If you are a cycling enthusiast, the chances are that you have heard about Hardtail bikes. Hardtail's are versatile, all-terrain bikes with front suspension (suspension fork) and a rigid unsuspended rear wheel.
Hardtail's are cheaper, lighter, more reliable, and more durable than their full-suspension counterparts, making them a favorite for amateur and professional riders alike. Many of the pro riders still ride a hardtail because it's the best way to perfect your riding technique. Taking your hardtail to the pump track will do wonders for your cornering and jumping skills.
Today we will be looking at 10 of the best hardtail mountain bikes under $2,000 available in the market today.
- Rocky Mountain Growler 50
- Trek Pro Caliber 6
- Marin San Quentin
- Santa Cruz Chameleon
- Giant XTC 29
- Salsa TimberJack
- Kona Honza DL
- Norco Fluid HT 1
- Esker Hayduke
- Commencal Meta AM HT
Rocky Mountain Growler 50 HardTail MTB
To start our list, we have the Rocky Mountain Growler 50, an aluminum-framed 27.5+ hardtail bike with a threaded bottom bracket, an X-Fusion dropper post, a 140mm travel Rock Shox Revelation fork, and a Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrain. For just above $1,700, the Growler 50 is one of the most affordable hardtails available today. It features a high-quality build that is ideal for harsh terrain.
The 6061-alloy frame features an array of modern amenities, including a tapered head tube, 12 mm rear thru-axle, internal cable routing, and clearance for 29x2.6" tires. Although the Growler comes with a 140mm travel fork, its design can also handle a 130mm fork. The Growler provides a reach of up to 470 mm, whereas the head tube is slacked to 64 degrees to give the rider maximum control and comfort.
The Growler upholds Rocky Mountain's reputation of building aesthetically pleasing bikes. These bikes are not only pleasing to the eye but also very capable on the road.
Trek Pro Caliber 6
Trek is one of the most reputed brand names in the cycling industry, and their Procal 6 is a clear depiction of their expertise. The Caliber 6 is a fast, hardtail MTB built for smooth, spectacular, and comfortable rides.
It features a 12 speed SRAM Eagle shifting and RockShox's Judy fork.
The Procal 6 is also equipped with 'IsoSpeed' frame technology, which uses a small pivot to decouple the top tube and seat tube. This process allows the tubes to articulate backward and forward independently. The bottom of the seat tube is designed to create a leaf spring segment. This segment softens impact even on rough trails.
The head angle measures 69 to 69.6 degrees. However, this angle varies with the size (7 sizes available). The seat tube angle comes in at 72 to 73 degrees, depending on the size as well.
On top of the exotic frame, the bike also comes with Shimano MT400 hydraulic brakes, Trail Bontrager grips, and an advanced gear system for smooth and swift shifts. XR2 Bontrager racing tires give the Procal excellent grip, traction, cornering, and rolling abilities while remaining lightweight and consistent. This adds to the overall versatility of the Trek bike.
Marin San Quentin
The San Quentin is another impeccable bike we cannot forget to mention. First off, it is essential to establish that this bike was named after a prison. From this, you can already tell that it means business.
It was built in conjunction with the legendary free-rider Matt Jones. The Iconic hardtail takes up design cues from Alcatraz.
It features an impressive build kit with a sturdy, lightweight aluminum frame. It also includes 780 mm wide handlebars, a 35 mm stem, a 130 mm Rock Shox Revelation fork, and an X-Fusion dropper post. Further, the slick frame tubes boast a beautiful paint job. This finish enhances the overall appeal of the bike.
The San Quentin is the ideal mountain bike for aggressive trail riders looking for the perfect balance between singletrack capabilities and increased air time.
Santa Cruz Chameleon
Santa Cruz is yet another Iconic brand with a history of building high-performance bikes for professional athletes. However, they still make some pretty solid entry-level bikes for people looking for that professional experience without spending too much.
One of the most popular entry-level in their line-up is the Chameleon.
A befitting name for a bike designed for the wild hard-tracks, the Chameleon comes with an SRAM MX 11-speed drivetrain, SRAM Level brakes, WTB rims, a RaceFace cockpit, and a 120 mm or 130 mm Rock Shox Recon fork.
It has a 72.8-degree seat angle and a 67.3-degree head angle for a comfortable ride both uphill and downhill.
At about $1,800, you get a sleek, sturdy bike and the choice of 27.5 or 29-inch wheels and changeable dropouts.
Giant XTC 29
The XTC 29 is another fantastic addition to this list. Giant has made a name of itself as a reliable bike manufacturer that provides robust and affordable bikes.
Unlike most of the other bikes on our list with aluminum frames, the XTC 29 stands out from the crowd thanks to its carbon frame, eye-catching paintwork, and exotic component kit. It features a 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain, Shimano M365 brakes, and a Suntour Radion 100 mm travel fork.
Angles include a 70-degree head angle and a 72.5-degree seat angle, making the XTC an ideal uphill hauler. The Giant features an advanced handcrafted frameset that gives XC racers and riders a competitive edge while accelerating, sprinting, and climbing.
All frames are uniquely customized depending on their size. Individual composite lay-up schedules are designed to optimize vertical compliance. This design, in turn, results in smooth rides on harsher terrains. As the name suggests, the XTC rides on 29" wheels for excellent grip and traction on the road.
The TimberJack's frame is built from lightweight, top-grade aluminum to maximize durability and responsiveness on the trail. The bike is not only a performer on any route but also a beauty to look at. The Salsa TimberJack is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable entry-level hardtails available today.
It employs a longer top tube and a shorter stem, enhancing the riders' comfort when riding off-road.
Even though the hardtail is compact enough to carry along on your weekend getaways, it is spacious enough for a handful of available accessories or up to 3 mounts for water bottle cages.
Other key features worth mentioning include the Rock Shox Recon fork, 12-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain, and sleek WTB rims. For a clean, minimalistic aesthetic and enhanced shifting performance, Salsa employs a full-length internal housing cable routing.
Kona Honza DL
If you are an avid cyclist or multi-day backpacker, Kona's Honza DL is the ideal 29er hardtail. The DL has a distinctly short 412 mm rear end that sets it apart from most of the other 29ers. Its appealing design is further complemented by the chainstays positioned on the outer edges of the shell. These chainstays allow maximum tire clearance.
The forwardly-curved seat tube provides ample clearance for the back seat, and it also provides a comfortable sitting position for long rides. For comfortable and responsive handling and steering, the DL is equipped with a Rock Shox Sektor RL Debonair fork, a 35 mm stem, and wide handlebars with excellent grip pads.
An 11-Speed SRAM NX drivetrain provides smooth, swift shifts delivering power to the WTB i29 rims. The hardtail has a 68-degree head angle and 75-degree seat angle, making it quite efficient for relaxed climbing.
Norco Fluid HT 1
The HT 1's uniquely blends in a steep seat angle, lax head tube angle, and extended reach to deliver capable performance. Its forward weight distribution and long-wheelbase allow enhanced climbing traction and increased grip and control on descends.
Depending on the frame size, the Fluid HT can fit either 27.5" or 29" wheels. It also features a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and an advanced 120 mm X-Fusion RS32 Air suspension fork. For maximum control when riding downhill, it comes standard with Tranz-Z 130 mm dropper post and Tektro HD M275 hydraulic disc brakes. These ensure you maintain unmatched confidence on any trail.
Hayduke is a popular pick amongst bike packing communities. They are designed around a modern frame geometry, custom-drawn tubing, and a versatile dropout system. The newly reinvented Hayduke will be offered in three different builds and also a frameset, including the;
- Hayduke H1
- Hayduke H2
- Hayduke H3
- Hayduke Complete
The latest edition of the Hayduke features a steel frame with a seamless, externally tapered, quadruple butted, heat-treated 4130 chromium-molybdenum steel tube-set. Depending on the frame size, the mountain bike is compatible with either 27.5" or 29" wheels.
Previous versions of the Hayduke used to come with a 120 mm 29" fork, where the new breed Haydukes are now equipped with a 27.5" 140mm travel fork.
The integrated Portage dropout system that's standard on the Hayduke frameset allows the rider to easily swap hub widths, chainstay lengths, drivetrain types, wheel sizes, and accept racks. This allows you to effortlessly and conveniently customize it to your personal preferences.
Hayduke completes are built and shipped to order in the Esker's HQ in Montana and reach the riders within four weeks after an order is placed.
Commencal Meta AM HT
Commencal has been a fast-rising contender in the biking industry owing to the perfect balance of quality and affordability. Their line-up consists of sturdy, well-built performance bikes that provide maximum efficiency and comfort on any trail.
Their entry-level Meta AM HT comes equipped with a 150 mm Rock Shox Lyrik RC, an e*thirteen wheelset, 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, and a KS dropper post. This bike has a 65-degree head angle and a 74-degree angle, paired with a long reach, wheelbase, and 428 mm chainstays.
Are you longing for a weekend bike-packing excursion but don't have the right mountain bike for the trip? It is definitely worth your while checking out some of the bikes on our list. All in all, all ten bikes mentioned are designed with quality at the core of the process.
If you are an aggressive rider looking for some good old-fashioned mountain biking fun, the Marin San Quentin is your friend. The Norco Fluid HT1's air suspension makes it ideal for rougher terrains and longer cross-country rides. The Hayduke remains one of the most versatile hardtails on our list. However, picking out the perfect hardtail MTB ultimately boils down to personal preference.