When you choose an electric bike. The first thing to consider is the material of the frame, but there are many brands of frames on the market, according to the material and characteristics of the frame, to distinguish between the different nature of the e-bike models, from steel, aluminum, titanium to carbon fiber and other materials, each material has its own performance, how should we pick it, how can we buy a frame that meets their needs?
From the initial use of wood, then to steel pipes, and later with the gradual development of material technology, the weight-to-strength ratio of steel pipes has reached a specific limit acceptable to users. Density is the main factor affecting the weight of the frame. With the same volume, the lower the material density, the lighter the frame weight.
Why is a certain aluminum alloy widely used in frame manufacturing? What are the reasons that some materials cannot be commonly used in frame manufacturing? Let us first compare the differences between these materials.
Comparison of frame materials
Steel was the earliest material used to make bicycles, and nowadays most of the riders who own steel bikes view them as collectibles. Generally, steel bikes are heavier in weight, but sometimes when encountering riders on steel bikes on the road or climbing hills, they can surprisingly outperform others! We always look up to these predecessors with awe-inspiring eyes, not only because of their unique taste, but also because they represent the brave and powerful style!
The reason why steel was the first material to be used is mainly because, over a long period of time, it has the strongest rigidity and is more elastic than other pipe materials, making it less susceptible to metal fatigue accumulation (fatigue phenomenon refers to the destruction of metal materials under alternating stress). The natural properties of metal also make it easier to process in the manufacturing of frames, etc. Initially, this material was used more for low-priced bikes, but later developed new alloy steels which reduced weight while maintaining the same rigidity, and were used to make high-strength mountain bikes, downhill bikes, and high-priced collectible road bikes. Due to their special retro design, they are mainly appreciated as works of art.
However, being a steel tube bike rider with an artistic touch is not as simple as just spending money. This material is not only heavy, making it very difficult to ride, but it is also prone to rusting. In addition to paying close attention to the weather when riding outdoors, post-ride maintenance is also very important. Regularly wiping the frame, hanging it upside down to dry, and applying rust-proof oil for protection are all necessary.
Aluminum alloy frame
The HiPEAK design team chose to use aluminum over other materials for the folding electric bikes Bona and Elias. As a company specializing in the production and sale of high-performance folding electric fat-tire bicycles, this material was chosen for the following reasons:
Lightweight frames can be made
The HiPEAK folding electric bike made of aluminum alloy weighs only 28 kilograms, and customers can easily fold it and move it around. Aluminum has a low density but is not hard enough, so it is made into an alloy and subjected to heat treatment to increase its strength. The heat treatment process uses the aging precipitation strengthening method, which, simply put, forms a substance inside the metal that impedes its deformation. When the heat treatment is carried out at a certain high temperature, aging precipitation occurs, and even if the frame has not undergone this process, it will still undergo room temperature aging. That is to say, the strength of the frame will gradually increase over time when placed in a room.
Appearance does not change with prolonged use
Aluminum itself is a metal that is prone to corrosion. There is almost no aluminum in the air that has not been oxidized, and when it is placed in the air, it will be immediately oxidized to form a very thin oxide film. Why doesn't it rust? The reason is that when the oxide film reaches a certain degree, it will prevent further rusting. The oxide film is almost colorless, so it is not easy to notice changes in appearance.
On the other hand, when riding an electric bike made of this material, the more times it is ridden, the higher the number of stress occurrences, and the strength will also change significantly.
In fact, the cost of using aluminum alloy frames is not high, although it is not as cheap as steel frames. For 14 years, HiPEAK has been providing customers with high-quality and attractive folding lightweight electric bikes, and the use of aluminum is very practical.
They are machined to have higher strength and lighter weight, and aluminum frames are easy to mass-produce. The combination of low cost and high strength fully meets the trend of lightweight development of folding electric bikes.
Compared to other materials, 6061 aluminum alloy has excellent processing performance, welding characteristics, and electroplating performance. In addition, it is not easily deformed after processing, so it can be shaped into beautiful and smooth aerodynamic lines in frame design, which makes customers very satisfied. At the same time, aerodynamics can improve the riding speed of bicycles under specific conditions.
HiPEAK's electric bicycles are designed with both beauty and safety in mind, while also emphasizing strength. The brand also has its own factory, which means they have absolute supervision and control over the quality of each bike, and each bike undergoes strict testing before leaving the factory.
Although aluminum alloy has a lower elastic modulus, HiPEAK's design team has incorporated front suspension fork into the frame design so that the bike can absorb ground vibrations well and improve ride comfort. In addition, the tire selection uses puncture-resistant fat tires, which can adapt to any terrain. This not only increases traction and stability but also provides riders with a lot of comfort.
Aluminum alloy has many advantages, such as being able to exhibit the best hardness and stiffness performance in a short time, while being easy to shape and allowing tube shapes to be easily changed through mechanical principles, making the tubing extremely thin, achieving a lightweight and high-strength effect. Maintaining an aluminum bike is also much simpler, unlike steel pipes that are prone to rust. Even if you ride in the rain, basic washing and wiping steps are enough when you get home. This is less of a burden for beginners or lazy cyclists.
Titanium alloy frame
The titanium alloy frame has many characteristics similar to steel frames, but it is lighter in weight and more durable. The disadvantage is that it is expensive and requires a lot of specialized knowledge to manufacture high-quality frames. Like aluminum alloys and steel, titanium used on bicycles is also an alloy, usually containing small amounts of aluminum and vanadium.
Precision carbon fiber frame
Carbon fiber is a material made by weaving carbon elements. It is also the favorite option of road bike enthusiasts. After developing an interest in cycling for a period of time, many cyclists will upgrade to a carbon fiber bike. In addition to confirming their love for cycling, it is also a way to join the ranks of competitive cycling. Various high-priced bicycles such as supercars and aerodynamic bikes are also made of carbon fiber.
However, there is a fatal flaw, which is the high manufacturing cost. This is the key factor that restricts the widespread use of carbon fiber materials in frame production.
In addition, because its material is made by weaving, it cannot withstand friction from harder materials, and its structure is easy to be damaged. When subjected to external impact or uneven force, cracks or direct fractures are more likely to occur. Therefore, some cyclists will use their bodies to protect their carbon fiber bikes when they fall, not only to protect the paint, but also to prevent damage to the delicate frame. Therefore, this material is not suitable for widespread use in bicycle frame manufacturing, especially not suitable for faster electric bikes.
Aluminum alloy is currently the most suitable material for widespread use in the manufacture of folding electric bicycle frames. Bicycles made of steel are too heavy and expensive to maintain, while the cost of titanium alloy and carbon fiber is difficult to reduce, making it difficult to mass-produce corresponding frames.