Aluminium/ Stainless steel/ Titanium/ Carbon fiber bicycle. With incredible strength to weight ratios and dreamlike ride quality, a bike made with carbon fiber will be the lightest and ride better than every other frame material.
Too many choices will leave you dissatisfied and you will end up not getting what you want. But don’t leave with a heavy heart. We are here to share light on the matter;
Why we choose carbon fiber material over the rest?
Long gone are the eras of expensive bicycle with carbon fiber frame. With the improvement of technology over the last decade, material cost and price have been push to rock bottom. Maybe you’re wondering how bike makers manage to make all this happen? Well we can answer that for you below!
1. What is carbon fiber ?
Carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals to form 1 long carbon strand. Several thousand carbon strands are then bundled together to create a carbon tow. This tow is then woven together to create a large carbon sheet.
This carbon sheet is then place atop one another, bonded together with resin and treated over heat. Other compound may be added during the treatment process to strengthen the final material. Depending on the compound that was added, the end product may defer in stiffness, tensile, weight, chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and lower thermal expansion.
2. Advantage of carbon fiber
Stronger than aluminium, light weight, elastic and durable. Here are some things that you do not know about carbon fiber.
|Materials||Tensile Strength (Mpa)||Modulus of Elasticity (Gpa)||Density (g/cc)|
Carbon fiber T700S
Alloy Steel AISI 5130
( GPa = gigapascals, MPa = megapascals, g/cc = gram per cubic centimeter )
More than 4x stronger than aluminum, carbon fiber can withstand heavy load/stresses. (Alloy steel ranks number 1 in terms of strength, continue on wards and you will find out why alloy steel will not be the best choice of material for bicycle)
Modulus of Elasticity
The higher the number means the lesser flex of the material. Carbon fiber ranks number 2 in terms of elasticity (more flexible than steel but less flexible than aluminum)
The density of carbon fiber is only half of 7075 aluminium. But the strength performance is much better than aluminum. In the other end, alloy steel tops the density chart (Meaning it is too heavy). The aim of getting a light-weight bicycle is so that you will require lesser effort to go travel the distance.
You can get more information about carbon fiber material test result by click here.
3. Shock Absorption Material
One of the unique abilities of carbon fiber is its ability to absorb vibration. Due to the core ingredient (resin) make up during the fabrication process, modifying the resin properties will improve the damping properties.
In contrast, aluminum or steel will act as a conduit for vibration. Causing less comfort for user.
4. Light Weight
With that being said, carbon fiber bicycle are incredibly sturdy whilst remaining light weight. If speed and comfort are your thing than look no further than a bicycle with a full carbon fiber bike frame. With a high strength to weight ratio, it is a popular choice for riders who are looking to have a better riding experience.
Contrary to popular belief, a carbon fiber bicycle is actually much more durable and lasting compared to the above mention material. Over a prolong period of use, metallic material such as steel or aluminum will experience a phenomenon called metal fatigue, where the material will soften and weaken over use. Leaving the bicycle unused for long period of time will also cause problem such as rust or corrosion. Carbon fiber on the other hand can theoretically last forever. Due to the elasticity and the material make up of carbon fiber, it has shock dissipation characteristic. The design of the frame must be carefully planned out so it is able to withstand real world scenarios, load and stress.
Needless to say, carbon fiber is not indestructible. Striking a steel or aluminum bicycle frame with a hammer with enough force will cause it to bend, not to mention, carbon fiber frame will suffer the same fate. A crash that will destroy a metal frame will also destroy a carbon fiber frame.
Conclusion: What is the best frame for bicycle?
Steel frame are a good choice for riders that have a very tight budget. But once rust/corrosion starts forming on the bicycle, you will probably be wiser to change out that unsightly component before it spreads to other area of the bicycle.
Aluminum frame are decently priced. But vibration from the road transfers directly to the rider. Overtime, it can be extremely unpleasant experience to the rider’s rear end. Unlike alloy steel frame, aluminum frames are not prone to rusting. While there seems to be plenty of benefits of the aluminum frame, the peaks for owning a carbon fiber frame still outshines the aluminum ones.
Carbon Fiber Frame
Verdict: Hands down in terms of strength, weight, durability and value for money, the best frame we choose will be carbon fiber. If your budget allows, it should be a no-brainer to pick carbon fiber frame.