10 hardcore hardtails to build and ride when the trails turn to mush

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The glorious weather of the past weeks has been a treat, but deep down inside we all know the slop and mud is on the way so what better time to plan a hardcore hardtail build than now.

I don’t know about you, but when my trails turn from dust to smush I love the idea of a bike I can rag in the wet, dump in the shed and head inside for a shower. No pivot points to worry about just minimal effort for maximum fun and this is why I, like many of you, am looking for my next hardcore hardtail build.

It just so happens that the marketing teams behind many brands know that hardtail fever is about to hit, and there are a ton of great bikes on the market already to choose from. The following list of hardtails includes bikes that I myself have either ridden already, plan to ride, or would love to build.

Pipedream Sirius

Pipedream Sirius S5 Geo
Pipedream Sirius S5 Geo

Not the slackest or the longest bike in the list, but one which will make a lot of sense for a lot of people. The Sirius S5 takes the original Pipedream hardtail and brings the numbers up to today’s standards. The Sirius is a very versatile frame with options to build it as a 29er, 27.5 or mullet bike. There are also options for frames with rackmounts to suit bikepacking adventures and even a rigid fork option. Throw in sliding dropouts and you have one hardtail that can do pretty much everything.

Kona Honzo ESD

  • Price: £799 frame only
  • From: Kona

I actually managed to get out on the Kona Honzo ESD and to say I’m impressed is an understatement. Kona has really taken the idea of a hardcore steel hardtail to heart with a frame boasting a 64-degree head angle, long reach and super low standover height.

Kona is offering the ESD either as a complete bike or a frame only and while it might not be the most affordable bike in this list it is a bloody good one.

Orange Crush MX

  • Price: £2300 frame only option coming soon
  • From: Orange Bikes
Orange Crush MX
Orange Crush MX

Orange is no stranger to a mullet and after releasing full-suspension and eMTB’s with mixed wheel sizes, have launched a version of the Crush with a little party in the back. The Crush MX is an alloy frame with a 64.5-degree head angle, 440-500mm reach and can be bought in a couple of different builds or frame only.

Orange has already shipped a Crush MX to me for testing, so keep an eye on more coverage of this UK hardtail soon.

Sonder Signal ST

  • Price: Frame only £449
  • From: Alpkit

The Sonder Signal ST is the steel brother of the Signal Ti which launched last year. At the same time as offering the frame in real steel, Sonder has upped the reach figures too. Mark is currently testing the Signal ST and posted the above first impressions last week.

Marin El Roy

  • Price: £895 frame only
  • From: Marin
marin el roy
Marin El Roy

The Marin El Roy only comes in 2 sizes, long or longer with the smallest bike boasting a reach of 480mm! Yup, the headline numbers don’t stop there though because the head angle is 63-degrees, the seat tube is 78-degrees and the seat tube comes in either a short 430mm or shorter 420mm.

Patrol C091

patrol carbon hardtail
Patrol C09 carbon hardtail.

Ok, so unless you’re lucky enough to live in Bali, Australia or Indonesia it’s going to be pretty hard to find one of these before next year, but perhaps if enough of us show interest Patrol will get the C091 to us sooner.

Available as a complete bike only, the C091 is a carbon hardtail designed by Patrol in Indonesia. The C091 is the flagship build, but the most affordable C093 uses the same frame and cost only $1699 for the complete bike. Geometry is very down-country with a slack(ish) 66.55-degree head angle, 130mm travel fork and reach from 425mm to 500mm on an XL. The C09 frame also houses a hidden spare mech hanger in the downtube of the frame and uses new-school cable routing through the steerer tube.

Merida Big Trail

Merida Big Trail
Merida Big Trail

The Merida Big Trail doesn’t just look the part, it also represents great value for money. Anthony has already tested this alloy framed, 29er and he came away thoroughly impressed.

Merida went for a slack, low, but not overly long alloy frame making for a playful ride even on more mellow terrain. There’s plenty of tyre clearance even with chunky 29ers fitted and they’ve made room in the front triangle for various bottle mounting positions as well as a trail tool mount. Read the full review here.

Commencal Meta HT

2021 commencal meta ht
2021 Commencal Meta HT

Although Commencal went super long, low and slack with the full-suspension bikes, the 2021 Meta HT is still quite short, but at least now it’s much lower. The Meta HT is designed to be playful and poppy, so if you’re the type of rider who likes the pump track, street riding or dirt jumps in the winter this is probably the bike to look at.

On One Hello Dave

  • Price: From frame only £349
  • From: Planet X
On One Hello Dave

The On One Hello Dave is for riders who want to test out some really crazy geo without spending a fortune. At £349 for the frame only, it’s by far the most aggressive hardtail at this price by a large margin, and even bikes from Pole don’t match the geo. It’s not going to be a bike that suits everyone, but if you already have a taste for ultra-long and slack then the Hello Dave is a cheap hardtail option. The numbers? 62-degree head angle, 77-degree seat tube, and reach from 450-520mm!

Ribble HT

  • Price: £499 frame only
  • From: Ribble
Ribble HT

Fancy the idea of a slack steel frame but still a fan of 27.5in wheels, then how about the very fancy Ribble HT. At £499 for the frame or from £1199 for a complete bike, the Ribble HT is a great price especially considering how nice that slender steel frame looks.

Ribble has gone for a butted Reynolds 725 to make up some of the burly frame which has a head angle of 64-degrees based on a 150mm fork. Standover is super low for easy sizing, with some really nice CNC touches the Ribble looks far more expensive than it actually is.

I hope those are inspiration enough to build up your own hardcore hardtail this winter. If you do decide to build one please share it with us in the forum.

Andi is a gadget guru and mountain biker who has lived and ridden bikes in China and Spain before settling down in the Peak District to become Singletrack's social media expert. He is definitely more big travel fun than XC sufferer but his bike collection does include some rare hardtails - He's a collector and curator as well as a rider. Theory and practice in perfect balance with his inner chi, or something. As well as living life based on what he last read in a fortune cookie Andi likes nothing better than riding big travel bikes.

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