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What Material Should Your Next Bike Be Made Out Of?
- Jun 07, 2018 -

The four common materials that bike frames are made of include steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. While there are pros and cons for each, the bike that is ultimately best for you will be based on what type of riding you plan on doing. Do you plan on biking as a hobby, go into competitive cycling or enjoy leisure rides around the neighborhood?


Steel-Framed Bikes

Once upon a time, all bikes had steel frames. Up until the 1970s, steel was the most durable material from which to build a bike on.

While steel may be hardy and stiff, it is also heavy. In fact, steel is the heaviest bike frame option.

Over the years, techniques have been invented to take away some of the weight from steel’s natural heaviness, including the process of “butting” where parts of the pipes that make up the frame have thinner or thicker walls.

Another way manufacturers make steel bikes lighter is combining the steel with a lighter, more flexible metal to create an alloy.

While steel-framed bikes are known to have a springy, comfortable ride, they are heavy, making them more ideal for touring than in competitive cycling.

Carbon-Framed Bikes

Carbon has become a popular bike frame material in recent years. Many major bike brands have carbon-fiber frame models available.

Carbon-framed bikes have become a favorite for bike club and trendy riders.

Raw carbon-fiber is hard to come by as it is only manufactured by a small number of companies. On top of that, most of the raw carbon-fiber gets designated to the aerospace industry.

Carbon-fiber by itself is brittle and insufficient to be used in the frame of a bike. To improve its strength and stiffness, the carbon is mixed with resin.

Carbon-framed bikes are lighter than steel-framed bikes and provide a stiff ride, which is preferable for some riders.

Carbon-framed bikes, however, can still be weak and collapse under stress. The weakness of carbon-framed bikes are worsened when the frame is damaged (something that can be easily done). A damaged carbon-framed bike may not show outward signs of damage until bike failure occurs.

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