FRAME MATERIAL TECHNICAL COMPARISON

​We will examine the most critical aspects of material choice for bike frames:

  1. Elongation/ Flexibility:   Titanium flexes far more than other frame materials without breaking.  This is the characteristic that delivers the lively yet soft, “Magic Carpet” ride that Titanium is famous for.  Not only about comfort, long days in the saddle are less taxing on a titanium frame, improving recovery for the next day.

  2. Fatigue Life/ Durability:   The strength and flexibility of titanium mean that, so long as the material is not stressed beyond its designed capacity, the material can have incredibly long useful life.  No other material can provide such long-haul reliability.

  3. Impact Tolerance/ Ruggedness:   Titanium can tolerate rough conditions better than other frame materials of similar weight.  The contrast here is particularly strong with carbon fiber, and especially for bikepacking and travel under unpredictable conditions.  If you get stuck in a remote part of the world and your bike has to be tossed onto the roof of a bus, with some chicken crates dropped on top of it, a titanium bike would be a great choice over carbon.  Or aluminum.  Or even lightweight steel.

  4. Corrosion Resistance:   Steel can rust.  Aluminum alloys can corrode, such as when exposed to road salts.  Carbon fiber composites can break-down over long periods of ultraviolet exposure from the sun.  Titanium cannot corrode, period.

  5. Strength to Weight Ratio:   Titanium beats every other metal frame building material. For a given weight, Titanium is twice as strong as steel and three times as strong as aluminum.  However, carbon fiber does have superior characteristics here.

  6. Stiffness to Weight Ratio:   Power transfer is determined by stiffness. Titanium again has a superior stiffness to weight ratio compared to other metals. While in the abstract high-grade steel is equal to titanium in stiffness, as a practical matter a titanium frame of equal stiffness to a high-grade steel frame will nonetheless be lighter.  Carbon fiber has superior stiffness to weight relative to all metals, but remains less suitable for plus bikes and bikepacking, as we will discuss in the Tin Goat blog. 

SUMMARY:

  1. Both technically and as a practical matter, Titanium is the ideal material for a rigid or hardtail bike for high miles and multiple days in the saddle across rough terrain.

  2. It's major drawback, cost, is something that we at Tin Goat hope to fix.

  3. Please find graphic representations of this discussion below.

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