain bike hardtail

Trek Marlin 5 is a trail mountain bike that’s built to gracefully handle daily adventures on rough terrains. It has a lightweight aluminum frame with a 2×8 drivetrain for smooth riding and shifting and powerful hydraulic disc brakes which provide fast and precise stopping. 

While the Marlin 5 is made for trail riding, it’s also versatile and can double as a commuter bike. This bike has a stunning frame with internal routing for the brake and shift cables, which can extend the lifespan of your wires by shielding them from the environment.

It’s the perfect bike for new trail riders and comes in seven frame sizes to fit riders of all heights. Marlin 5 is elegant and comfortable, with a ton of features that are typically reserved for more pricey bikes.

Schwinn Traxion

Schwinn Traxion Mens and Womens Mountain Bike, 29-Inch Wheels, 24-Speed Shifters, Full Suspension, Mechanical Disc Brakes, Blue/Grey

The Traxion MTB is equipped with a remarkably solid aluminum full-suspension frame that easily picks up speed and maintains it very well.

This bike provides comfortable rides and handles bumps well, regardless of where your trail adventures take you. Thanks to the wide knobby tires, sturdy double-walled aluminum rims, and a superb trail-taming Schwinn suspension fork. 

The 24 speed shifters also ensure fluid gear shifting, which makes for a fun and pleasant riding experience. In addition to that, the mechanical disc brakes lock into place instantly when applied, and this ensures precise and efficient stopping. 

The wheels have all-terrain tires and alloy rims for strength and low weight. Plus, you can easily adjust the height of the saddle using the quick release seat post to get your best fit. 

Related Post: Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike Review

Finally, is Trek 4300 MTB a good buy?

The Trek 4300 mountain bike is a reliable and versatile bike that can handle a variety of terrains and riding styles. 

With its durable aluminum frame, wide range of gears, and powerful brakes, this bike is a great choice for both beginners and experienced riders. 

Trek 4300 offers a solid balance of performance and affordability. And if you’re looking for a reliable and budget-friendly mountain bike, the Trek 4300 is definitely worth considering.

You likely won’t find a brand-new Trek 4300, but the alternative options we included above are great choices too.

You may also like:

  • Best Budget Mountain Bikes Under $400
  • Best Budget Mountain Bikes Under $300
  • Best Mountain Bikes for $1500 and below

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Trek Roscoe – Series Review

27.5 Plus traction trek biking trailriding

Trek’s 27.5” Roscoe hardtail MTB range is aimed at recreational riders looking to hit the dirt track and have some weekend fun in the backcountry. The series consists of three bikes ranging in price from just above $1,000 to just below $2,000, with varying specs and women’s versions. Although not intended for competitive riding, the top-shelf bikes in the Roscoe range come with some high-quality components.

Learn more about it in our Trek Roscoe review below!

TREK Roscoe 6

4.5 / 5 out of 70+ reviews

trek roscoe 6 mountain bike

27.5 x 2.8″ / Alpha Gold Aluminum frame / SR Suntour XCM 32 fork 100-120mm / Alex MD35 TLS Wheels /  1 x 10 Shimano Deore M4100

The Roscoe 6 is the entry-level bike of the range with a Deore drivetrain, hydro disc brakes, Alex rims, and Schwalbe tires. As you can see, Trek hasn’t really cut any corners, even on the most affordable Roscoe.

The latest version of the Roscoe 6 has the same Alpha Gold aluminum frame that all Roscoe bikes have plus a few minor upgrades from 2020, including better tires and cassette. The Deore groupset is tried and trusted so no surprises with the quality there, and the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes work well.

Key Features:

  • Dropper seat post
  • Suspension lockout
  • Internal cable routing
  • Rack, fender, kickstand mounts
  • Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Shimano RT26 160/180mm rotors

The Roscoe 6 feels very sturdy and handles well on a bumpy dirt track, cutting hard into corners without any wobble or slip. The upgrade to Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires on the latest model is a very nice addition and they compliment the better handling provided by shorter chainstays. This isn’t a bike designed for intense downhill riding so you might notice some struggles here but the dropper seat post is certainly appreciated on the steeper declines.

trek roscoe 6 pedal and crank

FSA Alpha Drive crank / VP-536 Nylon Pedals / 1 x 10 drivetrain

The only noticeable negative is the Suntour XCM 32 fork, which provides front suspension with 100 to 120mm of travel (depending on size) and lockout. It’s not a bad fork but it’s definitely entry-level and adds significant weight to the bike. If you aren’t pushing the bike too hard on extremely rocky terrain or big jumps you should be fine but at times it sticks and the coil springs can be noisy. Although that said, at 34.8 lbs (15.8 kg), it may raise some eyebrows with more weight-conscious cyclists.

MSRP: $1,049 (Available in-store only)

Buy on Trekbikes.com

2020 Trek Roscoe 6 – Women’s & Men’s

  • Deore M6000 Shifters & derailleur
  • SunRace 11-42 10-speed cassette
  • Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc

The 2020 Roscoe series trail bikes are lighter, without a seat-post dropper and some minor differences in components.

Internal dropper-post compatible

Kenda Havok 30tpi 27.5″ x 2.8″ tires

MSRP: $1,020

TREK Roscoe 7

4.7 / 5 out of 180+ ratings

roscoe 7 bikes

  • AlphaGold Aluminum Frame
  • RockShox Judy SL 100/120mm forks
  • Bontrager Line 40 Rims
  • SRAM Eagle 1×12 11-50T Cassette
  • Shimano MT200 Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The Roscoe 7 isn’t a lot more expensive than the Roscoe 6, at only $210 more, so you might not expect a big upgrade. However, with RockShox air-sprung front suspension and an SRAM Eagle drivetrain, the minor additional cost seems like a no-brainer – spend that little bit extra!

On paper, the Roscoe 7 certainly seems like incredible value-for-money, so does it hold up in the field? Weight wise it feels nice, coming in at just under 33 lbs (14.8 kg) which is pretty average for a hardtail MTB. You feel the difference too –

It offers lighter float when leaving the ground and lands more smoothly than the Roscoe 6.

Other than the 12-speed SX Eagle drivetrain, the Roscoe 7 also has an upgraded Truvative Powerspline bottom bracket which is a nice addition. The RockShox Judy SL air-sprung forks are definitely the winner addition here though, giving the Roscoe 7 a smooth and silent downhill ride even on steep and volatile descents. The fat 2.8” Maxxis Rekon tubeless tires certainly help in this regard too, providing excellent traction.

Roscoe 7 cassette

SRAM Eagle 11-50, 12 speed

Naturally, Trek has had to keep some costs down to provide such a good price. The SX Eagle is a slightly downgraded version of SRAMs popular NX drivetrain but it still delivers smooth gearing with a barely noticeable difference. Serious riders may consider upgrading the basic saddle and nylon pedals and grips but otherwise, the Roscoe 7 is a top-quality bike ready to go straight out the box.

MSRP: $1,260

TREK Roscoe 8

4.8 / 5 out of 225+ ratings

trek roscoe 8 in black and red

  • Alpha Gold Aluminum frame
  • RockShox 35 Gold RL 100/120mm
  • Bontrager Line 40 TLR Rims
  • 27.5″ x 2.8″
  • SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed
  • Shimano MT501 Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The most notable additions on the Roscoe 8 are the fork, drivetrain, and the large price increase of $530. The upgrade to an SRAM Eagle NX drivetrain is only a minor change but the RockShox 35 Gold RL DebonAir fork is a considerable addition that serious riders will appreciate. So does it justify the price difference?

The SRAM Eagle NX 12-speed drivetrain is undoubtedly a quality component that is complemented by a quality Truvativ crank and bottom bracket. It would have been nice to see a full SRAM groupset but the Shimano MT501 hydro disc brakes fit in well. So what else makes the Roscoe 8 a killer hardtail MTB?

At 32.3 lbs (14.65kg) it’s a bit lighter than the 7 but not enough to make it very noticeable. However, the Roscoe 8 certainly rips up the trails and not just on singletrack or gravel.

For a hardtail bike, the Roscoe could even put up some competition to dual suspension MTBs

This bike aggressively attacks downhills – helped by the dropper seat post and amazing suspension – and makes short work of uphills with smooth gearing and tight traction on the 2.8” Maxxis tires.

Roscoe 8 black red frame

RockShox 35 Gold RL forks / Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes / Shimano RT56 180mm rotors

Overall, the Roscoe 8 may not provide the same incredible value-for-money that the Roscoe 7 does but it certainly does feel more professional. If you have the extra cash to spare and want a fully-fledged hardtail with top-quality parts in all aspects, you can’t go wrong here. You’ll struggle to find a better-specced hardtail for the price.

MSRP: $1,790

TREK Roscoe 24″ – 2020

trek kids roscoe 24 inch mtb

24″ wheels / 24 x 2.8″ fat tires / 8-speed / SunRun 11-34 Casette / 25.75lbs (11.7kg)

24″ Wheel Size for kids in height – 4’3.2″ – 4’11” (130 – 150cm)

Trek MTB Size Chart

Salsa timberjack vs. trek roscoe.

2020 Timberjack XT 27.5+

The Salsa Timberjack range very closely resembles Trek’s Roscoe bikes. It also offers mid-range hardtail MTBs with quality components in a price bracket slightly above what amateur riders would spend. With similar specs and price, it may simply come down to brand or personal preference. While the Roscoe also fits 29” tires, it’s marketed as a 27.5” bike which seems more focused on rough terrain and mountain riding. The Timberjack, on the other hand, has a more relaxed frame geometry that is designed for faster singletrack and gravel trail riding.

  • Related: Salsa Timberjack Review

Roscoe Series – Why You Should Buy It

trailriding fun

Buy on TrekBikes.com

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Trek 4500 hardtail review

Clean, functional package

trek mountain bike hardtail

While the glamorous range-toppers attract attention, it’s usually the unsung and unremarkable mid-range bikes that generate most of a bike company’s profits. Trek know this, which is why the 4500 is the product of some time-proven design features and sensible, if unadventurous, hardware choices. It's a competent trail all-rounder that aims to please most riders, most of the time. But you could be having more fun for this kind of cash.

Ride & handling: Newbie-friendly but short on thrills

Trek has years of experience in turning out bikes that won’t scare off new riders. It shows in the 4500, which pulls off the deceptively simple feat of providing a ride position that’s both newbie-friendly and surprisingly efficient. The shortish top tube and longer stem won’t win any prizes for lively steering, but that’s hardly a major concern if you’re looking for your first steed. And the big stack of headset washers between the top bearing race and the underside of the stem leaves plenty of scope for adjustment as your tastes refine.

Out on the trail there’s little to disturb this feeling of confidence-inspiring can-do. Grippy tyres translate your efforts into forward progress without fuss, that extra large rear sprocket makes short work of steep climbs and 100mm of rock-swallowing travel up front means it’s hard to bite off more than the 4500 can chew. The only thing that’s missing is the liveliness that distinguishes fun frames from competent ones.

It’s also worth noting that with its relatively weighty build, conservative geometry and unforgiving wishbone rear end, the 4500 ploughs a furrow through – rather than skipping its way over – rougher sections of trail when the pressure’s on. That means it’s hard to get too excited about the 4500. It’s well built, doesn’t expect too much of you and gets the job done. But if you’re looking for thrills, this isn’t the bike to find them on.

Frame: Functional chassis is ready for a brake upgrade

True to form, there are no surprises in the 4500’s neatly welded chassis. You won’t find any wacky tube profiles or superfluous gussetry here – just well designed functionality. The hydroformed down tube features an extra bulge at the vulnerable head tube junction, doing away with the need for a separate welded strengthening gusset.

Tidy wishbone seatstays incorporate some neat rack and mudguard mounts that you’ll appreciate when commuting or touring, and there are two bottle boss mounts inside the main triangle. A cutaway disc mount, along with disc-compatible hubs, makes any future brake upgrade a relatively cheap and painless process, but you’ll have to live with the rim brake bosses on the seatstays if you make the switch.

Trek’s design team has gone with 100mm of travel up front, in the form of a RockShox Dart 2 coil-sprung fork. The difference between 80mm (3.14in) and 100mm (3.9in) at this price is largely down to your personal preferences, because ride quality is affected by factors such as tyres, frame weight and resilience just as much as it is by fork performance.

Having said that, the Dart 2 is a decent contender, with adjustable rebound damping and a lockout function – great if you’re hard on the pedals and concerned about excess bob. It can’t quite match more expensive forks for controlled plush and steering precision, but it’s a good first line of defence in the battle against blurred vision and loose fillings.

Equipment: Nine-speed cassette and Bontrager kit

You may have noticed the lack of disc brakes on the 4500 already, but don’t worry, there’s an upside to their omission. Instead of hydraulic discs as standard, you get a nine-speed cassette at the rear, driven by Shimano’s evergreen and very reliable Deore mech. That extra rear sprocket creates room for 34 teeth and a genuinely useful low gear.

The Tektro/Avid rim brake setup isn’t as powerful in the wet as the best disc alternatives, but it makes up for it with easy maintenance and a light, progressive lever feel. The Bontrager finishing kit is all good stuff too – particularly the open-treaded Jones ACX tyres, which cope well with the UK’s slimy trail conditions.

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Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes: Top 5 Picks

trek mountain bike hardtail

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Investing in a high-quality bike matters – and this is all the more important with mountain bikes. If you’re in the market for a hardtail, you should prioritize reliability and performance.

Mountain biking with a hardtail can be a bit challenging – so it’s all the more important to find a well-made model that features high-quality components to make up for the lack of a rear suspension.

You should also factor in weight, tire size, and handling. But you happen to be in luck – we’ve done the research, and we’re happy to share our results with you.

Top 5 Hardtail MTBs

Hardtails provide a fun, no-nonsense approach to mountain biking. With a lighter frame weight and a simple suspension, they’re much more manageable and easy to use than full-suspension mountain bikes.

Thomson Elite Hardtail MTB

For most people, the lack of a rear suspension won’t even be noticeable. A full-suspension setup can make a difference – but only on the most technical and difficult of trails.

But for the regular cyclist, a hardtail setup provides more than enough versatility and control to conquer rough terrain.

We’ve prepared a review of this year’s best hardtails, all of which are available online. So take a closer look – one of these off-road machines might just be the bike for you.

1. Best Overall - Trek Procaliber 9.6

trek mountain bike hardtail

Specifications:

  • Gearing → 12 speeds
  • Wheel size → 29 inches
  • Weight capacity → 300 lbs
  • Weight → 24.36 lbs

Key Features:

  • RockShox Recon Gold fork
  • Tubeless-ready wheels and tires
  • Remote handlebar mounted suspension lockout
  • OCLV carbon frame

Trek Procaliber 9.6 Review

Durable, reliable, light, fast and incredibly adaptable, the Procaliber 9.6 is a high-performance bike – meaning that it’s also quite a large investment. But if you can afford to foot the hefty bill, you won’t be disappointed – and you’ll get the very best of the best.

With an incredibly modern frame, a pair of high-end tires , powerful brakes, and a front suspension fork with plenty of travel, the bike can handle anything that you’ll come across.

Light, Modern, and Well-Designed

The Procaliber 9.6 most impressive feature is the high-quality OCLV Mountain Carbon frame . The frame has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, although the entire bike weighs just 24.36 pounds.

The Bontrager Comp alloy handlebar is 720mm wide and mounted on a Blendr compatible stem with a 7-degree angle. It’s wide, ergonomic, and easy to retain control of – and the nylon Bontrager XR Trail Comp grips provide plenty of comfort, owing to their unique finned texture.

A 6061 aluminum alloy seatpost t hat is 400mm long supports a comfortable Bontrager Arvada saddle. The saddle features hollow chromoly rails, and it is 270mm long and 138mm wide. It has a good amount of padding and is large enough to be comfortable to a wide variety of riders.

The VP-536 nylon platform pedals are large and provide a solid footing, while still quite light at 330 grams a pair, while the Shimano SLX M7100 chain is light, reliable, and durable.

The bike utilizes a pair of tubeless-ready double-walled Bontrager Kovee rims which support a pair of Bontrager XR2 Team Issue aramid bead tires. The tires are also tubeless-ready and feature an impressive TPI rating of 120 – more than enough to protect them even on the most treacherous of terrains.

Versatile and Easy to Control

The bike has a wide range of gears, with the 12-speed Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain providing a lot of versatility. The 1×12 drivetrain is easy to use and can easily overcome all the obstacles that a high-end hardtail can encounter. The Shimano SLX M7100 shifter is smooth, and the gears shift quickly, smoothly, and reliably.

The tires are fast-rolling and versatile, offering a good, consistent amount of traction across a variety of weather conditions and terrain types. They’re light, have a low rolling resistance, and provide great cornering action.

The bike’s handling and control are further improved by the Shimano MT400 hydraulic disc brakes , which are controlled by an MT410 brake lever. They allow you to easily adjust your speed or come to a complete halt – while the RockShox Recon Gold suspension fork provides an incredible amount of stability.

The front suspension features a motion control damper, as well as a remote lockout feature that can be engaged from the handlebar. It has an impressive 100mm of travel – allowing it to effortlessly absorb large amounts of road shock

  • High-quality suspension
  • Durable tires
  • Powerful brakes
  • Could use a better pair of pedals

2. Best Budget - Cannondale Trail 8

trek mountain bike hardtail

  • Gearing → 21 speed
  • Wheel size → 27.5 / 29 inches
  • Weight capacity →  275lbs
  • Weight → 32 lbs 8 oz.
  • C3 aluminum alloy frame
  • SR Suntour M3030 suspension
  • Slack head angle
  • Tektro mechanical disc brakes

Cannondale Trail 8 Bike Review

Hardtails are available at a variety of price points – from very affordable entry-level models to premium high-performance bikes that can easily cost thousands of dollars.

If you’re on a tight budget, but still want to maximize the amount of value that you’ll get for your money, we’ve got the perfect bike in store for you.

Cannondale’s Trail 8 bike is a versatile machine that incorporates a lot of high-quality components. It offers a level of performance that far surpasses that of similarly priced models but still manages to retain a lot of durability.

Build Quality and Design

The Trail 8 is available in four different size options – which will accommodate users from 5’2” to 6’4” tall.

The frame of the bike is made from a high-quality C3 aluminum alloy , providing it with a fantastic mix of durability and low weight – fully assembled, the bike weighs 32 lbs and 8 oz, but it has a maximum weight capacity of 275 lbs.

The bike features a 6061 aluminum alloy riser bar that is 720mm wide, which is mounted on a short stem that is made from the same material. Wide and low-set, this combination allows you to almost effortlessly retain complete control of the bike.

The Trail 8 has a slack head angle – meaning that the wheel is located a farther distance away from the headset. This design choice also greatly contributes to the overall stability of the bike – all in all, the Trail 8 has a confidence-inspiring geometry.

The handlebar is quite ergonomic – which is good because this goes a long way in making up for the average saddle and unremarkable platform pedals. On the other hand, the long-lasting chain is quite durable.

The saddle and pedals can easily be changed – Cannondale has wisely chosen to focus on what really matters. A well-made, high-quality frame that features such a good design far outweighs the cons of a few easily-replaceable components.

Performance, Versatility, and Handling

The bike’s drivetrain mostly consists of Shimano’s components – and at 21 speeds, it offers a lot of adaptabilities. The wide gear range allows you to handle a large variety of inclines and makes maintaining high speeds much easier.

The Trail 8 uses Shimano Easy Fire EF41 shifters, which double as brake levers. Speaking of the brakes, the bike utilizes a pair of powerful Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors that can easily bring the bike to a full stop.

Depending on the size option, the size of the wheels on the bike ranges from 27.5 to 29 inches. The front tire will always be a WTB Ranger, while the rear can be either another WTB Ranger or a WTB Nineline.

Both are surprisingly fast-rolling, offer a great deal of traction and good cornering, and maintain great performance over a variety of terrains and weather conditions – with the most major difference being that the Ranger tires outperform the Nineline in wet conditions.

Fast, versatile, and easy to control, the Trail 8 is made even better by the inclusion of a high-quality SR Suntour M3030 suspension with 75mm of fork travel. It does a remarkable job of overcoming obstacles and absorbing road shock.

  • Versatile drivetrain
  • Great build quality
  • Top-notch handling and control
  • Average saddle
  • Average pedals

3. Best Lightweight - Epic Hardtail Comp

trek mountain bike hardtail

  • Tire size → 29 x 2.3 inches
  • Weight capacity → Not listed
  • Weight → 18 lbs
  • FACT 11m frame
  • Tubeless-ready tires
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • RockShox Reba RL 29 suspension fork

Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp Review

The latest technological advances have made it much easier to produce carbon fiber frames – and those frames are getting lighter and cheaper as time goes on.

Specialized’s Epic line of hardtails has been releasing fantastic models in the last couple of years – and the 2020 Comp version does not disappoint. It’s another standout product – an incredibly light, well-made bike that features cutting-edge design and materials.

If the weight of your bike is your biggest priority – this is the hardtail for you.

One of the Lightest Frames on the Market

The FACT 11m carbon fiber frame is incredibly light – weighing in at just 915g . If you’re not familiar with the metric system of measurement, that’s just a quarter of an ounce above two pounds.

Fully assembled, the bike weighs approximately 18 pounds. The frame features a tapered head tube, as well as a neat internal cable routing system that gives it some added durability.

The 750mm wide aluminum alloy Minirise handlebar is very ergonomic and features a pair of comfortable specialized trail grips. Combine that with the 6-degree rise of the alloy stem and the width of the handlebar, and you’re left with a very user-friendly bike.

The 30.9mm alloy seatpost supports a Body Geometry Power Sport saddle . The saddle is quite well-padded and wide, and features hollow chromoly rails, ensuring a great mix of both durability and low weight.

With a featherlight frame that is accompanied by many smart design choices, the Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp stands out – even among other lightweight hardtails.

Lightning-Fast, Adaptable, High-Performance

The bike uses a pair of grippy tubeless-ready Specialized Fast Trak tires. At 29 x 2.3 inches, they’re both large and wide, providing the rider with a fair balance of speed, acceleration, and traction.

The tires are quite durable, boasting a TPI rating of 60, and they’re treated with the proprietary GRIPTON compound, which enhances performance in wet conditions.

The SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain allows this light hardtail to easily adapt to a wide variety of terrain. The trigger shifters provide rapid, intuitive shifting, allowing you to easily maintain high speeds.

The speed of the bike is balanced out by two SRAM Level TL hydraulic disc brakes, which provide a good amount of consistent, almost effortless stopping power.

As far as handling goes, the remarkably good tires mesh well with the impressive front suspension. The RockShox Reba RL 29 suspension fork has 100mm of travel and features a motion control damper, allowing it to easily absorb huge amounts of road shock.

  • Incredibly light
  • Durable construction
  • Weight capacity isn’t listed

4. Best with Steel Frame - Marin Pine

trek mountain bike hardtail

  • Gearing → 11 speeds
  • Wheel size → 26 inches
  • Weight → 32 lbs
  • 4130 Chromoly steel frame
  • Double-walled and tubeless-ready rims
  • 29-inch Vee wire bead tires
  • RockShox Recon RL front suspension fork

Marin Pine Mountain 1 Bike Review

A hardtail mountain bike with a steel frame is a rare sight nowadays – and a good hardtail with such a frame is rarer still. Once upon a time, most hardtails had steel frames – but they’ve gradually been phased out.

However, steel frame hardtails are still a fantastic entry-point for beginners . If frame durability is a priority for you, if you want to take a trip down memory lane with a bike that handles like a hardtail from a few decades ago, or if you simply want a good bike for a beginner – then Marin’s Pine 1 deserves a closer look.

Durable, Sturdy, Modern Design

The Pine 1 is available in 4 different sizes, which can support riders from 5’3” to 6’4” in height. The bike features a high-quality series 2 formed and double-butted 4130 Chromoly steel frame that incorporates 141mm dropouts.

The steel tubes are sturdy, stiff, and absorb plenty of road shock – and they aren’t too heavy, as far as steel goes – with the entire bike weighing in at 32 lbs.

The frame features three water bottle cage mounts, fender and rack mounts, as well as a large number of bosses across the frame that can support a variety of options for customization. It also makes use of a quite tidy cable management system.

The Pine 1 has a 780mm wide Marin Mini-Riser bar that is constructed from 6061 double-butted aluminum alloy. This wide handlebar also features 28mm of rise, and a pair of comfortable Marin Bearpaw Locking grips.

The wide handlebar meshes well with the bike’s comfortable seat and 66.5-degree head angle – making for an enjoyable, easy to control ride. The bike doesn’t come with any pedals – so you’re going to have to take care of that segment yourself – but on the plus side, the nickel-plated KMC X11 chain is quite high-end for this price range.

Drivetrain, Brakes, and Tires

The Pine 1 uses an 11-speed Shimano SLS drivetrain , which provides it with just the right amount of gear range. The MicroShift lever shifters are reliable and responsive, and the 1×11 drivetrain is simple, easy to use, and quite versatile.

The bike makes use of a pair of large 29-inch Vee Flow Snap wire bead tires. At 2.6 inches wide, they offer a lot of traction – but their large size guarantees an impressive amount of speed, despite the steel frame’s heavy weight.

The tires are mounted onto Marin’s aluminum double-walled and tubeless-ready rims, which are both light and durable.

The Pine 1 features a pair of Shimano MT400 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors. The brakes do a tremendous job of improving the bike’s overall handling – providing it with plenty of consistent, rapid stopping power.

The steel frame, overall weight of the bike, and large tires absorb plenty of road shock as it is – but the bike also has an outstanding RockShox Recon RL front suspension fork . It features an impressive 120mm of travel, allowing it to easily handle all but the most challenging obstacles – and if you need more than 120mm of travel, you’re much better off getting a high-quality full-suspension mountain bike .

Durable, well-designed, versatile, and unexpectedly fast, the Pine 1 is a remarkable bike – one which proves that steel-framed hardtails still have a place in today’s world.

  • Durable, well-made steel frame
  • Powerful suspension
  • Great brakes
  • Heavy compared to aluminum and carbon hardtails
  • Pedals not included

5. Best 20 Speed - Raleigh Tekoa 3

trek mountain bike hardtail

  • Gearing → 20 speed
  • Wheel size → 29 x 2.25 inch
  • Heat-treated and double-butted aluminum frame
  • Shimano Deore M6000 shifters
  • Versatile Shimano drivetrain
  • RockShox 30 Silver Solo Air front suspension fork

Raleigh Tekoa 3 Review

Although a large number of gears isn’t necessarily better than a wide gear range, a larger number of gears definitely can’t hurt. And if you’re one of the people who prefer a large number of gears, then we’ve got just the bike for you.

Raleigh’s Tekoa 3 is a durable, maneuverable, and versatile bike that handles incredibly well. It combines a well-made, modern frame with a set of high-quality components – and the result is a fantastic high-performance bike. If versatility and adaptability are priorities for you, then the Raleigh Tekoa 3 deserves a closer look.

Frame and Ergonomics

The Tekoa 3 is available in two size options, which will fit riders from 5’7” to 6’1” tall. The frame of the bike is made from a heat-treated, custom formed and double-butted AL-6061 aluminum alloy . The frame is quite sturdy and provides a great deal of stiffness, and also features a tapered head tube.

Fully assembled, the bike weighs approximately 32 lbs – which is a more than decent weight, considering the frame’s impressive durability. And while we’re on the topic of durability, the KMC X10 chain also deserves praise – it’s a low-maintenance piece of kit that will last for years.

An aluminum alloy stem supports the Raleigh alloy MTB handlebar, which sports a pair of decently comfortable grips. The seatpost has 15mm of offset, and the Raleigh MTB saddle is decent, but nothing spectacular – and the same goes for the Wellgo plastic pedals.

But don’t get the wrong idea – the bike has decent ergonomics. The grips, saddle, and pedals aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination – it’s just that the rest of the bike is much more impressive in comparison.

The Tekoa 3 features an incredibly well-made and durable frame that sports a decent amount of comfort. However, if you would like to bring the ergonomics up to par with the performance, you’ll have to switch out a couple of components – but that’s relatively inexpensive and easy to do.

Drivetrain, Suspension, Tires, and Brakes

The Tekoa’s main selling point is the remarkably versatile 2×10 Shimano drivetrain . The Shimano Deore M6000 shifters allow you to easily change gears and maintain high speeds, while the wide gear range allows you to easily meet any challenge head-on. The drivetrain is fantastic – and it makes quick work of hills, inclines, and descents.

The bike features a pair of light and durable alloy SLD-30 double-walled rims which support a pair of high-quality 29 x 2.25 inch Vee tires. The large size of the tires provides the bike with a lot of speed – and reaching a high speed is quite easy with the Tekoa 3.

To balance that out, the bike makes use of a pair of Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes that feature powerful 160mm rotors. The bike might be able to achieve high speeds quite quickly – but it can grind to a complete halt just as easily.

As far as stability, control, and handling go, the RockShox 30 Silver Solo Air front suspension fork does a great job of absorbing road shock. It features 100mm of travel, as well as a lockout feature.

  • Very adaptable
  • Great handling
  • Stiff frame

Hardtail Mountain Bikes: Frequently Asked Questions

Hardtails are mountain bikes that have a front suspension but lack a rear suspension. This helps them achieve a lighter overall weight and makes them much easier to maintain. Compared to full-suspension bikes, hardtails are much more simple and beginner-friendly.

No - not at all. Full-suspension bikes are great, but the addition of a rear suspension will do little to help the average cyclist. Full-suspension setups add a lot of weight to a bike - and they cost quite a lot as well. Full-suspension bikes do a better job when it comes to going downhill - but unless you plan on overcoming some highly technical trails, you’ll be much better off with a hardtail bike.

Hardtails are lighter, less expensive, and feature less complicated components - meaning that there’s less upkeep and maintenance. The lack of a rear suspension allows you to maintain a good amount of pedaling efficiency, and it also forces you to learn how to think on your feet. Because you’ll still feel a small amount of road shock, you’ll have to maintain a proper body position, and you’ll have to learn how to pick a good path.

The most important parts of a hardtail are the frame, drivetrain, suspension, and brakes. These are the priorities - saddles, pedals, and other components can easily be replaced. Your aim should be to find a bike that has a good amount of durability, while still keeping the weight as low as possible. A versatile drivetrain, good suspension fork, and a good set of brakes will help you handle the rough trail conditions, while the build quality of the frame determines how reliable a bike is.

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Best hardtail mountain bikes 2024 – our testers pick the ultimate hardtails for trail and XC

Everything you need to know about the best hardtail mountain bikes available today

Nukeproof Scout V3 Elite

While there's no doubt that best hardtail mountain bikes are great options for beginners, they're also a top choice for experienced riders looking for the lightest bike possible or who want to experience the most direct trail feel. With a suspension fork but no rear shock, hardtails give better pedaling efficiency and reduced mechanical complexity, which makes for a more responsive and easier to maintain bike. 

With advancements in frame technology and rim width, not to mention the best mountain bike tires that are now available in bigger sizes, hardtails are a lot less taxing on the body than was the case a few years ago. A carefully considered hardtail can deliver tremendous all-round riding ability for much less money than the best full-suspension mountain bikes .

The cost of owning a hardtail is cheaper too, as without a rear shock and frame pivots, there are less costly parts to replace and service. Basically, you can buy a much nicer hardtail for less money than an equivalent full-suspension build. As well as the conventionally powered bikes here, we also have a guide to the best hardtail electric mountain bikes – if riding with a motor is more your thing.

Keep scrolling to see our pick of the best hardtail mountain bikes, from cross-country whippets to proper hardcore trail blasters. At the bottom of the page, you can find our advice about everything you need to know about buying a hardtail MTB.

The best hardtail mountain bikes

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We'll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

Santa Cruz Chameleon 8 review

Santa Cruz Chameleon 8

Our expert review:

Specifications

Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

The Chameleon has always been the most engaging and the easiest-on-the-wallet entry into owning one of this premium brand's bikes, and this eighth edition of Santa Cruz's most trail-friendly hardtail is the most versatile, confident and flat-out-fun incarnation yet.

The Chameleon lives up to its name as it's able to run 29-inch (with a 2.6 max tire size), 27.5-inch wheels (up a 2.8 tire) or a mixed wheel mullet setup . It's also singlespeed compatible with swappable rear drop-outs.

Despite the finishing kit being a tad below par to that found on comparably priced bikes, the forgiving yet massively capable ride is so much fun that it won't ever cross your mind.

For our full verdict, check out our Santa Cruz Chameleon review .

Cannondale Scalpel HT

Cannondale Scalpel HT HI-MOD 1

Cannondale Scalpel HT is the American brand's newest lightweight racing hardtail with progressive geometry numbers. While the brand's previous XC hardtail featured a steep 69-degree head angle, the Scalpel HT seeks to improve handling and technical performance with a much slacker 65.5-degree angle. That's combined with a 74.5-degree seat tube angle to boost pedaling efficiency and traction. To keep handling sharp Cannondale has specced the bike with an extra-long fork offset which reduces the trail figure to improve agility on tight sections of trail.

The HI-MOD 1 is the top-end model featuring a Shimano XT/XTR build kit along with Shimano brakes, Cannondale HollowGram 25 carbon rims, Schwalbe tires, and Cannondale's Lefty Ocho fork which has 110mm of travel. It weighs in at under 10kg (claimed).

Mondraker Podium Carbon RR SL

Mondraker Podium Carbon RR SL

Mondraker has forgone the unique profile of the last generation Podium for a more traditional look.

Although Mondraker was among the first bike brands to champion longer bikes with its forward geometry concept, the Podium does not rank as an exceptionally long frame by modern standards. Its reach of 425-477mm (depending on size) is on the shorter side. And compared to the new Cannondale, it isn't the slackest bike either. 

It remains an impressively light bike suited to those who wish to register PRs on the climbs. With a built weight of only 8.1kg, the Mondraker Podium RR SL is even lighter than the previous generation model. 

Yeti Arc

The Yeti ARC has been around since the '90s, but the classic bike has been given a refresh. Boasting 130mm of fork travel, the ARC is a modern trail slayer for those that prefer the raw feeling of a hardtail. 

Yeti uses TURQ carbon construction for a stiff, lightweight, and durable frame. Bolted onto the frame are quality components, like a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain and a Fox Factory 34 fork on the top-end model. 

This bike is not necessarily designed to be a World Cup race bike, but a talented rider could certainly make it go fast on any course. This is an ideal bike for trail riders who prioritize chunky terrain and even multi-day bikepacking adventures. 

Santa Cruz Highball

Santa Cruz Highball

Another contemporary carbon hardtail that runs a 27.2mm seat post, Santa Cruz’s Highball might have all the attributes of a lightweight racing machine, but it does not shy away from descents.

Santa Cruz established its reputation with trail and downhill bikes. The company’s engineering focus is biased toward descending, but with the Highball it proves that if you wish to race a Californian cross-country frame that isn’t from the big red ‘S’, you have alternatives.

Plus, the Highball has single-speed compatibility for those who wish to add some power miles to their training program. 

The entry-level model weighs 11.2kg when build and uses Santa Cruz's less-premium 'C' carbon construction. The frame is equipped with a 100mm RockShox Sid SL fork, a SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed groupset, and wheels from Race Face. 

Kona Big Honzo DL

Kona Big Honzo DL

Many companies have embraced the do-everything capabilities of trail hardtails and Kona's Big Honzo has been leading the trail bike category for a long time. To create a bike that can take on anything Kona has used its trail carbon fiber to build a frame that has enough brutish qualities to muscle through the toughest terrain while still light enough to pedal all day.

The Big Honzo's biggest strength is its adaptability. All frames have the same low standover height so bike size can be chosen on reach figures without being stifled by leg length. Kona has designed the Honzo around 27.5+ with enough clearance for a 3-inch tire but is also compatible with 29er wheels. The smaller wheel size leads to a quicker handling bike, and plus-size tires are popular among riders seeking lower tire pressures to create more traction. 

While the Big Honzo will eat up most trails with a big grin, if gravity-induced madness is frequently on the menu an angle set can be used to slacken out the 67.5-degree head angle and ISCG05 tabs for a chain guide (remember those).

Orange P7 R 29

Orange P7 R 29

The P7 from Orange bikes is a hardtail for those that love hardtails. 

Hardcore hardtails have always had an almost cult-like following in the UK - chiefly owing to our tight short forest trails, rich dirt jumping history and a build-it-yourself mentality of a few homegrown companies. One of those players is Orange Bikes who has been building hardcore bikes since 1988.

The Orange P7 has seen a huge evolution since its first release, growing from a bike that would have more in common with modern gravel bikes and into a hardtail built for the most demanding trails.

Orange has stuck with tradition and built the P7 from Reynolds 525 for a forgiving twangier ride feel that is attributed to steel frames. A head angle of 65-degrees and 140mm of travel keep the bike tracking straight and in control when the riding gets zesty. The P7 comes with clearance for 29x2.6-inch or 27.5x3.0-inch tires as well as a 27.5 version of the P7.

Banshee Paradox

Banshee Paradox V3

The Canadian boutique brand has significantly redesigned its downhill-biased hardtail and if you love railing berms and launching jumps, this is the bike for you.

Banshee’s staff includes a former Rolls-Royce aviation engineer and, as such, the brand does nothing for the sake of fashion or trend. All its frame engineering has fundamental technical justification. The claim is that the third-generation Paradox rides with the compliance and comfort of a steel frame, while bringing the lower mass benefit of aluminum construction.

Beautifully machined stays with structural cut-outs (designed for lateral stiffness with vertical flex) are supported by internally ribbed tubing, to guarantee strength.

For more, check out our first look at the Banshee Paradox V3 frameset .

Everything you need to know about buying the best hardtail mountain bikes

How much should i spend on a hardtail.

Well equipped hardtails, such as the Vitus Sentier, start at around a 1,000 bucks/quid. That said, there are lots of cheaper options out there too, but they will have more basic or older specification components and heavier overall bike weights.

Like any kind of bike these days, the sky is pretty much the limit at the top end of the price range, but spending 2,500 to 3,000 dollars/pounds will get you a thoroughly sorted aluminium model. Carbon framed bikes cost a little bit more and while there are lots of options around that price, the components they come with won't be quite the same quality.

Are carbon hardtails worth the extra expense?

Without rear-suspension to cushion terrain, frame material and layup become an important consideration. Diverse materials and tube sizes will absorb terrain impacts differently, which can either increase or decrease your ride comfort.

Carbon can be tuned to absorb vibrations effectively whilst also being lightweight and stiff in corners or when pedaling. Carbon is more expensive though and budget carbon models can often be overbuilt and have a harsh ride quality.

Steel holds a fond place amongst the hardtail community. Well-made steel frames are strong, comfortable and are far more affordable. This comes with a weight penalty though as steel is relatively heavy.

Aluminum rather unfairly got a reputation for being overly stiff and harsh in the past. However modern manufacturing methods have greatly improved the compliance of aluminum. It's also lighter than steel and is very affordable.

Is tire size particularly important on a hardtail?

An easy way to add more ride comfort to any hardtail is by increasing its rear tire size and allowing that additional air volume in that tire to act as a marginal suspension intermediary of sorts. To run a larger rear tire you’ll need wider chainstay and seat stay spacing, all bike manufacturers will state a maximum tire size on the spec of the frame/bike.

What size seat tube should I get?

Seat tube diameter is a huge influence on general ride comfort, too. If you are seated and rolling along on even terrain or climbing, a great deal of terrain compliance results from your seat tube’s flexibility. The larger your seat tube diameter is, the harsher the ride quality will be. This is the reason why 27.2mm seat tubes have remained in fashion with hardtail mountain bike designers.

This seat tube diameter issue, in as much as it is related to ride comfort, adds complexity to the question of dropper seat post compatibility. There is a trend towards a minimal seat tube diameter of 30.9mm, due to dropper seat posts becoming more popular, even with weight-obsessed cross-country riders.

Seat tube diameter is a considerable specification decision for any hardtail rider. If you are going to roll big mileage and prefer a fixed seat post to save weight, the compliance of a 27.2mm tube diameter frame is important. Prefer having a more balanced riding experience with some fun on the descents? Then you’d need either a 30.9mm or 31.6mm frame to accommodate most of the contemporary dropper seat post configurations.

How heavy are hardtail mountain bikes?

Hardtails are rationally better due to an inherent simplicity and lower cost of maintenance, but weight is their currency. If you are counting grams, the lightest bike on this list is the Cube Elite. Thanks to modern geometry and build kits, even the lightest cross-country bikes can tackle the most technical downhills with ease. 

Those hardtail loyalists who seek a light bike with winter weather survivability should consider the Santa Cruz Highball. Its ability to run single speed will dramatically reduce component wear and rider frustration during an intense block of winter training in muddy conditions. It remains one of the very few carbon hardtails which accommodates the suffering of single-speed converts.

Richard Owen

Rich has been riding mountain bikes for over 30 years and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, he has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance MTB races. A resident of North Devon, Rich can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 

Current rides: Merida One-Forty 6000, Banshee Paradox

Height : 175cm

Weight : 68kg

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The Best Mountain Bike Brands (And The Ones You Should Avoid)

An experienced and well equipped male mountain biker is on his way downhill on a narrow footpath

Picking out the perfect mountain bike can make a big difference in your experience on the trail, whether cruising through local trails or dropping into big backcountry terrain. For dedicated mountain bikers, your bike is not just a piece of equipment. It's your ticket to adventure, exploration, and, most importantly, safety.

Mountain bikers make up a dedicated community of enthusiasts who take their rides, gear, and experiences seriously. Therefore, it's only logical that mountain bike brands should share this passion and commitment to excellence for their community. Today, we're looking at what makes a mountain bike brand truly stand out, exploring what features to look for in a great bike brand as well as the ones that typically fall short in the demanding world of mountain biking.

Whether you're a pro looking for advice or a complete newcomer thirsting for those first trails, this is a great place to start learning about the best mountain bike brands (and the ones you should avoid) to arm you with the knowledge to find the perfect bike brand for your individual needs. Get ready to gear up and confidently head out into the great outdoors.

Best: Specialized

Specialized is a major player in the high-end bicycle market and has well deserved its position as a perennial favorite among amateurs and professionals alike. Since 1974, Specialized has been forging a unique path as an innovator for cyclists, by cyclists. The sport of mountain biking as we know and love it today was still in its infancy during the 1970s, but vision and a love for cycling drove Specialized to introduce the first production mountain bike with the Stumpjumper in 1981.

The brand's passion for pushing the envelope has not abated in the intervening decades, and today, the range includes everything from cross-country (XC) hardtails to long-travel, full-suspension downhill racers and from entry-level options through to elite-level, competition-ready machines that bear the S-Works mark. Even the Stumpjumper has not escaped the Specialized stable.

The latest iteration of this time-honored machine improves upon generations of geometry-tweaking to give riders stability and control while ripping aggressive trails in any condition. New technology has not evaded the Specialized team either, with new e-bike offerings incorporating proprietary e-drive motors tuned to match the riding style of the bike they are mounted in.

It's safe to say that innovation and development will be a staple of Specialized for years to come.

Trek had remarkably humble beginnings for such a major force in the bicycle world. In the mid-1970s, the Trek bicycle company was formed over a few drinks in a quiet Wisconsin bar, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.

As the sport of mountain biking matured following its introduction into the Olympics in 1996 at Atlanta, Trek grew and developed its off-road offerings. This culminated with the establishment of the 'C3 Project' and the 'Trek Factory Racing Team' in the 2010s. Through close access to high-end racing and a wise investment in research and development, Trek has built a comprehensive mountain bike catalog with everything to suit first-time novices up to seasoned professionals.

A notable example of this innovation and design is the Fuel EX, a dual-suspension, singletrack legend. The latest version has been updated and improved in almost every way, from longer suspension travel to extended frame geometry. The incremental evolution in frame design makes the sixth-generation Fuel EX more stable at speed without compromising agility and rider control. Trek even managed to fit a hidden storage compartment in the down tube.

Bold new bike tech has not escaped the off-roading range either. The company has incorporated the latest e-drive motors into its offerings, from speed-focused hardtails to long-travel trail bikes. Trek looks set to continue its quest to push the limits of the mountain bike world for years to come.

It sounds a bit like an April Fools' joke, but from its humble beginnings on April 1, 1981, Ibis evolved into a legitimate name in the mountain bike world.

Founder Scot Nicol initially got to work learning the frame-building craft alongside the pioneers of the mountain biking movement. This technical apprenticeship, combined with a deep passion for ripping mountain trails, has created a trusted and respected brand for mountain bikers, by mountain bikers.

As you might expect from a smaller manufacturer, the Ibis mountain bike catalog is concentrated into only a handful of models, but this modest lineup packs a mighty punch. The range covers its bases well with offerings for gravel riders through to enduro racers and down-hill e-bikes built for rough terrain .

The Ibis Rimpo V2S has garnered praise from the mountain bike community and is perhaps the best example of the company's dedication to quality and design. The V2S is the latest iteration of this famed trail bike and exemplifies Ibis' commitment to continued design development. Thanks to a steep seat-tube angle and relaxed steering geometry, the Rimpo has been made more stable while ripping and improves comfort and control when ascending.

Although a much larger operation than in its early years, Ibis today remains as committed as ever to developing the next generation of machines for serious mountain bikers.

Best: Revel

Headquartered in Carbondale, Colorado, Revel is a unique newcomer that is making waves in the mountain bike world. From its community-focused mindset to its group of hardcore riders and bike creators, Revel is an innovative company with bikes to match.

And how could they not innovate? The company's location was chosen to provide the Revel team of climbers, skiers, and mountain bikers with a convenient backyard. To make the most of this epic playground, Revel is dedicated to "engineer and build the absolute best bikes in the world."

This passion and drive are most clearly on display in the new Rascal, a do-it-all beast packing the latest tech. The proprietary CBF (which stands for Canfield Balanced Formula, we'll have you know) focuses the peddle forces around the top of the chainring. This maximizes pedaling efficiency and provides for playful suspension travel. This, combined with a shorter wheelbase for precise handling, has caused a stir in the mountain bike world.

Revel has also partnered with engineers to develop Fusion-Fiber which promises to be stronger and lighter than conventional carbon fiber as well as reduce its environmental impact. With such a drive for mountain bike innovation and so many gnarly trails to test their creations, we expect Revel to further its impact in the years to come.

Best: Santa Cruz/Juliana

Founded in 1993 in a small garage in Santa Cruz, California, the brand quickly made a name for itself in mountain biking. From the start, Santa Cruz sought to upset the norms with bikes that were stronger, more agile, more responsive, and meet the real needs of riders across different terrains.

Santa Cruz's journey of product evolution is highlighted by its diverse range of high-performance bikes, including the iconic V10 and the versatile Bronson. With the introduction of Juliana, a line dedicated solely to women cyclists, the company has shown its dedication to inclusion. These bikes are all engineered specifically for women's ergonomics but with the same high-quality materials and advanced features as the rest of the Santa Cruz lineup.

Santa Cruz is a leader in mountain bike technology, having developed the Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension. This delivers new, unparalleled shock absorption and smoother handling than ever before, allowing a rider to take control of rough descents or aggressive hills easily. At the same time, carbon fiber is integrated into any of their frame designs so that every bike can achieve optimal strength, stiffness, and lightness.

The company invests heavily in research and development, with ongoing projects focusing on enhancing material science and propulsion techniques to offer even lighter, faster, and more environmentally friendly bikes. As mountain biking evolves, Santa Cruz is poised not just to react, but to lead, promising exciting advancements that will redefine the industry.

Best: Giant/Liv

Anyone in the bicycle world will be familiar with Giant. The behemoth from Taiwan has been producing these much-loved machines since 1972 and has been pushing the limits of carbon fiber bicycle production since 1987.

As a cutting-edge developer, it sponsored major road cycling teams and moved into the mountain bike sphere in 1995. In 2008, Giant formed the Liv brand, a dedicated women-focused bike label that is run by women, for women. Giant and Liv's catalogs have always been vast, covering everything from your first 12-inch peddler found under the Christmas tree to your competition-ready race bike in any category.

With such a long history of innovation and quality production, it's no wonder that Giant and Liv are such power-houses in the mountain bike game. The Liv Intrigue X puts Liv's development strength on full display. The use of lightweight construction without compromising strength or geometry is coupled with an impressive SyncDrive motor to make for a tech-filled trail rider.

The Giant label has an equally impressive offering in the Trance X. This trail bike uses a progressive suspension system paired with industry-leading RockShox units to give 135-millimeter rear travel and 150 millimeters at the front without conceding control or peddling efficiency. With such a customer-focused design ethos, the next generations of Giant and Liv bikes promise exciting innovation.

Born from a deep love of nature and mountain biking, Kona was founded in 1988 with one guiding principle: build bikes that could withstand the demanding and diverse terrains of the Pacific Northwest. From the beginning, Kona was about building a bike culture that put the rider first.

Kona's passion for mountain biking continued beyond just making innovative bikes. Its range of bikes is impressive, known particularly for its multi-award-winning hardtail bikes. From the classic Cinder Cone to the modern-day Process series, Kona's lineup has blossomed to encompass each model developed expressly with rider feedback and riding conditions in mind.

The Kona Process (in its many iterations) is possibly the best example of how innovation and understanding of riders' needs come together perfectly in Kona's lineup. The X-CR designation is noted for its high-speed-focused geometry that allows for a forgiving ride while also being lively and easy to control. Also included in this range is the Process X-DH which offers high-level downhill racing control and feel but is paired with components that allow it to sit at a more amateur price point.

Kona still focuses on the ultimate high-end bikes and maintains the Kona Factory Team, which races top-level competitions that push the company's Kona machines to the limit.

Yeti has become synonymous with mountain biking and is the brand of choice for those who want a sturdy, precise ride. It particularly appeals to serious mountain bike enthusiasts and professional racers.

Yeti hit the mountain bike scene in 1985, producing custom machines for the still-fledgling mountain bike race scene. This close relationship with mountain biking did not only consist of bike building; they also formed an impressive race team. This link between the race world and design development has culminated in the current lineup of eight performance-focused bikes to suit different riding styles and terrain demands. 

The SB120 is Yeti's answer for people who want a bike that can do it all. This new model was released in 2022 and shows off the brand's innovative features and attention to detail. The travel numbers are combined with a diverse parts offering from component partner SRAM. Adding to the SB120's high-quality build is Yeti's proprietary suspension system.

Yeti developed the innovative Switch Infinity suspension system designed to optimize riding stability and shock absorption over diverse terrains. This system is an example of Yeti's technical excellence and rider-centric design. Yeti also continues to refine its bikes' frame geometry while integrating high-quality materials to achieve an optimal balance of lightweight strength and performance.

Bike Brands to Avoid

When it comes to mountain biking, there's an entire world out there that's all its own, where performance and durability are the name of the game. However, a few brands focus on the mass market, which is more suited for the casual biker. Here's a rundown of several brands that might not meet the expectations of more serious riders.

Originally big in the BMX scene, Mongoose has expanded into mountain biking. While they maintain a nostalgic appeal, many of their models now populate department store aisles, designed with cost rather than performance in mind.

A historically solid brand, Schwinn now makes bicycles with highly variable quality. The company sells some high-quality models good for serious mountain biking, but also sells through department stores, which tend to feature their budget lines — no-frills machines lacking durability or performance features for serious mountain biking.

Next bikes are among the cheapest, mostly found in department stores. These bikes are meant for occasional leisure riding and likely can't withstand the tough conditions imposed on mountain bikes. The costs are cheap at the expense of quality and poor performance, which are most important in extreme mountain biking.

For serious mountain bikers, choosing the right bike is everything. You need a brand that can withstand the sport's challenges and keep you safe while you tackle the trails. It's one of the most important decisions you'll make.

How did we choose these brands?

With so many bike brands on offer and so many individual bicycle options to choose from, it's important to consider a few key points when deciding which ones stand out and which are less than inspiring.

When formulating our list, we considered many important factors to reach a consensus. We looked for brands with a passion for innovation that push the boundaries of what's possible in mountain biking because they drive our sport forward.

Likewise, we looked for brands with a versatile catalog that showed an understanding of the market and the demands of riders. Importantly we took into account the feedback of customers as well as brand reputation, after all, who knows the bikes better than those who go out and ride them every day?

A brand's history and legacy can influence its expertise in making the best mountain bikes on the market. Each brand's journey and involvement in the community were also taken into account in our selection. While not the primary focus, we also considered the price range and accessibility of these bikes.

When choosing a mountain bike, it's essential to consider your specific needs, budget, and the type of riding you plan to do. Visiting local bike shops, testing different models, and doing thorough research will help you find the best mountain bike for your adventures.

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  1. Trek Roscoe Hardtail Gets More Hardcore, Completes Start at $1,699

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  2. Trek Stache 5 Hardtail Mountain Bike Review

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  3. Trek Marlin 4 Hardtail Mountain Bike 2022

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  4. Trek Powerfly 4 625 Electric Hardtail Mountain Bike 2021 Orange/Grey

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  5. Trek releases its first hardtail 27.5+ trail bike: The Roscoe

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  6. Trek Powerfly 5 Electric Hardtail Mountain Bike 2021 Red/Black

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COMMENTS

  1. Hardtail mountain bikes

    Bikes. Mountain bikes. Hardtail mountain bikes. Hardtails are the pure mountain machines. They'll connect you to the trail and get you around the trail quickly and efficiently. They're ideal for cross country and trail riding. 43 Results. Items. 24.

  2. The 10 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes

    Best Overall: Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29. Best Electric Hardtail Mountain Bike: Aventon Ramblas. Best Trail Hardtail Mountain Bike: Trek Roscoe 7. Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Deal: Salsa ...

  3. Trek Roscoe 7 Review

    The Trek Roscoe 7 is an adaptable and well-rounded hardtail mountain bike that is competent in most of situations. Climbing abilities were rock solid and this bike is more capable than you might think on the descent. This hardtail rolls on 29 x 2.6-inch rubber that delivers a comfortable and surprisingly efficient ride.

  4. Trek Procaliber 9.7 Review

    The Takeaway: The Procaliber 9.7 is one of the best hardtail mountain bikes you can buy for less than four grand. OCLV Carbon frame. Tubeless-ready carbon wheels. Incredibly light. Price: $3,780 ...

  5. Trek Roscoe 9 Hardtail MTB Review

    The Trek Roscoe 9 is a killer offering for riders looking for an all-round hardtail ripper, with balanced geometry that's equally happy on the way up and down the hill. The sturdy spec choice allows the Roscoe to charge surprisingly hard through rough terrain without issue and is dialed for its reasonable price. Price: - $2,699/£2,200

  6. Trek X-Caliber 8 hardtail review

    The Trek X-Caliber 8 is a sure-footed 29er hardtail mountain bike, with plenty of reliable elements that boost its score to impressive levels, but a few missteps that hold it back from quite making it as one of the best hardtail mountain bikes we've tested. There's a whole lot to like though. Twenty nine inch wheels have long been an integral part of Trek's mountain bikes, especially the ...

  7. Trek Stache 9.7 Review

    The Trek Stache 9.7 is a fast, light, and unforgiving carbon fiber hardtail. The Stache is a perfect example of a bike that performs extremely well on a narrow range of terrain. Three professional mountain bike testers rode this hardtail for six weeks to determine its key ride characteristics and important subtleties.

  8. Trek Marlin, Roscoe, X- and Procaliber: Which One to Buy?

    Trek hardtail mountain bike families Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber, and Procaliber with the info about their price range and main features (geometry, tire clearance, etc.). Updated 26/04/2023 Frame & Geometry. Trek Marlin, Roscoe, X-Caliber, and Procaliber bikes are available in multiple sizes and frame materials. The entry-level bikes are made of ...

  9. Trek Hardtail Mountain Bikes for Sale

    Marlin 6 2022. Trek Bicycle Peoria. Now $699.99 From $749.99. Showing 24 out of 150 results. Buy a huge range of new and used Trek Hardtail Mountain Bikes, from America's No.1 Bike Website.

  10. Tested: Trek Roscoe 8 Hardtail—$1,250

    The Roscoe 8 combines modern geometry, 27.5x3.-inch tires and a reasonable price. Those are features that usually don't go together, but they really should. Modern geometry doesn't cost any more than outdated geometry, but when you look below $1,500 in most brands' lineups, you'd think it did. That's because, at this price point, models either ...

  11. The 5 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes

    The Specialized Fuse continues its reign of dominance in the hardtail mountain bike category. For the 2020 model year, this bicycle received a total overhaul, and it shreds harder than ever with 29-inch wheels. This bicycle does it all; it is a respectable climber, has a high-fun factor, descends well on a wide range of terrain, and wears a relatively solid build kit.

  12. Trek 4300 Mountain Bike Review: Is It Worth It?

    Trek 4300 is a hardtail mountain bike with a lightweight and sturdy Alpha aluminum frame, which makes it easy to handle. While the Marlin 5 is made for trail riding, it's also versatile and can double as a commuter bike. The Shimano drivetrain and powerful disc brakes offer great versatility on all types of terrain.

  13. Trek Roscoe Review

    Trek's 27.5" Roscoe hardtail MTB range is aimed at recreational riders looking to hit the dirt track and have some weekend fun in the backcountry. The series consists of three bikes ranging in price from just above $1,000 to just below $2,000, with varying specs and women's versions. Although not intended for competitive riding, the top-shelf […]

  14. Trek 4500 hardtail review

    How does the Trek 4500 hardtail perform on the trails? Read our expert review and find out.

  15. Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes: Top 5 Picks

    Trek Procaliber 9.6 Review. Durable, reliable, light, fast and incredibly adaptable, the Procaliber 9.6 is a high-performance bike - meaning that it's also quite a large investment. ... A hardtail mountain bike with a steel frame is a rare sight nowadays - and a good hardtail with such a frame is rarer still. Once upon a time, most ...

  16. Trek 6000 reviews and prices

    Product info. Add a review. 13 Singletracks members own this. MSRP: $660. #36 out of 340 Hardtail bikes. Brand: Trek. Frame - Alpha SLR Aluminum. Front Suspension - RockShox Dart 3 w/preload, 100mm. Wheels - Shimano M475 disc hubs; Bontrager Ranger rims.

  17. Hardtail mountain bikes

    Trek hardtail mountain bikes are pure mountain biking machines designed to be both light and fast for cross country and trail riding. Shop now! ... You're looking at the United Kingdom / English Trek Bicycle website. Don't worry. We've all taken a wrong turn before. View your country/region's Trek Bicycle website here. Hardtail mountain ...

  18. Best hardtail mountain bikes 2024

    This is the reason why 27.2mm seat tubes have remained in fashion with hardtail mountain bike designers. This seat tube diameter issue, in as much as it is related to ride comfort, adds complexity to the question of dropper seat post compatibility. There is a trend towards a minimal seat tube diameter of 30.9mm, due to dropper seat posts ...

  19. The Best Mountain Bike Brands (And The Ones You Should Avoid)

    Trek had remarkably humble beginnings for such a major force in the bicycle world. In the mid-1970s, the Trek bicycle company was formed over a few drinks in a quiet Wisconsin bar, and it has gone ...

  20. Trek 7000 reviews and prices

    Add a review. 2 Singletracks members own this. MSRP: $799. #225 out of 340 Hardtail bikes. Brand: Trek. FrameAluminum. ForkRock Shox Judy XC, 3.15" travel. BrakesAvid 1D-10 brakes, Avid SD-1.0 L levers. Shift LeversShimano Deore LX RapidFire SL.

  21. Hardtail mountain bikes

    Procaliber SL Frameset. $3,711.50. Items. 24. Sort by. Relevance. Trek hardtail mountain bikes are pure mountain machines designed to be both light and fast for cross country and trail riding. Shop now!