The 'Best' material for construction of an MTB – school research project

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  • The 'Best' material for construction of an MTB – school research project
  • m360

    Nice and short survey, not sure it’ll tell you much about material science but should give you an idea about buyer preferences.

    Oh, and the answer is titanium 8)

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes


    I was going to fill that in for you but I think you need to be more specific – each material has a broader range of useful applications than that survey accommodates:

    CF would be the best for a XC racing bike – if you want the very lowest weight.
    CF would be good for a downhill bike – if you want the strongest fame.

    Steel would be a good material for a XC Race bike – if you value toughness and reparability over ultimate weight

    Steel is probably not good for full-sussers [too many odd tube profiles needed]

    Aluminium is a good compromise between the other two, but would not be a great choice for a pro-level XC racer as it’s heavier and there are few elite-level frames that are made from it as it’s not as light as a composite….

    My input is you need to be more specific in the questionnaire


    nice and simple – good luck with career

    edit realised after hit send that sounds a bit sarcastic – meant liked that was nice and simple to complete and sincerely hope your career goes well 🙂

    So basically I’m doing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as part of my A-levels and I’ve decided to do it on material science in the mountain biking industry – I want to be bike engineer when I’m older!

    Anyway, I’ve made a survey to gather some consumer information about people’s opinions on different materials used, specifically for frames and would like if some shredders here on Singletrack could complete it 😉

    Here’s the link:

    Alternatively, post your opinion in this thread and feel free to give me any advice on where I should take this thing!

    Thanks a lot guys, much appreciated 😀

    More info on the EPQ here:

    Cheers again!


    “MTB” is too wide an area to get anywhere close to an answer to your question as others have hinted at already.
    You need to narrow down your question and make it more specific to make this achievable.
    Your question is almost as vague as “what is the best car”

    The question would be something like;

    What is the best material for an XC MTB frame for 90 minute events with overall terrain type of X, rider weight of Y, blah of Z etc,.

    Premier Icon eddie11

    Is this based on on science or marketing?


    If you were allowed to only pick one material to build every type of mtb it would be C/F. Easily the best for some types of bike and the most useful compromise for most any other type.

    Way too many factors to come up with any sort of ‘best’ for everyone.

    Just taking a simple XC/trail bike as an example (could be hardtail or a FS bike)

    Steel – toughest at resisting knocks, great for me as I like to throw it in the back of the car and not really care about it getting dented, and it’s Usually pretty strong/stiff too. Downside is it’s always a bit heavier.

    Aluminium – good and cheap, probably the best value for money, does everything well without being great at any one particular thing.

    Carbon Fibre – strong, light, rarely cheap though, although it is getting cheaper, brands like On-One selling frames <£500 (or even <£300), but then they’re also selling steel and alu frames <£100.

    Titanium – As strong as steel, as light as aluminium, but probably now only of niche value since carbon fiber now makes stronger and lighter frames.

    Or if you really wanted to geek out over materials you could write your whole project on different steels and their development, chemistry and heat treatment.

    501 – High Tensile steel
    531 – Manganese molybdenum used for brazed/lugged frame
    520/525 – Crome Molybdenum, developed because 531 can’t be tig welded

    753 – same as 531 but heat treated – incredibly tricky to work with
    725 – Same as 525 but heat treated

    631 – developed from 531, but can be welded, the first of Reynolds “air hardening” steels, which makes the welded area much more resistant to cracking.

    853 – heat treated 631

    921 – Stainless
    931 – Percipitation hardening Stainless
    953 – Maraging Stainless*

    *IIRC this means it’s NOT like 853 in that it isn’t actually hard, it gets it’s toughness from simply being ridiculously strong after heat treatment.

    Premier Icon Wally

    Only snag is you are asking an audience of IT beardy weirdy steel SS huggers.

    Premier Icon jameso

    Worth reading Scott Nichol’s series of articles, Metallurgy for Cyclists.

    And also watching this non-scientific demonstration : )

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