Why are aluminum bike frames so popular

The myth of the titanium frame

Does titanium pay off as a material?

The cost of a titanium bike is undoubtedly higher than an aluminum or carbon bike. An argument in favor of this material is its longevity and corrosion resistance. On the other hand, points of criticism are the low rigidity and the impressive price.

Comparison of titanium with other materials

Weight

In terms of weight, titanium is lighter than steel, but heavier than carbon. A titanium frame is most likely comparable to an aluminum frame, although the shape of the frame is important here.

Resilience

Carbon is very sensitive to shocks and extraordinary loads and aluminum gets dents relatively quickly. Frames made of steel are more resistant, but titanium is clearly the most stable compared to the previous materials.

longevity

Aluminum loses its stability over time, which is why aluminum wheels quickly lose value. There is still no long-term experience with carbon. Steel, on the other hand, hardly changes its capabilities and is only surpassed by titanium in terms of service life.

Stiffness

When it comes to stiffness, carbon comes first. Next up is the aluminum frame. The rigidity of titanium is already lower and steel comes last. The associated loss of performance when pedaling therefore makes titanium rather unattractive for racing cyclists.

Driving comfort

The rigidity of the materials carbon and aluminum make for an uncomfortable driving experience for many drivers. The springy steel frame is perceived as more comfortable, although a titanium frame is best.

But here, too, it depends on the geometry of the frame: A frame that is well matched to the rider will likely always outperform a poorly chosen frame - regardless of the material.

Corrosion resistance

Steel can only remain rust-free if it is painted accordingly. Titanium, on the other hand, like carbon, is insensitive to corrosion. However, the look of a classic metal frame can be achieved with tubes made of titanium, which would not be possible with carbon.

The extraordinary resistance to corrosion makes a bike with a titanium frame a good companion when you ride by the sea or when you want to use it all year round, even in winter. Of course, all other components should then also be correspondingly corrosion-resistant.

Lacquer or no lacquer

While lacquer is a necessity for steel and aluminum, lacquering can be omitted for titanium frames; the metallic luster of the frame even comes into its own when it is not lacquered. With carbon, painting can be omitted if you can get used to the often black look of carbon.

Ductility

The ductility describes how much a material can plastically deform before it cracks. This is particularly pronounced with titanium. This can deform up to 30% before it breaks. In contrast, carbon has low ductility.

The ductility is important for the safety of a bicycle: the higher this value, the sooner a possible frame breakage will be noticeable in advance as a deformation. Conversely, low ductility carries the risk of the wheel breaking without warning.

Resilience

Carbon can only cope with loads from a certain firmly planned direction. Titanium, on the other hand, is resilient even with impacts from different directions.

What makes a titanium frame so expensive?

Even the extraction of the raw material titanium is 35 times more expensive than conventional steel alloys. The welding process must take place in the absence of oxygen, because titanium oxidizes quickly at temperatures above 550 degrees. Machining is particularly complex due to the specific properties of the material.

What should you watch out for when buying a titanium bike?

As mentioned when comparing the individual features, the shape of the frame plays an important role in the driving experience. Anyone who invests money in an expensive bike should therefore pay particular attention to a frame that is optimally tailored to their own body size.

The material titanium promises a long service life. This should also be reflected in the warranty periods for the frame. The quality of the other components should also be designed for a longer service life.

Because of their numerous advantages, titanium wheels are very popular with bicycle thieves. The safety precautions should therefore be commensurate with the high price of the bike. Industry insiders recommend investing 10% of the purchase price for the anti-theft device. Some ideas on this are in our article"Protection against bicycle theft"to find.

Part of the costs reserved for this can also be invested in bicycle insurance. The liability amount for household insurance is usually limited for bicycles and is therefore not always sufficient for expensive titanium bikes.

Résumé

For many, a bike with a titanium frame is the ultimate. However, if you take a closer look at the technical data, titanium does not come first in every respect. After the purchase, due to the high purchase price, adequate theft and insurance protection should be ensured.