The ‘hardcore hardtail’ is making a comeback and this time it’s armed with downhill geometry and the latest full suspension frame features. Hardtail bikes have always proved popular in the UK; they are all you’ll ever need for much of the riding that we do. The relative lack of maintenance compared to a full suspension bike is very welcome in a land of slop and grit.
I’ve put off having another hardtail frame made as I couldn’t really see the point. This year though we’ve seen a new breed of bike emerge, designed specifically around dropper posts, big forks and with enough clearance to run plus sized tyres. Geometry has become longer and slacker, much slacker, 65 degree head angle anyone? Those are the sort of numbers we’re more used to seeing on a downhill bike!
What’s on the menu for a version 3.0 hardtail then?
- Super slack head angle, typically 65 degrees static. It’s potentially a bit floppy on the climbs but will monster truck the downhills.
- Extra long top tube geometry to suit a 35mm stem and super wide bars.
- Very short seat tube. If you’re running a big heavy dropper post it doesn’t need that much support, the seat tube only needs to be slightly longer than the minimum insert mark on the post.
- Stealth cable/hose routing for the dropper post. Nothing’s more distracting than having a hose flapping around or getting caught up.
- 148mm Boost bolt through rear axle. Opens the back of the frame out for greater clearance and allows for wider spaced hub for greater wheel strength. And because you don’t want to hold your rear wheel in like a roadie from the 1920’s, right?
- Single ring specific. With the wide range you can get now you don’t really need to hassle of mounting a front mech and shifter. In theory you shouldn’t need a chain device mount either thanks to the latest thick/thin chainrings.
- Frame clearance to run plus size tyres, typically up to 2.8″. Everyone’s a little ‘fat curious’ but maybe you don’t want to go all the way? Go for a plus size frame and split the difference with a 2.8″ tyre width.
- Short chainstays and lower bottom bracket. The longer front centre will increase the wheelbase, shorter stays will help stop it turning like the Titanic. Lower centre of gravity risks pedal strikes but gives it lovely ‘planted’ handling.
- Plate chain stay bridge or similar frame feature. Not only do things like plate stays give big clearance around the busy end of the bike they also add character in a world where all the frames are starting to look the same.
- Quirky frame designs. Weld the seatstays to the top tube? How about bracing the seat tube and top tube together? You know, stuff like that.
- Boost sized fork with around 130 – 150mm travel. The wider boost hub and crown will give the clearance to run big tyres to match the back if you want to.
- Tapered headtube. Of course, you want to give that fork plenty of bearing surface to work with so running a tapered steerer tube is a must. As you know, I prefer the straight 44mm tube with an innie-outie headset. A tapered headtube is the alternative for the ‘cowbell welded to the front of your bike’ look 😉
But where would a titanium lover find such a beast I hear you ask? Well, for the real inspiration for this article you’ll need to wait until next time (he says mysteriously). But tooling around on da Internetz the other day I did happen to spot that Kingdom Bike had ‘boosted’ their Vendetta model into just the sort of bike I was thinking of.
Yours for €1699, which seems pretty reasonable for the tech you’re getting.
They’ve also done some neat work in integrating cable and hose runs. Getting a stealth dropper hose to sneak through the bottom bracket is a neat touch! They’ve also thought about stresses on the frame and avoided putting any holes in the underside of the downtube.
Unfortunately welding in the neat head tube gusset and cable guide re-enforcements may have added to the heat stress of the frame. Only time will tell if the modern trend for integrated hoses and cables will reduce frame life but for the moment we’ll enjoy the clean lines that they provide.
Watch this space for part two of this feature on the re-invented hardcore hardtail. In the mean time you can find out more about the Vendetta Boost over here: https://kingdombike.com/products/vendetta-boost