Bike frame materials
So, you’ve got your helmet and you’re researching what bike frame size you’ll need within your budget. Your budget might determine what your bike frame is made of, but if you have a choice – how to decide!?
You’ve got 4 main options, and there is a LOT of controversy out there about the pros and cons of each. In the end it probably just comes down to preference – but here are a few things to consider:
If you want a cheap bike aluminium’s your pick. It’s a bit light, it’s a bit stiff it’s moderately long lasting. It’s the compromise at the cheap end of the range, and it might mean you can get pricier components if you self-build. (or get your friendly bike shop to do it!)
Carbon frames were all the rage, until they were all the rage and now people want something that isn’t ubiquitous. They are not cheap, but they are cheaper than they were and they are light (very light if you pay!), fast and strong in the right direction. This is good for light, small people like hobbits who don’t need to be pushing a bike that weighs more than they do……however, they are brittle if you crash, but they don’t rust!
If you want a workhorse, steel might be your answer. They are heavy, unless you pay squillions, but they last a long time and you can crash and they might dent but it’s repairable. They “dampen” road bumps so they are good for commuting but also long-distance comfort. If you’re a larger bloke with powerhouse quads from a winter of turbo training you can move a steel bike and this might be your pick. (They look “retro” cool, too). Just don’t forget to clean it properly after a bad weather ride.
If you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket and you are an experienced rider so you know what size frame works for you then investing in titanium could be your bike for life. Beautiful, uncorrodable, light, super-dampening of nasty road surfaces and comfortable it’s the best of all possible worlds! They can be custom built for you and the lack of corrosion means they suit British winter riding!
and yes, you really can buy a bamboo bike – a sustainable material, this is light and handsome – perfect for the eco-warrior in your life.