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(Talking hardtails here…)
I’m looking for a hardtail and interested to hear what models simply made your ride more enjoyable.
I know it’s a broad, subjective question, but after trying a few different ones in recent years for a period of time, I can say there were some that felt bland and others that almost effortlessly added to the fun factor. A primary test for me is which bike do I look forward to riding for even just pedaling around in the grass.
I’ve said it elsewhere but I think the Stache was near the top for me, along with the previous gen Timberjack. I thought maybe a Chameleon but while a great bike, it somehow felt a little too neutral at times.
Curious what comes to mind for others.
 

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I still have my 2016 Bulls Copperhead 3 ... They were trying to enter the North American market, and while they still have e-bikes here, they pulled the plug in selling their other models. I benefited greatly as I got it for 50% off during a Memorial Day weekend. I've got a $500 fork on a bike I paid only $900 for, just a ridiculous deal.

Recently thought about converting to a 1x, but ended up making it single speed. Absolutely LOVE my Mach 6, but the best times I've had on a bike have been on the HT ... Don't have much to compare it to, but it seems like the components have more to do with performance than the actual frame.
 

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Ive owned a Stache loved it slightly overforked and with 2.6s. Now fun hardtail is Chromag Wideanlge, I like it a little more probably because much longer reach and steeper seat tube)
Bicycle Wheel Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Bicycle wheel Tire
 

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Mine is (go ahead and laugh) a Motobecane Fantom Ti Boost. I dropped some decent wheels with 2.4s and 120 Pike on it and it is really an almost perfect bike. It has sweet spot geometry that works well for almost anything, and has enough of the long/low/slack thing going on to keep it fun without it being an unmanageable limo in the mellow stuff. I do have a Canfield Nimble 9 en route soon, so it will be interesting to compare the two.
 

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Time would be the important bit here. We're years into hard tails that followed the Honzo and Nimble 9 and great trail bikes. Rentals and trying all sorts have shown me how most MTBs are really good these days.

The recent times incredible difference is my Routt 45. I leave my driveway for 10 - 80 mi rides covering all sorts of terrain. Between fit and construction I can ride it hours longer with more comfort so that's huge. 50 - 80 mi all/any rides were suffer fests the Moots turned into JRA. Being in my 60s with height loss it's made a difference that might only be understood by someone else in same scenario.

My dual suspension trail bike is very enjoyable, the Honzo lovable but the Routt 45 nails enjoyable in a very broad way.

 

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For me it starts with a good quality steel frame, and geometry is top priority. Everything else is secondary to those first two factors.

Kona Honzo ST is currently my favorite thing to ride. Surprisingly compliant frame given that it's pretty beefy. Short chainstays make it fun and the long Reach/FC make it capable. (Setup: 210mm dropper, 140mm fork, -1 headset, wide range 9 speed.)

I also have a custom steel SS 29er that is decidedly more old school XC geometry wise, but it's super quick and fun in a different way. (150mm dropper and 120mm Fox 34)

I also love my Surly Krampus (rigid SS). While it doesn't have the best steel ride compliance, and the geometry is dated, the 29+ wheels/tires are hilarious and super fun. Hands down my favorite wheel size.
 

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currently on a 2021 Nimble 9. I ended up going with no test after testing the 2021 Honzos and Norco Torrent. The ability to run 2.6 tires on 35mm rims was something the other bike could not do. Also the N9 frame seems more vertically complaint but honestly I can run my rear tire with an insert at like 16 psi so who knows.

I think big tires on wide rims is best combo for a fun hardtail, but plus sized can sometime be weird for me because I ride mostly loam and you can not get aggresive knobs on plus size bikes/rims. But 2.6/2.5 WT you can get all the tires you would ever want.
 

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I think big tires on wide rims is best combo for a fun hardtail, but plus sized can sometime be weird for me because I ride mostly loam and you can not get aggresive knobs on plus size bikes/rims. But 2.6/2.5 WT you can get all the tires you would ever want.
I run 3" Minions on 45mm rims, it's what makes 29+ awesome. If I had to run an Ikon style tread it would suck and I would agree with you, but as long as the Minion and Dirt Wizard exist there will be knobby treaded options which are excellent.
 

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The new Spot Rocker is what I have been riding all summer. I haven’t hardly touched my squish bike since getting the Spot.
 

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Most enjoyable hardtail I’ve ridden in recent memory is a 2018 Surly Karate Monkey (fully rigid). So nimble. I felt like I could clear any obstacle. I could flick it around effortlessly. Climbed like a mountain goat. Made riding any trail fun. I’m a strictly one bike guy, but I would buy another again in a second.
 

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(Talking hardtails here…)
I’m looking for a hardtail and interested to hear what models simply made your ride more enjoyable.
I know it’s a broad, subjective question, but after trying a few different ones in recent years for a period of time, I can say there were some that felt bland and others that almost effortlessly added to the fun factor. A primary test for me is which bike do I look forward to riding for even just pedaling around in the grass.
I’ve said it elsewhere but I think the Stache was near the top for me, along with the previous gen Timberjack. I thought maybe a Chameleon but while a great bike, it somehow felt a little too neutral at times.
Curious what comes to mind for others.
my current bike makes my ride more enjoyable, when it is not, move to the next best thing

hardtail wise I would go with Cro-Mo or Ti, Chromag or Kona or custom
 

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Most enjoyable hardtail I’ve ridden in recent memory is a 2018 Surly Karate Monkey (fully rigid). So nimble. I felt like I could clear any obstacle. I could flick it around effortlessly. Climbed like a mountain got. Made riding any trail fun. I’m a strictly one bike guy, but I would buy another again in a second.
Sounds like my Middlechild. The bike just disappears when you’re riding it and it wheelies and manuals effortlessly.

The Nukeproof Scout I’m on rn is extremely similar in terms of general handling characteristics but slightly less playful and correspondingly more stable at speed/in the gnar. But it is L while the Middlechild was a M and I was riding the MC with the dropouts slammed forward.

I can hands down recommend either bike to anyone looking for a Performance Hardtail. The NP is an incredible value while the MC is a very well made frame. I thought the build kit rocked and the wheels don’t suck like you’d think they would. Alex, the owner of RSD is a rad dude.

Ultimately IMO the key to making everyday riding more fun. Dank shreds. Popping wheelies out of every turn you can, manualing off every roller, bunny hopping whenever appropriate etc. And of course trying to rail the **** out of banked turns.

The ideal bike for that IMO is the performance hardtail. Short chain stays plus slack HTA = dank. Along with the improvements in handling (IMO) the other thing that was a real eye opener was when I busted a pretty sick for me wheelie coming out of a turn I think and when the front wheel came down pointed off trail into the woods the slack HTAs inherent stability kicked in and brought it “back online” as I’ve come to describe it. YMMV
 

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To be honest, I'm not a material first kind of guy, there are bad riding bikes from every material anyway. I really enjoy riding my Paradox. It's just a whole lot of fun. I'm running 2.5's on 35mm rims, and a 140 pike, the combination really works well. It's fun having a bike that's as engaging to ride on easy rides as it is on harder trails.

 

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I've had a ton of great rides on my Jamis Dragon.
I love my Jamis Dragon Race. I was planning on parting it out (sold the 1x10 drivetrain, handlebar, brakes, crank, and suspension fork), but I've decided to just turn it into a full rigid SS. It should weigh around 22-23 lbs. It's gonna be a blast to ride this bike again.
 

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To be honest, I'm not a material first kind of guy, there are bad riding bikes from every material anyway. I really enjoy riding my Paradox. It's just a whole lot of fun. I'm running 2.5's on 35mm rims, and a 140 pike, the combination really works well. It's fun having a bike that's as engaging to ride on easy rides as it is on harder trails.

That is one good looking bike.

I forgot to say that I consider Cush Core to be a must have for performance HTs.
 
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