Types of Frame Materials

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Types of Frame Materials

  • Know your Bicycle
Types of Frame Materials

In the last thirty years, there has been a revolution in the development and use of new materials for building bicycle frames. It wasn't that long ago that frames were made out of cast iron or even wood. Today bicycles are made out of exotic materials such as steel, titanium, aluminum and carbon fiber. Bicycle frames in the current period are lighter and stronger than ever before. The material of the frame is oen of the most important aspects to consider while identifying the perfect frame.

When a bicycle maker chooses a material to make a bicycle frame, the following are the properties of the material which are considered:

  • Elasticity- When an object responds to bending or stretching by returning to its original shape.
  • Yield Strength- This is the amount of the force needed to bend a material to a point where it cannot return to its original shape.
  • Ultimate Strength- This is the amount of force needed to break a material. This is the point at which a bicycle frame breaks apart, usually with dangerous consequences for the rider.

Now let us look into in detail at what bicycles are made from and why those materials were chosen.

Steel

Steel is stiff but dense (heavy). Light frames of adequate stiffness and strength are made with relatively small-diameter tubes, but steel isn't the right material for light frames or large strong riders.  Mild (inexpensive) steel frames need thick walls to be strong enough, and they're heavy. Steel frames are long –lasting but are prone to rust as well.

Aluminum Alloys

Aluminum frames can be very stiff and light because the density is so low, but the tubes have to be much larger in diameter to compensate. Overall, aluminum is a great material for stiff, light frames for riders of all sizes.  It is also one of the materials that is well suited to unconventional frame shapes. Aluminum frames do not rust easily but the crash damage is high.

Carbon Fiber

Unlike metals, in which strength and stiffness properties are nearly the same in all directions, carbon fiber composites can be tuned to orient the strength where it is needed. This is the ultimate frame material for unconventional frames and shapes, as it can be molded and tuned more than any metal. Carbon fiber frames have excellent fatigue strength with no rust, but it is also the most expensive raw material.

We hope you gained some knowledge about what material your beloved bicycle is made of. Watch out for more such articles on bicycle frame, build and components.

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