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Here comes the age-old question: Is an aluminium or steel frame better? Both aluminium and steel are one of the more common materials used when manufacturing bike frames. It is rust-resistant, lightweight and durable. At Mighty Velo, we carry Birdy Bikes that use aluminium for their frames. Steel, on the other hand, has different properties from aluminium. It offers a springy and more forgiving ride. Depending on the preferences of the rider, the choice of material may vary.
Aluminium is the most common and affordable material being used to make bike frames nowadays. This is because it is resistant to rust, lightweight, rigid and easily forged. In the beginning, Aluminium was introduced as a new choice of frame material because it was cheaper to mass-produce as compared than steel. As it became widely accepted by cyclists, manufacturers soon saw the potential of the material and continued to develop it. Since aluminium is versatile, it is not difficult to see why the material is popular to work with.
If there is one thing that Aluminium is most well-known for, it would be it’s resistance to corrosion. This enables the frame to be long-lasting and rust free. With that Aluminium is a great option for people of all age groups.
Besides having a density that is one third of steel, Aluminium is also one of the lighter materials being used to manufacture bike frames. Being lightweight makes the handling of the bike easier. This gives riders more control over the bike.
Aluminium frames are rigid which allows maximum power to be transferred from the rider to the bike. With the same energy input a rider exhibits on a steel frame bike, he can travel further distances with an Aluminium frame bike.
Aluminium can be easily forged into other shapes, unlike steel which must be made into round tubes. This gives manufacturers the freedom to create unique and long-lasting designs for their bike frames, such as being aerodynamic. At the same time, it can be forged to have more curves to bring out a modern and sporty look.
Different Grades of Aluminium
There are a few grades of Aluminium. The more common grades used in manufacturing bike frames are the 6061 aircraft grade aluminium and 7005 aluminium. This is mainly due to the availability and properties of these two grades.
6061 aluminium has a relatively high strength and can be easily welded together. Therefore, it is widely used when manufacturing bike frames. This speaks a lot about the reliability of the 6061 aluminium!
7005 aluminium is also another common aluminium grade used in bike frames. It has more resistance to squeeze than 6061 aircraft grade aluminium. Therefore, 7005 aluminium is stronger than 6061 aluminium, although they are not too far apart in terms of strength.
Despite that, 7005 aluminium is harder to manipulate to form unique shapes and designs due to its tensile strength. As a result, 6061 aluminium is typically used to manufacture better and lighter designs bike frames.
These two grades of aluminium are often combined when manufacturing bike frames. They are used in different parts of the same frame to increase the overall durability.
Aluminium Frames on Birdy Bikes
The three important factors of a foldable bike is to be durable, portable and compact. Birdy uses both 6061 aluminium and 7005 aluminium for their frames, satisfying the three important factors!
Birdy aluminium frames are extremely durable. 6061 aluminium is used for the mainframe, giving it a unique shape. 7005 aluminium is used for the frame tubing, such as the seat post and head tube. This has been well thought out by the designers, adding appropriate strength to parts of the frame where pressure is constantly applied.
Being rust-resistant, the aluminium Birdy frames require less maintenance. In Singapore’s humid weather, steel bikes are more prone to rusting if they are not well-taken care of. With aluminium frames, Birdy Bikes are able to last much longer without much maintenance and care.
The weight of the bike is vital for it to be portable. Using aluminium, each Birdy Bike’s weight is drastically reduced making it one of the lightest foldable bikes in the market. This enables Birdy Bikes to be compact and lightweight, making it a great foldable bike to bring along when travelling.
Before the 1970s, there was a saying that goes ‘Steel is real.’ This was the only choice of material for bike frames back then. Although steel frames are not as popular as aluminium nowadays, there are still plenty of riders who refuse to cycle on anything else.
To date, Steel is the heaviest material to be used for bike frames. This is because it is much denser than aluminium. The added weight would lower the efficiency of the bike as it is harder to manoeuvre, therefore slowing riders down.
Steel frame flexes and is not completely rigid. This provides a smooth and springy ride, dampening more vibrations and shocks. While this is an added bonus, it reduces the efficiency of the ride. Some of the power put on the bike will be lost to the frame. More energy will be needed to cover the same distance when using steel frame as compared to aluminium frame.
Steel frames are also more prone to corrosion. The durability of the steel frames would be compromised if corrosion, such as rust, kicks in. Very often, after a ride in the wet weather, the rider forgets to dry the frame. This speeds up the process of rusting on the frame.
Why is Aluminum frames better than Steel frames?
For people who want to own a bike for leisure riding and daily commutes, an aluminium bike is the choice for you.
With new techniques and technologies of welding, strengths of aluminium frame can be compared to steel frame. Aluminium can be easily manipulated into unique shapes, giving riders a variety of designs to choose from.
Aluminium is a lot lighter than steel, making it more portable than steel frames. This is especially important for folding bikes, where portability is key.
Being rust resistant, aluminium frames are longer-lasting than steel frames in a climate with high humidity like Singapore.
Mighty Velo – The Folding Bike Specialist
Mighty Velo is the official distributor of Pacific Cycles’ Bicycles. Our bike technicians are well-versed in their crafts, providing utmost care when building your bikes. For more information about the Birdy models we carry, visit us at www.birdybicycle.com.
To book a test ride for Birdy Bikes, you can message us on our Birdy Bicycle Facebook or Instagram. Do indicate your full name, contact details and preferred model in the email.