The frame can decide largely about the look, the quality, and the ride of a bike, thus having the right and proper bike frame is the key to all the champions. Whatever purposes you may have with your bikes, getting a decent build of frames is always the best option.
Bike frames can be made from various materials, and thus have different textures and effects on the performance of the bike. The most popular types include titanium, carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum. Before jumping choosing the bike, you should take a look through these materials:
How to decide the bike frame materials suitable for your bikes?
The first thing is the weight of your bike and the luggage you intend to load on. Combining with all other components, there will be a certain number of kilos put on the frame.
Therefore, different materials will bring different strengths and load to your bike. Moreover, there will be a dilemma between the durability and weight of the bike, you have to trade a bit of durability for a feel of lightweight.
Next is how you want to use the bike. Depending on the purpose of riding and your cycling style, the bike frames can vary a lot. For long-distance riding, riders should prioritize durability and comfort. Meanwhile, for short distances and racing, a lightweight and performance-oriented one is often preferred.
Another thing you should take care of is the riding surface and climate. For riders cycling in humid or rainy areas, and on dirt or grassland, a steel bike frame is not ideal, because it might get rusty quickly. So, choosing bike frame materials suitable for the cycling area is also important.
Carbon fiber bike frame
For modern bikes, carbon fiber frame material is one of the ultimate choices. Good stiffness and lightweight characteristics are what make its name, but it is also extremely easy to manipulate and forge, making the manufacturing process easier.
With these materials, bike brands can effortlessly create sophisticated, detail, and unique bike frames as they wish. Moreover, it has such a high resistance rate to fatigue, allowing it to be used for pro cycling.
Not only good for molding and shaping, but the outcome of a carbon fiber frame also provides decent aerodynamic and compliance. Lightweight yet stiff at the same time, this is truly the holy grail of all bike manufacturers.
The history of carbon fiber
Carbon fiber as a bike-producing material has not come in popularity until the 1990s, but generally, it was used and introduced in this field previously, in the 1980s. It quickly gained favor from all the bike brands since it was exceptionally lightweight, compared to the traditional steel frame.
However, many people were reluctant to forge bike frames with carbon fiber, simply because of its high price and high-grade manufacturing methods. However, it has been improved over time.
Benefits of carbon fiber bike frame
Nowadays, these obstacles are no longer the barriers for a lot of bike manufacturers, including FELT. Carbon fiber offers great compatibility for numerous parts and components of the bike, and the excellent fatigue resistance is one-of-a-kind.
The performance of a carbon fiber bike frame is also on another level, with a low weight ratio, the stiffness, unification, strength, and durability have nothing to complain about.
How to decide the quality of a carbon bike frame is not based on the fiber itself, but it is from the fiber layering work. At a specific angle, carbon fiber layered correctly will result in better connections, thus increasing the strength and stiffness in a certain direction.
As a result, it is possible to manipulate the characteristics and quality of carbon fiber frame locally, but still create a unified and smooth structure outside. The secret of a high-class bike frame is the method of layering in each design.
Steel bike frame
The most original, easy-to-manufacture material in the bike industry is steel. As a longtime warehouse material, the method of forging a bike frame with steel is nothing of challenge. The majority of bike brands can deal it with handsomely.
Before the era of carbon fiber and aluminum, steel was the most common choice for racing bikes and pro bikes. But not all steel can be used to make a bike frame. There are two popular types of steel that can be used to do so.
The high tensile steel or the “Hi-Ten” is one of them. This one is quite a cheap material and the price is its only strength. This grade steel has a bad strength-weight ratio, but it is cheaper to produce a bike frame with it.
Meanwhile, high-end steel or CroMo steel has a better strength to weight ratio, but of course, the price tag is a bit higher. Manufacturing this kind of steel is quite a common thing, and can be thin out for sophisticated parts.
The benefit of a steel bike frame
The first and foremost benefit of steel is its price tag. Steel is one of the cheapest bike frame materials, and working with it is also easy. Moreover, when damaged, repairing these parts is also no big deal.
Talking about the property, the steel bike frame is not exactly bad, it is just not on par with other high-class materials. Still, steel offers decent compliance, durability, high fatigue resistance, and a good manufacturing process. The downsides of the steel frames are the possibility of oxidation and poor weight-strength ratio.
Titanium bike frame
Titanium is also one of the elite bike frame materials and often advertised as a lightweight and long-lasting one. However, the price tag for titanium is not something for mass-producing and low-end bikes.
The titanium bike frame has a good weight-strength ratio and absolute resistance to rust and corrosion. The durability of this type of bike frame material is also on par with other high-grade peers. However, to produce a titanium bike requires great skills and development, thus making it fall into the luxury line.
It can be said that titanium is the upgraded version of steel, keeping all the good points and adding some more. The type of titanium used in bike production is an alloy type, and the mixture consists of titanium, a small amount of aluminum, and vanadium.
The durability is the highest characteristic of titanium, it is described as “indestructible’. Hus o invest in a long-time bike, having a titanium bike frame is absolutely reasonable.
Aluminum bike frame
Among the bike frame materials, aluminum may be the one that has it all: good property, widespread manufacture, compatibility with bike types, and reasonable cost. Therefore, it is now reigning over as the most popular one in the bike industry.
Not only bike frames, but components can also be made from aluminum. This metal is not strictly dense, and easy to be manipulated and handled with, making it ideal for creating lightweight structure.
Compared to carbon fiber and titanium, the aluminum bike frame is cheaper and easier to make, but the outcome quality is relatively the same. Moreover, the time spending on manufacturing is also less, so it increases productivity and lowers the cost sustainably.
How aluminium is used in bike frames?
Just like titanium, alloy aluminum is the type of metal to be used in bike manufacturing. The composition includes aluminum and a minor proportion of different metals and minerals added for better consistency and quality.
The level of manipulation humans can do with aluminum is extremely high. It can be bent into whichever shapes or spread out as thin as paper. Thus, making a bike frame with aluminum alloy is a work of creativity. Manufacturers can design and create lightweight yet stiff tubing with aluminum comfortably.
Moreover, it is possible to tingle with the thickness of the bike frame’s wall. It makes the total weight of the structure reduced quite a lot, and if manipulated cleverly, stiffness and durability will stay the same. The common models have a thin center of tubing, while both ends are still thick to keep the wielding strong.
These kinds of tubing are called butted tubes, and they are also classified into several categories. For straight gauge tubes, the variety in wall thickness is few and far between, meanwhile, the other three single, double and triple-butted tubes are manipulated in different ways.
Hydroforming of aluminum bike frame
Another way to manipulate aluminum in bike production is hydroforming. Hydroforming is a process of shaping aluminum with a mold and the use of fluid. The mold will be the exact shape that you desire.
First, aluminum is put inside that mold, and the injected fluid is then pumped into it at staggeringly high pressure. This causes the shape-shifting of aluminum, forcing it to fill in the mold and create the wanted piece. Using this technique also increases the stiffness of the tubing works, thus profitable for bike frame making.
Moreover, the molding with the hydroforming process is more precise, and sharper than ordinary molding and welding. In addition, no extra metal is needed to reinforce the structure.
This manipulating process allows the creation of a lightweight bike frame and still maintain strength, stiffness, and compliance. Even at low density, the aluminum alloy bike frame is lighter, stronger, and more durable than a lot of bike frame materials.
However, the fatigue resistance of the aluminum bike frame is not quite excellent, so only with great care that it will last for a long time. But considering the cost and performance, this is still one of the best options out there.
The secret of all FELT bike
At FELT, the technology of aluminum alloy bike frames has always been the center of discussion. The quest is to improve the performance and property, reduce the manufacturing work, and create the more exquisite design of bikes for all pro and amateur riders alike.
Have you ever wondered why FELT’s bikes are lightweight, durable, strong, and high-paced? The answer is the method of manipulating and designing aluminum alloy tubing that FELT possessed.
At FELT, only the most advanced and supreme technologies are employed to deal with aluminum tubing, including butting and hydroforming arts. These technologies have provided excellent outcomes with the proof of many successes and the popularity of the FELT bike.
For butting, both external and internal buttings of bike frames are performed, with detailed and in-depth plans and design. It helps to reduce the total weight, re-distribute pressure on the tubing and away from wielding points, and enhance the stiffness of the frame.
Hydroforming at FELT is to offer better handling, comfort in riding, and better acceleration for performance. The result of this method is a super lightweight, firm, and reinforced bike frame that can handle all types of surfaces and riding styles effectively.
The F-Lite Tubing is for performance bikes, with a high acceleration rate and proper aerodynamics. The aluminum alloy used in this line is the 7005, with zinc additives to upgrade the strength. The paramount strength, instant delivery, and riding optimization are what to expect from this line.
For riders seeking feather-like bikes, please opt for the Superlite Tubing. Both Superlite 7005 and 6061 aluminum frame tubes are from double butting aluminum alloys, with strategic thickness to improve the feel of lightweight.
The forged and CNC machined head tubes, BB shells, and dropouts also make a great contribution in reducing the weight, making those bikes in the line by far the most lightweight ones. Besides, performance would not be compromised, when carbon seat stays are included for better comfort and riding experience.