The exotic titanium bicycle

Historically, the most common material for the tubes of a bicycle frame has been steel. No frame material is more durable than steel. It can ding, scratch, dent, even bend, and retain structural integrity. When well made and cared for, steel will last a lifetime. They are easy to work, and relatively inexpensive, but denser (and thus generally heavier) than many other structural materials. Another common frame used for bicycles is aluminum alloy. Aluminum alloys have a lower density and lower strength compared with steel alloys, however, aluminum frames are generally stiffer than steel, resulting in a harsher ride. When fractions of a second count, track racers prefer that rigidity. But for getting to the store over city streets, steel is a softer metal and offers a more forgiving ride.

Exotic materials such as titanium, carbon fiber, and even bamboo and cardboard are also used by some bicycle manufactures. Titanium is perhaps the most exotic and expensive metal commonly used for bicycle frame tubes. It combines many desirable characteristics, including a high strength to weight ratio and excellent corrosion resistance. Although reasonable stiff (roughly half that of steel), titanium is more difficult to machine than steel or aluminum, which sometimes limits its uses. Titanium frames are usually more expensive than similar steel or aluminum alloy frames, and prices can come up to 10.000 USD, compared to steel bicycles, which can be purchased for much cheaper than that, having the most expensive models at 10% of that price or aluminum bicycles with prices ranging between 200 USD and 400 USD.

Carbon fiber composite is an increasingly popular non-metallic material commonly used for bicycle frames. Although expensive (2.500 USD in average), it is light-weight, corrosion-resistant and strong, and can be formed into almost any shape desired. Several bicycle frames have been made of bamboo tubes connected with metal or composite joinery. Aesthetic appeal has often been as much of a motivator as mechanical characteristics. Cardboard has also been used for bicycle frames. Other non-metal materials such as thermoplastics, a category of polymers, can be reheated and reshaped, and there are several ways that they can be used to create a bicycle frame. Several bicycle frames have been made of wood, either solid or laminate. Combining different materials can provide the desired stiffness, compliance, or damping in different areas better than can be accomplished with a single material. The combined materials are usually carbon fiber and a metal, either steel, aluminum, or titanium.

Shanghai Metal Corporation offers a wide range of metal products such as steel, stainless steel aluminum, titanium, carbon, in varying fittings and sizes.

Source: Wikipedia, missionbicycle.com

Camilla G.//SMC Editor

Read more articles by this author here.

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