Into the woods on a hardtail

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise …

Guy Kesteven at Stainburn on Bianchi

Yes, trails and hills are beginning to look like a retro wonderland as the good old hardtail is back in fashion. You can now drink alongside Homer Simpson with pride as you discuss the merits of a loose and bouncy backend, without fear of being sent to see the psych. With new head angles, gears to help you climb Everest and the handling ability of a Harley Street surgeon, there’s lots of good reasons to go light. Add to this the wide choice of wheels, with even the 29 and 27.5 putting their differences aside for the sake of adventure and having a marriage of convenience in some instances and sharing the same bike.

In truth, the hardtail never went away; too many of us simply stored them lovingly in our garage, like my own classic Kona. It’s been ridden down Snowdon and the Garburn Pass with 100m of travel … how could I ever retire this beauty!

Larisa Chinces racing in Transylvania

Nope, get yourself along to the Malverns Classic in the summer and you’ll see a gaggle of great riders from back in the day, suited and booted and riding the retro wonderland. The hardtail has always been a great bike to learn your handling skills on, especially if you ride on flats. Line choice becomes critical, as does how you balance your own position when you hit the rough stuff. Learning to use your feet to control the rear is critical as you race along gnarly trails. In return you get a feeling of exhilaration and a buzz that pumps the adrenaline at high speed. Riding a hard tail is like taking a sports car out into the country in the summer sun – it’s just so much fun.

In terms of the new offerings, I won’t embarrass myself with recommendations. Brands such as Bianchi, Orange, Trek and Kona are still high on the scene, and you can pick up a retro bike cheaply too. However, I’ll guide you over to Guy Kesteven and his YouTube channel, for the very best live ride reviews; then you can go and get yourself a Bear scaring kit and ride the sports car mtb once again, the hardtail – and rediscover the grin factor. Off you go then!