Guide to Choose a Bike Frame Material
Bikes are available in different shapes, sizes and types. The frame is the core component of your bicycle. Frame of your bike is responsible for its performance, strength and flexibility. It also has a big influence on the total weight of the bike. Therefore, while selecting a touring bike you must look for proper frame materials that support your touring.
Below is the Simplified Guide to Different Types of Bike Frame Materials:
Steel: The traditionally used material for bike frames is Steel. There are several benefits of choosing steel as a frame material. Steel is very strong & reliable material and therefore, tends to make riding comfortable. It does not even lose its strength when bent. It has very high levels of stress tolerance, which means it can \hold up to the knocks and flexing of touring for a prolonged period of time. Also, from an aesthetic standpoint, steel frames have smaller tubes than aluminum, which are more attractive. However, on the downside, steel is relatively heavier than aluminum or titanium. It can even rust, if the paint becomes chipped.
Titanium: Titanium has gained much recognition recently in the biking world. It is extremely light and very strong material. Titanium frames are constructed in the same manner as steel ones. The tubes made are not purely out of titanium; instead, it contains a small percentage of aluminium (6%) and vanadium (4%). Its welding process is also different from steel. It is used for its lightness and strength. It also doesn’t rust like steel and unpainted titanium frames look attractive. However, on the downside it is an expensive bike frame material due to the scarcity of the metal itself, which is the main argument against it.
Aluminum: Aluminum started to take over steel mainly because it is cheaper than steel. Aluminum frames have oversized tubes, to provide additional diameter for stiffness which is good for touring. Frame flexing can be a problem in the case of aluminium if you’re a carrying bike for heavy gears. Also, if bents are formed in aluminum frame, you cannot bend it back without losing much of its strength. Aluminum frame once bent is basically trashed. Repair of aluminum frame is also hard. These frames also have fatigue issues in them. Hence, aluminum frames tend to have a shorter lifetime than steel.
Overall, it can be stated that aluminum frames are excellent choices where reliability and longevity is not your primary requirements.
Graphite or Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber has transformed the touring experience of bike racing enthusiast. It is the only material used in a frame building that is not a metal. This material is mainly used in racing bikes as it is very light, firm, durable, and corrosion resistant material. This is very light bike frame material, and is not recommended for touring. It has been tested for both types of guided as well as self guided bike tours applications, and have proven its material capacity for extraordinary light touring. Titanium is more expensive than carbon in building bike frames. The quality of the frame depends upon the type of fiber used. At times, the carbon frames are combined with a carbon or graphite fork for providing shock absorbent. This technology is still relatively new and carbon fiber frame could stand up to the rigors of touring.
So now know everything regarding different types of bike frame material, select a bike as per your requirements for either guided or self guided bike tours. Use the information provided on all four of the materials to select a perfect touring bike
Putting it all together:
The quality of the frame is mainly dependent on your choice of material for example steel, aluminium, carbon, and titanium. With the knowledge of properties & benefits offered by each one, finding the right frame for your bike is easier.
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