Once you have funded the resources for buying your desired cycle, you move towards more intricate decisions. One such decision is to face the turmoil regarding choosing the right cycle frame for yourself. The act of choosing the appropriate cycle frame appears puzzling due to the contemplation of so many factors beforehand.
Selecting the material of the cycle frame to pinpointing the appropriate size as per your physical traits is confusing at times. In order to relieve you from the dilemma prior to the purchasing of cycle frames, we have devised a 5-stepped guide. It will instruct you upon the consideration of cycle frame material, measurement of tubes, length to height proportions of your frame and other practical issues.
We understand how choosing the unfit frame can ruin your investment as well as deprive you of comfortable rides. Thus, we urge you to consider the following details before purchasing your cycle frame.
Purchasing a bike is a simple process until you learn about the multiple material options for the frame. It can get quite confusing as to which bike frame material you should go for.
Bike Frame Material Guide
Primarily, you get four options to choose from; carbon fiber, steel, titanium, and aluminum. All of them have their own good and bad sides. Which one you should pick out from these, depends on your intended use and budget. Requirements for bike frame material for 250 lb rider who enjoys riding in the hills will differ from material for 100 lbs female.
For example, if you have got the cash and aspire to be a road racer, the aluminum-framed bike would be more suitable. They tend to be light, affordable, and stiff. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, checks out all of those options, but they are more expensive.
However, there isn’t any material that is perfect for every situation. Each material is good for some things while having other tradeoffs. Are you looking for:
- best bike frame material for heavy riders
- best bike frame material for gravel
- best frame material for touring bike
- best frame material for road bike
So, it becomes really important to understand the properties of different materials. Let’s discuss those properties and hopefully, you will be able to find the best match for you by the end.
When it comes to choosing the material for your cycle frame, you have to bear in mind their weights, quality of ride, your budget, replacement, usage period etc. The cycle frame materials are available in the variants of aluminum, steel, carbon fiber & titanium. Each of the materials has its own set of disadvantages & advantages, it’s upon you to decide which is best suited for you.
Aluminum frames are light-weighted and render stable performance for a reasonable price. If you are keen to road-racing and such sports, aluminum frames are for you. Aluminum frames are strong and also accelerates easily making it a favorite among the professionals.
However, aluminum frames will provide you with harsh quality rides, due to their stiffness. You might also feel uncomfortable at times. If you wish to ride your cycle into dusty terrains or longer rides you should avoid aluminum frames.
These bike frames are known for their corrosion resistance, lightweight and good strength and weight ratios. Aluminum as bike frame material falls on the more reasonably affordable section, which makes it popular among the racers and riders who are limited on budget.
Aluminum does not absorb the road buzz quite similarly as other materials used in frames. Simply speaking, they are not great for long distance tours and dirt roads, where comfort is the main priority.
The material fatigues quicker over time, so, it becomes more difficult to repair. That’s why you’ll see aluminum being used more frequently in lower lever road bikes and mountain bikes. These often cost one or two thousand USD less than the carbon ones.
Steel used to be the go-to material for building bikes. But its demand in the mainstream industry has gone down in recent years as aluminum bikes along with carbon fiber bikes are more prevalent nowadays.
It’s cost and weight has led to a decline in demand. Steel tends to be heavier than both of those materials, which makes it less suitable for use in the higher end bikes. Also, its higher cost makes it less suitable than aluminum when it comes to low-end bikes.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that steel has lost its place in the world of bikes. The custom builder uses it for its characteristics of ride smoothing.
Steel is less expensive and easier to handle compared to carbon fiber. It also offers higher density and strength compared to aluminum. So, it can be used for walled tubes that are thinner for designing vertical flex.
Steel frames will ensure a comfy ride due to its springy features. You will not face much trouble while repairing the steel frame owing to its durability & fatigue-resistance. If you are a fan of custom-made cycles, the steel frame is the answer for you.
The displeasure you might encounter is that steel frame structures corrode very often. So you will need some precaution to prevent such frames from rusting. Besides, if you are a racer, you should avoid using a steel frame for your cycle.
Carbon fiber is quite commonly used for making frames of road bikes and mountain bikes. Carbon sheets get bonded together using resin into a mold to make carbon fiber.
If you are a long-distance rider, carbon fiber frames would be fruitful for you due to its high absorption of road vibration. If you choose carbon fiber frames, you can easily pick the more creatively oriented cycles, as the material is flexible to be molded into great designs. Such frames also incorporate aerodynamic efficiency and enhanced comfort in the pressure point areas of your cycle, such as the seat.
Despite the many advantages, one demerit of carbon fiber frame is that they are highly expensive. Fortunately, the expenses are being minimized with the technological advancements. You might need to be aware that unlike steel frames carbon fiber frames are fragile and likely to be damaged easily.
This bike frame material primarily offers stiffness as an advantage. Also, it tends to be quite lighter than titanium, steel, or aluminum. The lower density allows the carbon frames to absorb road vibration better, which in turn makes for more comfortable rides.
Carbon fiber can be shaped in complex ways that open up opportunities for coming up with creative designs. This helps especially when manufacturers are trying to increase the efficiency of frame aerodynamic.
These bikes tend to be more expensive, though their prices have gone down over recent years. Unlike metal, carbon fiber frames fracture more and if that happens, the bike becomes fragile as well as unfit for riding.
Similar to steel, titanium is popular among the custom builders. Titanium has a lot of matching characteristics with steel, however, it is more corrosion resistant and has better fatigue. It offers a higher strength-weight ratio over other metals.
If you are looking for a cycle frame that would function for years without replacement, choose a titanium frame. The riding quality of titanium framed cycles would fairly impress you due to its lightweight and snappy quality. Titanium frames rarely corrode, thus not requiring frequent repaint job.
You might face difficulty in finding the titanium frame due to its scarceness. They also possess labor-intensive manufacturing cycles. Apart from this titanium made frames are overpriced due to the availability of a warranty from certain manufacturers.
You can get long-lasting and lightweight frames from titanium. Its ride quality is on par with carbon fiber, that is, if not better. People choose titanium for a hardtail, touring and custom road mountain bikes.
The issue with titanium is that the material is relatively rare. Working with it is labor-intensive, so, they are quite pricey among the material choices.
It is up to your needs as to what bike frame material would be suitable for your bike. If you have money to spare, go for carbon fiber or titanium bikes. Consider the other two options, if you are tight on budget and only looking for entry-level bikes.
Bike Frame Geometry
You cannot succeed at choosing a perfect frame for your cycle if you don’t pay attention to the geometric angles. The Geometry of the cycle frame portrays the angles at which the different tubes are arranged and how they slope towards each other. Currently, cycle frames are structured by two types of geometry; named, Compact & Traditional.
The Compact geometry frame comprises of revolutionary features much different than the contemporary top-tube frames. Therefore you’d notice 2-3 inches visible amount of seat-post contrary to the baseline upper tube cycles. However, the contact points are so alike that you would feel the same sensation as your preferred cycle while mounted on top of such framed cycles.
If you are muddling over how to identify the compact geometry frames just look out for the top tube, wheel-base & real triangle. Because compact geometry frames consist of the small rear triangle, short wheel-base, and a sloping top tube. The resultant frame provides for firm yet responsive rides while also bearing minimum center of gravity properties.
The traditional geometry frames are featured by top tubes oriented analogous to the ground. Such geometry bears smaller frames followed by limited space while being mounted over the cycle. If you would like to compare a traditional geometry frame with a compact geometry frame we can exemplify that, a 64-cm traditional frame cycle would be equivalent to a 60-cm compact framed cycle.
Don’t Falter with Length!
The length & size of your cycle is the decisive factors behind your comfort while riding the cycles. However, the top tube length demands most of your attention. This length is firstly considerable by the distance between the seat-post and the head tube.
If you purchase a frame that bears very long top tubes, you will surpass the handle bars. This can prove to be a straining experience if you happen to be on an extended period of cycle rides. Therefore, the key is to choose frames that uphold shorter top tube lengths as per your cycle geometry.
Apart from this, the design of the cycle frame should be such that it is proportionate to your anatomic features. For instance, the ideal top-tube length for a person of (168-175) cm height should be (54-55) cm, thus signifying a medium-sized cycle. You cannot go on and buy a small-sized (51-53) cm top tube cycle if your height reaches about 180 cm, which would be an absolute debacle.
Don’t Forget the Desired Fit
After you have figured out the Material, Geometry & Length of the cycle frame, you will need to configure the fitness of the remaining parts of the cycle frame. Firstly, you would need to determine if the stem upon which the saddle is placed is proportional to your body. If not, modify it as you might fail to reach the pedals accordingly.
Secondly, you will need to work upon the positioning of your saddle itself. The fore and aft position as well as the way your saddle tilts need to be examined by mounting yourself on top of it. Last but not the least, the separation between brake levers and the angle between the handlebars will ensure your comfortable fit to the cycle frame.
How to Find Female-friendly Frames?
Not speaking in a discriminatory manner, female & male physique is innately different. Thus, female riders face a good amount of trouble while choosing the right cycle frames in proportion to their body. Nowadays unisex cycles are available, though at a lack of high functionality.
Unlike men, women have shorter torso length, but longer leg height. Therefore, being a female rider, you should opt for shorter top tubes. This would enable you to bring the handlebars in proximity to the saddle while also expanding your legs fully.
It might seem that availing necessary changes for your cycle frame would require running to and fro between shops. Fortunately, most influential cycle shops all around the USA render cycle adjustment services. With the information you now have, you’re only minutes away from renovating your brand new cycle.