Biking is a common and up and coming sport in the work today. One of the broadest categories that is developing is the cross country trek form of mountain bike racing. For these racers, success if built upon endurance and that is predicated on no wasted energy. Hardtail mountain bikes accomplish this goal by minimizing the power loss due to the sag in the rear suspension system, by completely eliminating the rear suspension system. For this reason, this mode of biking has been termed hard tail, in comparison to the bikes with rear suspension which are called soft tail.
Within the category of hardtail mountain bikes, it is important to question the rationale behind the lack of suspension. It would seem that over long distances the advantage in terms of soreness of a rear suspension system would be apparent, but the successful cross country expert would differ in opinion. To trace why the system has been chosen optimal it must be understood where the decision came from.
In the late 1990s, the Y frame rear suspension system was invented. At the time, it was the cutting edge method of traversing tricky rock faces and surmounting other mountain biking obstacles. However, after further research was made, it was shown that the effort in pedaling the bike had some of the effort of the rider lost into the compression capacity of the shock. This spurred a new wave of development and innovation in order to reduce this pedaling inefficiency, but by and large the common consensus is that regardless of the method you choose, hardtail mountain bikes perform admirably in comparison to their inefficient soft tail operators.
The other major technological developments in the field of hardtail mountain bikes stem from the framing system. It is more geometrically sophisticated that earlier models, although the differences are slight and slim, they are significant. The cutting edge of research and development for companies like Trek and Giant has been to develop lighter weight and stronger metal alloy, and plastic composites from which to build the frame. The rigors of the mountain demand a material that is incredibly durable and literally able to be banged up, which still retaining the agility that is necessary to surmount and circumvent obstacles at higher speeds. For this reason, research by the California Institute of Technology is very appealing to certain biking companies.
In the world of hardtail mountain bikes, shaving weight, to the tune of measurements as small as grams is a way to gain a leading edge on your opponent. Research and development has understood this high demand market and has attempted to embrace the up and coming influx of interest, and d consequentially money, with up to date frame technologies. A few of these technologies are worth looking at.
Aluminum is still the copper standard for today’s average biking class with a relatively lightweight hollow structure and, if alloyed, a decent strength rating. However, development in the area of carbon fiber has made some promising returns. The tensile strength of this fiber, as it is a woven composite of carbon, is incredibly high for a composite material. The Achilles heel of this project was that it cannot survive the constant shocks that are exerted on a frame in the rigorous mountaineering methods that is indicative of the hardtail mountain bikes. There is a lot of research into different aluminum alloys however, and some of it resulted in the Cal Tech discovery that was mentioned above. Liquidmetal is a highly strong alloy composite that is up to snuff with some of the superalloys of steel and titanium. It is highly costly and is being used in aeronautical and astronomical use, however, but continued research and development will create a more easily synthesized material that is capable of being mass produced. The extreme tensile strength of this material is what has garnered the attention of the more high end biking companies, but as said before it is not quite yet feasible for hardtail mountain bikes. The future materials used in the production of mountain bikes will, in all likelihood, stem from other governmentally funded operations that are churning out the cutting edge through collegiate level research.