The price of a mountain bike reflects what the frame is made of. At the moment, there are five kinds of
materials used to make mountain bike frames – chromoly steel, high tensile steel, titanium, aluminum, and carbon fiber. There are other factors that raise the price of a bike, such as weight, manufacturing process, and butting.
The word chromoly is amalgamation of the words molybdenum and chromium, the ingredients the steel is made of. The most processed material frames tend to be made of chromoly steel. It has been favored by cyclists for more than 100 years.
Chromoly steel bike frames typically sell for $400 to $1,500, based on the kind of butting and heat it was treated with. Chromoly steel frames are known for being tough, yet comfortable to ride.
High tensile steel
This is quite a sturdy alloy used to produce low quality mountain bikes. High tensile steel is manufactured with a high carbon concentration, making it stronger than chromoly steel. A number of materials are required to make high tensile steel frames, which are inflexible and heavy.
Fairly cheap to make, you can find high tensile steel frames on city bikes, trail bikes, and even beginner’s mountain bikes. You may see bicycles with a chromoly seat tube attached to a high tensile steel frame.
Even though it’s not as popular, the cost to buy this material has lowered over the last several years. That said, titanium-made frames are generally pricier than other frames, since it takes a significant amount of time for the tube fusion process.
Titanium is regarded as an alloy, generally mixed with a small portion of aluminum and vanadium, which results in a smoother ride. Titanium features better corrosion and fatigue properties, making it more flexible than chromoly.
Aluminum is processed the same way as chromoly. Over the last 15 years or so, a number of alloys have been used to refine it. Oversizing, heat treatment, and butting are adjustments the bike receives to tweak the frame. Often accompanied by dual
suspension bikes, aluminum frames are a favorite among cyclists based on its durability, as well as its low price.
However, aluminum won’t last as long as chromoly steel, particularly if the bike is rode on tough surfaces and endures harsh weather and impact. To its benefit, aluminum frames are fairly lightweight and generally stiffer than its counterparts.
The kind of bike frame you choose should be based on where you plan on riding the bike, and what you intend to use it for. As long as they are well maintained, all of the above frames can last for many years.