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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 109 > GRAND HARD TAILS FOR UNDER A GRAND



There’s certainly no denying it – we are very much spoilt here at Singletrack. We’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend time on some very lovely bikes over the years, and more often than not, those bikes tend to be very expensive too.

Admittedly, it is (the good bit of) our job to test the very latest carbon fibre wunder-machines. You could even say that it’s our civic duty to be constantly drowned in all of the latest high-end components. And after all, without properly testing these ‘groundbreaking’ products in real-world British conditions, we’d all be at the mercy of that bubbling cesspool of slick marketing jargon, flashy catalogue photos, and fully rad video edits. And who wants to live in that weird hyper-reality?

Of course, the important thing about being spoilt is to be able to recognise it. And if ever there was an opportunity to highlight just how good we have it, it would be a grouptest of three sub-£1,000 hardtails. But with all the latest full sussers, geometry-pushers, and carbon fiberists at our disposal, why conduct a test on these far less glamorous humble hardtails?

Contrary to what many of the boutique brands tell you, the sub-£1000 hardtail is without doubt the most important segment in the entire mountain bike industry. And for two distinct reasons.

The first reason is volume. This end of the market makes up the vast majority of bikes sold for most bike companies, and often by a significant percentage. It’s all well and good for Yeti, Intense and Santa Cruz to make mountain bikes that cost over five figures, but very few of us are able to afford such exotica. The reality is that many more people can afford a sub-£1,000 hardtail. As such, these bikes make up a huge slice of the overall pie and they are absolutely crucial to most bike company’s bottom lines.

The second reason is access. For the many sub-£1,000 hardtails on the market, these bikes represent the first big step for riders looking to access the world of mountain biking. We’re not talking about fully rigid £99 BSO (bike-shaped object) supermarket bikes that are likely to spend their existence trapped in the back of a shed behind leaky old air mattresses, rusty gym equipment, and fatally tangled fishing rods. No, we’re talking about bikes with quality frames, adjustable suspension and hydraulic disc brakes. Hardtails that are built to last and are actually fun to ride. Bikes that can open the doors to new riding destinations, new events and new riding friends. And sub-£1,000 or not, we’re talking about bikes that represent a genuine financial commitment to the sport of mountain biking.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: Jacob’s Cracker – The nicest man in mountain biking, Nick Craig, gets some Glaswegian encouragement from Sanny as they see who can clear Jacob’s Ladder without stopping. International Adventure: Iceland – Bikepacking in Iceland. Best bring your thermals. International Adventure: The Scottish Connection – Three Scottish friends meet up for an epic road trip round New Zealand before they all go their separate ways. Interview: David Turner – Chipps talks to the reluctant icon behind this cult brand. Classic Ride: Sutton Bank – This steep Yorkshire road climb is known for being too horribly busy (unless it’s been blocked by a misguided lorry) to ride. But how are the trails away from the fumes of brakes and clutches? Bike Test: Sub £1000 hardtails – We check out three hardtails under the magic figure of a grand. There’s no carbon and no full suspension at this price point, but is there fun? You bet there is! Grouptest: Dropper Seatposts – We check out the highs and lows of the current dropper post market. Grinder: The team bring you goods ridden through the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. And possibly a touch of mud. Feature: Trail Leader 3: You literally put your life in the hands of a mountain bike guide. What goes into that experience? Silver Shredders: Mountain bike life doesn’t stop when work does. We look at a bunch of riders making full use of their newfound spare time.