Hard-tails have been in my blood since I was a boy, when they were a necessity rather than a nicety. My first proper bike was a 1990s Cro-mo Marin, I used to ride it up at the local mountain bike park PORC (Penshurst Off Road Cycling). Let’s face it anyone growing up in the 80’s rode one and at that time Marin and Kona ruled the roost.
Nearly thirty years later, I have a modest two bike arsenal in my small workshop/garage. One is a Yeti Superbike with all the bells and whistles and the other is my new On-One Dee Dar, the frame bought and imported from England for a grand total of $300, made up with a mish-mash of parts lying around.
Since I got it and built it up I have hardly been off its saddle. The Yeti largely being used for special occasions and the most demanding and gnarly descents.
Now, let me say first, hard tails definitely have their limits. You would not see me attempting to flat line a gnarly, rocky and rooty downhill track on the Dee-dar. My enduro bike is definitely the bike for those duties, not just for speed, but comfort and also control. However, for probably 80% of my riding the hard tail performance is outstanding.
It has great stability at speed and the head angle (about 65ish deg with my 160mm forks) and rider position given by the progressive geometry gives you a great amount of confidence on steep and fast tracks (hmm where can I find some of those in Wellington?).
In one review on factory Jackson the reviewer said that sometimes they actually sometimes forgot that they we’re even on a hardtail. I can concur, it happens on this machine, until you get off that is and realise your body feels like that of a 90 year old and the back wheel has more flat spots on it than the moon.
To that affect one problem with a hard tail that thinks it’s a fully is that I have just had to embellish the new stead with a heist 30mm wide back wheel as the DT swiss one I had on it died very quickly, with all the extra slamming the back wheel does on a hard tail. That’s my bad riding though.
Anyhow, the main criticism I have if there is one is the omission of ISCG tabs for chain devices. For a bike claiming to be a hard core hard tail, your going to need something to keep the chain on. Luckily I managed to squeeze one on that attaches to the down tube, so no loosing chains (although I still do sometimes on the knar).