Part 2 in the “CX First Timer Custom Build Experiment”

So whereas on this end I already know I’ll be starting out on a Montague frame, let’s say you wanted to go ahead and do a first time build yourself.  Where to begin?  Well most of us learn when we start out that this entire frame-set situation can be a lot more complex than just a couple of triangles.  We find ourselves entangled in the romance of the alloys.  What do I mean by that?  Ask any cycling enthusiast about frame materials and you’re sure to get an earful.  So who are the contenders exactly?

Steel

The old classic (and dear love of most of the custom builders here in Boston): you can TIG weld it, you can lug weld it, or various other options, and it comes in multiple flavors (e.g. chromoly).  Steel can be heavier than some of the other options, and for some folks weight matters more than anything.  High-end tubing doesn’t have to weigh as much, but it can be more costly.  Strong yet flexible, steel is lauded for it’s comfortable ride over bumpy and pot-hole ridden roads, something we have no shortage of here in New England where Montague is based.  Steel can also rust over time (and so JP Weigel’s FrameSaver becomes your best friend).

Aluminum

[A most lovely build, image via Facebook]

Light and stiff, aluminum has become the alloy of choice for many bike manufacturers.  It offers strength and many welding options.  Here in New England between rain, snow, and road salt- by the end of a winter season you could decimate a bicycle just by riding it.  Aluminum can stand up to this sort of abuse longer than steel.

Titanium

It’s light, it’s strong, it’s ever so pretty- it doesn’t rust.  All the benefits of the flex-capacity and smooth ride of  steel without the weight and the rust as possible deal breakers.  However, the cost might get you down.

Carbon Fiber


[Image Credit: Brano Meres Engineering & Design via Gizmodo]

Take a bunch of parallel fibers and connect them with glue (yes this way of explaining it is over simplified).  It’s draw is that it is exceptionally light and tough, it’s often accused of being overly brittle.

So what to do?

If you want even more options there are even bicycles made out of bamboo, but we’ll safe that exploration for another day.  Here at Montague we’re aluminum aficionados, as our folding frames are made out of aluminum – it keeps them light, strong, and resistant to rust.  And if you get one of us talking we’ll smile and tell you all about how with the aluminum frame the ride is stiff and there is no flex from the fold, you don’t even realize the bike is a folding frame (well until you need to fold it, and then you can be happy about that)…

This time around for the CX build we’re going with a folding aluminum frame, something that can stand up to multiple New England winters.