While it’s certainly true that most of this year’s Interbike hype will be focused on buzzing categories like 130mm to 150mm travel all-mountain and trail bikes as well as the fat bike phenomenon, you can rest assured that manufactures haven’t forgotten hardtails. Walking through the outdoor Dirt Demo most makers had the classic frame style on offering.
What’s important to note is that while there are plenty of high-zoot, race ready machines with pro-level parts, the hardtail remains a lower-cost alternative for riders just getting into the sport or looking for a second bike.
Scott Scale 9.10 and 7.10
Scott has taken a novel approach by offing the same cross-county bike in either 27.5 or 29er wheel sizes for the same $3,800 price. As one of our favorite options out there, these two Scales have a HMF carbon frame with flattened stays to help absorb trail vibration. The rear dropouts can be converted to standard QR or 142 x 12. Best of all they come with a full Shimano XT parts package, from derailleurs and shifters to crankset and brakes. The company says this bike is rapidly becoming a favorite for riders involved in high school leagues because of its race-ready value.
Marin Rocky Ridge 7.6
Marin’s take on the hardtail is this aluminum framed all-mountain machine. It’s designed for riders who are specifically seeking out this kind of bike—those who don’t want to deal with the complexities and maintenance of rear suspension or looking to add another rig to the stable without breaking the bank. A slack 67.5-degree head tube angle and short 16.5-inch long stays assure it’ll handle like it’s full suspension Mount Vision sibling. At $2,600 it’s a feature-laden value with such niceties as a 130mm travel fork and SRAM X0 shifters and rear derailleur. What’s more, it even has an internally routed dropper post—something that’s rare on a bike at this price.
Van Dessel Jersey Devil
This new 29er hardtail is the first carbon offering from Van Dessel. It has internal cable routing and the rear triangle is designed to accept up to a 2.3” tire. Frame price is $1,200 with complete bikes ranging from $2,999 for SRAM X1 to $7,000 for Shimano XTR or SRAM XX1.
Niner Air 9
Redesigned for 2015, the beautiful aluminum Air 9 retails for $2,100 and features a Shimano XT rear derailleur, SLX crank and Deore disc brakes. It also has a RockShox Recon fork.
At the top end is the AIR 9 RDO. The new carbon frame sheds 100 grams compared to last year’s model and is ported to accept Shimano’s new electronic XTR group as well as Shimano and SRAM mechanical parts. Niner says the RDO line is consciously undergoing little changes to make it the complete package to earn a World Cup cross-country podium.