A rigid mountain bike is the complete opposite of the full-suspension mountain bike. These bikes come without any suspension and do not absorb the bumps you may encounter on difficult terrain.
The rigid mountain bike is a popular choice for old school mountain biking ( like in late 80’s and Early 90’s ).
However, they are extremely precise when it comes to handling and are perfect for riding across long distances. Although this bike may cause you to have a less comfortable ride, its non-dynamic frame movement is sure to equip you well to take on a precise course.
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 / practice 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.
A rigid bike comes with its pros and cons. Some might find the lightweight form factor and the low cost favorable. While others find difficulty when handling the bike in different terrains.
Here are some things to consider before switching to a rigid bike.
- Do You Need Suspension on a Mountain Bike?
- 5 Reasons to Ride a Rigid Mountain Bike
- Pro’s and Con’s of Using Rigid Mountain Bike
- What Is It Like Riding a Rigid Mountain Bike?
- Rigid Mountain Bike VS Gravel Bike
- Why a Rigid Mountain Bike is The Best For Casual Mountain Biking
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 Reasons to Ride a Rigid Mountain Bike
The thrill of a Suspension-free Ride
While an MTB with full suspension can dampen bumpy rides and make cycling more secure, a suspension-free ride adds a layer of thrill to your bike ride.
If you are someone who does not mind an added challenge to your commute, a rigid bike can change the feeling of off-road terrain and rocky surfaces.
A rigid bike also has a retro and old-school build, thanks to its rudimentary design. And unlike an MTB with a suspension fork, a rigid bike will have a different geometry that other people might prefer.
A Rigid Bike is Much Lighter & Faster
As innovations in mountain bikes get better throughout the year, suspensions have become significantly lighter and easier to maneuver. However, compared to a rigid bike, a full-suspension MTB is heavier and harder to maintain.
A rigid bike contains fewer parts than a full-suspension MTB. A cyclist will have no problem carrying and transporting their ride wherever they go since the bike is more lightweight.
You can also expect a fast and smooth experience when riding on flat terrain such as paved roads.
(However, a rigid bike will be more challenging on off-road terrain, so take note of that before bringing your ride somewhere you are unfamiliar with.)
It Helps You Develop Better Trail Skills
A rigid bike is fantastic for beginners who want to learn essential cycling and trail skills before buying a larger, more expensive cycle.
While a full-suspension bike hides your mistakes with its comfort-first technology, you will feel every bump and crack with your rigid MTB.
This bike can help new cyclists stay focused on the road and keep their balance on off-road terrain.
A Rigid Bike Makes an Old Trail Feel New
Without that extra shock-absorber, a rigid bike on a familiar trail will feel much different. You will be more aware of the tiny rocks littered on the forest floor or the cracks on mountain roads.
While most rigid bikes work best for people living in the city, some bring their rides to the countryside or on a mountain expedition. While these bikes come with risks, they are perfect for people who want to try something new and are experts on the road.
Low Cost ( Both in Price and Maintenance )
One of the best reasons to get yourself a rigid bike is the lower cost, both in upfront cost and its maintenance. Many cyclists can attest to how expensive maintenance is for a full-suspension bike.
And while most modern MTBs have lowered in price, a rigid bike is still an affordable option since it requires little to no maintenance and adjustment.
Plus, with fewer parts, you do not have to worry about your rigid bike falling apart in the middle of a bike ride.
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.
What Is It Like Riding a Rigid Mountain Bike?
Your experience with a rigid mountain bike will vary depending on where you are taking your cycle to. As mentioned above, a rigid MTB feels lighter than other mountain bikes.
You can effortlessly push and haul your bike thanks to the lack of suspensions.
A rigid bike works amazingly for city rides and commutes. The bike is responsive on equally-leveled terrain, and you do not have to put too much effort into picking up speed.
However, taking a rigid bike off-road is another story. For unprepared and untrained cyclists, trying to ride this bike on uneven terrain will be tough.
The bike will feel more aggressive and uncomfortable, and you will find long trips to be a pain in your whole body.
Who is a Rigid Bike Made For?
A rigid MTB comes with its pros and cons. Some cyclists might benefit from the low-cost and high-thrill experience that can come from a rigid bike.
Others might prefer this over a full-suspension MTB to train themselves on how to cycle on rougher terrain.
For people living in places with equally-leveled roads and pavements, a rigid bike is a money-saving option that will not consume its owner’s time.
An expert cyclist might also want to experiment with this form of MTB to experience a different kind of bike ride.
However, a rigid bike might not work for inexperienced bikers, especially those interested in off-road biking. People with medical conditions and weak joints might also find it tedious to use a rigid bike on long trips.
The choice comes down to purpose. If you are hungry for a thrilling ride or just want something for work or school, then a rigid mountain bike might be your next best companion.
Rigid Mountain Bike VS Gravel Bike
Some cyclists might consider getting a gravel bike over a rigid bike. Like rigid MTB, gravel bikes have no suspension.
And Gravel bikes with suspensions can only support 40mm to 50mm of travel, compared to typical mountain bikes with 100mm to 200mm.
However, while gravel bikes are made to roll on rigid, off-road areas, MTBs are more capable of handling steep and bumpy terrain.
A gravel bike’s geometry offers more comfort to the rider for long-distance travel. Meanwhile, a rigid MTB puts the cyclist in an upright posture that feels more stable and confident.
If you value speed while peddling on various terrain, then a gravel bike can work in your favor. However, if speed is not your top priority and you want something to climb mountains with, then a rigid MTB will be a better option.
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.