The Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes of 2022

best hardtail mountain bikes

The riders at Jenson USA are stoked on hardtails, so much so that we compiled a list of the 10 best hardtails for 2022! In this article, we cover our top choices for the best hardtails of the year, the best hardtails by category, a little information on how to choose the best hardtail for you and some frequently asked questions.

To see more options, check out our full selection of hardtail mountain bikes.

In This Article We Will Cover:

The 10 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes of 2022

1. Rocky Mountain Growler 40 msrp $1,799 Shop Now
2. Yeti ARC C2 msrp $4,400 Shop Now
3. Marin Team Bike 2 msrp $2,589 Shop Now
4. Orbea Laufey H10 msrp $2,599 Shop Now
5. Niner Air 2-Star Bike msrp $1,999 Shop Now
6. Mondraker Chrono msrp $1,899 Shop Now
7. Marin Pine 1 msrp $1,579 Shop Now
8. GT Zaskar LT Expert msrp $1,999 Shop Now
9. Marin El Roy msrp $2,799 Shop Now
10. Marin San Quentin 3 msrp $2,399 Shop Now

1. Rocky Mountain Growler 40

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: Internal cable routing, trail geometry 
  • Shimano Groupset: The excellent Deore 12 speed
  • Suntour Fork: The Raidon offers 140mm travel

The Rocky Mountain Growler is an excellent bike, and this hardtail is very capable of some rough terrain. The aluminum frame is not just strong, but it’s light. They have given the Growler a trail geometry and equipped it with a Suntour Raidon 34 LOR Air Boost fork with 140mm travel, and it also has a dropper as standard.

Alongside this, you have the legendary Shimano Deore groupset. It’s the new 12-speed, making sharp climbs and long descents much easier. This groupset is paired with Clarks M2 Hydraulic disc brakes for great stopping power. For wheels, you have the WTB ST i30 TCS tubeless wheelset and WTB mixed tires in a 2.6” ready for all the rough stuff.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" Shimano Deore 12-speed $1,799.00


2. Yeti ARC C2

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • C-Series carbon frame with internal cable routing, integrated ISCG-05 mounts, and wide tire clearance
  • SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain performs well in demanding terrain
  • SRAM Level TL hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power
  • Tubeless-ready rims and tires for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats
  • Fox Transfer Dropper Post quickly lifts and lowers your saddle with the press of a lever

Long-travel hardtails are a blast on the trails. You're able to easily conquer the descents, tackle the technical singletrack, and still climb with ease. The Yeti ARC C2 Bike is built to ride any trail you put ahead of it. It has a carbon frame that uses 130mm of travel and has modern geometry and Boost spacing. The frame has wide tire clearance for up to 2.6" tires. It features two mounts for water bottles, integrated ISCG-05 mounts, internal cable routing, and integrated frame protection.

The C2 version of the Yeti ARC comes with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. This includes a cassette that has a hill-crushing 10-52T gear range that makes climbing and pedaling through rough terrain a breeze. SRAM Level TL hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power so you can descend under control. DT Swiss M1900 wheels are paired with Maxxis tires that can be set up tubeless for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats. With the Fox Transfer Dropper Post, you'll be able to quickly lift and lower your saddle with the press of a lever.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Carbon fiber 29" Sram GX Eagle $4,400.00


3. Marin Team Bike 2

Type: Cross-Country/Trail

Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: Internal cable routing, series 4 Marin
  • Shimano Groupset: SLX/XT mixed 
  • Fox Fork: The Fox Stepcast 34 offers 120mm travel

If you are thinking about taking your XC competitive, this could be a great tool for you. The aluminum frame is lightweight. It’s strong and looks super clean with all the cables internal. It has a Fox Stepcast fork, which is pretty light and gives 120mm travel for light, fast terrain. Hidden away in the seat tube is also a TranzX dropper for those sketchy descents.

The groupset is a mix between Shimano SLX and XT. It will give you silky smooth shifting great reliability. The brakes are the TRP G-Spec FMR. These will give you excellent stopping power and keep you safe. You either get Marin’s own wheels or a Stans. Each are solid and comes in 29” with 2.35” tires for speed and control. The Marin Team 2 is an XC animal and one of the lightest hardtail mountain bikes.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" Shimano SLX/XT $2,589.00


4. Orbea Laufey H10

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: Hydroformed Triple Butted
  • Shimano Groupset: SLX/Deore mixed
  • Marzocchi Fork: The Bomber Z2 offers 140mm travel

Orbea is known for making a wide range of different bikes. When it comes to their hardtails, they don’t mess around. The Laufey H10 is ready for the trails and comes with an aluminum frame that is hydroformed and tripled butted for serious strength. The Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork gives 140mm travel, and the OC MC20 dropper makes this not just XC capable but trail ready.

The groupset is a mix between the Shimano SLX and Deore and will give great shifting even while on washboard gravel. To pair up with these on the bars, you also get hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, so expect to stop quickly. The wheels are 29” Orbea's own OC1 tubeless ready wheels. They are light and fast and come with a Maxxis Forekaster / Recon 2.6” tires. The Laufey H10 is a heavy hitter on light XC and technical trails.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" SLX/Deore mixed $2,599.00


5. Niner Air 2-Star Bike

Type: Cross-Country

Key Features

  • Aluminum frame with internal cable routing, integrated frame protection, and Boost spacing
  • Marzocchi Fork: The Bomber Z2 offers 140mm travel
  • SRAM Groupset: SX Eagle 12 Speed

Niner is known for making a great hardtail, and if you have been to any popular trail, you would have seen an Air ripping up a trail somewhere. The hydroformed aluminum frame with its trail country geometry will give you excellent ability on a variety of terrain. It is equipped with Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail suspension with 120mm travel.

The groupset is the 12-speed SRAM SX which, although entry level into Eagle, is still excellent. Niner has also gone with SRAM level brakes that perform well no matter the conditions. The bike comes with 29” wheels from Niner, and you have a 2.6” and 2.35” Schwable Nobby Nic tire set.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" SRAM SX $1,999.00


6. Mondraker Chrono

Type: Cross-Country

Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: 6061 Xtralite, Internal Cables, Boost Spacing
  • SRAM Groupset: SX Eagle 12 Speed
  • RockShox Fork: Judy Silver 100mm

The Mondraker is an XC bike, and everything about it is made to be super light on a strong base. The frame is Mondrakers Xtralite aluminum and has XC Geometry. It’s paired with a 100mm RockShox Judy fork to keep the weight down and keep it fast. It’s a simple design that does look super clean and stealthy.

The gearing is the SRAM SX Eagle, so you have plenty of gears and ratios to use on climbs and descents. It also has the SRAM level brakes to complement the groupset. You have MDK-XP1 29” Wheels that are tubeless and have Maxxis Ikon tires. For XC, this bike is going to be super fast.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" SRAM SX $1,899.00


7. Marin Pine 1

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • Chromoly Frame: Lots of Bikepacking Mounts
  • MicroShift Groupset: 11 Speed
  • RockShox Fork: RockShox Recon 120mm

The Marin Pine has been around for a while and is an excellent hardtail. The frame is Chromoly, so it is heavier but very flexible, strong, and comfortable. The Pine is full of additional mounts for bikepacking, so you can easily mount your gear. The fork is the RockShox Judy, giving 120mm travel.

The groupset is a MicroShift, and it comes with a Shimano rear derailleur attached to it. It’s a solid groupset and offers a good range over the 11 speeds. The brakes are Shimano MT400 hydraulic, which work excellently even in heavy mud. This bike has 29” wheels with 2.6” Vee Flow Snap tires which are incredible and have a serious amount of traction. This will be a very fun bike and epic for bikepacking.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" MicroShift/Shimano/Sunrace mixed $1,579.00


8. GT Zaskar LT Expert


Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: Triple Triangle
  • SRAM Groupset: NX Eagle 12 Speed
  • RockShox Fork: TBA 130mm

The GT Zaskar has been around for a long time, and the iconic triple triangle frame design is recognizable anywhere. It is great for light cruising but handles its own in a race. It’s paired up with RockShox TBA forks giving 130mm travel, and even has a TranzX dropper.

The groupset is the NX Eagle, and this gives you a huge cassette range and excellent shifting. Set next to them are Shimano disc brakes. The wheels are WTB ST i30 29”, they are tubeless ready, and have an awesome set of Maxxis Rekon 2.4” tires. This bike is great for general riding and fast racing.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 29" SRAM NX/SX $1,999.00


9. Marin El Roy

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • Cromo Frame: Series 3 Cromo
  • Shimano Groupset: Deore 12 Speed
  • Marzocchi Fork: Bomber Z1 140mm Travel

The Marin El Roy is an excellent aggressive all-mountain hardtail. It’s made of CrMo steel and gives a very comfortable ride with its relaxed geometry. It has a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork that sports 140mm travel for that challenging terrain and a dropper to get low and help your control.

The Shimano Deore groupset is perfect for this bike and will give you plenty of options on its 10-51T cassette. The brakes are four-piston Shimano so expect extra stopping power on this bike. Marin uses their own wheels on this bike. They are tubeless and come in 29” with 2.5” Maxxis Assegai tires. This bike is a real trail muncher, and it’s going to be comfortable while you do it.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
CrMo 29" Shimano Deore 12-speed $2,799.00


10. Marin San Quentin 3

Type: Trail

Key Features

  • Aluminum Frame: Internal cable routing, threaded bottom bracket
  • Shimano Groupset: The excellent Deore 12 speed with a 10-51T Cassette
  • RockShox Fork: The Revelation offers 130mm travel

Marin has a huge heritage when it comes to off-road bikes, and it shows with the San Quentin 3. The 6061 aluminum frame is lightweight, strong, and offers the user all day-long, off-road comfort. It’s a dirt jump inspired frame with a trail geometry, and it just works. It’s paired up with a RockShox Revelation fork which gives the front 130mm travel, and you also get an X-Fusion dropper making technical work easy.

The Shimano Deore groupset hugely equips the bike, and it has a huge 10-51T cassette on the rear. You have some large brake discs and powerful Shimano MT420 4 piston brakes to grip them. The 27.5”wheels are Marin's own double-walled and tubeless ready, equipped with Maxxis Assegai 2.5” tires. As far as hardtails go, this is one you're going to be chasing down the trail.

Frame Material Wheel size Groupset MSRP
Aluminum 27.5" Shimano Deore 12-speed $2,399.00


Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes by Type

All these hardtails on this list are excellent, but it’s time to break it down further and tell you what we think is best in their own category. We will be looking at high-end bikes, the best value, and a few other categories.

Best High-End Hardtail Mountain Bike

Yeti ARC C2

Lightweight, Sleek, and Fast

With the Yeti ARC the sky is the limit. Available only in a carbon frame and slapped with perfect geometry, the ARC is at at home on nearly any terrain. With a low bottom bracket, short chainstays, and steep seat tube angle the ARC is a dream to climb and a nimble and flickable machine on the descents. The ARC can go head-to-head with the best trail and downcountry bikes out there.

Best Value Hardtail Mountain Bike

Marin Palisades Trail 2

A Bang For Your Buck

Whether you are new to mountain biking or just looking for a hardtail bike with a sweet price point, you can't go wrong with the Marin Palisades Trail 2. For just $700, you get hydraulic disc brakes, a 2x9 Shimano drivetrain, quality WTB tires and a sturdy aluminum frame. The Marin Palisades Trail 2 has modern geometry; with a 67.5-degree headtube angle and a 74.5-degree seat tube angle, you'll be in the perfect position to conquer any climb or descent. This bike gives you a lot for such a low price point and all parts on the Palisades Trail 2 are easily upgradeable down the line.

Best 27.5" Hardtail Mountain Bike

Marin San Quentin 3

The Marin San Quentin offers so much for the price and even though it is the only 27.5" bike on this list, it is no winner by default. This bike is super agile, responsive, and so much fun. Short chain stays, slack geometry, and a low bottom bracket all aid in this hardtail being an absolute ripper on the trails. The frame is inspired by dirt jump bikes, being short, small, and compact, the San Quentin is a blast to whip around.

Best 29" Hardtail Mountain Bike

Rocky Mountain Growler 40

If you are looking for a do-it-all hardtail that won’t break the bank the Growler 40 is an excellent choice. This bike is a monster of a hardtail that can just roll over obstacles. 29" wheels, long front center, moderately long reach and chain stays all aid in the Growler being incredibly capable.

How To Choose a Hardtail Mountain Bike

So you’re in the market for a new mountain bike. Here are a few things to take into consideration when choosing:

  • Size: Ensure you get the right size for you, a bike fit will only go so far, and you can’t adjust the bike too much.
  • Frame: Get the right geometry. You will want to be relaxed for long all day rides and aggressive for racing.
  • Wheels: Smaller tires are typically more agile on technical terrain, and larger tires are better for high speeds.
  • Tires: It’s not always bigger tires that are better. If your terrain isn’t too technical, you don’t need huge tires. They will just slow you down.

Once you have figured out the right type of hardtail for you, head over to Jenson USA and check out our full selection of hardtail mountain bikes.

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike FAQs

What is a hardtail mountain bike used for?

A hardtail can be used for anything from bikepacking to rides with the family, but the best place for a hardtail is on XC and moderate trails.

Is a hardtail mountain bike good for beginners?

They are perfect for beginners. The price point is excellent, and they are easy to maintain and teach you a lot about bike control.

Can you do jumps on a hardtail?

Hardtails are good for jumps but there is minimal forgiveness. In addition, it all depends on the hardtail you are riding. 27.5" wheels are better for jumps and technical riding because they are smaller and more agile. You will want a hardtail with relatively slack geometry.

Can you downhill on a hardtail?

You can certanly ride down hills on hardtails, but legit downhill riding, no. Downhill bikes are full suspension and use the longest travel forks and shocks for a reason. Downhill riding is exteremily rough, aggressive and steep and a hardtail simpily couldnt keep up or even make it down. Hardtails max out around  all-mountain riding.

What is an aggressive hardtail?

An aggressive hardtail is characterized by slack geometry, longer travel forks and more durable components. Typically, aggressive hardtails are found with 130mm+ travel forks, headtube angles of 66-degrees or less and knobby all-mountain tires.

Follow Jensonusa