Bicycle frame material has a big influence on the way a bicycle handles. There is a lot of research to come out with a better, stronger and lighter frame material.

We recently had a write up on the various categories that Trek labels its aluminium frames under. A single frame material and Trek has multiple categories under it !!

Steel, Aluminium, Carbon Fiber and Titanium are some of the most popular frame building materials


  • lease expensive
  • heaviest to work with though weights have come down in recent years
  • flexible and shock-absorbant
  • smaller tube diameters required
  • will corrode, especially in salty environments
  • relatively long-lasting


  • inexpensive
  • lightweight
  • very stiff
  • Major advances in the recent past
  • can be shaped into aerodynamic designs
  • tubes are larger to help dissipate road shock
  • cannot corrode, but does fatigue over time

Carbon Fiber

  • more expensive
  • a tad heavier than aluminum, but lighter than steel. Some manufacturers approach light aluminum weights, but at great cost
  • very plush ride. Can be stiff, depending on bike design.
  • long-lasting, though carbon fibers do “loosen” after many thousand miles


  • most expensive.
  • feels like steel, plush like carbon, can be as stiff as aluminum.
  • should last indefinitely, as TI does not corrode

Destructive testing of these bicycle frame materials

FrameForum is an extremely good place to get information on frame building. Do check out the tutorials – Metallurgy_for_Cyclists in the downloads section to get more details on the points mentioned above.

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About the Author

Rohan Kini

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING I love riding my bike. Whether it's a simple commute, a high-intensity road race, a jaw-grinding brevet, fixie rides thru packed Indian city or a kick-ass technical single track – I love it all. Apart from riding bicycles, I love being all geeky and know everything there is to know about bicycles, technology, bike fit, and service. I started BUMSONTHESADDLE to share this passion for cycling. DISCIPLINE: Partial towards MOUNTAIN BIKING but love it all CURRENT BIKE(S): Specialized Rockhopper, Specialized Tarmac, Pure Cycles Original DREAM BIKE: S-Works Epic HT & S-Work Roubaix OTHER PASSIONS: Technology, Photography, Baking, Travel, and Reading

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