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Pros and Cons of Aluminum Bike Frame – GearBikesReview

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Bike Frame
Written by Cobie Brown

Aluminum is perhaps the most used metal in the bike industry. It makes the bike lightweight, cheap, durable, and provides protection against rust or corrosion. However, aluminum comes with its own disadvantages as well.

For example, aluminum makes the bikes tough to repair. It also makes the landing a bit harder. Today we’re discussing all the pros and cons of using aluminum on your bike. Let’s jump right in.

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Bike Frame

Pros

1. Lightweight

At around 18 lbs, they are some of the lightest bikes you’ll find that won’t be heavy on your pocket. In fact, they were introduced to the market in the first place because of being lightweight.

2. Inexpensive

As a matter of fact features like thick tube (for better balance), light weight (For better handling) and no rust (healthy bike frame) are available at a reasonable price.

Kid’s bike prices start from $150 and adult’s from $350.

3. Rust-free

They are low-maintenance and an ideal option to ride in wet conditions because they are corrosion-free. See, you do not need any extra care if they are wet!

So, If you are a touring or hobby cyclist then they are a great choice.

4. Great strength-to-weight Ratio

Compared to their weight, they are stronger. Besides, you will get better speed and handling.

5. Good for criterium racing

If you want to participate in a short lapped race (25 minutes to 2 hrs) called criterium race in cities, where the roads are smooth then grab them.

They are already popular among criterium racers.

6. Stiffness

In this case they will make you stable and provide more speed with the support of thicker tube walls when you are sprinting and climbing.

Though stiffness is a problem for mountain bikers, touring cyclists will enjoy this factor.

Cons of Aluminum Bike

1. Harsh riding

Since aluminum is a stiff material, your riding experience won’t be so smooth.

Especially in rocky or bumpy terrain, you will feel vibration in your body because they do not absorb shocks.

2. Not durable enough for professional use

Eventually they become more harsh and uncontrollable.

If you use them on rocky/bumpy roads continuously for five years, you will strongly feel the degradation of riding quality.

For this reason, they are not ideal for heavy users.

3. Tough to repair

Only welding will not fix the frame. Additionally, you also need annealing and tempering which is more costly than a new frame.

Comparison of Bike frame Materials

Price fatigue Weight Repairability Longevity 
Steel  High-end bikes are more expensive than Aluminum No Heavy among all Easier than others Durable but rust prone
Aluminum Cheaper Yes Light tough Durable but quality decays over time
Titanium Expensive No more than carbon and few high grade Aluminum Very tough Durable
Carbon Fiber Expensive No Light easily Durable

Aluminum vs Steel

1. Cost

Steel frames are hand made which is time consuming. On the other hand, mass production of aluminum frames has lower costs.

Due to these reasons, Aluminum is cheaper than steel.

Notably, Steel bikes will set you back around $190 (2-4 years old).

2. Longevity and safety

Here, Aluminum bikes will last for 5-10 years depending on the frequency and quality of your riding but steel bikes will last around 20 years.

Again, aluminum is fatigue prone but your steel frame will have external corrosion though they are comfortable to ride.

3. Weight

Now, steel bikes usually weigh around 21 pounds.

The heavier the bike, the harder it’s to ride and control. Aluminum has a great benefit if you think about this.

Aluminum vs Carbon

1. Cost

Aluminum bikes are cheaper than carbon bikes because aluminum bikes are mostly produced in the factory but carbon bikes are mostly handmade.In addition to that, carbon fiber is also difficult to work with.

So the price of a carbon frame is two times higher than aluminum frames.

Given that, carbon fiber bike’s prices start from  $1000.

Note: If you’re on a budget then do not choose carbon frames. Some manufacturers use low-grade carbon that’ll actually be less beneficial than aluminum.

2. Longevity and safety

Carbon fiber wears out faster compared to aluminum bikes because they cannot bear hard impacts.

They may fail without any warnings whereas aluminum bikes won’t surprise you this way.

This is why aluminum is a popular budget-friendly choice.

On the other hand, aluminum bike fatigues. If you are a frequent user on bumpy roads, the quality may degrade after 5 years.

Carbon frames last for decades without any degradation and you will get the same level of comfort till the end.

3. Environment-friendly

It should be noted that aluminum is recyclable but carbon often ends up as garbage.

Even if you try to recycle carbon, the polymers will create a greenhouse effect because polymer is a type of plastic and you cannot use carbon unless you burn away the polymer.

4. Custom-made Cycle

Carbon provides options for specifications because this high tech fiber can be manipulated easily.

Carbon fiber is a modern wonder that can be customized. This is the main reason they are the most-favorites of pro racers and MTBers.

But that doesn’t mean aluminum has nothing good to offer, for instance, it can be butted for added strength.

Aluminum vs Titanium

1. Cost and extra features

If you can afford, get a titanium bike that starts from $1500. However, we don’t recommend this for casual riders because they don’t really need it.

Moreover, they have thicker wall tubes (0.9mm) which make it hard to dent the frame.

2. Longevity and riding quality

Titanium is known to last for your lifetime.

Unlike aluminum, they are the stiffest but also absorb shocks. So they are more comfortable to ride than aluminum bikes.

Things to Remember While Choosing a Bike

a) A lightweight bike is easy to handle

b) Choose the right  bike size according to your weight and height to avoid pain as well as discomfort in the body

c) Conditions of the roads that you will be riding are important

d) Cost of maintenance and repair

c) Fix your purpose before purchasing a bike. Are you going to be a heavy user or casual rider? Do you want to be a Professional or daily user?

FAQs

1. Do aluminum bike frames crack?

Ans. Yes, they do. They may wear out anywhere between 5 to 10 years but that depends on where and how you are biking.

If you were riding on smooth roads then their lifeline will increase ridiculously.

About the author

Cobie Brown

Born and grew up in Colorado, I chose to work in the field of what I liked most, biking. I’ve been working as a full time mechanic in the cycling industry for over 13 years. I started BMXing when I was just a 6-year-old kid and got hooked from the very first day. Then I started riding and not a single day went by since then that I didn’t touch my bike.

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