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Real steel deals?

| Blog, What Mountain Bike | 27/08/2010 15:18pm

I confess to being a bit of a hardtail purist, not for any overly zealous reason I should add – I like thrashing the tyres off a good full suspension bike as much as any.

But it’s just that for many riders who’ve been mountain biking for more than 15 years, it will be on hardtails that they cut their biking teeth. And it’s the same for me.

But ask any rider of that era what material was king and the chances are they’ll become all misty-eyed and wax lyrical about steel’s zing, spring and indefinable thing. For many, those years are shrouded in fond memories of dust, endless trails, Mr Whippy skies and steel. They were the halcyon days for True Temper, Tange, and Reynolds tubing. And, no doubt, seen through rose-tinted lenses as progress is, generally, a good thing.

In recent years, however, steel’s fallen out of favour, which is a genuine shame. But although steel may not be a wonder material or in vogue, it’s a thoroughly pragmatic alloy to make bikes from: weldable and fixable simply all around the globe, it usually gives warning by way of a crack – rather than a catastrophic snap – prior to failing. It’s also reasonably light and, with a good tubeset like triple-butted Reynolds 853, gives a uniquely comfortable ride feel.

The new generation of steel hardtails can handle everything from XC through to big hit all-mountain

The good news is steel is now enjoying a resurgence. To highlight this we’ve tested six steel hardtails vying for British riders’ affections and pitches them mano-a-mano in our new issue – What Mountain Bike 113, on-sale now – to see if they can really cut it on today’s trails and for today’s riding styles – not just for self-indulgent pootles down memory lane. Ahem.


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