Can You Mountain Bike without Suspension? - Rigid Mountain Bike

Can You Mountain Bike without Suspension? – Rigid Mountain Bike

The rigid bike is a popular choice of mountain bike. It does not feature front and rear suspension, which is a cause of debate in the biking community. It is absolutely possible to bike without suspension, but it is seen as a strange choice to make as a rider nowadays.

This is because riding a mountain bike with no suspension will take more effort to navigate tougher trails.

Still riders with a true passion for mountain biking believe that full suspension mountain bikes are heavier and hinder the rider’s ability to engage with the trail, not to mention the fact that they tend to cost more.

However, modern full-suspension mountain bikes are becoming lighter, and they are becoming less expensive as well, so it is becoming more of a challenge to support arguments against them.

It remains to be seen, however, whether suspension is actually needed for mountain biking, or if a rigid mountain bike is still good enough.

For casual mountain biking, you can use a rigid bike without suspension, but you shouldn’t use it on more extreme trails because of the heavy toll that those types of trails take on your body.

Modern mountain bikes with full suspension are definitely the way to go if budget is not a concern.

They will provide a more enjoyable and comfortable riding experience on any type of trail or terrain and without the really sore arms and legs that you might otherwise have without the suspension.

There are many different types of mountain bikes and each of them is better at certain types of trails and terrains than are the others, so read on to find out more about the different types of mountain bikes and their uses.

Do You Need Suspension on a Mountain Bike?

A rigid classic mountain bike does not include a suspension system, though most other mountain bikes do have suspension to help with control when riding over rough ground.

Older rigid bikes, those from before the early 1990s, did not feature a suspension system and it is only the newer models that have one.

Therefore, you can ride a mountain bike without suspension, but it is also helpful to have a suspension system for biking more difficult routes.

Suspension is often beneficial because mountain trails are, naturally, quite rocky and uneven. However, this does not have to be a negative for those who enjoy mountain biking and use it as a form of exercise because you can bike perfectly well without suspension.

Though your mountain bike is hardy and more than adept at navigating uneven terrain, front and rear suspension will help to stabilise the bike.

However, with persistence and endurance, a rigid bike is a perfectly viable choice for casual mountain biking; as it depends entirely on your own skills, preferences and level of fitness.

If you have the time and energy to work at improving your riding skills on a rigid bike then it will pay off and you’ll be able to tackle any trail that you choose, albeit with different levels of comfort.

5 Types of Mountain Bikes & Their Intended Use

1 ) Classic or Rigid Mountain Bike

Due to their lack of fancy suspension systems, these kinds of bikes are considered old school, and they were extremely popular until the early to mid-’90s.

A classic bike is simple, and it allows the rider to “read” the trail a lot more than a bike with suspension. In addition, these bikes have rigid frames, and it relies on your arms and legs to withstand all the abuse the terrain will dish out.

It is not advisable to ride an extreme mountain bike with a rigid fork, or a bike without suspension.

Recently “bikepacking” has made having a rigid bike extremely popular over the past few years than in previous years. For trips involving off-road riding and smooth trails, suspension-less mountain bikes are widely used.

Rigid fork bikes are characterized by their lack of suspension, which can safely carry a lot of extra weight without it causing performance issues with the bike.

2 ) Dual or Full Suspension Mountain Bike

A dual or full-suspension bike is the most modern type of bike available, with a front and a back suspension system. They are designed to handle as much abuse as possible, letting riders concentrate on the trail and riding.

Despite providing the least amount of trail readability to the rider, full-suspension bikes provide a lot more handling and control.

Almost immediately, you can tell that full-suspension mountain bikes are made for riding at high speeds while keeping the rider in control during extreme downhill riding.

You will be able to ride longer without getting tired since the suspension system will absorb most of the impact as you go down the mountain.

In sum, if you plan on downhill riding, as well as jumping, a full-suspension mountain bike will be better able to handle this type of riding than a rigid or hardtail mountain bike.

In order to keep the bike in a straight line, you need all the handling ability you can get, and this is precisely what a full-suspension bike provides. Full suspension systems are mainly designed to increase the traction on the bike.

The purpose of full suspension is to lift the rider upward by using springs, while a component called a damper cushions the bike’s impact when it crosses a roadblock.

3 ) Hard Tail Mountain Bike

It is a combination of an aggressive rigid bike and a full-suspension bike since it has only a front suspension but does not have a rear suspension.

You will enjoy a smoother ride with a hardtail mountain bike when compared to a rigid suspension bike. This kind of bike can absorb some of the bumps and make your ride more comfortable.

Even so, riding a hardtail bike will still let you feel the trail since it doesn’t soak up all the shocks.

Hardtail mountain bikes are the best option for smooth trail riding at moderate speeds. In comparison to a rigid fork bike, a hardtail bike is much more fun to ride because it has a lot more maneuverability and comfort and you can go more places on it.

Many off-road riders use hardtail bikes for long-distance rides that include some hill climbing.

4 ) Fat Tire Mountain Bike

Fat Tire Bikes are great because they go anywhere that you might need to go. Anywhere that you want to ride, a fat tire bike will get you there. Snow, mud, slick rocks, sand, or even ice won’t hinder the traction of these beasts.

Additionally, they are much more responsive and enjoyable than you might expect. You might be asking why they are that much more expensive.

These bikes are most costlier as they have much sturdier frames and they are made in lower volumes, so the additional material for the construction and the lower volumes, that make them more expensive.

There are lower-cost offerings within this type of bike that are more budget-friendly for those who want the ability to go anywhere but not have to pay so much for the privilege.

The tradeoff is that you may have to compromise on the quality of components.

However, if you have the budget for one, then you should definitely get one because it is worth it to be able to really go anywhere over any terrain that you want to go.

5 ) Electric Mountain Bike

An electric mountain bike or mountain e-bike is a bike with a battery and electric motor.

Electric bikes are a great option if you want a bike that is good at all of the other things that a bike should be good at with the addition of having an electric motor so that it can provide a little extra push.

Whether you are winding your way around dirt trails or climbing steep paths, the e-bike is a great performer.

It is also a great option if you just want to use it as a city bike, again, with the option to be able to go anywhere within the city and the city area.

With an e-bike, you are not confined to just staying on the city street… you can take it off-road in order to make your daily commute to work or the gym more enjoyable.

Pro’s and Con’s of Using Rigid Mountain Bike


  • The rigid bike is a simpler, lighter model than the suspension bike. Though it is less common to ride a rigid bike nowadays, they require less upkeep and maintenance than suspension bikes do.
  • Rigid bikes are durable, but should they become damaged, they are much cheaper to replace than their suspension alternatives.
  • While taxing on the body, riding a rigid bike is great exercise and will help to develop your muscles and stamina in no time. The more you ride the rigid, the easier it will become, so it is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy.
  • You will improve greatly at mountain biking because using a rigid will push you to work on your riding and navigation skills.
  • The rigid is the ideal choice for shorter rides and smoother trails because it is a light, dynamic model and will move easily on these routes.
  • There will be no rear shock when using a rigid. The reduced weight of the bike also means that it is easy to transport if you are stowing it away in your car before you get to the trails.


  • The biggest disadvantage of using a rigid bike is that the ride will wear you out a lot more. This is because the lack of suspension requires you to put in more effort to safely navigate rocky trails.
  • Rigid mountain bike riders may feel more tired and achy the day after a ride, which means time must be taken to physically rest and recover. The precise steering of the rigid may also cause you wrist pain.
  • Another possible con of the rigid model is that you will see a lot less people riding them nowadays. The majority of riders prefer the newer models with suspension for an easier ride. This could make it harder for you to find other people to bike with.
  • You will have to ride a rigid bike harder than a suspension bike to cover difficult ground, which can cause components of the bike to rattle around and possibly become damaged.
  • You can wear out both the bike and your body if you use a rigid often. As a result, rigid bikes are often better for casual trails, rather than the more challenging ones that you may be eager to try out.
Image Credit: Olgierd Rudak | License: CC BY 2.0

Why a Rigid Mountain Bike is The Best For Casual Mountain Biking

A rigid mountain bike is the best choice for casual mountain biking because it is light and easy to steer, offering a perfectly smooth ride.

Though the suspension systems of other bikes are very heavy, they are better adapted for the uneven grounds that mountain bikers are commonly confronted with. This is because the weight of the bike makes it tougher and also numbs the rider to the feeling of biking, which reduces the soreness you feel.

A suspension bike will grant you much more comfort than a rigid bike will, for both your physical state and the abilities of your bike to traverse rougher territory.

However, not everyone who partakes in mountain biking is looking to bike to the extreme every time they go out. That is why casual mountain biking is a popular alternative for those looking to enjoy a slower, easier ride.

Casual mountain biking with a rigid bike is a cheaper, simpler way to enjoy the sport while also taking more time to admire the trails.

As casual mountain biking is less physically exerting than mountain biking as an extreme sport, you may not feel the sharper pains of riding a rigid over uneven terrain.

So, if the residual aches and pains associated with a rigid bike are off-putting to you, casual mountain biking is definitely the better choice.

Casual mountain biking usually entails flat, smooth trails, so you need not worry about high-speed downhill riding damaging your rigid bike due to its lack of suspension.

The slopes and curves of a more challenging trail will make for a more uncomfortable ride on a rigid, so they are much better suited for casual mountain biking.


It is absolutely possible to go mountain biking without suspension; however, you should always plan ahead and consider which type of bike will be suitable for the trail that you would like to complete.

You will, of course, want to keep your bike in the best condition possible, so it is recommended to use a rigid for casual trails and a suspension for more challenging routes.

You can use a rigid bike on a harder trail, but it will physically tax both you and the bike. As the rider, you know your abilities best, so use these to judge which trails you should try and which type of bike will suit your needs best.

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