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Materials and Types of Bicycle Frames – Read the Article and Choose Your Best Option!

You have decided to buy a new bicycle, which is a great idea, however, you are confused with the wide variety of types of bicycle frames and their material and you have no guess what is the difference. Which one to choose and which one you need- we assure you, the article will help you to find your perfect match! The article reveals the pros and cons of each type and does the bike frame materials comparison.

Let us first explain to you the difference between the types of bike frames. The first type is the classic closed (male) frame, which consists of tubes forming two so-called triangles – front and rear. The second type- open (female) frame. This frame goes without an upper tube or with the upper tube going next to the lower tube.

And the last type is the folding frame. All folding models of bicycles are made on the basis of this frame. Predominant in this type are open frames.

The most popular bicycle frame materials are aluminum, titanium, steel, and carbon fiber (carbon). Let us describe each of them in more detail.

Bicycle frames made of steel

The very first material used to construct bicycle frames was steel. Its virtues include a high level of strength, but also softness (the ability to absorb vibration from shocks) and flexibility, which allows for smooth turns. Ease of machining and, as a consequence, a repair cannot be ignored. The steel bicycle frames have a relatively low cost. In turn, its disadvantages include susceptibility to moisture, due to which rust appears. Steel also weighs a lot and, as a consequence, it gains speed slowly.

The most common types of steel:

  1. Ordinary steel is the easiest and most readily available material; it is prone to rust, heavy, and not very strong.
  2. Hi-Ten (or Hi-Tensile) – more advanced carbon steel, heavy, able to bear a lot of weight, rust-resistant.
  3. Cro-Mo (or cromomolibden) – an expensive bike frame building material, lighter and more reliable than other steels.

Aluminum bicycle frame

types of bicycle frames

On the one hand, aluminum alloy is not even as closely stiff or strong as steel frames, on the other, it has a density of around one-third of the steel ones. Aluminum in alloys is used for bicycle frames more often than steel. The main reason is that it weighs less. This is one of its most important advantages, providing fast acceleration and efficient uphill climbing. Such a frame with double batting will weigh from 1.9 to 2.2 kg, with triple batting – from 1.4 to 1.7 kg. Also to the positive features of aluminum alloys can be attributed resistance to corrosion.

Disadvantages of the aluminum bicycle frame:

  1. Poor rolling – because of the low weight, it gains speed quickly and just as quickly stops if you do not continue rolling the pedals.
  2. Stiffness, meaning the lack of vibration dampening from shocks. Cyclists who weigh less than 70 kg should prefer other options.
  3. Small service life – about 10 years, after which there is a high probability of cracks;
  4. Low suitability for repair.

Carbon bicycle frame

A carbon frame is a structure woven from glass and carbon fibers, impregnated with synthetic resins, and manufactured at high temperatures. The directional weave gives the frame structure the necessary strength characteristics. Today even extreme downhill bikes are made of carbon.

High-quality carbon frames are great at mitigating vibration on rides because of the fabric structure. The correct positioning of the layers of carbon fibre gives the frame good vibration damping and elasticity which are difficult to achieve with aluminum. That’s why the production of carbon frames requires a high level of expertise. These days, Chinese carbon is popular and affordable, but it hardly has all the advantages. Therefore, the strength characteristics are questionable, but the seller tells everyone that his bike is “carbon”. The disadvantage of carbon is its production. It is known to be extremely unhealthy for workers. There are even companies that have abandoned the production of carbon bikes for this very reason.

Titanium bike frame

types of bike frames

When evaluating the physical characteristics of titanium frames, this material can be called one of the best bike frame materials. It combines the best of steel and aluminum frames with almost no disadvantages. Of course, titanium is rare and expensive. Pure form is not used for production. Alloys are used with vanadium, molybdenum, silicon, and other materials.

This bike frame type handles off-roading well and dampens vibrations from the road. It loses less speed, is smoother in motion, and lays into corners better than its aluminum counterparts. It accelerates a bit worse, but holds speeds well after acceleration, both on smooth and bad roads. Titanium is also not prone to corrosion, you can ride in any weather and season, the frame is indifferent to any reagents.

The main advantage of titanium is its particular strength. This material is extremely resistant to being bent or scratched, unlike aluminum/steel and carbon. It is the lightest bike frame material. Weights can start at 900 grams!

Of course, there is a disadvantage in the form of price, which is due to the rarity of the metal and the complexity of processing. Even with carbon models, titanium cannot yet complete, so it has not yet entered the mass segment and remains the destiny of cycling fanatics.

Well, now you know what types and materials of bicycle frames exist, you can compare and decide which one suits you better and responds to your need. Thanks for starting with our blog, stay tuned!

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