by Wil Barrett
November 8, 2016
Since the sport of mountain biking was invented just a hair over 40 years ago, frame technology and materials have continued to evolve in the constant search for lighter, stiffer and stronger. We’ve seen mountain bikes move through various waves of material preference, with frames being made from chromoly steel, through to alloy, titanium, carbon fibre, and even wood and bamboo.
As each new material has initially come to market, there’s always a certain degree of rapid progression that occurs as the limits of that materials performance are explored. Remember when manufacturers were first pushing superlight chromoly tubing back in the late 80’s and early 90’s? Remember seeing cracked welds and folded tubes on a regular basis? Same thing when alloy was introduced, and carbon fibre too. Technological competition is fierce as more brands jump on board to get a piece of the action, with each manufacturer setting out to produce the lightest ground-breaking machine they can. And that progression is good for us.
Despite each material enjoying its own time in the sun over that 40 year period, in 2017 we can still walk into a bike shop and buy a brand spankin’ mountain bike with our choice of pretty much any of those above materials. And while carbon fibre continues to evolve as the current in-demand frame and component material thanks to its light overall weight and customisability, there are still plenty of riders out there who’d prefer their next bike to be made from metal instead.
So that does beg the question; what do you think is the best? What material do YOU favour when it comes to your mountain bike, or perhaps, your next mountain bike? And not just the frame itself, but the wheelset too. Do you prefer a steel frame with alloy rims? Or a carbon frame with carbon rims?
Let us know by selecting your vote below. And if you can’t see the poll for some reason, then click here to to select your choice!
What is your preferred material of choice?
- An alloy frame with alloy wheels (27%, 199 Votes)
- A steel frame with alloy wheels (24%, 173 Votes)
- A carbon frame with alloy wheels (17%, 126 Votes)
- A carbon frame with carbon wheels (12%, 89 Votes)
- A titanium frame with alloy wheels (8%, 58 Votes)
- A titanium frame with carbon wheels (4%, 27 Votes)
- An alloy frame with carbon wheels (4%, 26 Votes)
- A steel frame with carbon wheels (3%, 23 Votes)
- Bamboo FTW! (1%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 725
We’re interested to hear your perspective on what material you preference over others when it comes to your mountain bike frame and wheelset. And how did you come to that preference? Have you had a bad experience before with a particular type of wheel or swingarm? Or is it a cost-related preference?
Let us know by making your vote in the above poll, and feel free to leave us a comment if we’ve left any other combinations off the list.