Can You Mountain Bike Without Suspension (6 Things to Know)

Updated On:

If you’re a hardcore biker, you’ve probably heard of suspension-free mountain bikes. The former helps you gain a better “feel” of the trails. Plus, they’re lighter.

So, do you need suspension mechanisms to enjoy the sport? Or, can you mountain bike without suspension?

In general, mountain bikes without suspension can be a good choice for certain roads, typically smooth trails, or casual riding. For extreme, rough terrain, a modern bike with full suspension might be a better option.

Continue reading this article to find out more about trails suitable for mountain bikes without suspension. I’ll also discuss six things to help you gain in-depth knowledge about those bikes. So, stick around!

Can You Mountain Bike Without Suspension?

Yes! You can ride mountain bikes without suspension on different trails. They work best on certain riding types, such as cross-country, urban commuting, or light trail riding. As you might have noticed, the former roads are usually smooth with little bumps.

Now, you might wonder why mountain bikes without suspension aren’t suitable for off-road trails. The reason is that those bikes don’t contain any suspension components, such as rear shocks or suspension forks, unlike modern bikes.

As the name implies, those bike parts help reduce shocks and vibrations from riding over bumps and road cracks. They increase traction against rough surfaces, providing better bike control and stability. Consequently, those modern bikes offer smoother, more comfortable rides.

Rigid mountain bikes, on the other hand, don’t offer the above features. That means the rider is in direct contact with the trail, which can make for a more challenging and less comfortable ride. The former is especially true on rough terrain.

Advantages of Mountain Bikes

Sure, suspension bikes offer convenience in many ways. Still, suspension-free mountain bikes have some perks, which is why many bikers might prefer the old-school wheels more.

For starters, most rigid mountain bike frames are made of steel or aluminum. A part of that has to do with their old age when the former materials were common to use in bike frames, thanks to their durability.

Additionally, unlike full-suspension bikes, rigid bicycles don’t contain pivot points and linkages needed for the shock-absorbing components. Although those components are handy, they also make for fragile joints.

Rigid bike frames, on the other hand, are made of welded tubes. Consequently, they can handle more abuse, making the former more durable than suspension bikes.

Aside from sturdiness, mountain bikes without suspension are easier to repair. Again, that has to do with the lack of fragile joints. You simply need to weld back the steel to bring the frame back to its functional shape and enjoy adventurous rides again!

What’s more, mountain bikes are lighter due to their simple design and the use of rigid forks.

What’s the Difference Between Rigid and Suspension Forks?

Mountain bike suspension fork

As you can tell, the primary difference between rigid and suspension bikes is the fork type. The former consists of three components: the steerer tube, the crown, and the dropouts.

The tubes attach the fork to the handlebars, while the crown bears the steerer, making up the middle part of the fork. As for the dropouts, they connect the rigid fork to the wheels.

Suspension forks also have the same three components. However, they contain a suspension mechanism attached to the middle portion of the fork following the crown. Plus, they can have dual crowns for added strength.

In the end, both fork types have their advantages and disadvantages. It all boils down to your preference and the trail’s difficulty.

Rigid mountain bikes might be a better option if you want to enjoy a more traditional, stripped-down riding experience. Additionally, they are more suitable for those looking for bike longevity.

For technical terrain and heavy riding, suspension forks win hands down. However, they’re more costly.

6 Things to Know About Mountain Bikes Without Suspension

Now that you’ve got a general idea about rigid bikes, here are six pieces of additional information to gain an in-depth understanding of those wheels:

1.   Considered Old School Mountain Bikes

Up until the 90s, suspension-free mountain bikes were the trend. The earlier models had a simple design, were single-speed, and had 26-inch wheels. They also had cantilever brakes.

Nowadays, mountain bikes have evolved and can include some advanced features, such as disc brakes and multiple-speed drivetrains. However, the simple design remains unchanged.

2.   Rigid Mountain Bikes Are Lighter and Faster

As mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of rigid mountain bikes is that they’re typically lighter than hardtails and full-suspension bikes. As a result, riding those frames can make you faster. Not to mention, you won’t waste any peddling energy in compressing rear shocks.

You see, riding bikes with different suspension systems can impact the rider’s overall energy expenditure.

Although the difference in energy consumption isn’t that significant, still a rigid mountain bike generates less energy loss by about 3%. That can be handy in situations where you need every last bit of energy, such as finishing a bike race.

3.   Offer Better Connection to Trails

Because they lack fancy suspension mechanisms, rigid bikes don’t absorb impacts, offering better connections to the trail.

For that reason, some bikers prefer the classic wheels, as they can help improve their riding skills. Instead of relying on suspension, you need to depend on handling and bike maneuverability to absorb less shock from the bumpy roads.

4.   Can Be More Affordable

One of the significant advantages of mountain bikes is their affordability. Since they don’t contain upgraded features like other mountain bike types, suspension-less wheels often cost less. So, they make excellent budget-friendly bikes.

Additionally, those bikes don’t wear and tear easily and usually don’t require complicated repairs—all of which make them economical.

5.   They’re Upgradable

Even if your rigid bike is in tip-top shape, it can still benefit from a few changes. The best part is that most mountain bikes are upgradeable. Some of the components you can upgrade to transform rigid bikes include higher-end tires, handlebars, and saddles.

6.   Requires Regular Maintenance

Sure, a rigid mountain bike requires less maintenance than a suspension bicycle due to the lack of extra moving parts. However, neglecting your precious wheels will decrease their life expectancy.

For that reason, make sure to clean your bike regularly. Additionally, lubricate the brakes and drivetrain to ensure a smooth performance. Before riding, check for loose bolts to prevent faulty components, which can be dangerous while riding. Lastly, don’t forget to store the bike in a dry place to protect it from rust and maintain its cleanliness.

Photo of author


Paul Tuthill
Growing up in Scotland, Paul developed a love for the outdoors and a desire for adventure from an early age.