Skip to Content

What Kind of Suspension Is Best for Mountain Biking?

Deciding which type of suspension is best for mountain biking can be challenging, as there are a variety of options available. From hardtail and full-suspension bikes to softail and rigid suspension, each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this blog post, we’ll examine the various types of suspension available for mountain biking and their respective benefits and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision. After examining the advantages and drawbacks of each option, we’ll provide some guidance to help you select the most suitable suspension for your mountain biking needs. So let’s get started – read on to find out which kind of suspension is best for mountain biking.

Hardtail Suspension

Hardtail suspension is a great choice for mountain biking, as it provides an economical and lightweight option that can be easily maintained. The main advantage of hardtail suspension is its cost-effectiveness. Hardtails are cheaper than full-suspension models, as they only have one shock absorber on the front fork. Additionally, hardtails are lighter weight than full-suspension models, making them easier to maneuver on trails.

The downside of hardtail suspension is that it does not provide as much cushioning as a full-suspension model. This means that riders may feel more bumps and vibrations from rocks or roots when riding over rough terrain. Hardtails also don’t handle drops or jumps very well due to their lack of cushioning; this makes them better suited for casual rides rather than aggressive downhill runs or technical trails with big jumps and drops.

Overall, hardtail suspension is best used by casual riders who want an affordable bike without compromising too much on performance. They are ideal for cross country rides over flat terrain or gentle hills where there aren’t any large obstacles to navigate around. For the more daring rider, a full-suspension bike may be the better choice for tackling larger jumps and drops.

For those looking to maximize their ride experience while keeping costs low, hardtail suspension is an excellent option. Full-suspension bikes provide a smoother, more controlled ride on difficult terrain than hardtail suspension models, albeit at a higher cost.

Full-Suspension Bikes

a. Advantages:

Full-suspension bikes offer superior cushioning and stability over hardtails, making them ideal for more technical trails and aggressive riding styles. The extra suspension helps to absorb impact from rough terrain, giving riders a smoother ride and allowing them to tackle obstacles with greater confidence. The additional weight of the full-suspension frame also adds stability on steep descents or when cornering at speed.

b. Disadvantages:

Despite their advantages, full-suspension bikes come with some drawbacks as well. They are heavier than hardtail models, which can make climbing hills more difficult and increase fatigue during longer rides. Additionally, they are typically more expensive than hardtails due to the added complexity of the suspension system.

Full-suspension bikes are best suited for technical terrain where control is key – such as downhill runs or rocky trails that require quick maneuverability around tight corners or jumps/drops off ledges/rocks etc. A hardtail bicycle could be a better choice for riders who don’t need the additional features of full-suspension bikes, offering more affordability and simplicity.

For riders looking to tackle more difficult trails, full-suspension bikes provide a balance of comfort and control that make them an ideal choice. However, softail suspension can provide an even smoother ride with increased stability in certain conditions; let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of this type of bike next.

Softail Suspension


Softail suspension offers a great balance between comfort and efficiency. It is lighter than full-suspension bikes, so it can be easier to accelerate and climb hills. The additional spring system in the rear of the bike helps absorb bumps from rough terrain while still providing an efficient ride. This makes softails ideal for riders who want more cushioning than a hardtail but don’t need the extra weight or expense of a full-suspension bike.


While softail suspension provides some cushioning, it doesn’t provide as much shock absorption as full-suspension bikes do. Conversely, due to their reduced weight compared to full-suspension models, softails may not be able to withstand the same level of impact on challenging trails or jumps. Finally, softails may require more maintenance due to their increased complexity compared to hardtails.

Best Uses:

Softail suspension is best suited for recreational trail riding where there are occasional bumps and jumps but no extreme drops or obstacles that would require the heavy-duty shocks and forks found on full-suspension models. They are also great for cross country rides, providing cushioning without sacrificing too much efficiency due to heavier components compared to other types of mountain bikes.

Softail suspension can be a great option for mountain biking, providing a fine equilibrium between control and agility. However, rigid suspension can be more advantageous in certain situations; let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of this type of suspension next.

Rigid Suspension

Rigid suspension is the simplest form of mountain bike suspension, using no shocks at all. This makes them lightweight and inexpensive, but also provides less cushioning than other types of suspensions which can make them uncomfortable on rough terrain or long rides.


Rigid suspension bikes are great for riders who want a low-maintenance ride that’s easy to maneuver and handle. Rigid suspension bikes are an economical choice for those just starting out with cycling, as they don’t require a large investment. The lack of shock absorption makes these bikes ideal for flat trails or paved roads where you don’t need as much cushioning.


On the flip side, rigid suspension bikes aren’t suitable for rougher terrains since they offer little to no protection from bumps and obstacles on the trail. Additionally, because there’s no shock absorption built into the frame, these bikes tend to be more uncomfortable over long distances compared to full-suspension models with lots of cushioning.

For most recreational cyclists looking for an affordable way to get out on two wheels without breaking the bank, rigid suspension is a great choice. These bicycles are perfect for beginners just getting into cycling as well as those who enjoy leisurely rides along flat trails or pavement paths such as city parks and sidewalks.

FAQs in Relation to What Kind of Suspension is Best for Mountain Biking

Which suspension is best for MTB?

The best suspension for mountain biking depends on the type of terrain and riding style. For cross-country riders, a lightweight air fork is usually preferred as it provides excellent small bump compliance while still being stiff enough to handle bigger hits. Downhill riders may prefer a coil spring setup due to its superior damping characteristics and better bottom out protection. All-mountain or enduro bikes often use an air/coil hybrid system which combines the benefits of both types of suspension. Ultimately, the decision is based on one’s individual preference and what best suits their riding habits.

What type of suspensions are on mountain bikes?

Mountain bikes typically feature either a hardtail suspension or full-suspension system. Hardtails have a rigid frame and fork, while full-suspensions feature both front and rear shocks that absorb the impact of bumps on the trail. Both types of suspensions are designed to provide comfort and control when riding over rough terrain, but each has its own advantages depending on your needs as an outdoor enthusiast. Hardtails are lighter weight and more affordable than full-suspensions, making them ideal for cross country riders who prioritize speed over cushioning. Full-suspension systems offer better traction in technical terrain due to their increased stability and shock absorption capabilities, making them ideal for downhill racers or anyone tackling rugged trails with large obstacles.

Which type of suspension is best for bike?

For rougher terrain, full-suspension bikes offer increased shock absorption compared to hardtail models. Hardtail bikes are great for less technical trails and cross country riding due to their lighter weight and lower cost. Riders who want a combination of both should look into mid-travel or dual-suspension models that offer the best of both worlds. Before settling on a bike, it is wise to test out various models to ensure you make the best choice for your needs.

What is the best rear suspension for MTB?

For mountain biking, the optimal rear suspension choice is contingent upon the terrain you anticipate traversing. For cross-country riding, an air shock with a light spring rate and adjustable rebound is ideal. For downhill riding, a coil shock with more damping and heavier spring rates works better as it can handle bigger impacts without bottoming out. If your budget allows, investing in both types will give you greater versatility when tackling different terrains. Ultimately, finding the right setup for your needs comes down to trial and error so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for you.


In the end, when selecting a mountain bike suspension system, it really boils down to individual preference. Hardtail and full-suspension bikes offer more cushioning on rough terrain while rigid and softail suspensions are lighter weight options that may be better suited for cross country rides. Ultimately, it is your riding style and preferences that should dictate the type of bike you choose.

Discover the best suspension for your mountain biking needs with our expert advice and product reviews. Get ready to hit the trails with confidence, knowing you have all the information you need to make an informed decision!