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Choosing the Best Mountain Bike Framing Materials

2016/7/25 11:43:38

You will find the cost of a mountain bike frame to be in direct proportion to the a) material used in the construction and the b) treatment that material has received. As you begin your research for a mountain bike frame you will soon learn there are five types of materials used in the construction - a) high tensile steel, b) chromoly steel, c) aluminum, d) titanium, and e) carbon fiber. In addition, tubing material treatments adding to the increased cost of a frame are a) oversized diameters, b) heat treating, and c) butting.

High tensile steel is a very durable alloy that's found in lower priced mountain bikes. It offers a high carbon content which makes it less stiff than chromoly steel, so more materials are needed to make it stiff enough for bicycle frames, which will in turn make it that much heavier.

Relatively inexpensive to produce, you'll find high tensile steel in trail bikes, city bikes, and even entry level mountain bikes. There are some bikes that come with a chromoly seat tube, while the rest is high tensile steel.

Next on the list of mountain bike framing materials is chromoly (short for steel alloy ). Chromoly is better defined by the major additives it contains - chromium and molybdenum. This framing material is probably one of the most refined and can more than 100 years of reliable service.

Depending on the type of heat treating and butting, you can find this material in bikes as low as 400 dollars all the way up to 1,500 and beyond. The chromoly steel material offers very good durability and a compliant ride characteristic.

Over the last fifteen years, aluminum continues to be refined essentially in a similar way as has been chromoly. There have been numerous alloys produced along with oversizing, heat treatment, and butting. Used on dual suspension bikes, aluminum is the desired material being the stiffest and most cost effective.

Aluminum is stiffer than chromoly, and therefore it will crack before chromoly. Of course, this depends on how you ride and how much abuse you give the frame. The advantages of aluminum is that the frame is very light and very stiff through oversizing or butting.

Although some folks consider titanium to be somewhat exotic, prices for titanium frames have dropped a bit in recent years. However, because of the extra time it takes to weld the tubes to the frame, titanium frames continue to remain relatively expensive.

Small amounts of aluminum and vandium are normally mixed with titanium making it an alloy and improving its weldability and ride characteristics. Providing enhanced fatigue and corrosion properties, titanium is more compliant than is chromoly.

The material you choose for your bike, all depends on where you ride and what style you use. Almost all materials will last you for years, as long as you take care of your bike and treat the frame with some respect.
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