Bike Frames Guide - An Introduction
A bike frame is an important decision whether you are a competitive racer or just a weekend enthusiast. You can choose different materials that will affect the weight of the bike, and there are different types of frames for different riding styles. The frame is the main section of a bike, and other components such as the wheels are attached to the frame.
The most common, modern frame design features two triangles: a main triangle and a rear triangle. This design is called a ‘diamond frame.’ With a diamond frame, the main triangle has a head tube, a top tube, a down tube, and a seat tube. The head tube interfaces with the bike’s fork. The top tube connects to the seat tube, and the down tube connects to the bottom bracket.
The tubes’ lengths and their angles are what define the frame’s geometry. The rider adjusts the positions of the saddle, handlebars, and pedals. Different frame geometries are designed for different uses. For example, a road bike places the handlebars lower and further away from the saddle, which places the rider in a crouched position. A utility bike has an emphasis on comfort, and the higher handlebars place the rider a more upright position for riding. The geometry also affects the bike’s handling.
Regardless of the type of riding you prefer, Price Inspector has the right bike frame for your needs. We have gathered the research to help you choose the right frame for your style of riding, the material, and the size. When you have determined these features, you can choose the brand that best meets your needs. We work to bring you the cheapest bike frame prices in the UK, comparing prices at all the UK shops.
Bike Frame Materials and Sizes
Bike frames are made of several main materials, each with their own benefits and costs. You want to consider the density, which is how light or heavy it is. The stiffness affects your comfort and power, although comfort is usually affected more by the saddle, geometry, and tyres. The yield strength is how much force is necessary to permanently warp the material, as in the case of a crash. Elongation is how much deformity allowed before it cracks, again in case of a crash. Fatigue or endurance limits are how durable the frame is for withstanding bumps.
- A steel bike frame can be an inexpensive option, usually using carbon steel. These frames are strong, but they are heavier than other materials. It’s less rigid, allowing more shock absorption and less jarring compared to more rigid frames such as aluminium. A high-quality steel bike frame is lighter than a regular steel bike frame. This will make it easier to accelerate on the flats and easier to ride uphill. Steel frames can experience rusting or corrosion, but this is offset by the use of stainless steel or with a powder coat.
- An aluminium bike frame has a lower density and lower strength compared to steel. However, they provide a better ratio of weight to strength. Early aluminium frames were more vulnerable to fatigue, but this has mostly been overcome through advanced techniques such as better welds. The stiffer frame is attractive to strong uphill riders. A disadvantage is that it does not have the same ‘feel’ to an experienced rider as a steel frame. Also, while aluminium frames are usually considered to give you a lighter frame compared to steel frames, a cheap aluminium frame may actually be heavier than a high-quality steel one.
- A titanium bike frame is usually the most expensive option. It has many advantages, including a high ratio of strength to weight, and it provides excellent resistance to corrosion. The disadvantage is that the higher cost makes them too expensive for many riders.
- A carbon bike frame is an increasingly popular alternative. Made of a non-metallic composite, they are lightweight, resist corrosion, and are strong. Although they are expensive, carbon fibre frames can be created in almost any shape or geometry desired. This lets the bike be fine-tuned to make it stronger in certain areas, such as to withstand hard pedalling, while creating flexibility in other areas for comfort.
Once you have determined your preferred frame material, you also need to decide on the frame size. This is largely determined by the rider’s size. Sizes range from 14 inches
at the low end to 26 inches
at the upper end. In between, you can find 15
, and 24
Types of Bike Frames
Different frames are made for different types of riding. A race bike frame should be lightweight for maximum speed, while a BMX frame needs to be strong to withstand the shock of the bumps.
* A mountain bike frame has shock absorbers for increased comfort and improved handling. Full suspension frames have shock absorbers for both the front and rear wheels. Hardtails, or front suspension models, only have shocks on the front wheels.
* A racing bike frame road racing bicycle is designed to provide an efficient transfer of power with lower weight and drag. The seat angle is fairly steep to place the rider in an aerodynamic position and provide stronger pedalling. The downside is that they are not as comfortable.
* A track bike frame has a lot in common with road frames, but they have rear-facing forks, allowing you to adjust the rear wheels for the correct chain tension. The angle of the seat tube is also steeper than with road racing bikes.
* A womens bike frame is usually shorter and lighter weight than a traditional men’s frame. This conforms better to the rider’s usually smaller size and lower strength. Taller, stronger women may be more comfortable with a man’s frame.
* A downhill bike frame has a longer wheelbase and increased durability, which also means they are heavier bikes. Today’s downhill bikes tend to be designed for particular racing styles, rather than having one generic style for all downhill riding.
* A hybrid bike frame gives you the comfort of a mountain bike with a road bike’s efficiency. If you do not plan to race or do a lot of off-road riding, a hybrid can be your best alternative.
* A folding bike frame gives you the flexibility of folding the bike. This can be very convenient for carrying it in a smaller car or for storing in a small area.
Depending on your budget and riding style, there are many top manufacturers of bike frame, most notably:
- Scott bike frames are made for all types of riders, everything from downhill to freeride to lightweight cross-country racing bike frames. Each frame can be tuned to the rider’s desired suspension, and Scott bike frames use carbon fibre wherever the price range allows.
- Kona bike frames are available in a wide range of mountain bike designs. They make beautiful frames with a long history of high-quality craftsmanship. Their trail-tested bikes provide a high-performance ride.
- Cannondale bike frames are designed for a variety of styles, from charity rides, mountain races, or cross-country riding. On some of their models, they provide their ultra-efficient stays that absorb road vibration.
- Trek bike frames are made for triathlons, urban riding, racing, or mountain biking. Their Soho line is designed for urban rides, with an 8-speed drive belt, all-weather roller brakes, and puncture-resistant tyres.
- Marin bike frames include their popular dirt jumping bike line, the Alcatraz models. These bikes have 14 gauge spokes, BMX platform pedals, and an integrated crank-set.
- Raleigh bike frames are offered for all riding styles, including comfort, hybrid, mountain, cruiser, road, and performance frames. Their NX3 cruiser bike combines style, luxury, and comfort. They are known as the ‘Caddy’ of the cruiser world, with a 3-speed internal hub, classic styling, and full fenders.
Tips to consider before buying Bike Frames
The type of riding you will do determines the style of bike you should buy.
- Determine whether you will ride primarily on dirt, roads or pavement.
- Also decide whether you want to ride fast or just cruise along.
- Will the bike mainly be used for transportation, competitive racing, or just for fun?
- How long do you plan to keep the bike? If you plan to keep the bike for a long time, make sure to buy a durable frame.
- You also need to consider your body size and height. A heavier rider needs a stronger frame, while someone who isn’t as strong might prefer a lighter one.
- You should also consider your ability. An entry-level model is good for beginners who will ride mostly on bike paths or pavement, only occasionally venturing onto dirt roads or trails. A front suspension bike is designed for intermediate riders who spend a lot of time off-road, sometimes riding on packed dirt or paved trails. Full-suspension models are designed for more serious off-road biking.
- Don’t forget to include accessories for safety, such as a helmet, pads, and reflective clothing or lights if you will be riding at night. Visibility is also important for riding in the early morning or evenings, when it’s not dark but not full daylight.
- An important consideration for comfort is the tyre size. A bike frame that allows larger tyres will give a more comfortable ride. Larger air volumes in big tyres provide more shock absorption than the different frame materials. For a touring bike, look for one that accepts tyres as large as 700x32c or even as large a 700x35c. You can always put skinner tyres on these bike frames, but it gives you more options.
There are several key terms that you should understand when buying your bike frame.
|Saddle height||The Saddle Height measures the distance from the middle of the saddle, or seat, to the centre of the bottom bracket.|
|Reach||Reach refers to the distance from the handlebar from the saddle, or how far you will have to reach for the handlebars.|
|Drop||Drop is the vertical measurement between the top of the saddle and the handlebars.|
|Setback||Setback refers to the horizontal measurement from the centre of the bottom bracket to the front of the saddle.|
|Standover Height||Standover Height is the distance from the ground to the height of the top tube. |
|Toe Overlap||Toe Overlap is how much your feet can interfere with steering the frame’s front wheel.|