mtb frames


What is mtb frames?

Mountain bike frames are one of the most important aspects of your mountain bike. When it comes time to build up your dream MTB, choosing the right frame will not only determine your mountain bike’s aesthetics but also the performance of your set-up.

The frame of a mountain bike is essentially the core of your build. That’s why it can be so difficult to choose the right frame and why so many considerations must be taken into account. From frame geometry and suspension options, to frame material and sizes – you are sure to be overwhelmed when it comes time to purchase your mountain bike frame.

Before you dive into the world of mtb frames, let’s look at the different types out there and what you need to consider when selecting the right frame for your terrain.

Types of Mountain Bike Frames

The number of ever-evolving mountain bike frames on the market can be a bit overwhelming. Generally, mountain bike frames can be categorised based on wheel size and frame geometry.

Wheel Size:

Mountain bike frames are generally available in four wheel sizes: 26 inches, 27.5 inches (650b), 29 inches, and fat bikes (26×4 or 27.5×3.8).

26-inch wheels: The original mountain bike wheel size, 26-inch wheels remain quite popular but 26er frames are becoming harder to find.

27.5-inch wheels: Smaller than 29-inch wheels, 27.5 (aka 650b) frames offer superior wheel agility, traction and improved manoeuvrability.

29-inch wheels: The Cadillac of mountain bike wheel sizes, 29er frames roll faster and are more efficient on flat surfaces. They are the most popular for riders aiming for XC domination.

Fat bikes: Fat bikes started out as a niche market that is now a full-fledged bike industry. Offering superior floatation on sand and snow, fat bike frames are surprisingly agile and can be used on all terrain.

Frame Geometry:

In addition to wheel size, mountain bike frames are also categorised based on frame geometry. These geometries mainly pertain to the angles formed throughout the frame.

Cross-Country Frame Geometry: Cross-country (XC) frames are designed for cross-country riders who want to pedal fast and long distances. Constructed for speed, XC frames feature steep seat tube angles and shorter rear end lengths.

All-Mountain/Enduro Frame Geometry: All-mountain (AM) and enduro frames are adequate for trail riding, as well as all-day epics. Featuring a slack head tube angle and a slightly longer rear end length, AM and enduro frames are well-suited for pushing the boundaries of speed on more confidence-inspiring terrain.

Freeride Frame Geometry: Freeride frames are built for aggressive riding and big drops. The slack geometry makes for a more downhill-specific riding experience, however, it makes the bike harder to pedal on flat surfaces.

Frame Material

Mountain bike frames can be made from aluminum, carbon, steel or titanium.

Aluminum: Commonly referred to as alloy, aluminum frames are cost effective and lightweight. Aluminum frames can be either hardtail or full suspension. They are stiff and can be manipulated for varying riding styles. Aluminum frames are strong and reliable, but are prone to fatigue from hard riding.

Carbon: Carbon frames are lightweight (sometimes up to 60g lighter than aluminum) and shock absorbent. Carbon frames can also be manipulated for different riding styles and are more durable than aluminum. However, carbon frames require more maintenance and are more expensive than aluminum frames.

Titanium: Titanium frames are durable, lightweight, and offer the most shock absorbency. Titanium frames are the most expensive of the bunch and require more maintenance than any other frame material.

Steel: Strong and reliable, steel frames are most frequently used in the hardtail variety. As steel is a heavy material, steel frames are usually reserved for dirt jump and freeride bikes.

Choosing the Right MTB Frame

Choosing the right mountain bike frame is a matter of personal preference and can take some time to get right.

Think about budget, preferred riding style, terrain, and the size of the bike you need. Taking into consideration all these factors, you should be able to narrow down your choices quickly and make the right decision for you.

At the end of the day, the right mountain bike frame for you should be able to provide the performance and aesthetics that make your MTB dreams come true.

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