Pros and Cons of Different Types of Road Bike Frame

Monday, December 14, 2015

Road bikes should be strong, lightweight and long-lasting and you need to choose a type that suits your riding style, present ability level and your future goals! 

It's also important to try a few frames until you've got the right size and dimensions for your individual body shape.  Here's a quick run-through of the different types of road bike frames and what they offer:

Aluminium Alloy Frames

  • Very light with thick tubing and large frame to compensate for lower strength and stiffness
  • Excellent for competitive cyclists
  • The strength and stiffness of aluminium frames is determined by the type of alloy used
  • Inexpensive alloys are not as durable
  • Short lifespan - subject to corrosion – not the most comfortable ride

Carbon Fibre Frames

  • A composite non-metal and the newest material used for bike frames
  • Resistant to corrosion and superior at suppressing vibration
  • Very lightweight and extremely versatile
  • Very flexible and can be moulded to suit your riding style
  • Can easily be strengthened where the frame needs more resistance
  • Not easily repaired and the structural integrity can be badly damaged easily
  • Expensive

Scandium Frames

  • A relatively new type of metal-composite related to aluminium
  • Lightweight like aluminium but slightly denser and better for absorbing vibration
  • More durable and a bit stiffer than aluminium giving a ride comparable to a steel frame
  • Yep – you've guessed it: Expensive!

Steel Frames

  • One of the strongest and stiffest metal frames
  • The heaviest material is often combined with other alloys to lighten the load
  • The best frames are the more expensive ones made of a low-alloy steel, like Niobium, for thin, lightweight tubing
  • Inexpensive and a great choice for the cyclist on a budget
  • Excellent durable material choice for most bikes - giving a great ride
  • Will corrode in coastal locations

Titanium Frames

  • Half the weight and stiffness of steel but equally strong
  • To create a stiffer frame the tubes are made larger to compensate for the metal's over-elasticity which reduces lateral torsion/whip
  • Resistant to corrosion and has excellent flex
  • Offers a comfortable ride
  • Expensive
  • If the bike needs repairing it's not easily done and often needs to be sent to the manufacturer

My best advice is that you think about what you really need from your new bike before you enter the showroom.

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