BMX bikes have been around since the late sixties and have become among the most popular two-wheelers for street racing. If you ask anyone about stunts in a cycling craze, they’ll tell you BMX bikes deserve a mention.
From a construction standpoint, the design of BMX is up to the expected standards. If anything, they’re tough and sturdy and their geometry perfectly suited for the stunt job. But what are BMX bike frames made out of exactly?
Most BMX bike frames are made of aluminum and steel. Some feature frames made of carbon fiber and titanium. Made of exotically shaped tubing, aluminum frame are lighter and rustproof, making them suitable for riders who want to move fast. Chromoly steel frames are heavier but more economical.
Older BMX bikes weren’t the strongest, but at least they laid the foundation for manufacturing the best frames yet.
From what we know, bike brands have worked tirelessly to improve BMX bike build over time. The current models are robust and flexible. They hardly bend when subjected to aggressive use, and hold up quite well regardless of the kind of tricks riders perform.
What Are BMX Frames Made Out Of? (3 Materials Explained)
A BMX bike frame can be made of any of the following materials:
Even with aluminum and carbon fiber frames more prevalent because they are lightweight and inexpensive, there are still BMX bike frames of steel.
Although steel tends to be heavier and more expensive, it guarantees a smooth ride and is easier to work with than carbon fiber.
Given that steel is dense and strong compared to aluminum, BMX frame manufacturers can use thin walled tubes and design a better vertical flex into the bike.
BMX bikes with steel frames can’t bend as easy, and that’s because they’re so sturdy that they are highly resistant to fatigue.
For those of us to whom a springy ride feels a lot more comfortable on bumpy terrains or when doing stunts, steel frames are the cream of the crop.
Types Of Steel Frames
There are three types of steel used to manufacture BMX bike frames:
- Chromoly steel
- 1020 steel
- Carbon steel
Also referred to as chrome molybdenum or 4230 metal, Chromoly steel is a lightweight framing with a decent level of strength to weight ratio.
Manufacturer butt the material to trim off excess weight, which is why the result tends to be a more lightweight yet durable frame.
Chromoly steel is a good choice for making BMX bike frame because not only responsive but also tends to flex well. Not to mention that it can maintain its form regardless of years of hard use.
The 1020 steel grade doesn’t offer a great weight to strength ratio. However, it makes bikes not only more available but also more pocket-friendly.
Keep in mind that there are BMX bike frames made of a combination of 1020 and Chromoly steel. These versions are not only lightweight but also durable.
Also known as high-tensile steel, carbon steel is the material used to make BMX bikes for kids and beginners to bmxing. This material is robust and tends to last for years.
The problem with high-tensile steel is that it’s heavy. That’s why pro BMX riders who want more control and flexibility to perform stunts never look for bikes with frames made of this material.
Despite being heavy and generally expensive, steel bike frames are better because they’re stronger, stiffer, and more durable than aluminum frames. That explains why they’re idea for BMX bikes.
Aluminum is the most lightweight material yet. But don’t mistake the lightness for poor quality. Aluminum is just as robust and durable as steel, with the biggest difference between the two being the weight itself.
This material can make strong and lightweight frames for BMX bikes albeit being less durable compared to steel.
With a well thought out design, aluminum frame can actually give BMX bikes that can handle tight situations and even do some climbing without struggle.
To be clear, aluminum isn’t as lightweight a carbon fiber, but it’s naturally corrosion resistant and therefore doesn’t require a coating. And given that the material is affordable, it’s clear why BMX bikes with aluminum frames are popular among riders on tight budgets.
Aluminum is also a good material for making BMX frames because it’s stiff and responsive, so much so the bike can accelerate fast and deliver better handling in the process.
The problem with aluminum frames is they never guarantee smooth rides. Unlike steel, it just doesn’t have the power to absorb road buzz. That’s why it’s a bad idea to ride aluminum BMX bike for long distant.
In other words, if comfort is a priority for you, and especially if you intend to use the bike for touring or on dirt roads, you should consider a BMX bike with a different frame material.
BMX bike frames made of titanium are some of the best out there. Such bikes are versatile and light.
And although they’re stiff, these bikes are snappier than steel frames and therefore tend to perform much better. What’s more, the material ensures maximum absorption of vibration, so even the rides on bumpy roads feel smooth.
Titanium is a good material for BMX bike frames because it doesn’t corrode.
Because there’s no need for chemical paint that would otherwise add some weight to the material, a BMX bike made of this material tends to be more lightweight than steel.
As robust and durable as it is, Titanium happens to be a very rare material and therefore very expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Is The Best Material For A BMX Frame?
Steel tends to be the best material for a BMX frame because it’s stronger, durable, and stiff. Steel, even in its butted form, doesn’t bend easily. That’s why BMX bikes made of Chromoly steel are suitable for performing stunts and even riding off-road.
BMX bikes that feature frames made of Chromoly steel have an excellent weight to strength ratio, making them the best option for bike jumping, incredibly fast racing, and stunts.
Aluminum isn’t a bad material either. It’s cheap, lightweight, and often used to build frames whose weight is low enough for riders who don’t fancy heavy bikes.
Keep in mind, though, that BMX bikes with aluminium frames can give you a rough riding experience on some terrains.
2. Do Raw BMX Frames Rust?
A raw BMX steel frame doesn’t have powder coating or painting to protect it from elements. It will therefore corrode and rust over time. Expect the frame to rust faster if you live in a region subject to higher humidity.
On the other hand, aluminum and titanium frames are corrosion and rust resistant, so they don’t necessarily need a chemical coating to stand up to harsh weather condition.
Now that you know what BMX bike frames are made of, it’s up to you to choose the material that you believe fit your needs.
Some people prefer steel frame because they are durable and performance optimized albeit heavy. Others love to go with aluminum frame because they are lighter and stiff, although they’re not as comfortable over long distance.
While the material of choice may be a thing of preference, you do have to consider how much weight a BMX bike can handle before investing your money on it.
If you’re an average rider, an aluminum BMX bike will do. If you’re a big-bodied rider, consider a BMX bike whose frame is made of steel or titanium.